Wednesday, April 15, 2009

who ever lives to plead for me - a meditation on the resurrection

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea,
A great High Priest whose name is love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
The resurrection has come to mean a great deal to me lately, as I've listened to this song and read Hebrews morning by morning. I never fully realised it before, but because Jesus died and rose from the dead, he now stands before the Father in heaven praying for us - praying for me!

It sank in as I was reading Hebrews 2 the other morning. At first, it seemed like one of those chapters you skip past, I'm ashamed to admit. But after talking to my husband, and hearing him describe it as one of the most significant passages in the Bible, I took a closer look. I'm so glad I did!

Hebrews says it over and over and over again: Jesus is our high priest. He represents us before God in the Holy of Holies in heaven, where he presented the perfect sacrifice of his blood once for all time, and where he constantly prays for us. And what a "merciful and faithful high priest" he is!

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. ... [W]e do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. ... Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. ... He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. (from Heb 2:9-18, 4:14-16, 7:25-27, my emphasis).

Satan hurls his accusations against us day and night (Rev 12:10). But there is One "who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ" (1 Jn 2:1-2). His bloody sacrifice of himself has covered all our sins for all time (Heb 9:11-14, 10:11-14). He "always lives to intercede" for us (Heb 7:25, Rom 8:34).

Most startling of all, this high priest is "holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens", yet he knows exactly what it feels like to be tempted! He sympathises with me in my weakness.

I get so weary of struggling to trust and obey God. But Jesus also "suffered when he was tempted" (Heb 2:9). The fact that he struggled against temptation, again and again and again, yet never sinned, is a shining beacon to me not to "grow weary in doing good" (2 Thess 3:13).

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb 12:1-3)
image is from stock.xchng

1 comment:

Jean said...

Just attaching this wonderful comment from Jo to this post, so anyone following the comment trail can read it ...

Hi Jean,

Hebrews is great! Thanks for reminding us of this. Before the Throne is one of the songs I sing with my girls at night before they sleep. Yes, all three verses!! It's especially good for me if I don't feel like it when they request it!

I read a great illustration about Jesus suffering temptation and never giving in. Because he was perfect we think that maybe he didn't suffer such strong temptation. It was in Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul Tripp. He asks you to imagine a strong man bending an iron bar at a fair. The first bar is thin and weak, and he bends it to a ninety degree angle and it breaks. The second bar is much thicker and stronger and even though the strong man exerts all his strength, it bends until the ends touch, but never breaks. Which bar endured more pressure? The second! It absorbed the full force of the man's strength and didn't break. "On earth, Jesus was like that second bar. Because he never gave in, because he did not run away, because he never went where temptation would lead, but stood strong until that moment of temptation was over, he endured the full power of temptation. Christ endured stress, pain, suffering, and sacrifice of an intensity that we will never face because he did not break. He stood strong against sin for us. He endured everything the world could throw against him."

This has been so helpful for me. I have been thinking as well, that although Christ didn't experience the same circumstances of temptation, the underlying sins were the same. For example, I am always tempted to think that God doesn't know best when it comes to my children. Christ didn't have children, but I am sure that in the garden, he was tempted to think that God's way was not best. Do you know what I mean? And because he never gave in to that worry, he experienced the temptation far more strongly than I do!

Thanks for these posts.