Summary: Jesus serves as the only true and complete bridge between us and the Father.
DOMINANT THOUGHT: Jesus serves as the only true and complete bridge between us and the Father.
- Head: The people will have a better grasp of their greater access to God through Jesus.
- Heart: The people will love God and one another.
- Hands: The people will try to be better “bridges” between God and those around them.
Michelle’s family and many of my friends live in Missouri. We go there as often as we can to visit. In order to do so, we take I-55 to St. Louis, and then I-44 to Joplin. In order to do so, however, we must cross the largest river in the United States—the Mississippi.
Now there are several ways to cross a river. We could fly over it. We could swim across. We could take a boat across. But generally we simply take the bridge across. It’s the easy way. Bridges help us cross over from one place to another.
As most of you have figured out by now, I like words. I like to know where they come from and what they mean. I like to use words, small words, big words, common words, weird words. Today I want to use a simple word to describe a complex circumstance. My word for today is bridge.
I think I’m justified in using it today because I am going to talk about what it means to be a priest. And one of the titles for a priest, in the Latin world, anyway, was pontiff, which means bridge-maker. And that’s just what priests were. Priests serve as mediators between the human realm and the divine realm—they serve as a bridge between two worlds.
For many generations the mediators between man and God came from the men of the tribe of Levi as described in the Old Testament, particularly in Exodus and Leviticus. These servants of God had many responsibilities. It was up to them to distinguish between what was clean/unclean and what was holy/common. This was an important task because the camp needed to be clean in order for God to live among the people, and it was critical to give God what was due him. Because they entered into the realm of the divine, these priests had to live by stricter rules than the rest of the community, for they risked death every time they entered into the presence of God. They also served as teachers, as purifiers, as God’s spokespeople, as judges, and, probably most importantly, as those who made sacrifices to God. Day in, day out, year after year after year, the priests made sacrifices to God. When the priests died, new priests would be appointed, and the process would continue. And so it went.
But about 2,000 years ago, all of that changed. God introduced a better bridge to him for us—his Son Jesus Christ.
That’s what get’s the writer of Hebrews so jazzed in chapter 7 of his message. We’ve been looking through the book of Hebrews to find clues to the better life. And here in chapter 7 we see that we have better access to the Father through Jesus. The writer starts off by going into painstaking detail about this guy named Melchizedek, setting the stage for his argument that Jesus is ultimate priest, the ultimate bridge, between man and God. Let’s pick it up in verse 10. Hear the Word of God:
If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come--one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: `You are a priest forever.’ " 22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.