Summary: The Throne Room - the presence of God - and because of our High Priest - we enter confidently
Concordia Lutheran Church
Pentecost 23 November 15, 2009
Confident We Enter
† IN JESUS NAME †
Long ago in many ways and at many times God’s prophets spoke his message to our ancestors. 2 But now at last, God sent his Son to bring his message to us. The Message, that we have been given the grace, mercy and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As the votes were counted, the smile on the man’s face was beaming. You would think that as he heard vote after vote go against him, Half the ballots were accounted for, and no one else had bet set apart – His opponents were in despair and disbelief, even though the vote was going exactly as they had planned. Yet Russell’s smile got bigger and bigger, and he enjoyed the moment immensely! They wanted him out – out of their lives, and out of the game. They had done everything right…and still he smiled with an unbelievable level of confidence and assurance.
If you have never watched the television show Survivor, the scene I just described would not make sense. People on a island try to survive, yet every few days, they get rid of one of the team – until there are two left. Then those sent away vote for the winner.
Russell is a incredible player – some might even consider him arrogant. But he has done something no one has ever done in 20 seasons of Survivor. He found the “immunity idol,” a token you can play after a vote, which makes you immune to the vote. They have them every season – and clues are given to some, based on games. Russell, knowing there was one, looked without clues, and early in the game found a idol. Never done before. And he played it 2 weeks ago…
The person who was voted off, didn’t play the other immunity idol in the game, and so it was placed back in the camp. Russell’s opponents even knew – but decided no one else did – and plotted his demise. They were sure they had him, because no one else knew. When the votes were cast, 7 of eleven voted him. Then, as the names were to be read… Russell stands up, and confidently hands the host the other idol! His opponents were in shock, upset, and while his name was read, over and over. The vote was meaningless, indeed it mocked those who would have condemned Him as they heard Russell, Russell, Russell, Russell, Russell, Russell. And Russell stayed in the game, with a confident assurance and joy…
Hebrews tells us that we enter the holy place, the very presence of the Father, with such confidence, no, even more confidence than Russell. Much more confidence… the key to which we shall discuss today.
The Count to Come
Our efforts meaningless
Yet people keep trying to!
Like Russell – they think effort will pay off
First, let’s define confidence. The Oxford English Dictionary has several descriptions; one is the assurance that arises from an appreciation of one’s abilities. The word in Greek also translates as being brash. It’s the attitude that David had against Goliath, or that Jesus had when confronting the Sadducees on the issue of eternal life. He had been there, they hadn’t.
Yet being confident can be a struggle, as Peter found out when he got out of the boat and set the distance record for walking on water by a human being who wasn’t also God. He looked at the waves, he felt the wind, and he realized he was doing something he couldn’t do, as he began to sink.
We have trouble with confidence as well, though we might fake it enough that others might not know how worried we are. Why is it that we don’t want people to know they struggle with life? That we have doubts and fears, which distract us from God and yes, even sins that we try to hide? Or using one of Jesus examples – why is it important to keep the outside of the cup clean, when we know that the inside is really what needs cleaning?
As you look at man-made religions, we find that mankind is still trying to do what the priests during Jesus’ day did. You see back then, the sacrifice offered for sin did nothing. There was no ark of the covenant, no mercy seat. On which the blood was to be poured. There was nothing behind the curtain, the treasures there being removed during the Exile. Yet the priests still offered sacrifices, and yearly one priest went behind the curtain, as if to offer the blood.
The world does the same thing today, trying to find the confidence to approach God. They read “the” latest books, they “do” all sorts of things, they make “bargains” with God, and maybe even put on our spiritual make-up, as we try to convince each other that we are mature, confident Christians. But how long can confidence in our own abilities last?