Summary: Although Old Testament priests needed to offer sacrifices again and again, sacrifices which could never pay for our sin, Jesus offered himself once for all and totally payed the price required for our forgiveness.
Jesus the Priest
Jesus is Different, part 1
Someone once wrote, “It used to be that Christianity was a revolutionary faith that turned the world upside down. But today Christians sit in Sunday morning church services looking at their watches, wondering what time dinner will be served, or thinking about the kickoff. And we hope that church won’t interfere with the things we would really rather be doing.” Does that describe you sometimes? It’s like when we lived in Columbia, TN. People were always in a hurry to get everywhere. They rarely used brakes or turn signals. They occasionally noticed stop signs while passing by at twenty or thirty miles per hour. Speed signs were mere suggestions for the weak of heart. Everyone, from the gentle mother of five to the kindly old man, turned into Mr. X in the car, honking, racing, passing. But once they reached their destination, they would just sit around and talk for a half hour. They were always in a hurry to get somewhere and do very little. It’s sort of like that with our faith sometimes. Let’s just get this service over so we can reenter reality and hang up the tie until next Sunday. Let’s quick get through this devotion or skip it altogether so that we can get some shut-eye. Let’s pray mindlessly or not at all so that we can get to the grub or the meeting. Let’s zoom through this bit about Jesus so that we can talk important stuff like the game.
One word describes us: distracted. Distracted by life, jobs, friends, sports, hobbies, internet and nothing in particular. Distracted from our loving Jesus. Could it be that we’ve lost the wonder, the awe, the passion for our Savior?
A few weeks ago we talked about the Jewish Christians in the early Christian church. Many of them were tempted to abandon their faith because of persecution. The author to the Hebrews encouraged them hold on to Jesus.
His letter also has something to say to those who have lost the wonder, awe and passion for their Savior. He says, “Wake up. Jesus is different. He is worth following because he offers something no one else can. Don’t go back to your old, selfish ways because Jesus is different.
Hebrews 7:26-28 26 Such a high priest meets our need-- one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. (NIV)
I. He’s honest about our sins
Old movie; the volcano acting up; the gods must be angry. Terrified Tribesmen hoist a helpless girl up the side, intending to throw her in as a sacrifice to appease the gods.
The true God never demanded human sacrifices for sin, but he did demand animal sacrifices in the Jerusalem temple thousands of years ago, especially on the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur. Every year, God’s High Priest had to offer two special sacrifices on the Day of Atonement. First, he killed a bull for his sins and then a goat for the sins of God’s people. He took bowls of that blood into a special room called the Holy of Holies and sprinkled it around the furnishings. Then, the bull and goat were burned up and the day was done.
You would think after countless years of slaying goats and sprinkling blood that God would have been satisfied. You would think that after a few years of smoke in his eyes, he would have said, “Okay, that’s enough sacrifice; you’re forgiven.” But that was not the case.
Let me illustrate: when we lived in the Collins Marsh over by Manitowoc, someone had a bug zapper. Now, if you ever been through a marsh on a July evening, the idea of a bug zapper must be pretty funny to you. Sure, you’ll get a few big pops, a monster might sizzle for thirty seconds, but mostly it’s just a constant reminder how hopelessly outnumbered you are. Hundreds of bug zappers would never be enough to fry out the mosquitoes. In the same way, sinful priests offering countless bulls, buckets of blood and billowing smoke were only a constant reminder that no earthly sacrifice would ever be enough to pay for our sins. There are too many sins. The cost is too great. The Holy Creator hates sin too much.
You will find that every religion in the world, besides Christianity, teaches that you can achieve forgiveness and peace with God through your sacrifices. Do good; god is happy. But Jesus is different. He’s honest about our sins. He tells us that no human sacrifice will ever be enough to appease God. There are too many sins. The cost is too great. The Holy Creator hates sin too much. We cannot make enough sacrifices to win God’s favor. We cannot give up enough for Lent. We cannot deny ourselves enough chocolate. We cannot compare ourselves to other generations or other people enough. We cannot put enough in the offering plate. No human sacrifice is ever enough.