Summary: A sermon for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost Proper 28 A sermon on the second Lesson
23rd Sunday after Pentecost
Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25
"The High Priest"
11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
13 then to wait until his enemies should be made a stool for his feet.
14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
19 ¶ Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus,
20 by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful;
24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.RSV
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
Our sermon for this week is based on the second lesson from Hebrews.
A little introduction to the book of Hebrews first. We are not sure who wrote the book, maybe Paul, but we do know why the book was written.
The writer was addressing a Jewish Christian community who had begun to loose faith, or were not as "fired up" about their new faith as they had been at the beginning. So, the writer addresses them, trying to revive their faith and passion for Christ.
He reminds them what Christ did for them, dying on the cross, rising on the third day, and then ascending into heaven many days later. He reminds them that Jesus is the great high priest, the one who offered not just a sacrifice of lambs, or dove, but offered his own body as a sacrifice for sin. And he id not do this over and over again as the priest in the temple did, but he sacrificed himself just once for the sins of all generations.
Then he goes on to remind them what their response to this mighty act of Jesus should be, it should be loving, forgiving, and being kind to your neighbor. And he says they should meet regularly as a community of faith to uphold each other’s in faith.
So that brings us to look closely at the verses in our lesson today with the background as a basis for our thoughts.
The beginning verses today remind us of the mighty work of Christ as the great high priest. The priest that offered not doves, or lambs for a sacrifice to God, but his own body and blood.
Jesus sacrificed himself because almighty God needed a sacrifice for our sins, the sins of human kind. God is a just God and a forgiving God, but at the same time a righteous God who wants a holy sacrifice for sin. So the writer of Hebrews is reminding us that Jesus sacrificed himself for all sinner, sinners in the past as well as sinner now and in the future.
George Buttrick wrote a book called Jesus Came Preaching. In it he describes a picture he once saw in an Italian church. It is a picture of the crucifixion of Christ. As you look at it closely you notice a large and shadowy figure behind the figure of Jesus. The shadowy figure is God, so that the nail that pierces the hand of Christ also pierces the hand of God, and the spear that pierces the side of Christ also pierces the side of God.
The picture makes the point that God was in Christ reconciling himself to the world. The crucifixion does not represent God against Jesus the human, but God incarnate taking upon himself the sin of the world.1
As the great high priest, Jesus made the sacrifice upon the altar of righteousness for our sins. For your sins and for my sins.
And when he did, our sins were forgiven and they are forgotten. God through Jesus does not hold grudges. Our sins have been wiped clean by the blood of Jesus when we seek forgiveness.
It is like the father in the following story:
A young man borrowed the family car without permission, knowing he could have it home and safely in the garage before his father found out. He hadn’t reckoned on getting rear-ended at the second intersection he came to. No way to conceal the damage, he parked the car and closed the garage door, then spent an evening agonizing over how to deal with his father when he arrived home.