“Now many have become Levitical priests, since they are prevented by death from remaining in office. But because he remains forever, he holds his priesthood permanently. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, since he always lives to intercede for them.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Nothing lasts forever. At least, that’s something the world teaches us. We learn it, though, less by direct teaching, and more by experience. I remember a whole variety of endings from over the course of my life: The passing, one by one, of my grandparents, my grade school principal’s retirement (before I went to junior high), the graduation of high school classes ahead of mine, the end of college, the end of seminary, the end of one ministry (which preceded the beginning of another, but still…), and so on and so forth. Everything ends. People end. How can we really trust in anything? Because some things do last forever. Specifically, Jesus does. Let’s talk this morning about why that matters.
Kids these days…have a lot then can be said about them. Some of it is good. Some of it isn’t quite so complimentary. But one of the things that can be said that doesn’t really fit into either category is that they don’t think of many things as permanent. Folks from previous generations, but especially the Boomer Generation, don’t understand this and it drives them crazy.
We see this embrace of impermanence in things like our talk of stater homes. Used to be, when you finally got to where you could buy a house (which only came after you were married and had a job), that was probably the house you were going to live in the rest of your life. Nowadays, people buy a home only planning to stay until they don’t love it anymore or they get a job that moves them to a new community. I know people several years younger than me who have owned as many as four different houses.
But this idea goes way beyond just houses. Household appliances used to be built to last for more than a generation. Now, you’re lucky if you get five years out of one. We also upgrade our phones like clockwork. Cell phone companies may not mandate two-year contracts like they used to, but instead they’ll lock you into paying for one for two years and won’t let you pay it off early (I know because we’ve tried). Then, they offer such good deals to upgrade to a new phone at that point in order to entice you to stay locked, that you’d almost be silly not to take them up on it.
We expect things not to last.
Under the old system of the Law of Moses, this same sort of phenomenon played out, but not necessarily the way you’d imagine. Everyone expected that system to last forever. It was like a dryer built in the 1950s or the 1960s. Sure, some parts of it occasionally needed repairs made to them, but the overall system was fine.
The trouble with this idea is that the parts that kept needing to be replaced were instrumental to its proper functioning. Namely, the priests the people needed to stand in the gap between them and God, and to represent their interests to Him, kept dying. When this happened, a new priest would be raised up and trained to do the job.
But a new priest meant someone who didn’t do things quite like the old one. He brought his own personality and character. He may have done them better, but he also may have done them worse. Maybe he was a good and faithful priest, but maybe he didn’t really want to do it, was forced into it because of his heredity, and only brought half an effort to the gig. Now the people’s representation before God was incomplete and unsatisfactory at best. Yet there was no other way to do the job. No animal could do it. And death came for everyone eventually. The impermanence of it all could get discouraging and frustrating.
But then came Jesus.
Jesus came as the representative of an entirely new, old priesthood. This new priesthood had none of the weaknesses of the old one based on heredity. Furthermore, because Jesus rose from the dead and now lives forever, He won’t ever not be on the job. Our representation before God is perfect and unending. He took a system that was filled with cracks and made it whole again.
And, while this means a number of different things, here’s just one worth reflecting on this morning: you always have someone who loves you and is committed to you representing you and your interests before God. Jesus is never not making the case for why your trust in Him qualifies you to be in God’s presence and to receive the gift of eternal life. He is constantly encouraging you and ready to help you navigate through the various challenges and pitfalls along the path God has planned for you in Him. In short: you are not alone. Ever. No earthly priest could promise anything like that. Jesus can. Trust in Him.