2nd Wednesday of Lent
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In the name of Jesus, dear friends in Christ, perhaps you saw this news story, but two years ago there was a news story in the Twin Cities about a girls high school level basketball team that was kicked out of the Northwest Suburban Basketball league. The other teams refused to play against or forfeit all their games against this team from the Rogers area youth basketball association and why? Because they were too good, they were too talented that no one wanted to play against them. Well, what about Jesus? The question we’re asking tonight is, “Is Jesus too great?” Is Jesus too great to be the High Priest that we need? The High Priest was supposed to be someone who could relate to the people. The first verse of Hebrews 5 says, “Every high priest is selected from among the people…he is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.” So is Jesus too great? Last week we heard just how great Jesus is: he is the Son of God, Creator, preserver, heir of all things, radiance of God’s glory, exact representation of his being. So, if Jesus is so great, how could he possibly relate to and sympathize with people, with human beings? What we want to focus on this evening is how Jesus is our perfect High Priest in the way that prayed and in the way that he obeyed.
First, in the way that he prayed. We’re told in our text, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” The “days of Jesus’ life on earth” is referring to Jesus life on earth as a true human being. When he offered prayers with cries and tears, our minds take us immediately to the Garden of Gethsemane, don’t they? Jesus told his disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” And we’re told about his cries, his tears, his sweat like drops of blood.
Why was he so troubled? Why did he cringe at the thought of what was coming? Because He knew. He knew that His hour had come, the hour of taking upon himself the burden, the punishment, the guilt, the shame of this world’s sin. We feel a tinge of that when we commit a sin and it burdens us, the guilt can eat us away- just over one sin. I saw a brief video of Nicholas Cruz, the shooter in Florida who killed 17 people, and he was sitting in court with his head down, didn’t say a word and is on suicide watch, perhaps the reality of his sin is crushing him. But, think of Jesus, he’s facing horrible prospect of feeling every ounce of God’s hatred, wrath, and punishment for every sin on the cross! His human flesh and blood cringe at this.
Jesus is the holy one, Jesus is the perfect one, Jesus is the one who committed no sin, perfect in every way. So, how is it that Jesus could plead with fervent cries and tears that if there is any other way, that this cup of suffering might be taken from him, how is it that Jesus couldn’t see that the cross was an absolute necessity to redeem this world of lost sinners? It’s because Jesus humbled himself. From his conception to his burial in the tomb Jesus gave up the full and constant use of His divine glory and power. Jesus humbled himself so far that He who created the angels is strengthened by them to bear this struggle.
He cringed at the thought of drinking this cup, but he never rebelled. In reverent submission he obeyed his Heavenly Father. No resistance, not a whisper of complaint. Just, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
Is that our prayer? Is “reverent submission” to God a description of our lives? Or do we use our time, our money, our energy in our own self-serving and selfish ways? If things go wrong in life – if there is pain or loss, sickness or cross – do we easily give in to grumbling or complaining? Is it “my will, my way, my body, my life” to do with the way that I want? Do we pray, “Not mine, but your will be done?” For all the times we haven’t, Jesus did. Jesus was our perfect High Priest he showed it in the way that he prayed.
But he also showed it in the way that he obeyed. “He learned obedience from what he suffered.” Not only did Jesus say “Your will be done” but He did it. He followed through, even when it meant the ridicule, beating, spikes in his hands and feet on a cross. He said it AND did it.
It’s easy to say something, perhaps harder to carry it through with our actions. It’s pretty easy on your confirmation day to vow to remain faithful to God, faithful to God’s Word, forsaking everything in life- even my very life, rather than deny God, but then when temptations come alluring, when sin looks so sweet, to give in. It’s easy for a bride and groom to say, “I will” “I will remain faithful to you, I will help and support you in sickness and in health till death separates us.” But then in action when I need to actually sacrifice, actually lay aside my wants or desires for my spouse, ooh, that’s difficult. It’s difficult to obey.
But Jesus did. He said “I will” and he did. He went to the cross and paid for all of our broken promises. “And, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” “And, once made perfect,” a better translation would be “After he had finished his work.” “finished” does that ring a bell? That’s what Jesus said on the cross: “It is finished.” Jesus finished the work, completed the rescue mission, won eternal salvation, our perfect high priest perfectly became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him or believe in him.
Jesus is our perfect High priest. He showed it in the way that he prayed and in the way that he obeyed. He obeyed his Father, finished the work that the Father gave him to do, even to the point of death on the cross. You have a perfect High Priest, pray to him, pray this his will be done, not yours, reverently submit to him, obey Him, for His will for you and your life is perfect because He is the perfect High Priest. Amen.