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Easter and Mediation (Hebrews 7:23-25)

April 18, 2021 Speaker: Bryce Morgan Series: 4 Easter

Topic: One Lord: So Great a Salvation Passage: Hebrews 7:23–7:25

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I. Much-Needed Mediation

From simply bothersome to deeply troubling, imagine finding yourself in one of the following situations:

  • Waiting on the phone for several hours, when suddenly a customer service agent breaks in, “How may I help you today?” 

  • Stuck in a police station in a hostile, foreign nation when suddenly an English-language translator appears. 

  • Stuck in a prison in a hostile, foreign nation when suddenly an American diplomat appears in your cell. 

  • Stuck in the child welfare system for years when suddenly an adoption caseworker steps in to connect you with a loving family. 

  • Spiraling down into debt when suddenly a financial backer appears and intervenes with all your creditors. 

  • Working for months, even years, to leave your increasingly lawless, increasingly impoverished nation when suddenly a sponsor steps forward to help with your immigration. 

  • Sitting on death row when suddenly a well-known lawyer not only takes your case, but takes up your cause, eager to see justice done.

These are all instances of much-needed mediation; those times when you desperately need an advocate, someone to represent you, in a difficult time, in the face of some greater power. Mediation is our theme this morning as we look together at Hebrews 7:23-25. Please turn there.


II. The Passage: “Because He Continues Forever” (7:23-25)

For the past two Sundays we have been talking about why Easter should be, hands down, your favorite day; of this year or any year. Let me give you a third reason this should be the case.

Reason #3: Easter should be your favorite day because it's the day you were given an eternal mediator for the sake of your eternal well-being.

Listen to how the author of Hebrews speaks about this appointment in Hebrews 7:23-25. He tells us this about Jesus...

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, [24] but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. [25] Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

So notice first that we're not talking about a translator or a social worker or a lawyer here, are we? The mediators in view in this passage are priests, those appointed to represent sinful human beings in the presence of a holy God. You see, the author is writing this book to those who have confessed themselves to be Jewish Christians, and yet, some are wanting to go back under the priestly work of the sons of Aaron; those Levites who offered sacrifices in the Temple in Jerusalem. As you can see from our main passage, the author is reminding his readers of why the priesthood of Jesus is vastly superior to what came before.

According to this passage the reason Jesus is a far better priest is that: (v. 23) he is not “prevented by death from continuing in office”. In contrast to the perpetual procession of priests who came before, this one priest, Jesus, “holds his priesthood permanently”. Why? (v. 24) “...because he continues forever”. Or as the author goes on to write in verse 25, because “he always lives to make intercession for” us. No, Jesus is not one of the sons of Aaron. He was not born into the tribe of Levi. Look at v. 16 of this chapter. He was appointed as a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.

Listen to how the writer later affirms the firmness of this solid rock, the solid rock of Christ's permanent priesthood: 13:8... Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Brothers and sisters, friends, this emphasis points us back to Easter. Do you see that? Through his resurrection, Jesus Christ manifested “the power of an indestructible life”. Because of his resurrection, Jesus Christ “continues forever”. Because of his resurrection, Jesus Christ “always lives to make intercession for” us. Easter was the day our eternal Mediator became the only eternal mediator.

If there are, in this life, instances of much-needed mediation, times when we are in desperate need of an advocate, someone to represent us in that difficult time; when we are powerless in the face of some greater power... none of those instances can compare to the mediation of Jesus and our desperate need for his mediation. In fact, all of those other instances should point us to our greater need for an eternal Advocate; for ultimate intercession; ultimate mediation.

But it's critical we remember a second reason why Jesus is a far better priest; why He, and he alone, is the ultimate mediator. Yes, the permanent and perpetual priesthood of Jesus does point us back to Easter. But it also points us back to Good Friday. Jesus is our ultimate mediator, not simply because he “always lives to make intercession for” us, but because his intercession is perfect in every way... in light of the perfect sacrifice he offered up when he offered up himself. This is how the author of Hebrews goes on to describe that sacrifice...

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come... he entered  once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption… For Christ has entered…into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf…[it was not] to offer himself repeat-edly, as the [Jewish] high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then [Christ] would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.. And every [earthly] priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 9:11, 12, 24-26; 10:11-14)

When you understand the true nature and the true extent of your sin, AND when you understand the truth about God's holiness and God's justice, you can't not be astounded that God would provide for you a Mediator like Jesus. But to accomplish the monumental, transformative, universe-encompassing, and eternal work that we desperately needed, we needed exactly this kind of priest. That's what the writer goes on to tell us in 7:26, For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.

You see, only a perfect human being, who was at the same time perfectly divine could “stand in the gap” for us; One who had perfectly satisfied the justice of God for us. As the Apostle Paul wrote in I Timothy 2:5–6...

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, [6] who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

In Hebrews, that word “mediator” is used of Jesus three times; always in reference to the new covenant he ratified through his blood: the covenant [Christ] mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. [8:6] ...he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance... [9:15] ...to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. [12:24]


III. Walking by Faith

Easter should be your favorite day, of any day, because it's the day you were given an eternal mediator for the sake of your eternal well-being. But if that's true (which it is), how should the day-to-day mediation of Jesus in heaven affect your day-to-day life on earth? Christians have often strayed to two extremes in this life: they either focus on the past work of Christ, but with an emphasis on simply doctrinal confession, OR they fixate on his future return, but simply with an emphasis on apocalyptic calculation. But we must also embrace His present work as our Mediator. And then, holding firmly to the grace of the cross and the hope of his return, we must regularly ask ourselves, “What will it look like to walk by faith in this Jesus, this very day?”

Consider with me three ways the mediation of Jesus should impact your life today:

First of all, when other people let you down, you can be sure there is always Someone 'in your corner'.

All of us know there are times when relationships can become strained, or circumstances can move people in different directions, or expectations are not met, or a friend or family member makes a decision that is deliberately hurtful. And depending on the size of our circle, depending on who is affected, it can feel like we are totally on our own. Even when we are circumstantially surrounded by others, events can lead to feelings of deep isolation.

But if you are a follower of Jesus, as we've seen this morning, you are never truly on your own. There is another human being who is always on your side. Someone who always, always, always has your back; who will never not be in your corner. And He died to make his advocacy, his meditation, an eternal reality in your life. Even when you are struggling with faith, he stands faithfully at God's right hand... for you! Does that encourage you, this morning? As the author writes in the final chapter of this book:

...for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” [6] So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (13:5-6)

Second, whenever we wrestle with a present reality of guilt, regret, shame, etc., we can know there is also a present reality of meditation for us in the presence of God.

Maybe this morning you are wrestling with a decision or series of decisions that you know were blatantly sinful... deeply dishonoring to God... self-centered and hurtful to others. Maybe you believe what you did or said was so bad that God wants nothing to do with you. Or maybe, you are reluctant to really face what you did or said. You are rationalizing. You are minimizing. If that's you this morning, God is calling you to repent; to remorsefully acknowledge such behavior as sin and inwardly turn away, to reject that mindset and path; and to do so in light of the perfect 'once for all' sacrifice of Jesus that covers every sin of every child of God.

But maybe you've done that; or believe you've done that, and yet, feelings of guilt remain; regret continues to weigh you down; shame continues to hang over your head. What can you do in times like that? Well, as we've heard this morning, because of Easter, we can look to our Mediator, who “always lives to make intercession for” us. God wants us to accept that when things like regret, shame, and despair feel so powerfully present that the reality of Christ's mediation is even more so. In fact, such feelings are nothing more than that. But the reality of His priesthood is fact, and it's that fact that empties the reality of of guilt through his shed blood. 

Finally, as we think about implications and application, third, because our Mediator, our 'Go-Between', was once where we are now, we can be sure that one day, we will be where He is now.

Jesus Christ is God in human flesh. Because of the Incarnation, because God the Son, without losing his deity, took on our humanity... he has become a bridge; a bridge connecting mankind and their Creator; his sinless humanity holding firm on our side, and his all-powerful deity holding firm in the presence of God. So because he was once where we are now, we can, one day, be where He is now. He died to make that possible. Brothers and sisters, He lives to make that possible.

It may be that this morning, you've been longing to hear that comforting truth. Yes, this life can be so heavy that we need reassurance that there is another life to come... one of rest. But even more so, we should also long for reunion. If you have truly been born again, by God's grace, through the Spirit of God, there should be a deep desire to be with, to see, face to face, Jesus Christ your Mediator; the One who has stood, is standing, and will stand for you in the presence of God. Paul put it simply in Philippians 1:23... My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

One day, that will happen. As surely as He died for you, you will live with him. Let's give thanks together for that fact, and let's each talk with God about what's he revealed to us this morning.