Archive for December, 2014

Christ clothed in our humanity is our High Priest.

December 27th, 2014
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The birth of Jesus actually changes human history. That is a dramatic statement of faith. Not obviously visible, but true nonetheless.

God has permanently joined himself to humankind in Jesus. He is at one with his creation. The future of his creation is in him. God has invested himself into our future. We are not a throw away experience.

God is not a distant on-looker, an impersonal first cause. He is so involved that we read “Jesus wept” over Jerusalem.

Jesus said after God has found the lost “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

I would like to share Gerritt Dawson’s analogy from the play Les Misérables:

GSD: It’s a story about Jean Valjean, who was a kind of every-man character who, though he had been wrongly accused of stealing in his youth, is set free and rises to become the mayor of a town and actually adopts a young girl named Cosette because her mother has died of an illness.

He’s this wonderful father figure concerned to care for her, but because of his shadowy past he doesn’t want anyone to know about her, and he keeps her cloistered away till he realizes one day that Cosette has fallen in love with a man she met out in town named Marius. Jean Valjean realizes that his daughter’s happiness lies in communion with this man that she has met. Well, as things happen, the ill-fated French Revolution occurs and Marius has gone to fight and in the process of that fight, he is severely wounded.

Jean Valjean is there at the barricades, and in a very poignant scene you see him pick up the wounded Marius, put him on his back, and then open up a grate and descend into the city’s sewers. There, he escapes from the soldiers who are coming after them and he strides through the filth and the wreckage that is floating in the sewers of Paris in order to rise up in another place and bring Marius to a physician who can heal him and ultimately restore him to Cosette, his love.

It struck me what a wonderful example that is, and in some sense an allegory of Christ’s priesthood for realizing that we are mortally wounded as humans by our sin and our estrangement from the Father. Jesus, in a sense, came down to where we are and picked up our humanity as he took it as his own and he made his way against the filth and the sewage of this world, striding against the sin and the violence and the anger and the distortions, he carried our ruined humanity all the way up to the healing place, into the heavenlies, where now he is preparing a place for us where we can be in communion with him.

This concept of our High Priest is developed from the Day of Atonement

GSD: The High Priest would get dressed with a breastplate that has inscribed upon it the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. That, in a sense, meant that he was writing onto his very heart the names of God’s people and he was, in a sense, bearing all of Israel with him as he prepared to go in to the holy of holies.

He would go in on that day, he would first prepare himself by washing, putting on the ritual garments, and then by offering a sacrifice of sin for himself and his family and then finally offering a sacrifice of sin on behalf of the people and he would bring the blood of the goat into the holy of holies, sprinkle it on the mercy seat and thereby make intercession, confessing the people’s sins, acting in their name and on their behalf. When it was done, he would come out and place his hands on the scapegoat – the other goat that carried away the sins of the people, and he would bless them and declared them to be forgiven. In that one day, the High Priest enacted an atonement that God had provided for the people by acting on behalf of the people bringing their sins to God and acting on behalf of God, the Lord Yahweh, bringing his forgiveness to the people.

The parallels with Jesus are almost breathtaking to think about. The idea is that Jesus, in fulfilling the office of our High Priest, got dressed in a garment, and that garment was our flesh. He dressed in our humanity, and just as the High Priest carried the names of the people over his heart, Jesus, in wearing our flesh, wrote the name of all humanity into himself. He bore us in himself. He didn’t have to go into the Temple, but in going to the cross, Jesus became both the priest and the sacrifice. He was the offerer of the sacrifice, but that sacrifice was himself. And so Jesus, in making that perfect atonement, then was able to go into the holy of holies bearing our humanity.

Now, the priest would come out from the holy of holies and bless the people. Jesus has not yet returned from the Father’s immediate presence, he is in heaven and we are waiting for his return. Nevertheless, he’s blessed us because he sent the Holy Spirit of the Father, passed to him the Blessed Spirit, whom he poured out upon us, who unites us to Jesus and causes us then, in him, to have direct access to the throne of God.

This of course is based on the reality of the Word becoming flesh as we read in John.

We need to have a correct understanding of who Jesus is:

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Message for the Day

The Word became flesh

December 16th, 2014
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In the next two sermons I want to show the wonderful link between the incarnation of Jesus Christ or as it is described in John, The Word became flesh, and Jesus’ ascension back to heaven.

 This has enormous implications for our understanding of the Christian faith.

 I will be using material from interviews giving by Gerritt Dawson with Mike Feazell.

 I want to go back to the resurrection and ascension descriptions given by Luke

 What jumps out to you in Luke’s emphasis?

Luke 24:1-3, 36 -43

1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

Acts 1:3-5,9-11

3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”

9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Luke wants us to know that Jesus’ resurrection was bodily: he was the same human Jesus they knew before. This is the man who was born like we are, named Jesus and grew up in to manhood.

He bodily ascended and will return bodily.

Gerritt Dawson:

People think that God only became a human for a little while he was with us those 33 years that Jesus was here. But in fact, Scripture and traditions of all believers have taught for centuries that Jesus remained incarnate. He did not kind of unzip his humanity and take it off, he remained wedded to our humanity.

That’s wonderful news for us because it means that the same Jesus who gathered the little children in his arms and touched them and blessed them, the same Jesus who accepted the tears of the sinful woman and pronounced forgiveness to her, the same Jesus who was willing to touch someone with a terrible disease and to heal them, that’s the same Jesus that we relate to now. He still has the memory of walking among us on this earth. He still has our flesh. He’s still the Jesus that we meet in the Gospels.

This means what we see in the gospels is the same Jesus who ascended: this is the character of his kingdom as we heard. This is how he is towards us now.

The Jesus of the gospel’s is the same Jesus presently at the right hand of God.

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Message for the Day

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin November

December 12th, 2014
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