9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. — 1 Peter 2:9a NLT
Those that are exposed to God’s Light must make an immediate decision. They will either accept Him or reject Him. There is no neutral ground. “Almost persuaded” is not good enough. We must become totally committed to Jesus. When we trust Him completely, we will never be disgraced. But for those that reject Jesus, they will stumble and fall. If they choose to continue to reject His free offer of salvation, then they choose to go to hell. We have been called out of darkness into His wonderful Light. Therefore,we must be the Light that draws others out of darkness. We have been chosen, made royal priests and a holy nation. We must be ambassadors of that nation and spread the Good News so that others can become citizens as well.
19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” — 2 Cor. 5:19,20 (NLT)
We must speak boldly with no fear of rejection. After all, it is not us, personally, that they are rejecting. They are rejecting Jesus and His plan of salvation. Our part is to scatter the seed, it is God’s part to see that they take root and grow. We must labor in the fields understanding that we may not see the results of our work while we are here on earth. Our treasures are laid up in heaven.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
9 In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. — Hebrews 5:9 NLT
As a man, Jesus had no authority to take the office of our High Priest. But because he was obedient, even to death on a cross, God appointed Christ Jesus as our High Priest. He was tempted and suffered just as any human would, but He resisted the fleshly urge to sin. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for the “cup” to be removed from Him. His prayer was not that He would be spared physical pain and physical death. The “cup” He wanted removed was His separation from the Father. He knew that while the sins of all other humans was poured on Him at the cross, He would be separated from His Father. Sin always separates us from God. But because Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, now when God looks at us, He sees us through the blood of Jesus. Because of that perfect sacrifice, we will never be separated from God again. To reject us, after we have accepted Jesus and been cleansed in His blood, would be to reject Jesus Himself.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
1 Remember what I said earlier about the role of the high priest, even the ones chosen by human beings? The job of every high priest is reconciliation: – Hebrews 5:1a The Voice
Hebrews 5:1-4 VOICE
God appointed Aaron, the brother of Moses, to be the first high priest of the Jewish nation. After Moses followed God’s instructions in anointing Aaron and his sons, Aaron was then able to offer the prescribed sacrifices to God, Everything offered had to be without blemish or the sacrifice was not acceptable. These were offered on the altar and when they were offered properly, God would accept them as a sweet smelling sacrifice and forgive the sins of the people. Aaron understood the weakness of the people and their inability to refrain from disobedience. He suffered from the same weakness. (Read Exodus 32 for that story). So he could have empathy and compassion on the people as he offered the sacrifices for both his and their sins. This was a temporary fix that God allowed until a true sacrifice could be given.There is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood, Since sin came into the world through the disobedience of the first man, Adam, complete permanent remission of sin would have to wait on the sacrifice of a perfect man, Jesus Christ.
12 And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” 13 When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear. — Hebrews 8:12, 13 NLT
In yesterday’s passage, we read about erecting landmarks and altars to remind us of the goodness of God. We were reminded of how He provides for us and watches over us so that we might proceed safely on our journey. He has established a new covenant with us beginning with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Instead of an earthly high priest, Jesus is our high Priest. He has made each us members of the royal priesthood. We can now speak directly to God Himself. He is the complete, final sacrifice so that it is no longer necessary for us to carry out the rituals required in the Old Testament. Along with that new covenant, He has written His laws in our hearts and in our minds. He has chosen to forget our sins against Him The Holy Spirit testifies that this is true. ( Hebrews 10:14-18). Just as God forgives and forgets our sins, we are to forgive others. To do that, we are going to have to go back through the memories of our lives and tear down some mental landmarks. All those memories that birng back the times we have felt or actually been mistreated are going to have to be dealt with and released into God’s captivity. As humans, we may not be able to forget entriely, but if we follow the instructions given us in 2 Cor. 10:3-5 to bring every thought captive and teach them to obey Christ, then we will find that it is completely possible to make those bad times in our lives insignificant. If not insignificant, then, at least, no longer worthy of mentioning. Otherwise, they become the roots that produce fruits of bitterness. Give those thoughts to God and allow Him to tear down the landmarks before they become strongholds that keep our relationship with God from growing into maturity.
14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. — Hebrews 7:14-18 NIV
Under the Old Testament law, the priest had to be a member of the Levite tribe. No one else was allowed to serve in the temple and/or offer the sacrifices that were required. Jesus was a member of the tribe of Judah. This was one of the issues that the Jewish religious leaders had with Him. But knowing the Old Testament, they should have realized that a new order would be established and the eternal priest would come from the tribe of Judah.
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. — Genesis 49:10 NIV
This new order would begin when the law had been fulfilled and Jesus did just that. He fulfilled the law and established a covenant of mercy and grace. The old law was weak and served only to show us that we needed a Redeemer. We could never live the life of perfection that it required. So, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to fulfill that law. His death and resurrection would usher in a whole new way of coming close to God. Earthly priests were no longer needed as we now could speak directly to God on our own behalf. Having a living God and a resurrected Jesus to worship is the defining difference in Christianity and worldly religions. It is why Chrisitanity offers the only hope for an eternity with Jesus. No religion offers the hope that we have as Christians and that is the real Christmas message that we need to be telling every day. It started with the birth of a baby in Behtlehem, it continued with the disciples and apostles and has been handed down to us to continue telling the old, old story. A story that is just as alive and vibrant today as it was when Jesus walked on the face of the earth. A light shone in the darkness then and has continued and will continue to shine throughout eternity. Our lifestyles should be mirrors that reflect that light every day, not just at this time of the year.
19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” 22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. 23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.–John 18:19-24 (NIV)
God is waiting to show you the Way.
With His first answer to the high priest, Jesus receives a slap in the face from one of the temple officials. Thus begins the mockery that is called a trial. This type of questioning and cruel treatment would continue through the night. When the high priest Annas finished questioning Jesus, he bound Him and sent Him to Caiaphas the high priest.
(There were not really two high priests at this time. The Romans had removed Annas in AD 15, yet the Jews still respected him and considered him a high priest. Since his removal from office by the Romans, five of his sons had served as high priest and now, Caiaphas, his son-in-law was the actual high priest.)
Jesus never claimed to be anyone but who He was. He never wavered or changed His story. He understood and accepted the reason He was being mistreated. He is our example of how we should respond when we are mistreated for His name’s sake. No matter how we suffer, if we are called to suffer, Jesus has already been there and worse. He will be there to carry us through. We should remember what Paul wrote to Timothy:
11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.–2 Timothy 1:11,12 (NIV)
We too are appointed as heralds and teachers of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
–2 Timothy 2:11,12 (NIV)
We must be ready to die for Him now, if we expect to reign with Him in heaven.
15 Simon Peter and another one of Jesus’ followers went along after Jesus. This follower knew the high priest, so he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard. 16 But Peter waited outside near the door. The follower who knew the high priest came back outside, spoke to the girl at the door, and brought Peter inside. 17 The girl at the door said to Peter, “Aren’t you also one of that man’s followers?” Peter answered, “No, I am not!” 18 It was cold, so the servants and guards had built a fire and were standing around it, warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.—John 18:15-18 (NCV)
God is waiting to show you the Way.
When Jesus was arrested in the garden, all the disciples fled, However, two of them came back at some point on the journey from the Garden to the priest’s house. One of them we are sure is Simon Peter, The other follower is assumed to be John because, in the book of John, John does not normally refer to himself by name, but with a brief description such as “the disciple that Jesus loved”. John went inside the house with Jesus, but Peter stayed outside near the door. John shows us that Jesus has taught him to care about others since he went into the house with Jesus, seemingly not caring if the others knew he was a follower of Jesus. Then he comes back out to have Peter brought inside. A nice gesture on a cold night. But when the girl goes to bring Peter inside, she recognizes Peter and she asks him if he isn’t also one of the followers of Jesus. Peter answers that he is not. Peter makes his first denial of the evening. Now he will have to keep lying about his relationship with Jesus. As we know, one lie always leads to another and it gets easier each time we tell it. Peter failed Jesus with words, how many times have we done that? And just as hypocritical, how many times have we betrayed Jesus with our silence? How many times have we grieved God the Holy Spirit with our refusal to allow Him to lead us? Everyday, with our actions or lack of actions and our words or our lack of words, we deny God the Father and grieve God the Holy Spirit.