The Letter to the Hebrews: The ongoing ministry of Jesus
Through his perfect obedience and perfect sacrifice, Jesus took away fear and sin, the two things that ultimately prevent access to God. This was not only true for the people at that time. The writer stresses throughout the epistle the present and ongoing ministry and priesthood of Christ.
Indeed, in the opening chapter, he quotes Psalm 45 affirming about the Son that “Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever…” (Hebrews 1:8). This ongoing ministry is spelt out in Hebrews 4:14-16, reminiscent of Romans 8:34, which speaks of Jesus who “is at the right hand of God and is interceding for us.” In the Hebrews passage, he talks of a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, right to the very heart, to the presence of God himself. In other words, “it is the ministry of the Lord in heaven to interpret our prayers aright and plead the efficacy of his sacrifice as the basis of our coming to God.” – James Montgomery Boice.
What boldness in prayer we can therefore experience!
The comparison of Jesus to Melchizedek in Chapter 7 reminds us again of the humanity of Jesus, which is emphasised throughout this letter in a way that no other book in the New Testament does, for his humanity is crucial in Jesus’ role as the Great High Priest who can fully understand us, having lived as one of us. The chapter culminates in language of permanence and eternity – “because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood” (v24); “he always lives to intercede for them” (v25); “the Son, who has been made perfect forever” (v28). Hebrews 8:1-2 underlines the point by using the present continuous tense to describe what Jesus is doing now – “We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary…” The writer sums it up in his concluding exhortations in Chapter 13 in this memorable statement – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.” (v8) From The Letter to the Hebrews:an evaluative outline of the key themes and theological insights
For many, if they believe he ever existed at all, Jesus was a good man who said some good stuff. A prophet even, maybe, who was killed for his subversive teaching. However, the idea that Jesus is still alive is really tough to accept – that he rose from the dead, conquered death and is now in the presence of the Father, at one with God. Having been fully human, he can understand what it is to be human and can ‘intercede’ for us (mediate/intervene for us on our behalf).
But for those who do believe and have experienced the resurrection power and everlasting presence of Jesus in their lives, this is a most wonderful truth. Jesus is alive!
There’s a song we played this Easter Sunday for the first time and I hope it’s one that we continue to include often in our services. Here are the lyrics and the video. It’s a simple truth that bears repeating over and over and over again – one that we should never forget, because it is life-changing!
Because He Lives (Amen) by Matt Maher
I believe in the Son
I believe in the risen One
I believe I overcome
By the power of His blood
I’m alive, I’m alive
Because He lives
Let my song join the one that never ends
Because He lives
I was dead in the grave
I was covered in sin and shame
I heard mercy call my name
He rolled the stone away