Friday, October 26, 2012

Jesus our praying priest

"Christ As Mediator: Christ showing His wounds to His Father" 
Artist unknown; Illustrator of 'Speculum humanae salvationis', 
Germany (?), c. 1400-1500

Christ as Mediator - artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Hebrews 7:16-28

TO CHEW ON: "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." - Hebrews 7:25

Theologian Wayne Grudem writes about how Jesus is pictured in Hebrews in relation to the Old Testament covenant:

"In the Old Testament, the priests were appointed by God to offer sacrifices. They also offered prayers and praise to God on behalf of the people. In so doing they 'sanctified' the people or made them acceptable to come into God's presence, albeit in a limited way during the Old Testament period. In the New Testament Jesus becomes our great high priest .... Jesus functions as priest in two ways:

1. Jesus offered a perfect sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 24-28; 10:1-2
and more).

2. Jesus continually brings us near to God (Hebrews 6:19-20 and more)" - Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology p. 626, 627 (of course Grudem expands on these points).

And Jesus does one more thing as our high priest. "He always lives to make intercession ..." (Hebrews 7:25).  In other words, He continually prays for us.

Though Bible students have interpreted "intercession" in two ways: 1] as Jesus' presence mutely reminding God of our right-standing before Him and, 2] as Jesus actively interceding, the Greek word used for intercession here, entygchano, "clearly gives the sense of making requests or petitions before someone" - Gruden, p. 627.

How does Jesus know what to pray for? Well of course He knows everything so He knows the intricacies of our lives, our weaknesses, what will endanger, threaten, and tempt us. But implied here too, I believe, is the fact that we pray and He brings to God those prayers, petitions, sometimes even wordless groanings.  Grudem again:

"...Jesus continually lives in the presence of God to make specific requests and to bring specific petitions before God on our behalf .... Although God could care for all our needs in response to direct observation (Matthew 6:8), yet it has pleased God, in his relationship to the human race, to decide to act in response to prayer, apparently so that the faith shown through prayer might glorify him" - Grudem p. 628.

What an awesome privilege—to have our clumsily worded requests, tainted by our human imperfections, relayed to God by Jesus our eternal and perfect High Priest!

PRAYER: Thank You, Jesus, for being my High Priest, taking my prayers and interceding to God the Father on my behalf. Please teach me to pray. May my faith grow so that my life honours You more. Amen.

MORE: "He always prays for us according to the Father's will"  (Grudem p. 628)

Grudem ends the section on Christ's role as interceding High Priest with this wonderful quote from Berkhof:

"It is a consoling thought that Christ is praying for us, even when we are negligent in our prayer life; that He is presenting to the Father those spiritual needs which were not present to our minds and which we often neglect to include in our prayers; and that He prays for our protection against the dangers of which we are not even conscious, and against the enemies which threaten us, though we do not notice it. He is praying that our faith may not cease, and that we may come out victoriously in the end" - Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 403, quoted in Grudem, p. 628.


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