Text: Isaiah 53:7-12, Matthew 20:25-28, John 3:16-17, 1 Timothy 2:5-6, Hebrews 9:11
Christ came as the perfect Priest. He was both the One who stood in the presence of God and the perfect sacrifice the Father accepted. To call His people to worship, Christ humbled Himself by taking the form of a man and was exalted to the highest place. To care for the spiritual lives of His people, He gave the Holy Spirit. To intercede for them, He took their sin upon Himself.
We did spontaneous jumping jacks at work today. I’d been sitting at my desk for six hours, trying in vain to shrink my ever-growing list of to-dos, staring at my laptop and typing and clicking and working like mad to catch up on All The Stuff. Six hours of sitting, and it was all I could do to not lay my head down and go to sleep right there in my office. So, I stood up.
That’s how the jumping jacks started.
I was pacing the office, making the rounds (which is what I call it when I’m having trouble being productive, so I walk around to everyone else’s desk and interrupt their productivity), but that wasn’t enough. So, naturally, I started punching the air. Then kicking, then jumping up and down. Before I knew it, there were four of us standing in a circle, trying to learn some kind of fancy “coordinated” jumping jacks from Cymone.
Don’t worry. We documented this on video.
As I read today’s Scripture, on jumping jack day, it occurs to me how very weak we are. We struggle at every turn—struggle to do more, struggle to do less, struggle to speed up or slow down, to save up or pare down. Sometimes I think we aren’t even sure what we’re doing, to be honest. We have fickle hearts with good intentions. We have ambitious minds that think too hard and hard-working hands that mean well. And still, we miss the mark. The bullseye is perfection, and we miss it by a mile.
Scripture uses another, better word for perfection: holiness. The word “holy” means “consecrated” or “set apart.” God is holy, and we are not. He is set apart from us, and we cannot reach Him on our own; our sin makes it impossible for us to know and commune with our Creator-God the way we were created to. That’s why the priests of the Old Testament made sacrifices so religiously and meticulously: they were atoning for the sins of the people—and for their own sins, too. They were making a way for the people to be in God’s presence, by offering the blood of bulls and goats and doves. The priests never sat down in the temple because their work of intercession—or mediation—on behalf of the people was never done.
But then came Christ, the perfect Priest who ministered to God’s people in a perfect way. Jesus led God’s people in worshiping God, by first humbling Himself and wrapping His divinity in flesh (John 1:14). He cared for their souls by offering them grace, mercy, and love in real-time, and by giving the Holy Spirit to be with them forever (John 14:16). He interceded for them by taking on their sin and dying in their stead (Isaiah 53:11). The perfect Priest was also the perfect sacrifice—given once for all time, for all who believe.
And then He sat down.
“After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). The sacrifice was done. It was—and is still—finished (John 19:30).
Meanwhile, we just can’t seem to sit still. We think there is always more to do.
In these sacred days of Advent, we remember that the ultimate task has already been accomplished. Our perfect Priest has come, and has become the perfect sacrifice to make purification for all our sins—past, present, and future.
Our God is still and forever holy, set apart like a fire. But “because of His great love for us we are not consumed” (Lamentations 3:22). Jesus has made a way to the Father. Christ was born for this. Hallelujah!