Our second worship series of a year focused on the Wounds of Christ that Heal us (see Isaiah 53:5) turns to the Savior who heals us, and lectionary passages from the letter of Hebrews and the Book of Revelation. Having steeped ourselves in Wise Postures for New Life, we now turn our eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of salvation, the ultimate healing of all that ails us. Hebrews and Revelation give us a particular lens through which to look full in his wonderful face: as a perfect, permanent, and powerful Priest.
You may be familiar with the notion of Priest – a foreign concept to Protestants. But if you has any experience in the Catholic Church, or if you are at all familiar with the Jewish Priests of the Old and New Testaments, you know that in Biblical times, Priests served God by offering sacrifices in the Temple, a practice that halted for nearly a century after Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by Babylon in 586 BC, and that halted permanently when the Romans destroyed Herod’s Temple in AD 70.
The Roman Catholic understanding of Priests takes much from this ancient Jewish understanding, in that these modern priests are understood to offer the sacrifice of the Mass during the Eucharist, or what Protestants call the Lord’s Supper, or Communion. The Jewish Priesthood ended with the destruction of the Temple (the only authorized place to offer sacrifices), and present day Jewish synagogue leaders are called (as they were in Jesus’ day) Rabbi – which means teacher.
We don’t know exactly when Hebrews was written, but certainly Revelation was written after the destruction of the Temple, and some of the themes in Hebrews reflect an understanding that Christ has superseded the former priesthood in Judaism. What kind of priest is Jesus the Messiah, asks the writer of Hebrews – and what does his functioning as our Great High – and Ultimate, or final – Priest mean for those of us who have placed our lived under the authority and protection of his love?
We will delve into these questions throughout the remaining Sundays of October and November. I pray that our gathering around this rarely seen perspective of Jesus will prepare us to understand the more traditional notions of who he was and is for us in a more powerful way – especially during Advent and Christmas. Please join us Sunday, and prayerfully meditate on the following scriptures the week before:
- October 18 – God’s Son Suffered to Know Us – Hebrews 5:1-10 (key verse: 8)
- October 25 – Jesus Lives to Speak for Us – Hebrews 7:23-28 (key verse: 25)
- November 1 – The Messiah Makes All Things New – Revelation 21:1-6a (key verse: 5)
- November 8 – Christ Gave Himself Once for All – Hebrews 9:24-28 (key verse: 26b)
- November 15 – The Lamb, Our New and Living Way – Hebrews 10:11-25 (key verses: 19-21)
- November 22 – Jesus Makes Us God’s Kingdom – Revelation 1:4b-8 (key verses: 5b-6)