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Jesus, the Priest, part 2
In the Old Testament, they (the Levites, chosen to serve as priests of Israel) were a separate people. Of all the tribes, only the priestly tribe was different. They were called to serve God in the temple, acting as a go-between for God and His people. The priests would live in separate cities, eat the meat and grains of special sacrifices, they’d wear special clothes, and act in special ways. God had made a promise to His people, and the priests were expected to hold up man’s part of the promise. They said prayers for the people, carried out the duties of the temple, and offered up sacrifices for the nation. They were a chosen people, selected by call, called apart by God from the people.
The same is sometimes true for priests and pastors today; some act as though they are not quite like everyone else. Some pretend that they are smarter, holier, or wiser than their fellow man. But the good news for us, this Advent Season, is that we have a High Priest, who was born in Bethlehem, who is, in a very important way, just like us.
Hebrews 4:14 - 5:10 “Therefore, since we have a Great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin.16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.5:1 Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4 No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was.5 So Christ also did not take upon Himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to Him, ‘You are my Son; today I have become Your Father.’6 And He says in another place, ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.’7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. 8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered9 and once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him10 and was designated by God to be High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
Friends, Jesus is our ‘Great High Priest.’ He was born in a stable into a human body, just like you and me, to be our Priest. He was not one who is far removed and unable to understand us; but, one who is in every way like us. He was born like we were, He lived like us, He thought like us, He was flesh and blood like we are.
In fact let’s read how the author of Hebrews describes Jesus. Hebrews 2:17 says, “For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Unlike a priest who was separated from the people, unlike a pastor who is unable to understand the temptations and struggles that the flock is going through; Jesus was born like us and lived like us so that He could be a priest to us. Jesus is our High Priest and He is able to help us… because He can relate to us.
Medication: A Merry Heart: GIFT WRAPPING TIPS FOR MEN
This is the time of year we think back to the very first Christmas, when the Three Wise Men; Gaspar, Balthazar and Herb, went to see the baby Jesus and, according to the Book of Matthew, “... presented unto Him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
These are simple words, but if we analyze them carefully, we discover an important, yet often overlooked, theological fact: There is no mention of wrapping paper. If there had been wrapping paper, Matthew would have said so, perhaps stating it this way: "And lo, the gifts were insideth 600 square cubits of paper. And the paper was festooned with pictures of Frosty the Snowman. And Joseph was going to throweth it away, but Mary saith unto him... she saith, 'Holdeth it! That is nice paper! Saveth thou it for next year!' And Joseph did rolleth his eyeballs... and the paper. And the baby Jesus was more interested in the paper than the frankincense."
But these words do not appear in the Bible, which means that the very first Christmas gifts were NOT wrapped. This is because the people giving those gifts had two important characteristics:
1. They were wise.
2. They were men.
Most men are not big gift wrappers. Men do not understand the point of putting paper on a gift just so somebody else can tear it off. This is not just my opinion. This is a scientific fact based on a statistical survey of two guys I know. One is Rob, who said the only time he ever wraps a gift is “if it’s such a poor gift that I don’t want to be there when the person opens it.” The other is Gene, who told me he does wrap gifts, but as a matter of principle never takes more than 15 seconds per gift. “No one ever had to wonder which presents daddy wrapped at Christmas,” Gene said. “They were the ones that looked like enormous spitballs.”
I also wrap gifts, but because of some defect in my motor skills, I can never completely wrap them. I can take a gift the size of a deck of cards and put it the exact center of a piece of wrapping paper the size of a regulation volleyball court, but when I am done folding and taping, you can still see a sector of the gift peeking out. (Sometimes I camouflage this sector with a marking pen.)
If I had been an ancient Egyptian in the field of mummies, the lower half of the Pharaoh's body would be covered only by Scotch tape. On the other hand, if you give my wife a 12-inch square of wrapping paper, she can wrap a C-130 cargo plane. My wife, like many women, actually likes wrapping things. If she gives you a gift that requires batteries, she wraps the batteries separately, which to me is very close to being a symptom of mental illness. If it were possible, my wife would wrap each individual volt.
My point is that gift-wrapping is one of those skills like having babies that come more naturally to women than to men. That is why today I am presenting...
Gift-Wrapping Tip For Men:
* Whenever possible, buy gifts that are already wrapped. If, when the recipient opens the gift, neither one of you recognizes it, you can claim that it's myrrh.
* The editors of Woman's Day magazine recently ran an item on how to make your own wrapping paper by printing a design on it with an apple sliced in half horizontally and dipped in a mixture of food coloring and liquid starch. They must be smoking crack.
* If you’re giving a hard-to-wrap gift, skip the wrapping paper! Just put it inside a bag and stick one of those little adhesive bows on it. This creates a festive visual effect that is sure to delight the lucky recipient on Christmas morning.
YOUR WIFE MAY ASK: “Why is there a Hefty trash bag under the tree?
YOU: “It’s a gift! See? It has a bow!”
YOUR WIFE (peering into the trash bag): “It’s a leaf blower.”
YOU: “Gas-powered! Five horsepower!”
YOUR WIFE: “I want a divorce.”
YOU: “I also got you some myrrh.”
In conclusion, remember that the important thing is not what you give, or how you wrap it. The important thing, during this very special time of year, is that you save the receipt.
God Bless, Press On!
St Mark’s Community Church, Janesville
New Beginnings Church, New Ulm
Verse of the Week: John 3:16 NIV
Today’s readings: 2 Corinthians 5 – 9