RSS

Interceding for Us

Volume 15, No. 11 (November 2020)

LiturgieDamaskinos

The Letter to the Hebrews is the great worship book of the New Testament. There we learn more about the depths of New Covenant worship than anywhere else.

In its portrayal of the superiority of Christ and of the New Covenant, Hebrews of course has a lot to say about the past, completed work of Christ for our salvation: specifically, in 1:3; 2:9-10; 3:1; 5:7-8; 7:26-27; 9:11-14; 9:23; 9:26; 10:10; 10:12-14; 10:19-20; 12:2; 12:24; 13:12; 13:20.

But the writer also has a lot to say, much more than any other New Testament author, about the present, ongoing ministry of the risen and ascended Christ:

1. HE LEADS OUR WORSHIP

2:12 “I will tell of Your name to My brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,

8:1-2 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister [leitourgos, “liturgist”] in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.

8:6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry [leitourgia] that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant He mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.

10:21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,

13:15 Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.

**For much more on this wondrous and transformative truth, please see Worship Notes 1.8, the articles here, my article “Jesus, Our True Worship Leader,” my book Proclamation and Praise: Hebrews 2:12 and the Christology of Worship, and the new book Trinitarian Doxology: T. F and J. B. Torrance’s Theology of Worship as Participation by the Spirit in the Son’s Communion with the Father by Kevin J. Navarro.**

2. HE INTERCEDES FOR US AND COMES TO OUR AID

2:18 For because He himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.

4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

7:25 Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

9:24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

13:21 [May God] equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Dane Ortlund, in his wonderful new book Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers, offers these profound insights into Christ’s ongoing ministry of intercession before the Father on our behalf (pp. 79-85):

Christ’s present heavenly intercession on our behalf is a reflection of the fullness and victory and completeness of his earthly work, not a reflection of anything lacking in his earthly work. The atonement accomplished our salvation; intercession is the moment-by-moment application of that atoning work. In the past, Jesus did what he now talks about; in the present, Jesus talks about what he then did. This is why the New Testament weds justification and intercession, such as in Romans 8:- 34: “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Intercession is the constant hitting “refresh” of our justification n the court of heaven. . . .

His interceding for us reflects his heart—the same heart they carried him through life and down into death on behalf of his people is the heart that now manifests itself in constant pleading with and reminding and prevailing upon his Father to always welcome us.

This does not mean the Father is reluctant to embrace us, was that the Son has a more loving disposition toward us than the Father does. . . . The atoning work of the sun was something the Father and the Son delightedly agreed to together in eternity past. The Son’s intercession does not reflect the coolness of the Father but the sheer warmth of the Son. Christ does not intercede because the Father’s heart is tepid toward us but because the Son’s heart is so full toward us. But the Father’s own deepest delight is to say yes to the Son’s pleading on our behalf. . . .
The divine Son never ceases (note the word “always” [in Hebrews 7:25]) to bring his atoning life, death and resurrection before his Father in a moment-by-moment way. Christ “turns the Father’s eyes to his own righteousness,” wrote Calvin, “to avert his gaze from our sins. He so reconciles the Father’s heart to us that by his intercession he prepares away and access for us to the Father’s throne.” (Institutes 2.16.16) We Christians are ongoing sinners. Christ continues to intercede on our behalf in heaven because we continue to fail here on earth. He does not forgive us through his work on the cross and then hope we make it the rest of the way. . . . He carries us all the way. . . .

Jesus is praying for you right now. . . . If you are in Christ, you have an intercessor, a present-day mediator, one who is happily celebrating with his Father the abundant reason for both to embrace you into their deepest heart. Richard Sibbes wrote:

What a comfort it is now in our daily approach to God . . . that we go to God in the name of one that he loves, in whom his soul delights, that we have a friend in court, a friend in heaven for us, that is at the right hand of God, and interposes himself there for us, in all our suits that makes us acceptable, that perfumes our prayers and makes them acceptable. . . . God looks upon us, lovely in him and delights in us, as we are members of him. (A Description of Christ, 1.13)

The present, ongoing ministry of Christ leads us into the Father’s presence in worship (“we have a great priest over the house of God,” Hebrews 10:21). He doesn’t just open the way and show us the path—He takes us with Him! And perfects our feeble offerings of praise as part of His perfect worship of the Father. (As Sibbes beautifully puts it, He “ perfumes our prayers.”)

And His constant intercessory ministry on our behalf (“since He always lives to make intercession for [us]”) GUARANTEES OUR ETERNAL SALVATION! (“Consequently He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him”) (Hebrews 7:25).

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 29, 2020 in Hebrews, High Priest

 

Tags: ,