Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Get it!

We are back from our vacation. Actually, we got back Saturday evening, but I have been so busy playing "catch-up" that I haven't been able to do a new blog. I plan to share a few more pictures from our trip - for family and friends who want to see them - but I think I'll wait until later this week. I'm still reflecting on a couple of things from my Sunday morning lesson that have been filling my head with things I haven't thought about before. Maybe that is the result of having spent two weeks thinking, studying, and preparing that lesson.

I have always struggled with chunks of Hebrews. I guess it is the Jewish focus and all the Old Testament comparisons and analogies, but it's also occasionally the teaching itself. The series I've been sharing for the last several weeks is all about the Extreme Privilege we have of having such an amazing high priest who represents us to God (Heb.4:14-16). Right off the bat you have the problem of being a twenty-first century modern Gentile trying to identify with the concept of having a high priest. It doesn't mean the same to us. It doesn't compel us and fill us with the same kind of honor and appreciation that it would to one who was raised and immersed in Judaism.
Then - add to that the fact that Jesus "is able to sympathize with our weaknesses" and "has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet without sin." How beautiful is that? He understands! He sympathizes! But then I'm supposed to identify with someone who has had every temptation I have ever had "yet without sin"?
The next chapter in Hebrews (5) is another passage that has always given me reason to feel confused. As our sinless high priest, when he was growing up he "learned obedience from what he suffered." What? He struggled with obedience? He learned some things "the hard way"? What is this all about?
The key, I believe, to understanding this and truly being able to identify with our sinless high priest, is recognizing that the struggle is with temptation not with sin. Once we sin, the struggle with that temptation is over for that point in time. The true struggle is not letting our "passions and desires" control us and cause us to give in to the temptation. Temptation is not sin. It is the natural pull to let our selfish desires guide us, and it's not sin until we choose to give in. Jesus felt every one of those pulls. His temptations were not limited to the three "big ones" in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. Luke's account said that Satan only left him for a more opportune time. He never stopped tempting our Lord.
What that means is that we truly do have a high priest, a Lord, a friend, a brother, and a Savior, who understands us completely. The extreme privilege is that he loves us in spite of our sins. How wonderful is that?!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mike-your sermon from Sun. was so awesome! I got so caught up in what you were saying that I didn't fill in the blanks on the sermon outline.