Year B – Proper 25 – Hebrews 7:23-28

23Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; 24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.25Consequently he is able for all time to save* those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 26For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.27Unlike the other* high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself.28For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect for ever.

Summary— Under the Old Covenant and under the New Covenant our greatest need is the same: we must approach God (v.25).  In Adam (and in practice!) we have all cut ourselves off from God—we have broken ourselves from the source of light and life.  The only solution is intercession (v.25): somebody must go between us; somebody must reconcile us; somebody must bridge the gap and restore the relationship.  The difference between the Old and New Covenants is not the need, but the permanence of the solution: see, under the Old Covenant, high priests were prevented by death from continuing in office (v.23).  So, you could not really rest in the knowledge that your high priest reconciled you to God: no matter how much assurance you drew from his intercession for you, you knew that one day he would die.  He could not always live to make intercession for you, and you knew it.  You could not always depend on him—you knew that, eventually, he had to let you down: he had to give up the ghost at some point, and then his intercession for you would cease.  You lived with the unsettling knowledge that intercession between you and God was not guaranteed forever, for the simple reason that your intercessor was not guaranteed forever.  But then Jesus came, and He is able for all time to save those who approach God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (v.25).  Praise be to you, O Christ!

Insight— According to verse 25, Jesus can save us forever because He can intercede forever.  The duration of Jesus’ intercession is the duration of our salvation.  If Jesus stopped interceding, we’d stop living.  So, even though there’s a sense in which Jesus has saved us from God’s wrath, there’s an enormously significant sense in which Jesus is saving us from God’s wrath.  For one thing, we are still sinning (1 Jn. 1:8), and still being forgiven (1 Jn. 1:9).  You have yet to be forgiven for the sins you’ll commit tomorrow.  But will those sins cut you off from God, again?  Not so long as you are abiding in Jesus (Jn. 15) who will be interceding for you, even as you sin (Heb. 7:25, 1 Jn. 2:1).

Child Catechism—
Q:
Why can Jesus keep us reconciled to God forever?
A: Because He lives forever, and always makes intercession for us!

Discussion— Verse 28 mentions an oath by which God appointed His Son the everlasting High Priest.  See if you can find that oath in Psalm 110, and discuss it.

Prayer— O God, You are He whom we must approach, but also He whom we cannot approach, of ourselves.  This is because You are also He whom we have offended, and He from whose wrath we must be saved.  One must intercede for us—One must make a way for us to approach You.  But the former priests were prevented by death from continuing in office; so, we could lean on their intercession for only so long.  Therefore You appointed by oath Your own Son to be our High Priest, and He holds His priesthood permanently, because He continues forever.  Consequently He is able for all time to save we who approach You through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for us.  Grant that we might always rejoice in assurance of the everlasting intercession of Jesus, through whom we pray even now.  AMEN.

Contributed by Scott Cline

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