10/28/18 – Let Me See – Pastor Donna Doutt

 

Well friends, I looked at our lectionary scripture for this week and thought….hmmmm….where can I go with this? Hebrews is tough to preach. I thought about taking the easy way out and focusing on the Gospel scripture, and we will touch on that. But I decided to rise to challenge and see how I can bring to you a solid message about this scripture of the priests and the one Almighty Priest.

 

So let’s take a look at this scripture. It starts out like this, “Earlier there were a lot of priests, for they died and had to be replaced.”

In some research, I discovered there were 84 Levitical high-priests who served from Aaron until the destruction of the temple by the Romans in A.D. 70. 

Does anyone know what a Levitical priest is? The MacArthur study Bible explains it this way: The term Levitical is derived from the Israelite tribe of Levi. Levi was the third son of Leah and Jacob and the father of the tribe of Levi, which, as it turns out, was the tribe of Moses and Aaron. Originally, it was the firstborn son of every family who was consecrated to God and inherited the birthright, leadership, authority, etc. Some Bible commentators have said God chose the tribe of Levi to be His priests because they were obedient to God after the infamous “golden calf” incident at Mt. Sinai.

 

So Aaron’s descendants served as the priests in Israel, ministering in the tabernacle and, later, the temple, primarily as mediators between man and God. The Levitical priests bore the responsibility of offering the sacrifices required by the Mosaic Law, and we know there were many, many laws to be obeyed. It was tough not to sin.

 

They were busy priests, because whenever the Levitical High-Priest sinned (and they were human, so of course they sinned), he was required to offer sacrifices for himself. Whenever the people sinned, he also had to offer a sacrifice for them. These occasions could be daily. Then, annually, on the Day of Atonement, he had to offer sacrifices for himself and for the people again.

 

Under the Old Covenant, the Jewish people offered sacrifice after sacrifice, and then repeated it all the next year, especially at the Passover.

Levite priests served until death, but as our scripture continues on, “But Jesus’ priesthood is permanent. He’s there from now to eternity to save everyone who comes to God through him, always on the job to speak up for them.” (Msg).

Christ had no sin and needed no sacrifice for Himself. And only one single sacrifice by Him was needed—one time only, for all of us, for all time. Once for all. This is a key emphasis in Hebrews. The sacrificial work of Christ never needed to be repeated, unlike the Old Testament priestly sacrifices.

So what do you think? Could you have been a Levitical priest? Serving day in and day out, hearing confession, praying forgiveness for their own sins and others…being a conduit to God, offering sacrifices? They lived their lives surrounded by the very essence of God…the Holy Spirit. They did not live with the distractions we do. So it must have been easy to keep up the daily routine of service.

 

But what about us? Here’s a question for thought….in what ways does the regular round of our daily lives dull us to the presence…the essence…of the Holy Spirit? In what ways has the practice of our faith become routine?

Perhaps your morning devotional is replaced by watching a half-hour of “Good Morning America”.

Could it be that you don’t have an hour to attend a Bible study, but you can spend an hour playing Candy Crush?

Did you know [1]the average American spends $232 per month eating meals prepared outside the home. Statistics show that there are 18.2 meals eaten outside the home in an average month by the average American. If you held to 10 meals outside the home per month instead of 18, you might have a savings of approximately $128/month. Over the course of the year, that’s $1,530 you could use as an offering to the church for ministry.

I saw something on Facebook the other day about a man who had something like 627 Facebook friends, 200+friends on Instagram, yet at his funeral, the only people there was his wife and two sons. Are you denying the living for a life of illusion? A fantasy neighborhood?

If I called you a sinner for doing or not doing any of these things, would you be offended? If we understand sin in these terms, we realize that sin is very much a reality for all of us today.

 

[2]Ginger Grab, Chaplain at Bard College in New York writes, “Examples from our daily lives abound. We see people, ourselves included, trapped in self-destructive behavior, in addictions to alcohol, drugs, food, violent behavior, sex, shopping, TV watching. We see the effects of the consequences of past action (our own and those of other people) in dysfunctional relationships in marriage, in families, among friends and colleagues.” 

Have you pushed Christ from your life? Do you think you’re living a life in Christ, but you’re only living in Christ at your convenience? Are we living a sin-sick life, feeling like there should be more, but we’re just not seeing it?

Our faith can make us well. Just as blind Bartimaeus in today’s Gospel. The earliest version is in the Gospel of Mark that we heard in our readings. The author of the Gospel uses this story to advance a clear purpose. It shows a character who understands who Jesus is and the proper way to respond to him - with faith. This man begging for healing, on being called to Jesus, discards his cloak, symbolizing the leaving behind of possessions.

The world and Satan work at us to keep us from seeing Jesus and our salvation. The disciples even worked at keeping Bartimaeus from Jesus…SHAME ON THEM! But Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus for mercy. Jesus calls for him. Jesus, our all knowing and omnipotent seer, knew without a doubt that Bartimaeus was a man of faith.  Bartimaeus said, “My teacher, let me see again”. Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.” Notice, the scripture said, “AND FOLLOWED HIM”.

Can you cast off your cloak like Bartimaeus and leave behind the things that are keeping you from living your life to the fullest? The time thieves, the attention thieves, the consumption thieves, the day in and day out tugging and pulling…that keep you blinded from Jesus and your salvation.

Verse 25 in Hebrews says, “But Jesus’ priesthood is permanent. He’s there from now to eternity to save everyone who comes to God through him, always on the job to speak up for them.”

He’s on the job for you, but are you on the job for Him? Are you living in faith? We CAN be freed from the day to day guilt and sin. We can come to God through Christ!

The last words uttered by the Savior just before He died on the cross were, “It is finished.” He was not referring to the end of His life or ministry, but of His substitutionary sufferings on the cross which He would complete by His death which occurred immediately following His shout, “It is finished.” He was declaring He had finished the special work of salvation which the Father had given Him to accomplish.

We speak of “the finished work of Christ” because there is nothing left to be done to provide man’s salvation. God has done it all in the person and work of His Son and He raised Him from the dead as the proof of that very fact. The work of God in Christ is a once-and-for-all work of God accomplished in total by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

 

 

Salvation is a done proposition. Our responsibility is to accept this by faith, faith alone in Christ alone. The finished work of Christ includes not only deliverance from the penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin. Faith in Christ for salvation means coming to Him as the source of salvation from every aspect of sin, no matter what form it takes, through trusting in the accomplished work of Christ.

The Gospel of Mark concludes with a young man, dressed in a robe of white, telling a group of women that Jesus has risen. “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as I told you”.

In his death, Christ reveals the blindness of his followers. In his resurrection, Jesus gives his followers eyes to see the good news of God’s ongoing reign.

As you go from here this week, open your eyes to your life as a Christian. Self-evaluate yourself honestly. Are you blind to your own sin? Are you blind to the walk God has offered you through Christ? Or are you like the healed Bartimaeus, following Christ with your eyes wide open? Let us see what happens in our lives when we follow Jesus, with our eyes wide.

Amen.

 

[1] https://www.thesimpledollar.com/dont-eat-out-as-often-188365/

[2] Feasting on the Word, Ginger Grab. 211

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