Thursday, 22 January 2009

A priest for ever

Cheddington Thursday 22 January 9.15 am

Snowdrops just emerging

Gospel – Mark 3

Crowds Follow Jesus

7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. 8 When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. 9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God." 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.  © TNIV


Long and difficult discourse. About Christ as high priest in the order of Melchizedek – figure to whom Abraham gave his tithes after Abraham had rescued kinsman Lot and defeated coalition of 5 kings. Melchizedek said to be superior to the Levite priests which makes him resemble a Son of God. He has no ancestry and is said to be like the angels. So Christ is compared to Melchizedek, except that Christ’s priesthood is eternal and perfect.

The high priest and the priests have to sacrifice twice a day to atone for the sins of the people and themselves, But Christ as high priest is superior in that his sacrifice was of himself, and it was a once for all sacrifice that does not need to be renewed over and over again.

The writer of Hebrews then goes on to compare the earthly priesthood, serving at the sanctuary and offering sacrifices proscribed by law with the self sacrifice offered by Jesus. Jesus is the high priest who sits down at the right hand of the throne of heaven, and serves not in a sanctuary made by a human being but in the true tabernacle set up by God himself. There is no longer any need for an intermediary nor for regular sacrifices offered to God as laid down by the law, because the sacrifice of Christ is once for all, and there is no need for it to be renewed or repeated.

So it’s a complicated and theological reading – but for us even if we don’t delve too deep into the actual meaning, we have the assurance of Christ’s sacrifice, made once and for all, for the forgiveness of sins – and it is relying on this reassurance that we make our confession and receive absolution at our holy communion services today.

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