Friday

“Jesus ... is the mediator of a better covenant.” (v. 6)

Hebrews 7:25 – 8:6 Friday 23 October 2015

Psalm: Psalm 116


Background

At the heart of these verses lies the contrast between thevisible world and ultimate reality. First, the writer contrasts thepriests of the temple with Jesus, the high priest. The priests needto offer sacrifices over and over again, both for the sins ofothers and for their own sins. But Jesus is the perfect priest,glorified through a hymn of praise that implicitly reflects on thedifference between him and other priests (verse 26). Jesus'offering is made once and for all, through his defeat of evil onthe Cross. Later in the letter, the writer will explore thisconcept of self-offering much further (Hebrews 9:11-14). Because his offering iseternal, it is more effective than the daily offerings of thetemple. At the centre of this passage (verses 25-28) lies aprofound sense of the wonder and glory of Jesus.

Secondly, the writer contrasts the earthly temple with theeternal temple of heaven. The earliest focus of worship for theIsraelites was the "tent of meeting" (Exodus33:7), and this language is used here. The tent, or temple, isunderstood as a shadow of the heavenly one. In writing like this,the author echoes Plato's understanding of reality, in whicheverything we see or touch on this earth is an individual copy ofan eternal heavenly reality (or form), and therefore secondary, asa copy is secondary to the original masterpiece.

The comparisons lead to a profound conclusion: Jesus standsbetween God and the people to share a better covenant - not merelythe 'new' covenant which Jesus speaks of (1Corinthians 11:25) but a 'better' covenant, free from thedifficulties which, in Christian eyes, beset the firstcovenant.

This passage offers us a further perspective on the theme'fullness of life'. If we are to live life fully, we do so incovenant relationship with God, the source and goal of ourlife.


To Ponder

  • If Jesus has made a sacrifice once and for all, why do youthink we need to continue to pray for God's forgiveness?
  • Does today's Church have the balance right between a focus onthe earthly Jesus and the exalted Christ? Or in what way do youthink the balance might be improved?
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