Andrew Fountain - Jesus our Sympathetic Priest

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Full sermon notes - Jesus our Sympathetic Priest

  • In what ways does a kitten depend totally on it’s mother?
  • In the Old Testament they had priests.

Leviticus 16:2-6, 13-16

  1. and the Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother that he must not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil-canopy in front of the mercy seat that is on the ark so that he may not die, for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.
  2. “In this way Aaron is to enter into the sanctuary—with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.
  3. He must put on a holy linen tunic, linen leggings are to cover his body, and he is to wrap himself with a linen sash and wrap his head with a linen turban. They are holy garments, so he must bathe his body in water and put them on.
  4. He must also take two male goats from the congregation of the Israelites for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering.
  5. Then Aaron is to present the sin offering bull which is for himself and is to make atonement on behalf of himself and his household.
  6. He must then put the incense on the fire before the Lord, and the cloud of incense will cover the mercy seat which is above the ark of the testimony, so that he will not die.
  7. Then he is to take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the eastern face of the mercy seat, and in front of the mercy seat he is to sprinkle some of the blood seven times with his finger.
  8. “He must then slaughter the sin offering goat which is for the people. He is to bring its blood inside the veil-canopy, and he is to do with its blood just as he did to the blood of the bull: He is to sprinkle it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat.
  9. So he is to make atonement for the holy place from the impurities of the Israelites and from their transgressions with regard to all their sins, and thus he is to do for the Meeting Tent which resides with them in the midst of their impurities.

Version: based on NET Bible

  • The was the “Day of Atonement”, once a year
    • Atonement means paying the price to take away guilt
  • Once a year. If he didn’t take all the precautions, he would die
    • Not because God is vindictive, but because it was so dangerous—like walking through a room of high-voltage electricity
    • His two sons were careless and the power zapped them and they died instantly
  • But even all this did not actually cleanse them
    • It was just a picture of the real sacrifice
    • If they did it faithfully, God counted it as trust in Jesus

Hebrews 10:1-4

  1. For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year after year, to perfect those who come to worship.
  2. For otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have no further consciousness of sin?
  3. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year.
  4. For the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins.
  • But there was another role the priests had:

Two Roles of O.T. Priests:

  1. Animal sacrifices for sin
  2. Incense offered as a symbol of prayer
  • When we think of Jesus being a priest for us, we usually think of his great work on the cross
    • But today we are going to talk about his work now
    • Actually, he provides for all our needs (just like the mother cat and the kittens)

Hebrews 4:14-16

  1. Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.
  2. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin.
  3. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.
  • Note the phrase: let us confidently approach the throne of grace
    • =Prayer
  • What might stop us being confident in our prayers ??

Not confidence because:

  • Our sin and failure
  • Feel God does not really care
  • Feel God is angry
  • Our prayers sound foolish
  • Not important enough to bother God with

Three points:

  1. Problem of Sin and Failure
  2. How Jesus helps us to pray
  3. His sympathy with our struggles

1. Sin and Failure

  • We sin again...
  • But this is the 100’th time with this sin
  • and 100 times we have asked forgiveness
  • Feel too guilty to ask again
  • How does this teaching help us?
  • The other day I was out for lunch at a restaurant
    • I had a black shirt on, and I suddely noticed a problem
    • I had been cuddling Timothy earlier, and it was covered with cat-hair!
    • Even worse: buisness meeting / laptop bag / “Do you have a cat?”
  • But on the other hand, what if it wasn’t a restaurant or business meeting, but the dry-cleaner’s...
  • Is there anyone here who has ever taken a dirty item of clothing to the dry cleaner’s?
    • Suppose xxxx showed you a coat with an oil-stain on it, and you said to him “You should take that to the dry-cleaner’s—I’m sure they could clean it”
    • can you imagine him saying “I’d be too embarrassed to show up at the cleaners with a dirty coat!”
    • No! This is the place for stained clothes—that is what they are there for!

Leviticus 5:5-9

  1. when an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things he must confess how he has sinned,
  2. and he must bring his penalty for guilt to the Lord for his sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, whether a female sheep or a female goat, for a sin offering. So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin.
  3. Then he must sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering on the wall of the altar, and the remainder of the blood must be squeezed out at the base of the altar—it is a sin offering.
  • I want you to imagine the scene!
    • There is the priest, standing by the altar
    • Dressed in white
    • Lineup of people, all with their sheep or goats
    • Why are they there? —because they have sinned, and this is excatly the place to come
    • There is only one qualification for being in that lineup —what is it ??
  • When we sin, there is one place to go where we should not be fearful
    • Just like that priest was waiting for the people in line, Jesus is waiting for us
    • Sin is not good, we are not happy about it, but it should not keep us from God

1 John 2

  1. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.
    But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One,
  • So: Never let your sin keep you from coming to God in prayer
    because that is the very place you should go when you sin.

Part 2: How Jesus helps us pray

  • Romans 8:34-35, 26
  1. Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us.
  2. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
  • The Spirit helps as well:
  1. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.
  • What does interceed mean?
  • I once had a disagreement with someone based on a misunderstanding
    • I was talking to a mutual friend about it, and he said, “Don’t worry, I’ll talk to him about it for you”
    • With his help, the problem was quickly resolved
  • Sometimes we feel our prayers are very pathetic
    • We just don’t know what to say
    • Jesus (and the Spirit) take our pathetic prayers and make them effective
    • So never let your lack of ability to pray stop you praying—Jesus sees your heart!

Luke 22:31-32

  • Jesus prays for Peter:
  1. “Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat,
  2. but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
  • Jesus is praying for us!

Review of three points:

  1. Problem of Sin and Failure
  2. How Jesus helps us to pray
  3. His sympathy with our struggles

3. His Sympathy

  • I don’t know if any of you suffer from ingrown toenails?
    • If you do, then let me tell you, I can sympathize with you!
  • When you pray to God, how do you visualize him?
    • vaguely friendly old man?
    • terrifying monster?
  • This is very important—we have to have some conception of the person we are praying to
    • Some people pray to a picture of Jesus, which God doesn’t seem to like us doing at all, because it’s not him!
    • Worse, some people have a model of Jesus hanging on a cross—but he’s not there anymore!
    • The reason God doesn’t like these is because he has given us a much better way!
    • Jesus came purposefully to give us a mental picture of God
      • Stories of his life are the best picture to fill our minds with
  • What stories can you think of that could help us form a picture?

Pictures of God:

  • Speaking to the woman at the well
  • Compassion on the hungry crowds
  • Weeping over Jerusalem who rejected him
  • stopping for blind beggars
  • Weeping a Lazarus’ death as he saw people’s grief
  • Angry with the hypocrites
  • Tempted like us
  • Of course this is mostly just one side
  • But he really was tempted. He was single. He must have been very lonely at times.
  • The verses we had earlier:

Hebrews 4:14-16

  1. Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.
  2. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin.
  3. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.

Summary:

  1. He provides a place to go when we sin—a place of forgiveness
  2. He makes our prayers perfect and prays them on our behalf
  3. He is the most sympathetic person we could ever know
  • “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”

Updated on 2012-04-23 by Andrew Fountain