1“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.
2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house.
3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.
4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.
5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future.
6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.” Hebrews 3:1-6
Life can become a bit tedious at times and discouragement and sorrow have a way of popping up when we least expect it, yet we have two pieces of admonition in the first verse that can help. First we are called “holy brothers and sisters who share in the heavenly calling.” The word holy, by the way, doesn’t mean perfect or a super Christian condition, but instead simply means “set apart.” We are set apart when we put ourselves into God’s hands.
I say put ourselves in God’s hands because being a follower of Jesus is to have a relationship with God. It is knowing God personally instead of simply knowing about God. For some of us this takes place before baptism, some of us at baptism, and others many months or years after baptism. Now, of course someone who has taken seriously their calling to follow Jesus will have transformation in their thinking and actions but that is not the primary meaning of “holy.”
We have been called to and share in the heavenly calling. What does that mean? Hebrews pictures the Christian life as a pilgrimage of following our great High Priest, Jesus, into the presence of God in the heavenly Most High Place. (4:14-16; 6:19,20; 10:19-25; 11:14-16; 12:22-24)
Rather than live with an earthly focus we live in a Heavenly orientation. The spiritual, revolving around our relationship with Jesus becomes the focus for those who are set apart instead of focusing on the things of this world. The reason we can move ahead on our journey with assurance is because of the faithfulness of Jesus. (v. 6)
The secret, well not really a secret, in order to grow spiritually as a Christian and to live a life set apart from the temptations and thrills of this world is to “fix your thoughts on Jesus,” whom we “acknowledge as our Apostle and High Priest.” These two little phrases are loaded with encouragement and newness of life.
Galatians is one of Paul’s two great writings on justification and redemption in Christ. For Paul as well as in our own time, people were always challenging his teaching regarding righteousness by faith. They would ask, “if you are saved by grace without works (the whole theme of Galatians) then may you do anything you want? Paul’s great answer, so it seems to me, is found in his inclusion in Galatians of the discussion on “the fruit of the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-24) The proof, if that is what we wish to call it, of being set apart or called is found in the transformation of the heart of a Christian.
For centuries people who have become Christians were taught that once you accepted Jesus you stopped doing certain things that are considered sin. Depending upon the church they joined the list could be different. The problem arose as people became “moralists” instead of followers of Jesus. The churches filled up with people who were conforming outwardly to certain norms but inwardly still loved the old ways. In the privacy of their minds, and behind the closed doors of their homes and hearts they lived very differently from their public persona. This is what I believe the writer of Hebrews is getting at in these first verses of exhortation in chapter 3.
The fruit of the Spirit is a change of heart that comes only as we fix our eyes upon Jesus (and off our sins) and live in the assurance of our salvation since He is our great High Priest ever living to make intercession for us. “Consequently He is able for all time to save those who approach God through Him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25
The more we focus upon the wonder and mercy and love of Jesus a transformation takes place that just happens. The next thing we know we are living more in harmony with the fruit of the Spirit like love, peace, joy, patience, and goodness, etc. The transformation is not taking place so much in our actions, though that is the outcome, as it is taking place in our minds and attitudes. This is where real growth takes place within the Christian walk.
I can see I’m not going to get to the rest of the verses in this post, but they will be the center of discussion for the next blog. Before I finish up, however, we need to take a quite peek at the term High Priest. Most of us are familiar with the term from the Old Testament ceremonial system in which the priests and the High Priest ministered in the tabernacle and later in the Temple as intercessors between God and man. Once a year the High Priest would enter into the Most Holy Place and sprinkle the blood of Atonement on the Mercy Seat that sat on top of the Ark of the Covenant where the Ten Commandments were instilled. Remember, from one of our earlier blogs that the Commandments were kept there as proof that both God and the people of Israel would keep their Covenant with each other.
What the writer of Hebrews is is that Jesus is our great High Priest interceding on our behalf. This is a great deal of what Hebrews is all about so we need to understand what is going on here. Jesus is not sitting in Heaven going over your sins to find fault with you so that He can keep you from entering into a relationship with the Father. It is the exact opposite and that is why we have confidence and assurance as Christians. When we acknowledge Jesus as our High Priest we are acknowledging our sin, the need of cleansing and the reality that our cleansing only comes through sacrifice. The High Priest in the book of Hebrews is not only the one who mediates the sacrifice and bestows benefits of the sacrifice, but is the sacrifice.
More than anything in the world God longs to restore us to our original purpose in life. We were created for worship and keepers of the environment. Yes, sin separates us from this amazing gift but sin is not the problem as that has been dealt with through our High Priest. The point is will we live with our eyes on Christ, trusting Him and believing in His love? Will we allow grace to pour through our hearts transforming our thoughts?