Hold Onto the Rest You Have in Jesus, Your Great High Priest!

October 24, 2021

Pastor Gunnar Ledermann

Hebrews 4:9-16

Hebrews 4:9-16

9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,[a] just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Jesus the Great High Priest
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[b] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Right now, it is a seller’s market in the real estate world. If you have a home that you want to sell, you are happy because it is likely to sell above asking price. On the other hand, if you are in the market for a home, you are frustrated because the prices are so high. In fact, if you are in the market for a home right now, you might want to move back into mom and dad’s basement until the market calms down.

Whether you are in the market for a home or not, moving back home with the one who created you is what you really want. Moving back home with the one who created you is about getting some rest. It is not the kind of rest like moving back home so someone else can bake you cookies and earn a paycheck to put a roof over your head. The kind of rest you need comes from God, who created you. This kind of rest is described in Hebrews 4, 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. God took six days to create the world, a perfect paradise with all the systems in place to support life, most importantly human life. On the seventh day, God rested or stopped working. God wants you to have rest and stop working. He wants to provide all you need. Hearing that God wants to give you rest is good news because rest is something we all want and need. Ironically, rest is something we work hard to get, but whatever rest we do find does not last.

God wants you to stop pursuing rest that does not last. So, God guided the writer to the Hebrews to write, 11 “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” The reference to the disobedient referred to the people of Israel that rebelled against God at the time of Moses. They wandered through the desert for forty years as punishment until that generation died and did not get to see the promised land of Canaan, which God promised to give Israel as their own. Their rebellion has been recorded in God’s Word as a warning for you to not disobey like they did. You must stay on God’s good side and obey him or else you will perish, die and not enter his rest.

God’s Word shows you whether you are on his good side headed for rest or disobedient headed for death. In Hebrews 4, we read, 12 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” These words make it clear that nothing you do escapes God’s eyes. Not only does he see what you do and what you say, but even your thoughts and attitudes. The Word of God reveals what God sees in Romans 3, 23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

God sees your sins; he sees your disobedience. And we read what your sins do to your relationship with God in Isaiah 59, 2 “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Your disobedience keeps you from God and his rest. And no amount of work will change that as we hear in Romans 3, 20 “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” You will not earn God’s rest by obeying his law. Instead, his law shows us our sin. God’s Word is alive and active showing you that you are disobedient, which fills you with a wide range of emotions. Being confronted with your sin leads to defensive excuses, frustration with God’s unrealistic standards, hatred toward God for judging you, fear of death and hell, apathy toward God as a defense hoping not carrying will spare you from crippling despair, etc. None of these are rest. None of these are the goal either of God showing you your sins.

God wants you to see your sins so that you can see that he alone can give you rest from them through the Great High Priest. Again, God wants you to stop working as he said in Hebrews 4, 9 “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.” You can stop working because God did the work for you. He did the work through the one Great High Priest as we continue to read in Hebrews 4, 14 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” The letter to the Hebrews called upon a familiar knowledge of the Old Testament priests. The priest was someone chosen to represent people before God. Since, people are sinful, they cannot approach God, or he would put them to death as punishment for their sins. In the Old Testament, the priest would be able to approach God by sacrificing an innocent and sinless animal, which would satisfy God’s anger against sin. The Old Testament priest who brought an animal sacrifice was put in place by God to point the people to Jesus. There were many high priests throughout the Old Testament, but only Jesus is called the “Great” High Priest. God taught the people that someone else had to represent them before God and an innocent, sinless sacrifice had to be made for their sins, and that someone was Jesus.

Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament priests. The prophet Isaiah recorded God’s promise to send Jesus as both the priest and sacrifice in Isaiah 53, 10 “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin… 12 …For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” God willed or chose Jesus to be crushed and to suffer for your sins. He alone allows you to have rest from your sins and have a relationship with God. You can approach God because Jesus is your Great High Priest, your intercessor, your representative who tells God that the work has been done to give you rest. Through Jesus, God’s face is turned back to you because your sins have been removed through Jesus. Your defensiveness, worries, fears, anger, frustration, and despair at God’s high standards are removed through Jesus. When you are confronted with your sinfulness, immediately turn to Jesus. Through Jesus you have a relationship with God, your Creator, and a future in paradise. Your future is heaven, where you will feel joy, peace, comfort, contentment, love, fulfillment, healing, belonging and rest.

You need encouragement as you wait for heaven. The letter to the Hebrews is a letter of encouragement. The letter confronts you with the hopeless reality of your sins and tireless battle against them. It also frees you from that burden with the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice, forgiveness, resurrection, and work for you. In Hebrews 4, we read, 16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” You and I can easily get pulled back into working for rest. In Mark 10, some of Jesus’ disciples asked him to put them in positions of power. Jesus quickly corrected their thinking. Being a follower of Jesus did not mean wielding power like those in earthly governments. Jesus said, 43 … “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus served you as a priest by walking his body, the sacrifice, to the cross, to pay for your sins and give you rest. As his people, encourage and serve one another by pointing one another to Jesus’ work to give you rest.

One way to think of your role as a believer is to consider the relationships in real estate. In a seller’s market, you might think you cannot afford to move out of your old, rundown, broken, ready to be condemned home and into the nice, new home with all the amenities because the cost is too high. Until a real estate agent introduces you to a lender who will buy your old house and give you the new house for free. Now, if this happened in the real world, you would be overjoyed. You would have to ask to read the contract over and over to make sure what you were hearing is right. Your sinful life is the old, rundown, broken, ready to be condemned home and heaven is the new home with all the amenities that you could never afford. A pastor or anyone who shares the Word of God is the real estate agent who acknowledges that you are condemned, that heaven is far better, that you cannot afford to get to heaven on your own, and most importantly the one who tells you about Jesus, the lender who paid for your old house to be condemned and paid for your new home in heaven. This is the gospel, the good news, the news of great joy that you have eternal rest by God’s grace, without any work on your part. The contract that guarantees all of this and lays out all the details is the Bible. Read your Bible, hear the good news here at church and in Bible Study, encourage one another with this good news and hold onto the rest you have in Jesus, your Great High Priest. Amen.

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