After the Last Supper, after Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, after telling Judas, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do’, he prayed to his Father what we now call Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer.
This prayer has been given that name because in Israel, the head of the priestly order was the High Priest. He was the only one who could enter into the very presence of God in the Most Holy place of the Temple, to make atonement for the people of God.
Take a look at Hebrews chapters 7 and 8, which describe Jesus as our Great High Priest. 7:25 says, “He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
In this prayer Jesus gives 3 reasons for his life on earth: first, he is our intercessor. Second, he prays that his work would bring glory to God, to himself, and to all of us. Third, he prays that there would be a spiritual, mystical unity between God, himself and each of us: one with God, one with Jesus, one with each other.
It’s pretty clear from this prayer that Jesus was not filled with dread and fear over what was about to happen to him. But he WAS filled with the knowledge that he had faithfully completed the job he was sent to do; and that the work he had accomplished would bring power and glory and unity into the life of very person who believes in God through Jesus.
Each of these three reasons; intercession, bringing glory to God, and spiritual unity is a homily of its own. I’ve tried before to squeeze all of them in one homily, and I definitely went over my time limit. So I won’t do that… But I really want to talk with you today about this role of Jesus as our intercessor with God, sitting at God’s right hand.
A pastor once told a group of us that one of the highest callings we can have is to intercede with God for the needs of somebody else. It is a serious responsibility. And it puts us between God and that person [L. inter=between; cedere=to go]
When I was a boy, our family had a visit from my parents’ longtime friends. I took their son Fuzzy (fuzzy red hair… Hal Dean) swimming, to my favorite swimming hole at ‘little red bridge’. There were two boys there I knew, not somebody you would want to meet in a dark alley. They started picking on my guest; they told him to get out of THEIR swimming spot.
I told them to stop; I put myself between Andy and Fuzzy; I ‘interceded’
With one quick swing, Andy put my lower teeth through my lip, and blood started streaming off my chin. I still have the scar in my lower lip…
When we intercede, we are sharing the load with the person we intercede for.
Jesus’ sacrificial death carries that element of sharing the load, and his High Priestly Prayer defines his deliberate role as interceding between us and God, ‘always’.
I’ve had people tell me they aren’t 100% sure about their faith. They can’t say, ‘yes, I know I’m going to go to heaven when I die.’ This verse tells me that we don’t need to worry. Jesus is our intercessor, our advocate before God’s throne.
When I read how forgiving, inclusive, and loving Jesus was, I think we are in good hands. Isn’t it pretty amazing that God would give us Jesus to be our intercessor.
Acts tells us about Jesus’ ascension back into heaven. BACK into heaven. We understand this to mean that the Son of God has ALWAYS been. Speaking theologically, he is co-eternal with God the Father. That is what the Nicene Creed was written to explicitly state as a core tenet of our faith.
The Son of God has been God forever. For 33 years he came to earth as the human being we know to be Jesus the Christ; Jesus the anointed. At the ascension, he gave up all claims of his humanity, to return to his divine nature as God the Son.
That is the One (capital O in One) who intercedes for us. That is the One who stands at the right hand of God – the position of power and authority granted by the Father – to ALWAYS intercede between God and you and me.
Please give yourself time this week to think about this role of intercessor.
How are you serving as an intercessor now when you wear a face mask?
How are you serving as an intercessor when you go to the store for somebody who is afraid to leave their home now?
How are you serving as an intentional intercessor through your prayer life?
How has God the Spirit given you comfort through assurance that Jesus is still – and always – your intercessor in the heavenly court of God?
May our Lord Jesus be blessed and honored and praised and glorified for all that he has completed, and all that he continues to do for us. May we accept the role of intercessor for those who find strength in their faith through us.