Sunday, March 25, 2012

“A Letter of Salvation” (Hebrews 5:7-10) 5th of sermon series “Letters For Lent”

S-1306 5SIL/3B 3/25/12 Hymns: (O) 377 vv 1-4; (S) 377 vv 5-10; L.S. 149; 157; 314; (C) 29

Text: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 5:1-10; Mark 10:35-45

Theme: “A Letter of Salvation” (Hebrews 5:7-10) 5th of sermon series “Letters For Lent”

Question: “Have you saved anyone’s life?” Armour, SD.

In the name Jesus, Amen! The text for the 5th Sunday in Lent is the Epistle Lesson. “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:7-10).

You are who are cherished, loved and adored by Your Faithful God and Lord, Jesus Christ. In 1981, a Minnesota radio station reported a story about a stolen car in California. Police were staging an intense search for the vehicle and the driver, even to the point of placing announcements on local radio stations to contact the thief. On the front seat of the stolen car sat a box of crackers that, unknown to the thief, were laced with poison. The car owner had intended to use the crackers as rat bait. Now the police and the owner of the VW Bug were more interested in apprehending the thief to save his life than to recover the car.

Our loving, gracious and compassionate God is not interested in destroying us but delivering us, He is not interested in harming us but helping us, and He is not interested in sentencing us but saving us from the eternal punishment of hell and death.

It is during Lent that we see a clear picture of this love, as our High Priest Jesus, whose name means Salvation became obedient to the Father’s will. He went the way of the cross and the grave and through His merit becomes the source of Eternal Salvation—not only to the world, but my own salvation too.

The author to the Hebrews in this text defines what is the role and qualifications of Jesus our High Priest. The writer wants to show us that Jesus is a genuine High Priest, far superior to any of the descendents of Aaron, and is therefore, someone we can rely on, place our trust in, and put our hopes in because He stands before the Throne of God’s grace and speaks on our behalf and defends us against every enemy. The first qualification of Christ’s high priestly rule is that He is appointed by His heavenly Father, and the second qualification is that Christ is a perfect High Priest, able to renew, restore and revive our relationship with God.

He further paints the great act of devotion and obedience the eternal High Priest carries out throughout His earthly life—He prayed for His eternal salvation and that His prayer was answered. It was answered in His resurrection because of His “reverent submission” - He was “heard for His godly fear and total obedience in keeping the Law perfectly in our place.”

What this means is that our Lord’s Prayer was heard because of His perfect obedience, devotion and submission to the will of God. He came through the trials victorious and as such, He did not suffer annihilation.

Lent shows us again and again the cost of our salvation. It once again illustrates the price that was paid for it. Indeed, with these words, the writer of our text, takes us back into the dark Garden of Gethsemane were Jesus was “crying out with tears” to His heavenly Father in that He was “heard”. The Father heard the prayer of His Son because He was found obedient.

Many times we speak of the cross, its benefits and its blessings. But we don’t take time to view the cost of the cross or understand the price paid for our salvation. We speak of the cross; but don’t look at it as an instrument of torture; but more as a decoration around our necks, homes or churches. But don’t be fooled my beloved and His, the cross was foreboding and tormenting for the Savior—our High Priest—Jesus the Christ.

To be sure, the cross is more than just a symbol of good luck to be kissed at a BB game or football game, or making the sign of the cross as many soccer players do before entering the game. NO, the cross is our hope. The cross is our life. The cross is our salvation. The Cross is our redemption. And the cross is the BRIDGE between us and our holy God.

In the Gospel reading today, we heard Jesus say: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45) Yes, this is the Ransom paid for our salvation. Certainly Jesus had to struggle with all the temptations, tests, strife..... that are part of human existence. Faced with the cross, He chose the path of honor and integrity rather than dishonor and in so doing could stand before God as the tested and honorable Son - having emerged perfect through suffering for your sake and mine.

Oh, what a letter of Salvation the author to the Hebrews shares with us this morning: that Christ was “made perfect”. Christ is perfect in the sense that He is the fully qualified Savior of His people, having traveled the way of faithfulness unto death, and He is God’s designated perfect high priest according to the type of Melchizedek, which priesthood was not Aaronic, but rather an eternal order which was superior in nature. As God’s high priest, Christ is the pathfinder and source of a permanently valid “eternal” salvation for His people. This salvation is available to all who by faith hold on to Him as their Lord and Savior.

This is the Letter of Salvation for today and every day. A Letter that brings hope to the hopeless, light to those in darkness, wholeness to those who are broken, and life to those who are dead. This letter is yours to share with all people just like the radio station in Minnesota did when they wanted to save the thief of the VW car from eating the poison laced crackers.

What a privilege the Savior, Jesus Christ our High Priest gives us to be His Letter of Salvation to share with those around us. What a blessing that our High Priest chooses us to be His Royal priests to share His love and mercy with a world that desperately needs to be saved. What an honor that our Suffering Servant, the Lamb slain on the Altar of the cross bestows upon us to be His instrument of delivering good news to a bad-news world.

Saints in Christ, every time we are found in the Lord’s house we hear again the message of this Letter of Salvation that changes our lives for the better. Every time we are guests at His table we receive the gift of salvation. We are indeed blessed by our High Priest to have His Word, to read it and receive its benefits—the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. PAUSE. But at times we don’t feel our salvation. Our sins and situations in life cause us to doubt that God is our salvation. Don’t think that you are alone in this. But the Holy Spirit moves you to trust Him completely as David did when he was running from his son Absalom. This is what David wrote: “O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and He answered me from His holy hill. I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For You strike all my enemies on the cheek; You break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be on Your people!” (Ps. 3).

Yes, our salvation IS guaranteed by the One who came to earth to redeem, restore and revive us to God. I don’t know if the thief of the VW was found. But I KNOW you and I have been found by Him who went looking for us our High Priest—Jesus Christ, to Him be glory now and forever. Amen.

Now the peace…


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