Jesus the Intercessor, Part 2
Jesus as Intercessor, Part 2, 1.17.21
One of my hopes for our church as it relates to the weekly sermon is that the weekly sermon is topic of conversation within the body during the week. I hope when you go home and sit down for lunch that you discuss the sermon. That you take the truth from it and discuss that truth with members of CBC. Discuss it’s relevance. Discuss how it challenged and encouraged you, and ask others how it encouraged and challenged them. Ask other members here at CBC how the sermon relates to their walk with Christ. We need to talk like that. We need to ask questions like. And whoever preaches that week, ask them about the sermon. Whether it’s Pastor Jesse or I or another preacher. And as you have questions about the sermon, I want you to feel free to talk to me or Jesse about those matters. We would love the opportunity to converse with you. I am so thankful that we can grow and develop together. And I am so thankful for your patience with me as I (hopefully) learn what being a pastor is.
We are in part 2 of our mini-series on Jesus as Intercessor. This two-week series is part of a larger series on prayer. Last week we studied what the OT teaches regarding Jesus as Intercessor. We studied Melchizedek in Gen 14, the High Priest in Lev 16, and the Suffering Servant in Isa 53. What I argued was that Jesus is the fulfilment of each of these three figures. Jesus is the true Melchizedek. Jesus is our eternal priest who blesses us, as Melchizedek blessed Abram. Jesus is the true High Priest, as he himself is the sacrifice for our sins and as he intercedes for us and takes away our sins, as the High Priest confessed over the goat the sins of Israel. And Jesus is the Suffering Servant. He performs the priestly act of atonement and makes intercession for us. Jesus is the fulfillment of what the OT points to.
This morning we are going examine Heb 7:23–25. But before we do, I’d like to connect the dots between Isa 53, where we left off last week, and where we are in Hebrews. In the Bible, there’s a lot that happens in between Isaiah and Hebrews. We need to fill in the gaps to understand our Hebrews passage.
Remember, the truth of Scripture is progressively revealed. This means that the theology of Scripture develops. By develop I do not mean that the truth is altered or changed or distorted. Let me reemphasize that again, when I say that the truth of Scripture develops I do not meant that it is distorted or changed or altered. Rather, what I mean is this. The truth of Scripture develops like a tree develops. I used this illustration last week. A tree starts as a seed, grows to a seedling, then a young tree, then a mature tree. The tree always remains a tree, but the tree looks different in each stage of its life. That is how the truth of Scripture is. At every stage of God’s revelation, his revelation grows, develops, and expands. The idea of Jesus as intercessor also develops.
So after Isa 53, where should we pick up next in the development of Jesus as Intercessor in Scripture? The next point is where Pastor Joel read this morning, John 17. Look with me specifically at v. 9. Notice what Jesus says there. “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.” Here Jesus is interceding for the disciples. He is functioning as intercessor right here for the disciples. Skip down to v. 15. Jesus says, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” Once again interceding for them. Verse 17. “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Jesus intercession extends beyond the disciples to incorporate even us in the right here and the right now. Look at v. 20. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Jesus here is praying for our church unity right here. He is praying that the unity we have as a church would lead others to believe in the gospel. WOW! Jesus was interceding for us back then. Incredible. So Jesus did that in his life.
The next step in this development of Jesus as Intercessor is to discuss Jesus’ ascension. Turn with me to Acts 1:6. Jesus is no longer here with us. Where is he? He is in heaven. Acts 1:6. I’m just going to summarize verses 6 and 7. In verse 6, the disciples ask Jesus if he will now usher in the millennial kingdom. Jesus says, “You have to wait to figure that out” in v. 7. And in v. 8 he foretells the outpouring of the HS. And then what happens in v. 9? Jesus ascends to the Father. Let’s read it.
And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, the was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.
What happens in the one verse is a complete transition from one phase of Jesus’ ministry (that of an earthly ministry) to another phase of Jesus’ ministry (a heavenly ministry). Now bringing this issue to bear upon Jesus’ priestly ministry, here’s a question we need to ask. Does Jesus’ priestly ministry continue, even though he is now in heaven? That’s a question that we have to ask. And if it does continue, does it change in any way now that he is in heaven? To answer those two questions let’s jump to our main passage this morning, Heb 7:23–25.
The How of Jesus’ Intercession
That all was the entrée. Now it’s time for the main course. I’ve got three points for you this morning the Hebrews passage. First one is this: “The How of Jesus’ Intercession.” The how. How is it that Jesus can be our heavenly intercessor? How is it, based up this Hebrews passage? That’s the question we’ll try to answer in this first point.
Let’s read 7:23–24. The author of Hebrews says this.
The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.
The question we are asking of these two verses is this, “How is it that Jesus can be our heavenly intercessor? How is it that he can be our heavenly priest, our heavenly intercessor? The answer that this question gives is very simple. What it is about Jesus that makes his intercession for us possible is that he doesn’t die.
Notice that the passage draws a comparison between the earthly priests of the OT and the true heavenly priest, Jesus Christ. The former priests can’t continue in their office because they died. The passage says, “They were prevented by death from continuing in office.” That’s not rocket science. That’s easy to understands. The OT priests were normal Joes. They died, just like everyone else.
Jesus is different. Yes, Jesus died. He did die. That is essential to believe to be a Christian. He died on a cross. He died giving his life as the sacrifice for our sins. However, he rose. He rose from the dead. He is alive. We saw that in Acts 1. After he died, he rose from the dead and talked to his disciples, as we saw in Acts 1. After his resurrection, what happened to him? He ascended. Jesus’ ascension is the exclamation point placed on his resurrection. He rose and he can’t even be touched or harmed anymore. He is in heaven. He is alive forever in heaven and can never be harmed. He’s power is present in this world by means of Jesus’s Spirit, but he cannot be touched. Now as the heavenly priest, as the passage says, “he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.” To use another Southernism, he ain’t going to die. He lives forever. He therefore is the forever priest. His eternality is what makes his intercession for us possible.
Once again, the unity of who Jesus is and what he does. He is our internal priest and he perpetually intercedes for us. Wow.
The Purpose of Jesus’ Intercession
That’s the “how” of Jesus’ intercession. That’s how it is possible that he intercedes for us. What’s the purpose? Why does he do it for us? A wonderful question. We explore this question in this second point. The second point is this, “The Purpose of Jesus’ Intercession.” The how was the first point. The purpose is the second point.
Once again looking at the passage. Look at v. 25. It states,
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
So what is this passage saying. It is saying this, when you put together Jesus eternality—what we discussed in the previous point—and Jesus constant intercession for the saints—which we will discuss in the next point, what you get is the purpose of it all, the goal of it all. And the goal of Jesus’ priestly ministry, the purpose of it, is to, “save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him.” Jesus can do this and Jesus does do this. The purpose of Jesus’ priestly ministry generally and his intercessory ministry specifically is to save you completely.
Dear friends, what makes Jesus so great, what makes him so worthy of worship, what makes him so worthy to follow and to forsake everything to gain, is his sufficiency. Jesus is not able to save you just a little bit. Jesus power far exceeds that. Jesus is able to save you completely.
I went to Walmart the other day and bought a new winter jacket. When I got to the checkout line, I realized that the jacket was on clearance. It was 50% off. That’s great but I still had to pay the remaining balance. Discounts are great but you still have to pay.
Jesus doesn’t provide us a mere discount on salvation. He’s not like a coupon. He saves you 80% and you have pay 20%. No. No. No. Dear friends, you don’t need to add anything to Christ’s work for you. What makes him so great is that he does it all! Absolutely all of it. Unlike false religions that Jesus does his part and you have to keep up your own part, the Bible teaches and Hebrews teaches that Jesus does it all. He does it all. You can’t lose it because it was never yours to earn.
Passages like these are why you need to believe in eternal security. You cannot lose your salvation because your salvation is based upon the priestly ministry of Jesus Christ. He is eternal and perfect, and he performs his priestly intercession for you perfectly. Don’t doubt it, dear friend. Don’t not believe what this is saying. Believe it. Take it to the bank. Cash it and live in light of it, dear Christian.
The What of Jesus’ Intercession
Making our way through this passage. Now for the last point. It is this: “The What of Jesus’ Intercession.” First point was the how, second point the purpose, third point the what. What exactly is it?
Looking at the passage. We’ve already reviewed it. Let’s see it again. It says this,
since he always lives to make intercession for them.
We’re going to spend the most time unpacking this little clause. This is what we’re most trying to understand, as this little clause concerns our topic at hand this morning.
The main term we need to investigate in this part of v. 25 is “intercession.” What does this word mean? It’s from this word that we get the answer to the question of this point. According to the Greek dictionary I regularly use, it means this:
to make an earnest request through contact with the person approached
So intercession has to do with earnest requests to someone. In this passage, it refers to Jesus earnest request to the Father on behalf of Christians. Jesus, this passage teaches, makes earnest requests to God on our behalf.
Now what is Jesus requesting? What is he asking the Father on our behalf? This is a very interesting question. I emailed the church this week via our prayerchain (by the way if you are not on this e-mail prayer chain, notify Virigina, our church’s office manager, and she will add you to the list) and asked for prayer about this. The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what exactly it is that Jesus asks the Father for on our behalf.
I imagine the types of requests Jesus makes to the Father right now are the types of requests he made for the church in John 17. I think that is the best picture of Heb 7:25 is talking about. I think John 17 fills in the gaps for us. John 17 is what Jesus is saying to the Father now.
This concession that we don’t know exactly what Jesus appeals to the Father on our behalf does not mean that we can figure out more regarding Jesus’ intercession from this passage. We can. We can learn a lot more. The “since” at the beginning of this clause helps us do that. We might also understand this word as “because.” With this word, the ESV translation is drawing some type of logical connection between Jesus’ ability to save us completely and his living to make intercession for us. What is this logical connection? What is the doctrinal connection between the certainty of our salvation and Jesus’ intercession for us?
Here I am filling in the gaps doctrinally. I take what the author to be saying here is this. The fullness of our salvation is related to Jesus continual intercession for us because in Jesus’ intercession for us he completes in us what he already began in us. Our salvation is full because Jesus saving us occurred in the past (this would be with the doctrine of justification) and in the present (this would be with his priestly work of intercession). The outcome of this continual ministry in our lives is our sanctification. We are sanctified. That’s what happens here on earth. That is what we see. What is occurring in heaven is the intercession of Christ. Jesus saved us in the past and he is saving us right now. And the way he is saving us right now is by means of his intercession for us. There is this ongoingness of salvation, dear friend. We are all being saved. This process of salvation is the result of Jesus’ intercession for us.
Now I want you to notice the “he always lives to make intercession.” Ask of this little phrase this question: What is the purpose of his “always living?” The answer is with the “to.” To do what? To make intercession. This is what this is saying. Jesus always lives for the purpose to make intercession for you. In other words, Jesus’ reason for living in heaven is to help you out, is to save you, is to serve you. That’s his purpose for living. That’s what he does for you.
To bring out the extraordinary element of this, I think it’s helpful to compare Jesus purpose in living as helping us, with our purpose. To bring this out, it’s helpful to share a little story. There have been times in the past when I have told my lovely wife, “Sweety, today is going to be your day. I’ll watch the kids, make sure the house is clean, and take on all your responsibilities. Today I want to be your day.” Days like this are usually my wife’s birthday or some special day. So my wife takes me up on the offer. Of course. Ya. You do all the work. So I start the day with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. You know, “The whole day is yours.” And then as the day goes on you know that enthusiasm drops. The kids store wearing on me, my patience grows thin, the housework chores pile up. So then the end of the day comes. So I have to clean up after supper, brush the kids, get them in bed. By the end of the day, it like, “I love serving you, sweety.” Lol. Ya right. It’s like, “Will you help me out.” Serving someone for a whole day is tough. It’s tough. Our energy fades, we start getting selfish and grouchy, and we can only do it so much.
Now that’s us, dear friends. You laugh at me, and that’s good, I want you to, but you’re exactly like me. Serving other people is hard. We get irritated. We get bothered. We get selfish. We have limits. It’s terribly hard to carry other peoples burdens, their sins, their mistakes.
Y’all Jesus isn’t like us. His purpose in his heavenly life is to specifically serve us, to intercede for us. Our sins don’t tire him out. Our sins don’t make him become mad at us. He never says, “You know what? I’m done You’ve sinned too much today. You’re up to your own today.” He never gets tired carrying your burden. He never stops loving you. He never stops bring your case, your cause to the Father. Jesus is not like us. He is the friend who never leaves. Wow.
We’ve spent a lot of time on biblical and theological exposition. That’s great. We need to do that. Now what I want to do is pull out some application. I want to conclude this morning’s sermon and this two-week series on Jesus as Intercessor with these points of observation and application. Here we go. Based upon this truth of Jesus as intercessor, how should our lives be changed?
Jesus Intercession is Only for Christians
The first point of application is an evangelistic point. Jesus’ intercession is only for Christians. Jesus intercession is only for Christians. If you are not a Christian, you have no heavenly intercessor. Jesus confronts you as judge. He does not offer you the mercy of his intercession. The benefits of Jesus are contingent upon you bowing your knee to Jesus. A world of blessing and grace is open to you because of Jesus. Submit to him. Follow him. Acknowledge him. When you do, we will never leave you nor forsake you.
Jesus Won’t Forsake You in Prayer
The Bible over and over again says that God will never leave us nor forsake us. God will always be with his people. Jesus says this at the end of Matt 28: “Behold I am with you even unto the end of the age.” This faithfulness manifests itself in Jesus’ prayers for us. Jesus will never forsake us in prayer. Jesus is the true prayer warrior that we all need. He is always praying. The purpose of his heavenly priesthood is to pray for us, to complete in us God the Father’s work of salvation. Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. This applies to his prayer life for you.
Your Sins and Failures Don’t Hinder Jesus’ Prayers for You
Second application. We stumble and fail, dear friends. We sin and sin and sin and sin and sin. That Christian life is one in which we are constantly confronted with our sins and mistakes. The sins weigh us down. The devil uses these sins to discourage us and to lead us to self-hatred. Our guilt can lead us to hate ourselves. Your sins and failures do not prevent Jesus from praying for you. Your sins and failures don’t hinder Jesus’ prayers for you. Your lack of prayer doesn’t hinder Jesus prayers for you. If you are in him, he will never leave you. He is pleading your case before the Father, even when you’re sinning. To repeat the passage again,
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
For those who come to the Father through him, through Jesus, he won’t stop praying for you. Your sins cannot hinder his ministry to you. And it is by means of his prayers for you that you are brought back to him.
Salvation is by Grace Alone
Third point of application. Straight to the heart. We are saved by grace alone. In your prayer life, you are going to fail. You are going to fail miserably. Even the most faithful prayer warrior among us will still fall short. We grow cold in our prayer lives. We are far too consumed with other distractions. We fail. We fall short. We are given to seasons of prayerlessness and apathy. This is true. What is also true is that when we fail Jesus is still praying for. Even in our waywardness, Jesus is still praying for us. He is still working in us his salvation. Our salvation is not based upon our prayer lives. If it were, we would be damned. Our salvation is based upon Jesus’ prayer life, Jesus intercession. We will always fall short in prayer. Jesus never does. We are saved because of his prayers, not ours. Our prayers are a dim, tainted reflection of his prayers. His prayers, which are perfect, are why we are saved. Not ours. We need to pray. We ought to pray. Passionately. Fervently. Always knowing, though, that we never measure up, and the Jesus is the forever faithful prayer warrior who saves us.
Faithfully Intercede for Others, as Jesus Faithfully Intercedes for You
Last point. The Bible says that we need to act towards others as Jesus acts towards us. Based on this morning’s sermon we have seen that Jesus faithfully prays for us. He’ll never leave us nor forsake us in his prayers for us. That love that Jesus shows to you in prayer, dear friend, you need to show to others. Specifically, mothers of wayward children, you know that Jesus unceasingly prays for you. He never stops. He so faithful. Mothers, be that way to your prodigals. Don’t stop pleading for them. Don’t stop. Jesus doesn’t stop praying for you, so you can’t stop praying for your prodigal children. Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever stop. Make it the purpose of your life to intercede for your prodigals. Jesus as Jesus lives to make intercession, so too make it your life’s purpose to make intercession for your children.
God is so good. Wow. All praise be to him. For next week we will study the Spirit’s intercession for us from Rom 8:26–27. Study that passage for next week.