Hebrews 7:16, 23-25 Jesus became a priest, not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. . . There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
There is a church here in São Paulo (yes! I’m spending a wonderful week here catching up with friends, eating wonderful Brazilian food . . .) with a huge mural on its ceiling. I wish I had time to travel across the city to take a picture for you. The design is circular. At the top is God, pictured as an old man. At “9 o’clock” is Jesus. People are trying to get to God with his help, but they fall down into flames of fire. At “3 o’clock” is Mary. People trying to get to God with her help are successful. Yes, this church is dedicated to Mary.
I remember the shock and hurt I felt when I first saw this mural, in the early 90s. I really couldn’t believe it at first, and kept staring at it trying to make it say something less heretical, less anti-biblical, less misleading, less denigrating of Jesus, his death and resurrection, his position now at the Father’s right hand where he lives forever to intercede for us. This passage from Hebrews is exactly the Scripture that came to my mind. JESUS is our great high priest. HE is our mediator, “There is one God and one mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). I can imagine his precious mother cringing at being made the object of idolatry, being worshiped in place of her Son.
Imagine Jesus and the Father, talking lovingly together about YOU. Imagine Jesus explaining to the Father what it feels like to be a human, facing all that you face. Imagine having your own personal advocate, who understands you perfectly, representing you and asking for what he knows you truly need: “. . . we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous” (1 John 2:1). And though Jesus is truly righteous, we have access to him at any time: “This High Priest of ours, Jesus the Son of God, understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:15).
What do you need from the Lord today? Come boldly. Receive his mercy. Find his grace. Jesus is alive! And he loves you.
[By the way, the picture I promised you of the beautiful park my friend Loide designed to replace the trash dump by the represa? There’s been so much rain here that most of the park is flooded. I can’t get close enough to take a decent photo. But it hasn’t rained since I’ve been here, so maybe in a couple more days the water will recede.]