«Hebrews - Part 12: It is Fitting MATT CHANDLER, March 26, 2006 “Father, I thank You for tonight, and I that You would help us. And I ask ...»
Now, let’s read 11-19. This is where it’s really going to start coming together. In fact, if I was going to get a tattoo, and I can’t get a tattoo because I read for a living. I mean, how you gonna pull that off, you know? If I were going to get one, I would get a verse we’re going to read, and I want you to repeat it back to me. Now, this is a big time text that we’re about to get into. So, the biblical counseling and self- help gurus are secondary to what Christ wants to do in your heart and in mine. Look at verse 11, “Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?” Here’s what just happened: the Scriptures, this sacred literature of ours, this book that we read from every week, just said, “If you and I could be made right by obeying the Law, then why did God send Jesus?” That’s what just happened. If you and I could gain right standing before God by doing everything that’s right and avoiding everything that’s wrong, then why the need to send Jesus? Why send Jesus at all? Why? Earlier, we sang a lot of songs.
Alright, let’s go. Verse 12, “For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.” So, you can even see this in our culture. Has there been a big difference between the Clinton administration and the Bush administration? Well, yeah. We got the younger generation going, “I dunno. Maybe. I heard something about a war or something.” Yes, alright. And I’m not making a political statement; I’m just saying there have been major differences in policy and emphasis. For better or worse, it’s different. And He’s saying, “Listen, when there’s a new top, things change.” Now, let’s keep reading, verse 13, “For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.” So, the priestly order was from the tribe of Levi. Jesus, our new high priest, isn’t even a part of the tribe of Levi. He’s of the tribe of Judah, “The Lion of Judah.” That’s why they call Him that, because He’s from Judah. Verse 15, “And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of Him, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’ For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness [here’s my tattoo verse] (for the Law made nothing perfect),...” Look at me, the Law makes nothing perfect. The Law makes nothing perfect. The Law makes NO THING perfect. I’ll be right back to that. “...and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” Okay, I am passionate about few things in greater zeal than what we’re about to talk about. Let’s do it this way. How many of you have been saved for longer than 10 years? If you’re not raising your hand, don’t be embarrassed; you’re probably better off than we are right now. So, what happens when the grace of Christ comes alive in the heart of a man or a woman? Now, I’m not talking about walking down an aisle and getting baptized. I’m not talking about when you were 6 years old, going, “I’m going to follow Jesus...” I’m not you weren’t saved then; I’m saying when the soul is awakened to the reality of your deceived, wicked heart and the beauty of Christ. In that moment, when grace takes root, there is this zeal and this joy for who Jesus is, and you want to be near Him, and things don’t feel like duty anymore, they feel like delight. Are you tracking with me?
Now, spoken and unspoken, churches have this kind of unwritten code of Christian behavior. And the funny thing about the Village is people don’t think the Village has that, you know. They’re like, “Not at the Village.” Ridiculous, alright. Let me give you an example and I haven’t said this and if she’s here tonight...oh well. At Christmas, I wore khaki pants and a red shirt. I call it my Christmas outfit. Do you remember that? And it just stood out because I don’t normally dress like that. And I was like, “Hey, I got all dressed in my Christmas outfit...” Well, I got an e-mail the following week calling me a sellout because I dressed preppy for Christmas. Now, let me say something. When I tell you that the line between all that you want to be and all that you hate is thinner than anyone wants to acknowledge, that little girl is absolutely the poster child of that. So what happened is all of us got turned off from church because you had to dress a certain way and act a certain way and behave a certain way, “So let’s go over here and start a church where you have to dress our way and act our way,” and you became what you hated. That’s what you did. You became the very thing you rebelled against. So, we have it here. In fact, depending on the time of life that you get saved, the list looks different. Like, if you got saved when you were in college, you heart was awakened to the reality of Christ in college, all of a sudden, you like have to start playing the acoustic guitar. Because you can’t be a Christian and not play the acoustic guitar in college, that’s for sure. And you have to join a worship band or you start reading John Piper’s books, and you’ve got to go here, and you’ve got to do that and. And you start filling out that list. Now, when you’re older, it looks a little bit different.
You know, you’re Republican, you’ve gotta fight this moral quandary that our nation’s is in, as we as Christians are hard pressed. And by the way, if you’d like to fly to Liberia or China, I’ll pay for you to go, and then you can know what hard pressed is. And then you’re got a checklist, you’ve got to study this, you’ve got to join this, you’ve got to go here, you can’t do this, you better start doing this... And here’s what I’ve noticed. In fact, let me say this, if you’ve been a Christian 10 years or longer and this is not your testimony, you have got to get a hold of me, because you are an anomaly. I mean, you are like Neo in the Matrix. You are “The One.” So, you need to get a hold of me, because I need to learn from you, alright. Here’s my point: what ends up happening is we begin, whether spoken or unspoken, to try to conform to this list of expectations on Christian behavior. We begin to work towards it and begin to master it, and where we can’t master it, we begin to pretend to master it. And what ends up happening is we grow more and more and more in the knowledge about God and wake up and can’t find Him anywhere. So that, what ends up happening is our knowledge about God has increased monumentally over that moment where He became real to us, but Jesus is nowhere to be found. Jesus is nowhere to be found.
I would explain it like this. In fact, I’ve always explained it like this. When I grew up, I spent the formative years in the Bay Area. And when I was there San Francisco was beating Dallas in football. And then, just as we flew here, the Cowboys started beating down the 49’ers. Now, the quarterback of Dallas those days was a guy by the name of Troy Aikman. You guys heard of him? And here’s the thing about Troy. He played high school football in Oklahoma, and from there, he went to the University of Oklahoma, got hurt and then he got beat out. So, he transfers out to UCLA, where he becomes the golden boy, Troy Aikman, sets all kinds of NCAA records from there, heads to the Dallas Cowboys, 1st round draft pick, begins to set records there, wins Super Bowls. And if I had my computer right now, we’ve got wireless here, and I could Google him, and I could find out his wife’s name, his child’s name, I could probably find the drink he prefers with his steak, I could find his favorite restaurant. I could find tons out about Troy Aikman. And I could go to dinner with you tonight, and I could convince you, by the knowledge about him, that I know him. You could order your steak, and I could go, “You know, Troy prefers the merlot with the steak. And Vanessa, oh ho, Vanessa....” I don’t even know if that’s her name. I didn’t really Google that stuff. I could talk in such a way that you’re going, “Yeah, yeah, he knows Troy.” Now, here’s my great fear for you. Here’s my great fear for us. My great fear is that you would know God like I know Troy Aikman, in that you can spout out facts and know nothing about the freedom and the life that He brings.
Now, here’s the problem with the Law: the Law does not set free. The problem with the Law and the reason that Jesus has to come is because the Law enables us to understand the behavior is wrong and corrects to right behavior but does nothing to free the soul. So, let me do it this way. Does an alcoholic who wakes up tomorrow and does not drink, but all day long is almost paralyzed by his own addiction to alcohol, is he free? Absolutely not. In fact, Jesus would attack the same idea like this: “Um, you’ve heard it said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ but I say if your heart’s full of lust, you’re just as broken....Okay, you’ve heard it said, ‘Do not murder,’ but I’ll tell you if you’re always in a rage, you’re no better off than the murderer.” And the thing about the Law is if we follow the way of the Law, then we grit down with discipline, try to overcome behavior without a heart being transformed. In short, we become transformed to a pattern of religion, but we’re never transformed by the Holy Spirit of God. We’ve become conformed to a pattern of religion but never transformed by the Spirit of God.
Like, I’ll try to explain this to you. Like, have you noticed every couple of weeks, I’ll make fun of beer? And I kind of do it like this, I kind of say stuff like, “Beer’s not a sin, light beer’s a sin.” And then, everybody’s like this, “Ha ha ha ha,” but some people are like, “God’s gonna kill him if he keeps doing stuff like that. You just watch. God’s gonna kill him.” Now, the reason I want to pick that out and openly mock it is because for some reason or another, to Evangelicals, it is the litmus test of how we feel about Jesus. Like if you drink a beer with dinner, you have issues or something. And so, I always want to mock that because it is an obvious example of what I’m talking about here. And so, then we sound like morons out there. Because then lost people go, “Didn’t Jesus turn water into wine?” And then we say, “Well, wine back then wasn’t really fermented. It didn’t really have alcohol in it,” which is why Proverbs says, “Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.” Because you know, grape juice would make a room crazy, alright. When people get too much grape juice into them, all kinds of debauchery breaks out, so stay off the juice, alright. And so, we end up sounding ridiculous. Now, I am not up here, in any way, saying, “Go out and get yourself a Shiner Bock tonight” or anything like that. That’s not even my message; that’s not even what I’m talking about. What I’m doing is trying to expose the painful reality that this relational Jesus, who transforms our hearts so that the weight of sin disappears is not the Jesus that a lot of us worship. Instead, we are, with all our might, trying to conform to a pattern of morality that has done nothing but exhaust us over the years. It has done nothing but exhaust us over the years.
Now, let’s keep reading. Verses 20-26, “And inasmuch as it was not without an oath (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever’”);...” Now, all this is saying is that this is the final way that Jesus is going to reach the world. And we know that because Old Testament priests did not swear an oath. Like, an oath signifies forever. Like when I stood on an altar with my wife and we entered into an oath covenant based relationship, we said, “For better or for worse, ‘til death do us part.” So that means whether this thing goes good from this moment on or this thing goes bad from this moment on, I’m in it. And I swore an oath, which means this thing is permanent. Now, He’s saying that the Old Testament Levitical priesthood did not need an oath, because it was never planned to be the permanent way. It was there to show it’s folly, so that Jesus could come in the fullness, and that’s when He swore the oath.