I've written a parable.
Once upon a time there was an architect and builder who together designed and built a perfect house. The house would never need any improvements for it was perfect in every way. When it was completed the architect and builder examined their work and said "it is good, it is perfect".
However an enemy was watching who had some evil ideas and jealousies. He could not allow this perfect building plan and design to be duplicated over and over again for it would show up the inferior nature of his own work.
So this enemy went to the house disguised as a door to door salesman. He convinced the residents that the house was almost perfect, but really not complete without his all new detection and alarm system. So the sale was made, but unknown to the residents they had bought explosive devices which the enemy planted in every room of their perfect house.
The resulting explosion tore the house to pieces and leveled it to the ground. The damage was so extensive you could no longer even recognize the original design. Even the foundation was damaged.
However, the architect and builder still had a copy of the original design and plans. However, in order to rebuild something that would last, they needed a resident who would exercise great sales resistance and not allow any sales person entrance into the house.
Only one person qualified for such residency. It was the builder himself. He agreed to live in the house designed by the architect and built by himself. He said that he would be faithful and that no door to door sales person would even get a foot through the door. And once he had demonstrated ultimate sales resistance, he would be a pattern and teacher for all others who wanted to resist the architect's enemy.
So, the builder himself lived in the house and succeeded in resisting every attempt of the enemy to sell him or gain entrance. So the enemy put out a contract on the builder's life. It was an awful horrible death, planned by the enemy to frighten anyone else who ever resisted his sales tactics.
But the builder survived even this awful death turning it into another victory over the enemy showing everyone that you can say "no" to this enemy and win. And now even death itself need not be feared, because death can speak a final "no" to the enemy and an eternal "yes" to the architect. The End...or is it...The Beginning? The message of the parable is fairly obvious. God's design and perfect plan for you and me has been destroyed because we allowed an enemy to sell us his lies. We gave him entrance to our lives and we blew the plan.
But God still had the original plan because we were created in His image. He started over building upon the foundation of the patriarches, the law, the prophets, judges, etc. Carefully God built over the centuries and milleniums until the time was right and He sent His Son.
Last week we spoke of Jesus as the completion or fulfillment of God's design for our lives. You and I cannot live up to God's design for our lives in our own selves. He is our Pattern, our Teacher, our Helper, our Redeemer, our Answer to the enemy and our answer for our fallenness. Without Him there is no such thing as human progress!
Each generation of humanity tries to improve on the other believing they are becoming better and that man can improve himself...but to no avail.
Walker Percy asks: "Why does man feel so sad in the 20th century? Why does man feel so bad in the very age, when more than in any other age, he has succeeded in satisfying his needs and making the world over for his own use?"
Why? Because mankind has this built-in sense that they were designed for something more and yet they seem unable to find exactly what they were designed for, and even if finding the perfect design; unable to live up to it.
David Wells explains it saying that "we are liberated, leaning only on our own reason and goodness. However, this liberation also causes us to see illusion as reality. The illusion is that the forces at work within human life are benign."
In other words, there isn't anything really wrong with humanity that some social engineering can't fix. Man is not evil. Society is evil. If we fix society...humanities inate goodness will emerge.
This is the message of liberal theology. We don't need anyone to die for our sins. Jesus' death is just a good example of someone being willing to sacrifice himself to help others. Beyond that His death was not necessary.
They say that Jesus may have been called by or sent by God but His real mission was to rectify social wrongs. A mission we must continue today so that we can create the better future that we all hope we are fervently moving towards.
Thus we have freedom from God, freedom from authority, freedom from the past, freedom from evil, and a life remade in our own image. We have made great progess (we think) as a human race. David Wells states that "this belief in our progress is supposedly proven by the world of technology we have created. However, progress in technology is one thing. Progress in the human condition is another.
Somehow we think that the ability to make better cars and better airplanes and better medicines and better theories proves that we have the ability to make a better self.
Part of this "better yourself" agenda is for man to find a way to transcend his own mortality, which would be a great miracle. And for man to rise above his own corruption, which would be an even greater miracle!"
The answer for all of this, for humanities dilemna; is only found in Jesus. Human beings are fallen sinful creatures. We have no inate goodness. Societies evils eminate from the evils in man's heart. Saving ourself is beyond ourself to accomplish. Living our lives by God's design is impossible for self to fulfill.
The writer says: "we see Jesus.."
What do we see Jesus doing and why?
We see Jesus fitting Himself into God's design and purpose for His life. We see Jesus doing what we are not able to do...resisting the evil one...saying "no" to temptation...living a sinless life...humbling himself to live for a greater purpose than self...overcoming death.
Because human beings were made a little lower than the angels...we see Jesus putting Himself in that same position along with us.
Because the human experience includes temptation, suffering, heartache, disappointment, pain, betrayal, rejection, and death...we see Jesus tasting and feeling our humanity so that He might be a merciful and feeling high priest.
This is not man's answer for man's dilemna. This is God's answer. God's answer is not more spending or more social programs. God's answer is Jesus!
The writer says that Jesus "tasted" death. The word used here for "tasted" means that He felt and experienced death. He did not go through this like any other human being in the dying process...but He went through all this on our behalf or in our place.
Verse 10 tells us that "it was fitting" that Jesus do this. There is nothing at all ridiculous or offensive about what Jesus did. Through suffering, Jesus fulfilled all that was needed to identify with humanity.
The word "made perfect" is from the root word "telos" which we talked about in the last study, which means design. (Jesus was already flawless.)
Thus, the author of our salvation fulfilled God's design, accomplished or brought to maturity God's plan through His suffering. God's design was perfected or fulfilled totally in Jesus.
This qualifies Him to be our leader.
Note who Jesus is. He is the author of our salvation. See, this is not man's idea. Mankind cannot save himself. The K.J. says He is the captain of our salvation. The Amplified Bible says He is the Pioneer of our salvation. The greek word can also be translated "He is the Prince of our salvation." This word was used in a number of ways in Bible days. It was used of a man who starts and heads a family into which others are born. It was used of a man who founds a city, in which others come to live. It was also commonly used of a pioneer who blazed a trail for others to follow.
This person never stood at the rear giving orders but was always out in front leading the way.
Note what Jesus did:
As a pioneer of redemption, He blazed a trail through death and resurrection. In the process He robbed Satan of death as a weapon to be used against us...destroying death's power over us by transforming death into a doorway into God's presence forever.
Thus we can say with Paul..."to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord"! We can agree with Paul in I Cor. 3:21-22 that death has now been given to us in Christ Jesus. It is now God's gift for promoting us to glory.
Now that is not what our culture tells us. In our culture death seems like a real "let-down" in contrast to living! For our culture death is an end. For God's people death is a beginning! Often we view death through secular pagan eyes rather than Biblically. Yes, there is a sadness is saying goodbye. Yes, there is grieving. But there is not the hopelessness of our culture which views death as an end.
In his book: "What Americans Believe", George Barna states, "One of the most penetrating and inescapable questions that confronts Americans is: 'Why am I alive?'"
The answer he found was most surprising. "Most adults conclude that we exist to gratify the flesh. Sixty-three percent concur that the purpose in life is enjoyment and personal fulfillment."
Is it any wonder then that Americans, even many Christians in America do not see death as offering anything good to us. From Scriptures we understand that Jesus holds the keys of death. In Jesus we defeat death and enter heaven. In Jesus we also overcome the work of sin and death in our lives.
From scriptures we know that death is at work in all of us destroying God's design. Death is at work in our physical bodies and their abilities and strength. Death is also at work in our human will when we rebell against God's will. Death is at work in our behavior and attitudes. And death is at work in our relationships.
Left to our own resources, all we have to look forward to is death! Outside of Jesus all we have to look forward to is eternal death in hell.
BUT.....WE SEE JESUS! Jesus came and died.
READ: Verses 14 - 15
Because of Jesus, death need not be the final word for any of us.
Did you know that you can be free from death's life-hindering, life-limiting fear?
How does death hinder and limit life?
Well, the fear of it holds people back from life. It holds people back from life's joys. It holds people back from new doors that God would open. It holds people back from trips, ministry, missions, God's Gang in Northview Heights, etc.
This fear is voiced in the "what if" questions we ask. "Well, I would like to do that but what if...?"
And you can live your life held back by this fear......trying to escape death!
The tragedy of living this way controlled by fear is that some day death will catch up with you anyway. You keep running ahead of it but your pace gets slower and slower and death is relentless in its pace. It will catch you...guarranteed!
So it will happen. Hebrews 9:27 says it is an appointment we will all keep!
But Jesus has the keys and He has transformed it into a door into God's presence for all of God's people. So, be free of this fear in Jesus' Name and begin to give yourself now to life.
Be free of this fear and give yourself over to God's design for you.
Be free of this fear and give yourself to God's will...to joy...to open doors...to opportunities.
Receive Jesus as your Saviour and be free of this fear as a consequence of sin's penalty.
In Jesus be free to live the life God has planned for you to live!
If you belong to Jesus...God has taken hold of your life in order to help you. He does this through Jesus.
Jesus is able to be to us all that we need.
We need someone to intercede for us compassionately. He is merciful!
We need someone to intercede for us continuously. He is faithful!
We need someone who knows about temptation and has said "no" to it victoriously. He is able to give help! When you are tempted to be disloyal to God, Jesus is able to help you. He is able to give help. It is not some dead "saint" or even Mary or some powerful prayer to use as a formula. It is the Living Saviour who helps!
No matter what the temptation, trouble, or trial; Jesus is able to help for He has faced it for you already.
EXAMPLE: You might say, "My spouse left me, what does Jesus know about that? It never happened to Him."
However, Jesus knows about betrayal, dessertion, unfaithfulness, and rejection. He faced these experiences and feelings. He is able to help!
When you are tempted to give in to sin, Jesus is able to help you. When you feel ashamed and unholy, Jesus is able to help you. When you feel too weak to go on and you are ready to give up on God's design for your life, Jesus is able to help you. When the fear of death is holding you back and clouding your vision, Jesus is able to help you.
The Scriptures do not say, "God helps those who help themselves." The Scriptures say, "God helps those who call upon the Name of the Lord!"
Remember that whatever you face, Jesus has already faced it and come through it in victory.
Remember that wherever you go, Jesus has been there before you.
When the going gets tough, you can get open your heart and pray "Lord, do you remember what you went through when you were here? I'm going through it now."
And He will say: "Yes, I know. I will be your High Priest. I understand. I will help you."
Folks, our God is not a cosmic God, powerful and holy...but indifferent.
In the midst of the congregation, He became one of us. He knows about the powerlessness and helplessness of our human experience.
He was guilty of NO sin, yet He suffered for ALL sin!
He has become our merciful and faithful High Priest.
Jesus is the only person in the universe that can satisfy both God's claims and man's needs.
He is a perfect minister. He is God's design for you and me.
He is our Sanctifier, our Substitute, our Satan-Conqueror, our Sympathizer...our Captain who leads the way so that God's design for you and me can be perfected.
Let's follow the Captain of our Salvation!
Let's go on to fulfill God's purpose and design for our lives.
Let's be free of death's fear and it's life-hindering force.
Let's say "NO" to temptation by the power of His help.
Let's follow Captain Jesus!
Other sermons by Pastor John.