As you stand in Red Square in Moscow your eyes take in contrasting scenes. You see the red brick walls of the Kremlin rising before you on one side. Except for the gate towers and imposing entrances, the walls continue for one and one-half miles surrounding the Kremlin, which is somewhat like a small city behind walls.
The designer and builder of this complex and its walls built something that for centuries stood as a symbol of greatness and power to the Russian people. (built in 1492)
As you turn away from the walls, you see a far more awesome sight. The eight varied colored domes of St. Basil's Church rising majestically into the sky speak of a greatness beyond the Kremlin and a power greater than the Kremlin. (build around 1572)
To me it is a word picture that says, the power of the Kremlin may be great, but the church of Jesus Christ is greater.
In every area of life we make such comparisions. We say that Yogi Berra was a great baseball player, and that Babe Ruth was greater, but that Hank Aaron was the greatest. For us "Burgh Folks" we would say that Roberto Clemente was the greatest.
We describe people, buildings, artist, athletes, statesment, etc using adjectives like great, greater, and greatest.
The Jewish people had their heroes also. Of them all, Moses was considered the greatest. In poetry, a Jewish dramatist of 300 AD described Moses as sitting on a throne that reached to the heavens. His mind was able to survey all things in time past, present, and future.
The tendency to exalt and deify our heroes is certainly not new to our culture. Some of Judaisms greatest rabbis considered Moses to be superior to all other Old Testament prophets.
The writer to these Hebrew Christians understands their Jewish roots and some of the difficulties they are experiencing as they follow Jesus.
The believers of that day needed to understand that following Jesus was not like following Moses.
Yes, Moses was greater than all Old Testament prophets, but Jesus is the greatest.
The New Testament church in Corinth had to understand that although Paul, Appollos, and Peter were great men of God; still they were only human servants through whom the gospel message came to them. Jesus is the greatest! (I Cor. 3:5-7)
Believers today, who are just as tempted to heroe worship in the church must understand that there is no one who can be our substitute for Jesus.
Yes, we have all been blessed by some great men and women of God. But they are only humans. Jesus is the greatest.
Thus, in chapter 2, verse 9 we hear the call to see Jesus. In chapter 3, verse 1 we are told to consider Jesus, to fix our thoughts on Jesus.
Application: - During our ministry times with our Deacons and Good Samaritans, you need to fix your thoughts on Jesus. Be open to God's Spirit working through the person who ministers to you...but fix your thoughts on Jesus.
Going back to 2:18 where we are told that Jesus is the one who is able to help us...therefore..."holy brothers" fix your thoughts on Jesus...consider the greatness of Jesus.
"Holy brothers" = children who have been cleansed and made holy.
The cleansing of the conscience by the sacrifice of Jesus is the obvious emphasis here. But also we have a reminder of our heavenly or holy calling in Christ Jesus.
Every person who has been cleansed and made holy by the blood of Jesus, also has a holy calling upon their lives. You have a calling to live a holy life and you have a calling to serve the Lord's will with your life. This is a "holy" calling meaning that you are separated from living for self in order to live for God.
In Hebrews 9:14 this truth is emphasized again as the Holy Spirit tells us that our consciences have been cleansed in order that we might now serve the living God.
The heavenly and holy calling, then is two-fold:
1. First it is a call to a person. In the Old Testament the focus was on the place to which God had called His people = the promised land.
In the New Testament the focus is on the Promised Person we are called to follow. We are called to Christ.
In the Old Testament you had to be "in the land" to be in the place of blessing. In the New Testament you have to be "in Christ" to be in the place of blessing.
The blessings of salvation come to us in Jesus. The blessings of God upon our lives and futures and families come to us in Jesus.
2. The second part of this calling is to serve the living God. It is a call to good works.
In the last two studies we taught about God's design for our lives. Eph. 2:8-10 tells us that part of God's design and calling is the good works that God designed in advance for us to do.
In Jesus, God has saved you from your sin.
In Jesus, God has called you to holy and productive living...to goodness, to righteousness, to do God's good works on this planet.
Good works is not a "do the best you can" approach to live. Good works is "live out God's design for your life by fixing your thoughts on Jesus."
"Consider Jesus", the King James says.
A livelier translation would be "Bring your mind down on this One called Jesus". In other words focus on and concentrate on Jesus and who He is and what He has done.
He is the apostle and high priest whom we confess.
We don't pray to anyone else or confess anyone else....no apostles like Peter, Paul, Thomas, John, etc....no Old or New Testament Priests. No...Jesus is the apostle and high priest Whom we confess.
An apostle is one sent with authority and Jesus certainly deserves that title.
But the word apostle is also derived from two greek words which describe the biological process by which one plant sends out a type of root or shoot which pushes into the ground and starts another plant.
So one plant starts another colony...another plant...and it starts another and so on it spreads.
Jesus was sent out by the Father to establish a new "colony of heaven" on this planet. The new colony was called the kingdom of God. Jesus then gave us that same authority to establish new colonies or churches all over the world. This is our apostle Lord leading the way and giving us authority to follow and do the same good works...to continue the apostolic work of our Lord.
Jesus was faithful in His ministry as apostle and high priest. Now He calls us to follow in His steps. (In future studies we will teach on His high priestly ministry) If we as a church are going to accomplish God's will for us...we must fix our thoughts on Jesus.
If you as an individual are going to fulfill the good works God designed for you to do...you must fix your thoughts on Jesus.
When we become consumers and users and takes instead of servants and lovers and givers....then we have gotten our eyes and our mind off of Jesus and on to the temporary.
When the church struggles to do God's will because of lack of workers and lack of funds....the Biblical reason is that God's people get their eyes off of Jesus and soon He gets the left overs of our lives instead of first place in time, energy, and finances.
Whenever I get my eyes off Jesus it is harder for me to minister; it is easier to look for reasons to give up on some thing that God has called me to do. Whenever I get my eyes off Jesus, I find other things calling me to give my time, talent, and treasure. Whenever I get my eyes off Jesus it is harder to faithfully tithe, harder to give to Missions...harder to do the good that God has called me to do with money because my eyes are on other things.
Folks, when that happens...Jesus gets the left-overs of your life. And when that happens both you and the church are hindered from running the race and reaching the goals God sets before us.
People say: "Pastor why doesn't the church do..." "Why doesn't the church buy..." "Why doesn't the church have money for..."
But, the church is not some abstract entity. The church is you. It is you keeping your eyes on Jesus and doing, giving, going according to God's will. That's how the church reaches the goals God sets before us.
ILLUS. Have any of you ever done any competitive running. You know that you cannot win a 100 yard dash or any other race by watching your feet. You also do not win by watching the other runners.
You must keep your eyes on the goal...on the finish line...on that tape stretched across the track. That's the goal and watching it keeps you going the right direction and motivates you forward.
Whenever God sets His will before us...we must keep our eyes on Jesus who is our goal and example. Looking at Him we know why we are running and where we are running, and in Him we find the power and joy to keep on running.
When we do this...we are called "Faithful"!
READ: VERSE TWO
Try saying the word out loud, "FAITHFUL".
It is not a scary word or impossible word.
It is a word that describes Godly character lived out in our lives because Jesus lives in our lives.
Moses was faithful to speak all the words given to Him by God. Jesus was also faithful to speak all the words given to Him by God. He faithfully spoke the message.
Moses was faithful to accomplish what the Lord commanded. He had good reasons for not doing what the Lord commanded...his insecurity...his stuttering speech...his lack of status and title among the Jewish people...etc. He had reason after reason to resist God's will.
But in the moment of choice...His faithfulness showed itself in His obedience to God's design for His life.
In Exodus chapters 35-40 there are 22 references to Moses faithfulness to God. What a great life testimony. May our life testimonies and stories reveal a similar pattern that in the moment of choice...we were faithful!
Jesus was faithful to accomplish all that God sent Him to do. He struggled with the final call in the garden. He questioned if there was another way for God's will to be done. He agonized over His part in the plan of God.
But in the moment of choice...He showed Himself faithful as He prayed..."nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done."
Moses was great because of his faithfulness.
But Jesus is the greatest, not just because He was faithful unto death...but because of His honor and position.
In terms of character, both Moses and Jesus were faithful.
In terms of their position, Jesus is the greatest. Moses was a servant in God's house. Jesus is the builder of God's house. Moses was a servant...Jesus was the Son.
The writer wants these Jewish believers to know that Christianity does not depreciate Moses, it simply puts Moses in his proper place,
Moses was good. Jesus is better and best! Moses was great. Jesus is greater and greatest! A contrast is made between the house and its builder. The writer says that the builder of the house has greater honor than the house.
ILLUS. -According to history the builder of St. Basil's Church in Red Square was executed upon the completion of the building because the Czar did not want him honored or given the chance to build another church which might have been of equal or greater beauty. Killing him certainly stopped him from doing any further building.
The enemies of Jesus killed Him also. They were threatened by the kingdom He was building.
But killing Him was already a part of God's plan for an on-going building project. Jesus, who said He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it...is still building today.
Jesus is not a dead, by-gone, once upon a time builder of history past. Jesus is still building. And you and I have become a part of His household.
He has designed and built this house and put you and me in it. Jesus is filling His house with the living community of the redeemed from all generations of time, all peoples, all races, all tribes....we are all in the house He is building.
The Builder of the house is Jesus Christ, who by His own sacrifice has laid the foundation for the house; the foundation of forgiveness and redemption.
No one could come into that house because of his or her own efforts. Only the Son could set humanity free from sin to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. God saw it all; God planned it all; God did it all through Jesus Christ.
You became a part of that house because God used some human instrument to witness to you of Jesus. But the instrument or tool is not the greatest...Jesus, who builds you into God's household is the greatest!
To the Jewish believers and to us the message is: "Hold on to Jesus."
To hold on to the forms of Judaism or even to hold on to Moses, it's great leader is to hold on to a symbol or to a tool used in building instead of holding on to reality. To hold on to a "saint", to Mary, to the person who introduced you to Jesus, to a pastor, evangelist, some gifted minister, etc. is to hold on to the tool the Builder used instead of holding on to Jesus, the Builder.
To hold on to Jesus is to hold on to reality itself.
READ: VERSE 6
We are His house. We are His house.
Say it aloud or to yourself: "I am God's house."
"If we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast."
Jesus is our courage and He is the hope of which we boast.
Courage relates to now. Holding on to Jesus. Fixing my mind on Jesus. Letting the faithfulness of Jesus be demonstrated in how I live my life, and use time, energy, and finances.
Such courage means total and unconditional surrender to the Builder. I "sign off" my life to Him. Because He is the greatest, only His will can bring God's glory and greatness to my life.
Hope relates to the future tense of salvation. God always gives us something to look forward to. There is glory ahead for God's people. There is reward ahead for God's people. And there is a heavenly dwelling awaiting God's people.
This and much more is a part of our living hope!
Hope is not a "hope so" kind of anemic word.
ILLUS. -- Suppose a mother says to a misbehaving child: "When your father gets home and hears about this, you will get it."
If you asked that child: "Is your father coming home soon?" he might say, "I believe so", but it is unlikely that he would say, "I hope so".
Hope combines both expectation and desire.
With courage I want to hold on to Jesus so that with hope...with expectation and desire I can faithfully follow my Apostle and High Priest to the very end.
With courage we hold on to Jesus fixing our thoughts on Him, expecting and desiring....hoping....to hear His welcome when all the family gathers in that Heavenly Building. We listen for the welcome of our Lord....we have given our hearts and lives, our all so that we might hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant, come and share your Master's happiness."
With courage we hold on to Jesus, because we have every expectation and desire that we will share in that happiness!
Other sermons by Pastor John.