By Chuck Williams
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Covington
Focal Passage: Hebrews 7:23-28
One time a preacher in the middle of his sermon asked the rhetorical question, “Do you know of anyone who has lived a perfect life?” Surprisingly an older man raised his hand. The pastor asked, “Well, who is this perfect person?” The man calmly replied, “Pastor, that would be my wife’s first husband.”
This man’s weary perception was not true reality, but it is an insight into what we need. Who is going to save us since we all fall short of perfection? The writer tells the new Jewish believers …
Only Jesus saves because He is eternal: vv. 23-24. The Levitical priests had a problem … they died. Therefore they had to transfer their priesthood to someone else. Even though Christ died, His death did not stop Him from continuing as a priest. He died voluntarily. He did not place an animal sacrifice on the altar; rather He placed Himself as victim upon the altar. Death had no power over Him, because He has risen to life again. He can truly say, “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?”
By His Resurrection He holds the permanent office of priesthood. He would not be able to save if He were temporary in His life or influence.
We live in a fast-paced, ever changing world. Technology is moving at a speed that seems to rival the Indy 500. Politicians and preachers come and go. One sad commentary that many church members have is that “Preachers come and go. Don’t get too attached because they will sooner or later be moving on.” But Christ is not temporary; He is forever eternal in His position as the One who saves. Other religious leaders who have many followers have all died. Christ alone is alive.
Only Jesus saves because of His infinite power: v. 25. Some translators render this “save to the uttermost.” This does not refer to time but to the completeness of His power. The Law was not able to do its work completely. Christ is able to completely and utterly get all the work of salvation done.
Scripture speaks of the thief on the cross as being one who deserved his death because of wickedness. Yet, Christ saved him completely. Saul of Tarsus was a “blasphemer,” “persecutor,” and “chiefest of sinners,” yet he was saved by the power of Christ. No one is beyond the reach of the power of our perfect Savior.
Only Jesus saves because of His perfect character: vv. 26-28. The writer introduces the reason for Christ’s effective intercession. It would be impossible for anyone less than Christ to meet all of our needs. Can the imperfect make perfect someone who also is imperfect? The writer says no and then lists the qualities that show Christ’s perfection. First, He is holy, which means righteous in all His ways. No one measures up to Christ’s holiness. Second, He is innocent. The King James Version says “harmless,” which is the Jewish picture of a lamb without blemish offered as sacrifice for sins. The third word is “undefiled.” Ceremonial cleansing was required before offering a sacrifice. Jesus had no need for cleansing because he was legally and morally stainless. The last description was “separated from sinners.” He didn’t hide from sinners but their sin did not rub off on him.
Because of all this and more He has been exalted above the heavens and there is no need for a daily sacrifice. He has done this with great finality “once for all.” There is never a need for further repetition. When Christ appears again it will not be with humiliation, but as the glorious Savior who alone can save.