Thursday, February 28, 2013
Sermon on Psalm 110, for Lent 3 midweek, "Indestructible Life"
· Although this Psalm is more triumphant in tone, speaks of rule and exaltation—we can’t pass over it in our series. Most quoted in NT. Luther: wraps together pictures of the Messiah as descendant of David, Son of God, King, Priest, and Judge. Most NT references focus on the kingship, the glory, Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven to rule at God’s right hand.
· Hebrews 7, however, focuses on v. 4, “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Unlikely; unexpected combination—king and priest. There are many suggestions in the Gospels that the people expected Jesus to be a King, and that they expected this in the Messiah. But was it a widespread expectation that He would also be a priest? (not sure). As Hebrews tells us, the law said nothing about priests coming from the descendants of Judah. But the Messiah was to come from the tribe of Judah. So how could He be a priest? Only from the tribe of Levi, and the descendants of Aaron, did the Law allow priests. But Hebrews shows their priesthood was inferior—destined to be replaced. Could never reach perfection, never take away sins, had to purify themselves, died in office and had to be replaced, required legal descent.
· But the promise of Psalm 110:4 is of a new, greater priest—the Messiah, a priest forever. Superior priesthood, able to reach perfection, did not need to purify Himself (had no sin), not based on legal descent, but on an indestructible life. Everything we know of in this life is destructible. Can be destroyed, shattered, disintegrated. Titanium, diamond, the hardest substances we can manufacture, all have their breaking point. Can endure tremendous heat, pressure, force and stress, but all reach a point of failure. In the cross of Jesus Christ, His indestructible life was put to the test. Subjected to the tremendous heat of God’s wrath, the force and pressure of our sin and wickedness crushing down on Him. And by appearances, to the eyes of those who watched, it seemed as though He too had reached the point of failure. Crushed by our iniquities beyond recognition. Marred beyond human semblance. Our sin had made a wreck of the man. A man whose life had been beautiful, miraculous, and pure truth. Now battered and bruised, breathless and lifeless. An indestructible life seemed destroyed. Never before had the grave swallowed such big prey.
· But God had sworn an oath, and He will not change His mind. There’s no higher enhancement, no greater verification, no more certain grounding of a promise than for God to swear it on oath. God’s very character, His being, His Word are at stake—and with this sworn oath, He promised that the Messiah would be “a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” And by God’s unchangeable Word and oath—Jesus’ priesthood will stand forever. And so, Jesus’ indestructible life proved to be just that. If diamonds are formed when coal is crushed under extreme heat and pressure, something far more marvelous happened, when Jesus, with a diamond-like indestructible life, was crushed and put to death. With resilient power and life, He drew breath in a body that had been transformed into something even more glorious, scintillating and beautiful than a diamond.
· The beauty, the perfection of His everlasting priesthood, was founded on the higher and better covenant. A priesthood marked by one perfect self-sacrifice—one perfect substitute for sin—one act to seal and establish our salvation on the new and better covenant made in His blood.
· So in Psalm 110:1, God the Father speaks to His Son: “The LORD said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” His Son is the perfect Priestly King, the One worthy to rule with God’s power and absolute authority. The One who has the total submission of all His enemies beneath His feet. The One who rules with His mighty scepter. In Christ, those two separate streams or trajectories, priest and king, intersect and unite in One person, Jesus Christ. A third trajectory, that of prophet, also joins them in Christ. Today Christ stands in that unique and unequalled splendor, as Prophet, Priest, and King. But for now we journey with Him again to His cross, to watch the perfect sacrifice unfold—to learn how He earned His perfect priesthood, and to learn how great is the power of God’s oath. And since His life is indeed so indestructible, as to survive even death on the cross—if God’s oath is so certain that even death and all hell cannot break it—then we have a sure and unshakeable salvation in our Great High Priest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.