The Soaring Eagle

Only your body is limited. Your spirit can 'mount up on wings like eagles'


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Jesus our Priest

“Now there have been many of those priests,
since death prevented them from continuing in office;
but because Jesus lives for ever,
he has a permanent priesthood”
(Hebrews 7:23-24)

Reflection:
High Priest is one of Jesus many titles and descriptions of His ministry.

The Levitical priests of Israel were appointed in terms of the Law. Their appointment was temporary as they would in due course die. One would be selected as the high priest. He would enter the Most Holy Place once a year on the Day of Atonement to place the blood of the sacrifice on the Ark of the Covenant as God had prescribed.

In addition, and because of the sinful character of both priests and people, there were a number of sacrifices prescribed by the Law.  Some of these had to be repeated daily. They were temporary expedients because of the ongoing sin. But they were also a continual reminder that only the sacrifice of blood could deal with sin, and this would involve more than just the death of an animal.

“But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:3-4)

Jesus was appointed apart from the Law. He lives forever and so His appointment is permanent and eternal.

Like the Levitical priests He was ordained to offer a sacrifice to God – to satisfy the provisions of the Law. However, where their sacrifices had to be repeated daily because of their own ongoing sinfulness, His sacrifice of Himself for our sins was a one, perfect and sufficient sacrifice. It gained eternal redemption and salvation for those who put their faith and trust in Him.

“He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need-one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:25-26)

Jesus is the fulfilment of the priesthood in every way. His life was sinless, His sacrificial death complete and His intercession on our behalf eternal. He is forever in the Holy Presence of God Himself.

Prayer:

Thank You Lord Jesus for being both our sacrifice and our high priest – holding us before the Lord God Almighty and enabling us to come into His presence. Amen.

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Jesus Then and Then

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God”
(Luke 1:35)

Reflection:
To summarise Jesus humanity and His Divinity.

  • Jesus was a human led by the Holy Spirit.
    • He was born by a human mother through the action of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35)
    • His human ancestry reached back to David, Abraham and Adam (Matthew 1:1-17)
    • He grew up, learned and submitted to His human parents (Luke 2:51-52)
    • He knew human hunger and thirst, suffering and pain.
    • He experienced temptation (Luke 4:1-13)
    • He died and was buried like humans
  • Jesus was God in human flesh
    • The Virgin birth was not His beginning but the way in which God became flesh          (John 1:14)
    • He existed before creation (John 1:1)
    • Through Him all things were made (John 1:3)
    • He is the full expression of the Father (John 14:9)
    • He and the Father are one (John 10:31)
    • He is in nature God and equal to God (Philippians 2:6)
    • His deity is revealed in His moral perfection and holiness, and His power and authority
    • Jesus is Immanuel – God with us (Matthew 1:23)

By Almighty God’s great act of love His divine Son received our human nature from the Virgin Mary, His mother. He became human so that in Him human beings might be adopted as children of God, and inheritors of the Kingdom of God. It is through Him, and Him alone, that we receive the forgiveness of sins and life eternal with God.

“For God so loved the world that
he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish
but have eternal life”
(John 3:16)

Response:
God did this for me

Prayer:

Lord help me to spend time contemplating all of this and the depth of its significance for You, for me, and for us all. Amen.

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(Picture: Nicolas Poussin, The Annunciation, 1657, National Gallery, London)


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Jesus and Death

“But we see Jesus,
who was made a little lower than the angels,
now crowned with glory and honour
because he suffered death,
so that by the grace of God
he might taste death for everyone”
(Hebrews 2:9)

Reflection:
Jesus entered into our humanity, our temptations, our sufferings – and now our death.

Jesus did not need to die. The wages of sin is death, and Jesus had no sin of His own. Instead He died for our sins, taking their guilt and stain away from us and into Himself. Or as Scriptures tells us,

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”
(2 Corinthians 5:21)

And it was John the Baptist who prophetically pointed to Him and said,

“Look, the Lamb of God,
who takes away the sin of the world!”
(John 1:29)

This was the cup that He prayed about in the Garden of Gethsemane – when He was in such an agony that His sweat became drops of blood that fell to the ground.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground”
(Luke 22:42-44)

And after this He was taken away and condemned, flogged and crucified until His body died and was buried. All this lay in store for the Baby born at Bethlehem – come for you and come for me.

Response:
Lord help me to not hold on to my sins but to relinquish them to You.

Prayer:

Lamb of God You take away the sins of the world – have mercy on me, and on us. Amen.

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Jesus Suffering

“In bringing many sons to glory,
 it was fitting that God,
 for whom and through whom everything exists,
should make the author of their salvation
perfect through suffering”
(Hebrews 2:10)

Reflection:
Jesus entered into our humanity, entered into our temptations, and entered into our suffering as well.  He is revealed as the complete or perfect human – all that He ought to be. He avoided nothing of what it is to be human but embraced it all – even our suffering. In truth He endured a suffering more intense than anything endured by any other human being.

He suffered the accumulated weight of the sin and guilt of all humankind – past, present and future. He took into Himself all the pain and suffering of the world, and to such an extent that He could say,

  • ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40)
  • “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Matthew 25:45)

 The prophet Isaiah said of Him,

  • “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3)
  • “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4)
  • “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5)

The truth is that the man Jesus Christ was more truly human than any of us.

Response:
The birth that we are about to celebrate is the entry into the world of ‘the Suffering Servant’

Prayer:

Lord Jesus help me to know that my pain is Your pain – that You are with me in and through it all – and that Your resurrection is mine as well. Amen.

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Jesus Tempted

“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted,
he is able to help those who are being tempted”
(Hebrews 2:18)

Reflection:
Scripture is quite clear that God cannot be tempted.

  • “God cannot be tempted by evil” (James 1:13)

However the Bible account specifically refers to Jesus temptations in the desert and in the Garden of Gethsemane.

  • “for forty days he was tempted by the devil” ( Luke 4:2)
    • “The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” (Luke 4:3)
    • “if you worship me, it will all be yours” (Luke 4:7)
    • If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here” (Luke 4:9)
  • “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39)

The writer to the Hebrews goes on to say that,

  • “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18)
  • “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15)

Clearly, in becoming man, Jesus had walked away from His immunity to temptation and made Himself vulnerable to it, just as we all are. This was not God brushing the temptations aside like irrelevant irritations. This was man facing the reality of real and relevant temptations and refusing to succumb to them. He was born perfect man and died perfect man for not once did He sin!

Response:
Whenever we are tempted let us remember that the Man Jesus said no to it.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus thank You for meeting temptation head on and showing me that it can be overcome. Help me please to walk with You and to recognise it and resist it whenever it crosses my path. Amen.

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Jesus as Human

“Since the children have flesh and blood,
He too shared in their humanity”
( Hebrews 2:14)

Reflection:
Hebrews 1 emphasizes that Jesus Christ is one with the Father and shares His being. Now Hebrews 2 emphasizes that He became one with us so that He could share our being.
He who is fully God entered into our humanity and became fully human. This chapter gives us four main truths about His humanity.

Firstly He experienced the frailty and vulnerability of a human being. His very real human body needed food and drink and sleep. He displayed very real human emotions such as joy, sorrow, compassion and anger. He wept outside the tomb of Lazarus and when He was whipped and nailed to the cross blood flowed from His wounds. His body died.

During His ministry He prayed to the Father for direction and submitted Himself completely to the Father’s will.

  • For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” (John 12:49-50)
  • “The world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (John 14:31)

Luke also makes it clear that He needed the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit who He received at His baptism by John.

  • “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert” (Luke 4:1)
  • “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside” (Luke 4:14)

Jesus was not merely God in disguise. He made Himself fully human to enter fully into our humanity so that He could fully represent us and fully absorb our sin and guilt, our pain and our suffering.

Response:
The Creator became a part of the fallen creation for my sake.

Prayer:

Thank You Lord Jesus for entering into our fallen humanity so that You could find me, set me free and lead me safely home. Amen.

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(Acknowledgements to John Stott)

 

 

 


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Saviour of Sinners

“After he had provided purification for sins,
He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”
(Hebrews 1:3)

Reflection:
We have looked at Jesus Christ as the pinnacle of God’s revelation, as the Lord of Creation and as the Son of the Father. Now we move on to see this Divine Son as the Saviour of sinners as well.

Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners from the wrath of God and from everlasting separation.

  • “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)
  • ‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15)
  • “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)

Jesus was not an angel who had volunteered or one of the heavenly host forced to sacrifice himself, nor was He an arbitrary human selected by God because of some nearly perfect characteristic. He was and is God the Son.

  • “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7)

And now, having achieved the purpose for which He was sent, He sits in glory, majesty and power at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. And in this position He has not abandoned us but continues to pray for us.

  • “He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:25)

Jesus Christ is totally committed to us and to our salvation. We see it in His coming amongst us in human likeness, in his death upon the cross on our behalf, in His ongoing dedication of Himself to prayer and in His presence within us through the Holy Spirit.  This same Lord Jesus is coming again.

Response:
Jesus is God my Saviour and my Lord

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I owe You both my present and my future life. Thank You for Your total commitment to me through yesterday, today and tomorrow, and for being both my beginning and my destination. Amen.

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