Jesus’ perfect obedience to the Father’s will was holy obedience at the highest level, showing us an order far above any earthly honour
Article linked to The Living Word Bible Study for Sunday, October 17 telling the story that emerges out of the Bible readings and highlighting the teaching we take away from it.
Job 38:1-7 —Now Job hears Yahweh, Lord God Almighty, whose higher perspective shows how limited are Job’s opinions
Mark 10:35-45 — The kingdom of God, with its value of greatness through serving, is a far higher order than any status in the world
Hebrews 5:1-10 — The Lord who suffered and bore our sins is uniquely qualified to represent us to God
This article is linked to the TLW Bible Study Post for Oct. 17 which is based on the Bible readings set for Sunday, October 17 according to the Revised Common lectionary, a non-denominational resource shared by many different churches and chapels. This week the focus is on God’s higher order and perspective, and how Jesus the Great High Priest for every believer is uniquely qualified to represent us before God.
We’ll let the Bible tell the story, starting with Job’s encounter with God after considering the speculations of his advisors; then from Jesus’ earthly perspective, the difficulty James and John found themselves in, having asked Jesus for a privileged position in heavenly glory. Finally there’s a post-resurrection perspective from the letter to Jewish Christians with teaching in some detail about Christ’s call to become the sole High priest of an everlasting heavenly order, uniquely qualified to represent us before the Father.
Job now hears God’s true perspective
We start with Job’s part of the story. The storm described earlier in Elihu’s speech is the way God’s presence is often heralded, but when He speaks, it is out of the stillness that follows.
Job had already listened to a lot of words. He had considered what his friends had said, as they each speculated on where he had gone wrong.
Now he hears God address him and the tone is very different from his critical friends. He chides Job for complaining — in effect He says, “Who are you to question My plans and purposes?”
“Who is this that obscures My plans with words without knowledge?… Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand….On what were the footings set, or who laid the cornerstone — while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”Job 38:2, 4, 6-7
James and John get the wrong end of the stick
As Job has his eyes opened to the glorious majestic creator who is at the same time personal and loving, the next scene shows James and John in a conversation with Jesus, who was also present at Creation. It is a conversation both would rather had not become a prominent story in Scripture — although the lesson they learned is fundamental and important. Their story is a powerful illustration for us of how the kingdom of God overturn the world’s order of things with a different set of values.
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”
“What do you want me to do for you?” He asked.
They replied, “Let one of us sit at Your right and other at Your left in Your glory.”Mark 10:35-37
The other disciples were indignant about James’ and John’s attempt to get a privileged position. Jesus now teaches all of them, that to share His life and His heavenly glory comes through a willingness to share His pain: **”Can you drink the cup I drink…”** — “the cup” meant the cup of bitterness, a Jewish expression for enduring pain.
He told the disciples that their call would involve sharing His pain, taking their share of the hatred and opposition that He would experience, and He gave them this foundational teaching:
“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.
”Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.
”For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”Mark 10:43-45
Who wants to be a disciple now? To share the spiritual authority of Jesus is a high call, and a path to changing people’s lives and through changed lives, changing communities. But spiritual authority has to take the place of the world’s kind of honour and authority — they do not co-exist. So the choice is to become a pompous prelate, with various titles and honours and impressive robes — or a proven practitioner, humble and reliant on God for their anointing to minister.
Understanding how Christ is uniquely qualified through suffering for His high priestly role
The teaching from Hebrews 5 that rounds off this theme of kingdom life and values emphasis two things about the high priest role: he must be selected from among the people, able to represent them through being identified with them; and he cannot take this honour on himself.
Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God… able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and going astray.,,
“And no one takes this honour on himself but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, Christ died not take on Himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to Him, “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father… You are a priest for ever, in the order of Melchizedek.”Hebrews 5:2,4-6
The Old Covenant priesthood had no further purpose after Jesus’ death and the Resurrection. The idea of Christian clergy as priests is a throw-back to a time and situation which has long ceased and been re-created. There is no division between sacred and secular in God’s kingdom. Instead of as separate order of priesthood (as in the Aaronic order) Jesus is appointed to be our unique High Priest and every spiritually reborn believer is called into the new priesthood, responsible for bringing others before God and His call to them to believe Jesus, and teaching them what the mercy and grace of God shown in Christ me and for them. Today it is every disciple’s job to witness to others and to pray them into God’s kingdom, and there is a distribution of spiritual gifts to enable this mentoring in all the different parts of the journey.
The further point in this Hebrews passage that adds further weight to the kingdom life with kingdom values teaching is the basis of Jesus’s unique qualification for His resurrection role.
Son through He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of spiritual salvation for all who obey Him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.Hebrews 5:8-10
Walking the path of human experience all the way to death on the Cross, never deviating from the Father’s will — this is what perfected or completed Him to represent us by His high priesthood of a unique, heavenly and everlasting order. He is the one who receives our supplication prayer and takes it to the Father. We pray as far as possible the prayer Jesus would pray for His hearing first — as we say, “in the name of Jesus, so be it (Amen)”.
Kingdom life understands this process, and the role of the Holy Spirit in helping us to live for Jesus and pray through Jesus and speak for Jesus. All spiritual authority has been conferred upon Him. But the new life that we have “in Christ Jesus” is a spiritual dimension of life where he identifies with us as belonging to Him, and we identify with Him in being reborn as new creations who share His family resemblance — something that all spiritual oppress recognise and fear.
Job saw the compassion and the majesty of God when He dealt with the confusion of Job’s friends by speaking to Job directly. James and John were caught up in a different confusion, of seeking preferment in the wrong way. And the writer of the Hebrews letter underlines the importance of a servant heart in living this new life for and with Jesus as our Lord.