First off, I’d like to thank all of you for giving my family two weeks off to spend together on a nice, family vacation (and if you weren’t in the service this weekend, then ask me to show you the slideshow to our fake trip to Barbados sometime). Not only did we come back relaxed and well-rested, but we were all also finally able to get over the nasty flu-thingie that so many of us FCCers were fighting all Summer long.
Unfortunately, that means that we missed the Adult & Teen Challenge visit one week and the Testimony Sunday the next week -- as well as the really awesome-looking 100th birthday party for Orpha Erickson (we did get to sign the giant church birthday card before we left, we got to look at all of the pictures of the party when we got back, and I was able to visit with her this week, so things worked out okay). Please do remember to pray for all of our shut-ins whenever possible -- it was a joy to check in on almost all of them this week, but we need to remind ourselves that we’re all part of the same church family, even if we’re not always in the same building together.
Speaking of that, I’m going to invite everyone who can join us to be in the building this coming Sunday for a special baptism service. We’ve got at least four people who are excited about making that public statement of what God has done in their lives, and we want to make sure that we’re on hand to love and support them. Yes, I always get splashed... but it’s still one of the most rewarding things that I get to do as a pastor.
In our message this week from the Book of Hebrews, we were finally able to let our preacher get to the sermon illustration that he’s been chomping at the bit to share with us -- the ministry of Melchizedek. Unfortunately, Melchizedek only gets three verses in the Old Testament (well, four, if you include David mentioning him in Psalm 110), so we don’t know much about the guy. We don’t even know if “Melchizedek” is his name or just a description of him (since it means, “king of righteousness,” and he’s also described as the “king of Salem” or “king of peace”). But that was the whole point for our preacher here in Hebrews -- that we don’t know much about the guy at all, but that he’s still clearly a great man of God, since Abraham gave him a tithe and David said that the Messiah would be like him.
See, Jesus Christ’s righteousness wasn’t based on what tribe He came from, or on how many decades He taught, or on how many of our hoops He jumped through, etc. -- it wasn’t based on the kinds of résumé points that we so often want to base things on. Instead, Christ’s righteousness was based on His sinlessness and His grace -- the same gracious, unmerited favor by which we’re saved, a salvation which we receive through our faith and not through our personal ability to attain enough righteousness to earn it (which, by the way, we can’t). If Melchizedek was greater than even Abraham, and Christ is far greater than even Melchizedek, then how awesome is the Son of God, who died for us, yet still lives forever?
One bite from one fruit tainted the species, and everyone since -- over countless generations and across myriad cultures -- has sinned over and over and over again beyond that. And yet, one drop of Christ’s blood shed on the cross was more powerful than every sin that every person has ever committed over all of those centuries. He didn’t just wash us clean -- He bought us the right to sit in the very presence of the Holy God of all creation. You can’t earn that, and ain’t none of us deserves that. Luckily for you and me and everyone else, we have a Saviour who’s not bound by the sorts of expectations that we strap ourselves to on a daily basis.
That’s so much greater than anything that anyone else has ever done, and that’s something to praise God for...