"Going Where We Do Not Belong"
My son loves the game of baseball. From a very early age, it was evident he had an extraordinary love for the game. This love of baseball has led us to be zealous fans of the University of South Carolina baseball team. A few years back, we had the opportunity to visit the Gamecock locker room during a trip to watch the Gamecocks play in Columbia. It was a very neat experience. Part of what made it so special was that we were allowed to enter a place we could not have gone on our own merits. We had no passes that would have qualified us to enter the locker room. Instead, we were allowed to enter because we were invited by someone who had the right to be there. Our ability to enter this special place was granted to us by another person.
The Levitical high priest was allowed to go into the most holy place once a year to offer sacrifices for his sins and for the sins of the people. When he went into the most holy place, he understood that he was in a sphere he did not have the right to enter, and he could only enter because God graciously allowed him to on the basis of the blood of a sacrifice.
In contrast to the Levitical high priest, Jesus has entered into the very presence of God on our behalf. The most holy place was a shadow of the present reality Jesus occupies in God’s presence, and Jesus is qualified to enter God’s presence through the merit of His own shed blood. Even now, Jesus dwells in God’s presence to represent us before the Father. As you celebrate Christmas today, thank God that you can boldly enter His presence because of the hope of the incarnation and the work of Jesus Christ, our great High Priest. Consider how much of a privilege it is that you and I are allowed to enter into the very presence of God because of all that Jesus has accomplished on our behalf.
Hebrews 9:1-10 (ESV):
1 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. 2 For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, 4 having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. 5 Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.