To Have and To Hold

Had dinner with a friend at a restaurant last night — a small, family-business sort of restaurant. Asked our waitress, “So, how are you doing?” She knew what I was asking, how’s the pandemic affected business? Though I only saw her eyes, you could read the rest of her facial expression. With heaviness, she said it has been tough. Whereas once they had a number of staff working, now it was just her serving customers and the owner in the kitchen. “This has been life-changing,” she said. I can imagine the multiple ways it’s been life-changing — most of those ways characterized by some form of loss.

Reminded this morning that the recipients of the letter to the Hebrews had also suffered loss. Having believed Jesus to be the Messiah, and having chosen to walk in the Way, they were forced to leave behind certain things. Things like gathering with their old community in the synagogue. No longer participating in the rites, rituals, and practices of the temple. Removed from the covering of the ministry of the Levitical priesthood. Expelled from the fellowship of those who refused Christ to remain in the way of Moses. The loss of family, friends, and familiarity.

And sometimes, when there’s loss, we’re prone to lose site of what remains. The focus on what was but is no longer blocking out what is. And that’s why Hebrews was written.

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a High Priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a Minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.

(Hebrews 8:1-2 ESV)

There it is! That’s the thesis of the letter. Everything up to this point has set it up. Everything following expands on this High Priest and the implications of believing in Him and living for Him.

A ton of heavy theological lifting here. A High Priest unlike the priests they had known. Eternal not temporal. Serving in the heavenly tabernacle set up by God not an earthly one constructed by men. And then, how that plays into things concerning a better covenant, a better promise, a better Holy Place, a better sacrifice, and thus, a better redemption. Put on your thinking cap!

But this morning, it’s not the theological which grabs me, it is the intensely practical. And that, captured in two words: “We have.”

. . . we have such a High Priest

To be sure, these Hebrew believers had forfeited much in order to follow Christ. But this letter was written so that they might know that what they now possessed was better. Infinitely, and eternally better. They had given up but copies and shadows of heavenly things (8:5), and now held the heavenly thing itself. “We have such a High Priest,” the writer writes, “We have Jesus!”

We possess. We own. We have. We hold. Despite whatever loss we have experienced during these past 6 months, or over these past 6 years, we have Jesus. We hold fast to the Son of God. The Savior of our souls. The High Priest seated even now at the right hand of the throne in Majesty, ministering on our behalf in heavenly, holy places.

To be sure, we grieve the loss. No escaping that we endure the difficulty. Not surprising that we wonder about when, of even if, things might again be “normal.” But let it not distract us from what we have. We have Jesus.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine!

Jesus. To have and to hold.

And all His grace. All for His glory.

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