What is Jesus Doing Now in Heaven? #321
Hello friends and happy Thursday to you! As an update from the Bible Reading Podcast bunker, I am said to report that yet another Thompson has fallen – 5/5 kids sick, and 1/2 adults sick. So far 2/6 COVID tests have come back negative, (the other four are still pending) so that is good news there. We still appreciate your prayers!
Our Bible readings for this Thursday are 2nd Kings 25, Psalms 144, Amos 1 and Hebrews 7, which is our focus passage. It is at this point that I have suddenly remembered that, a few episodes ago, I promised to share with you all the reasons for doing daily, systematic Bible reading from Pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne, and then neglected to do so. Well, here they are in a slightly modernized form:
(1.) The whole Bible will be read through in an orderly manner in the course of a year. – The
Old Testament once, the New Testament and Psalms twice. I fear many of you never read the
whole Bible; and yet it is all equally Divine, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and
is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness, that the
man of God may be perfect.” If we pass over some parts of Scripture, we shall be incomplete
(2.) Time will not be wasted in choosing what portions to read. Often believers are at a loss to
determine towards which part of the mountains of spices they should bend their steps. Here
the question will be solved at once in a very simple manner.
(3.) Parents will have a regular subject upon which to examine their children and servants. – It
is much to be desired that family worship were made more instructive than it generally is.
The mere reading of the chapter is often too much like water spilt on the ground. Let it be read by every member of the family before-hand, and then the meaning and application drawn out by simple question and answer. The calendar will be helpful in this. Friends, also, when they
meet, will have a subject for profitable conversation in the portions read that day. The
meaning of difficult passages may be inquired from the more judicious and ripe Christians,
and the fragrance of simpler Scriptures spread abroad.
(4.) The pastor will know in what part of the pasture the flock are feeding. – He will thus be
enabled to speak more suitably to them on the Sabbath; and both pastor and elders will be able
to drop a word of light and comfort in visiting from house to house, which will be more
readily responded to.
(5.) The sweet bond of Christian love and unity will be strengthened. – We shall be often led to
think of those dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, here and elsewhere, who agree to join with
us in reading those portions. We shall oftener be led to agree on earth, touching something we
shall ask of God. We shall pray over the same promises, mourn over the same confessions,
praise God in the same songs, and be nourished by the same words of eternal life.
I note here that we did cover some of these reasons a lifetime ago, on episode #2 of the show, but many have joined us since then, and it is always good to have a reminder of why we are reading the Bible in this manner.
Today, our focus is in Hebrews 7, and out question, probably seeming a little unanswerable on the surface, is actually addressed pretty specifically in the Bible. If I were to ask you right now what somebody 3,000 miles away from you was doing, and you couldn’t see them at the moment, you might be at a lost to know. If I asked you what was currently happening on one of the moons of Neptune right now, you might also be stymied. Contemplating what Jesus is doing at this moment in Heaven would seem to be equally, if not more, mysterious than these other things, but it turns out that we are told in Hebrews 7 what Jesus is up to right now, and it is a remarkably encouraging activity! Let’s read Hebrews 7, and find out.
23 Now many have become Levitical priests, since they are prevented by death from remaining in office. 24 But because he remains forever, he holds his priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, since he always lives to intercede for them.
What is Jesus doing? He is functioning as the high priest in Heaven – interceding for us permanently and in an ongoing way! What a wonderfully comforting thought, right? I hear some of you asking, however – what exactly is interceding, anyway? That is a wonderful, wonderful question. Intercede means to pray, to entreat, to seek to obtain something from someone on behalf of another, and that is what Jesus is doing for His people. He is serving as an everlasting mediator between God and Man:
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time.
1 Timothy 2:5-6
So it is that Jesus not only died to pay the ransom for our sins, but He is STILL mediating for us, still bringing us together with God, and still hearing our prayers and asking God for favor on our behalf. This whole glorious truth reminds me of one of my favorite quotes ever:
“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” Interestingly enough, I know that quote well, and have quoted it many times, but not for some time, and when Googling it a moment ago, I was reminded that our own Robert Murray M’Cheyne was the author of that quote, which is based on our focus passage today, of course.
I want us to fix this in our mind, remembering this glorious, wonderful and comforting truth whenever we are going through a trial. Jesus is not up in Heaven relaxing, or anything like that – He is in Heaven, day to day, interceding and praying for His people. What a wonderful bit of truth for us to revel and rejoice in today! Whatever you’re going through right now, and whatever I’m going through right now is made all the better knowing that Jesus – who bled and suffered for us, died on the cross paying the price for our sins, is now still gloriously ministering to us and blessing us with His active prayers and intercessions. How does this help us? J.I. Packer points out one way in which this strengthens our own prayers:
As the heavenly High Priest, the risen Christ lives to make intercession for the saints (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:24, 25; 1 Jn. 2:1). Only in the name of Jesus, and by that way which he has opened, do sinners have access to the Father (Jn. 14:6). The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, unites us to Christ in saving faith and gives us the confidence to call God ‘Abba’, Father, as Jesus did (Mk. 14:36; Rom. 8:14–17). We do not know the plan by which God wills all things to work together for our good; we do not know, therefore, how to pray according to that plan. Yet the Spirit aids our weakness: he prays for us with inarticulate groanings (Rom. 8:26–28).
Sinclair B. Ferguson and J.I. Packer, New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 526.
I’ll close with a letter that John “Amazing Grace” Newton wrote to a friend of his, in which he twice quotes and takes comfort from today’s blessed truth. May it comfort you also!
“We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, who now appears in the presence of God for us.” An awful cause we had to manage in the court of heaven; and, when we expected to be asked what we could say, that judgment should not be given and executed speedily against us, we were dumb and without plea. We could not deny the fact, or offer the least amends. We could neither stand nor flee. But, since Jesus has been pleased to take our affairs in hand, how are appearances changed! The law is fulfilled, justice satisfied, and heaven opened to those who were upon the brink of despair and destruction. And Jesus did not plead for us once only, but he “ever liveth to make intercession for us.” Let us then take courage. That word uttermost includes all that can be said: take an estimate of sins, temptations, difficulties, fears, and backslidings of every kind, still the word uttermost goes beyond them all. And, since he ever liveth to make intercession, since he is the righteous one who is always heard, since his promise and compassions are unchangeable, may his Spirit enable us to apply the conclusion without wavering to our soul’s comfort, that he is indeed able and willing, and determined, to save us even to the uttermost.
John Newton and Richard Cecil, The Works of John Newton, vol. 6 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 66.