Disciple Hour: Set Your Minds on Heaven – Jesus & Heaven (Week 3)

Colossians 3:1–2 (ESV)

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 

1.  Jesus’ Current Place of Intercession
If we are to understand where Jesus is currently located making intersession the best place is to turn to Hebrews 8-10.

Let’s pick up with His ascension in Hebrews 4…

Hebrews 4:14 (ESV) 

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 

Hebrews 9:24 (ESV) 

24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 

Jesus not only ascended but transcended into heaven itself.  Not only did He arrive at the place called Heaven but He took His rightful place seated next to the Father.  Jesus is seated in the most holy place, the true Holy of Holies
Hebrews 8:1–2 (ESV) 

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. 

We must see something truly significant.  Jesus is the Great High Priest who is serving now in the true Holy of Holies, Heaven itself.  Remember the earthly tabernacle with the holy of holies that the earthly high priest entered into every year after the sacrifice was made for his own sin.  The priests served in this capacity 24/7.  They never stopped making sacrifices or stopped their service.  Shift after shift of multiple priests doing their job.  They never stopped.
No Jewish High Priest ever sat while executing his office and yet Jesus sits.  What should we understand from this sitting position?  There is no more sacrifices to be made.  No more priestly service needs to be done.

We should see that the best way Jesus can minister as our High Priest is to sit in glory next to the Father because nothing remains to be done.  His one-time sacrifice is all that God required.  Nothing remains left to be done.

The Holy of Holies within the tabernacle was the copy or type of the true HH located in Heaven.  

Hebrews 8:3–5 (ESV) 

For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 

So, the Tabernacle and later the Temple serve as an earthly type or copy of the sanctuary, the true Temple with the true HH which is located in Heaven.  

Hebrews 9:11–12 (ESV) 

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 

As we see our Savior entering into the HH on our behalf and being seated in the holy place and having learned that His sacrifice is everything we need to cleanse us of sin, we realize more and more the significance of the veil being torn from top to bottom when Jesus died on the cross.
Matthew 27:50–51 (ESV) 

50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 

51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 

The earthly HH was no longer needed because Jesus just offered the perfect sacrifice for sin.  He is the Priest and the Sacrifice.  He is the Offerer and the Lamb.  

Just like John the Baptist was the forerunner for Jesus, our Lord is the forerunner for us.  He has entered into Heaven first and we will follow someday. 

The writer of Hebrews does something amazing.  He makes the comparison between the veil being torn and Jesus’ flesh being torn.  

Hebrews 10:19–22 (ESV)

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 

The veil of His flesh was torn making an eternal way whereby mankind can come to God through, as it were, the veil of Christ’s flesh.

2.  Jesus’ Current Intercession

In the Book of Hebrews we have the great activity in which Jesus is engaged.  

Hebrews 7:25 (ESV) 

25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 

Romans 8:32–34 (ESV) 

32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 

What does this intercession consist of?

            A.  Jesus represents us to God
Hebrews 7:25 (ESV) 

25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

            B.  Jesus brings our prayers to God
Hebrews 13:15 (ESV) 

15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 

            C.  Jesus secures access for man to God

Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) 

16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

The details of this intercession are somewhat hidden from us.  John Owen, the great commentator on Hebrews tells us that our Lord’s intercession is simply His presence in Heaven as the One who has been slain.  

Because we are in Christ as His elect people, we are represented by Christ to the Father simply due to His authority as the seated kingly High Priest.  It’s not like Jesus is continually saying to the Father, don’t count that sin to their account because I paid for it, billions of times in Heaven.  His very presence is intercession for us.

The essence of the matter is His union with His people, and His perpetual presence, in the union, with the Father, as the once slain Lamb.   

Christ, having ascended to the right hand of the Father, blesses his church by his presence in heaven and by the Holy Spirit who he has sent. In this he sends us help when we need it, conveys the blessings of the covenant, and enables us to experience and enjoy union and communion with him.

As the Westminster Larger Catechism 55 puts it, his intercession is “his appearing in our nature continually before the Father in heaven.” The ascended Christ’s continuing intercession is his constant presence with the Father as man.

Finally, it is important to understand that Jesus is the only human mediator between God and man. No one else—not Mary, not any previous Christian saints—has the power to intercede for us before the throne of the Almighty. No angel has that position. Christ alone is the God-man, and He mediates and intercedes between God and man. “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

            D.  Heaven, Itself is Cleansed and Purified

Jesus entered into heaven in order to cleanse and consecrate

“the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands” (Hebrews 9:11),

“the true tabernacle the Lord pitched and not man” (8:2).

This hallowing of heaven, was an essential part of the Atonement. Just as the earthly sanctuary was cleansed and consecrated with the blood of sacrificial offerings, so it was necessary that heavenly sanctuary should be purified

“with better sacrifices than these” (9:23).

It is a foundational teaching of Holy Scripture that man has no communion with God, even in heaven, except in and through the blood of the Lamb. His blood is the instrument of the expiation and purification of all things, including

“heaven itself” (9:24).

For even

“the heavens are not pure in His sight” (Job 15:15).

Because Christ’s cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary—clearly affirmed in the Epistle to the Hebrews—is not, I believe, a theme much developed in later theology, a word of explanation may be in order: We may start by reflecting that sin—alienation from God—did not begin on earth but in heaven. There was sin in heaven before there was sin on earth. The rebellious demons instructed and encouraged men to rebel against God. Prior to Christ’s cleansing of it, heaven was still infected by vestiges of that demonic rebellion.

*Resources Used

The Biblical Doctrine of Heaven, Smith

The Glory of Heaven, MacArthur

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