The Word of God (Part 3) – A Priest, a Sword, and a Neck

I love the scene from Lewis’ Narnia where Lucy asks if Aslan is “safe”. The reply is wonderfully insightful.

‘If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than me or else just silly.’

‘Then he isn’t safe?’ asked Lucy.

‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver. ‘Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’

Jesus isn’t safe either. You may have a very safe idea of Jesus, but your ideas about Jesus may not always match the reality of Jesus. I hope you’ve come to realize that! I’m beginning (I hope) to learn that Jesus isn’t safe.

Jesus often seems intent on absolutely messing with my business. His agenda includes taking over every aspect of my life. My very natural inclination to be driven by what I think, feel, and want doesn’t have a chance of survival when in his presence. He is certainly not safe!

This reality is pictured so clearly in the fourth chapter of Hebrews. The chapter refers back in time to the story of God’s people Israel in the wilderness. Because of unbelief and disobedience (same thing) they did not enter into the land of promise. The writer of Hebrews says they didn’t enter into “rest”.

So which is it? Did they fail to enter the land or did they fail to enter into rest? Yes!

You see, to have entered the land they would have had to completely rely on God. To completely rely on God they would have had to let go of their fears. Their fears resulted from their evaluation of their own strength in comparison to the strength of the current occupants of the land, thus demonstrating that they were ultimately relying on their own strength rather than God’s. When I forsake all self reliance and trust completely in the strength of God, I enter into rest. When I cease from my works, I cease relying on my own strength and efforts.

Heb 4:10
10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

It is in this context that the wonderful passage Hebrews 4:12-16 appears.

Heb 4:11-5:1
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

How are we to enter into this place of rest? How are we to cease all reliance on self? The picture here is clear if you look closely.

You begin with a High Priest – Jesus. And he has a Sword – the Word of God. Where are you in this picture. The answer is in verse 13 – everything is “…naked and open…” before this Sword wielding High Priest. The word translated “open” is a powerful word picture in Greek. The word is tetracheelismena and literally means to bend back the neck and expose the throat.

Do you see the picture. There’s Jesus, the High Priest, wielding a sharp two-edged sword, the Word of God. There you are lying on the altar in front of him with your neck stretched back. Jesus isn’t very safe at all is he?

But it is from this position of surrender (rest), where I allow the High Priest to take his living and powerful word and perform surgery on my heart, that I have bold access to the throne room and the abundance of grace and mercy that only comes from him!


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