The Incomparable Christ
By Apostle Bank Akinmola
World Outreach Church for All Nations, Georgia, USA
Foundation Scripture: Hebrews 10: 11-12
Sunday 16th February 2014
There are many characters and personalities in the Old Testament that are unforgettable. Think of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, David and Elijah who undertook great acts of faith and courage in the advancement of God's purpose and yet, none of them can compare to Jesus. If we can begin to comprehend the magnitude of what Jesus has done and gain a true understanding of the essence of the New Covenant, this revelation will bring complete transformation in our lives.
Hebrews 10 provides something of a comparison and contrast between the new and the old. Paul wrote it to the Jewish converts to increase their understanding of who they were in Christ. They had been vacillating between the old covenant and the new covenant, much like a hybrid car which, depending on the prevailing conditions utilises one of two power sources. Hebrews 10:11-12 says, 'And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God'. From this we can see that under the old covenant, there was no end to the ministration of the priests; their work was never completed. There were no seats in the Temple as the Priests were constantly offering sacrifices and offerings. In contrast, Jesus offered one sacrifice for sin forever after which He sat down at the right hand of God; His work was finished. As a result of this one single sacrifice, you and I are no longer working to get things done but operate from a position of seated victory. Even in the battles that we may face, we undertake warfare from a position of victory. Everything that pertains to us as believers is already finished. Everything has been perfected concerning us. There is a reason that as Philippians 2:10 says, 'God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow'. As we look carefully the truths in scripture regarding Jesus' work on the cross, we will begin to see why.
Hebrews 8: 6 says 'But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant which was established on better promises.' From this scripture, we can unfold three key truths:
1. The ministry of Jesus was a more excellent ministry: Excellent denotes that which is best and highest in any given situation. The covenant which flowed from the ministry of Jesus Christ was a covenant of the Spirit rather than of the letter of the law. 2 Corinthians 3:6 makes clear that the letter of the law kills but the Spirit gives life. Whilst the Law established what we must do and what we must not do, it provided no power to enable us to fulfill its demands. It told us not to covet and not to bear false witness but did not empower us to desist from such. Jesus' covenant however gives life and therefore His ministry was a more excellent ministry.
2. Jesus was Mediator of a better covenant: Under the old covenant sin was only covered but under the new covenant sin was taken away. The effectiveness of the old covenant can be likened to a wound being covered with a plaster; once the plaster is removed, the wound is still there. Jesus came to take away sin. In John 1: 29 John the Baptist exclaims, 'Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!' For the first time, sin had been taken away. Past sins, present sins and future sins. You were not born when Jesus died on the cross nearly 2000 years ago and therefore His blood took care of the sins that you had not yet committed. This is an important truth to grasp as one of the strategies of the enemy is to bring condemnation and guilt upon believers. He died for our sins once and for all. His shed blood perfected us in God's eyes once and for all.
We are told that Jesus is the Mediator or Guarantor of the new covenant. Unlike the dying priesthood, He lives forever. The priests which ministered under the old covenant would inevitably die but Jesus is alive forever and is making sure that His blood accomplishes all that God intended in our lives. Hebrews 7: 25 says 'Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.' Jesus' prayers to the Father have never gone unanswered and have never been refused. It is impossible for us to lose knowing that Jesus is interceding for us.
3. The new covenant is based on better promises: Because of Jesus, we have a covenant which is based on better promises. This is a covenant which is not based on performance. Hebrews 8:8-10 in talking about the old covenant says, 'Because finding fault with them, He says "Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbour and none his brother saying 'know the Lord' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.' These are better promises of a relationship with God that is based not on performance but upon His unconditional love.
I now want to look at the book of John and some of the practical realities that flow from this new and better covenant that we have as a result of Jesus work on the Cross. We understand that Jesus settled the score forever and is alive to enforce the covenant of which we are beneficiaries. Regardless therefore of what is happening in our lives, regardless of the circumstances that we are facing, we must understand that because of Jesus we are forever victorious.
John 21 presents us with Jesus who has risen from the dead and immediately bringing into effect the new covenant. John 21:1 says, 'After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two others of His disciples were together.' This list of disciples bears careful examination; they were a select band whom could be properly described as the Despondent Disciples. Simon Peter was last seen weeping bitterly at his denial and betrayal of Jesus. He was wounded and confused. This was a man whom, throughout the ministry of Jesus had been both passionate and impulsive; a man whom could be on the one hand, on point and then missing it terribly. He had caught the revelation of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God and yet whom had tried to dissuade Jesus from his purpose, earning Jesus' stinging rebuke in Matthew 16:23, "Get behind me Satan!" Jesus had predicted his falling away, telling him that Satan sought to sift him like wheat but that He had prayed for him and when he returns, he should strengthen his brothers. Despite his vow to follow Jesus to death, he had found himself denying vehemently and swearing that he didn't know him after which realisation he had wept bitterly. Thomas called the Twin was part of this band too; he was the one whom doggedly refused to believe that Jesus had risen unless he was able to put his hand in His side. Nathanael, having been told by his brother that the Messiah had appeared, had sneered "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Notably, when Jesus met him in John 1:47, He ignored the disparaging comment that Nathanael had made about Him and addressed him "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!'. He looked beyond the current position and circumstances and focused on the conclusion. God's approach in dealing with us has not changed: He is totally committed to us and seeing His purpose coming to pass in our lives therefore addresses our conclusion rather than our current condition. Finally, amongst this band of Despondents were the Sons of Zebedee, who were essentially mummy's boys! This was a band of disappointed and dejected disciples whom had walked with Jesus for three years and having seen Jesus' death and burial were bitterly disappointed and confused. Their expectation of how events would unfold lay in ruins and therefore they elected to go fishing. They went back to what was familiar and safe. It is so reassuring to know that as believers, we can take a detour and become diverted and yet He will not let us go. It is only a matter of time, He's coming after us. He has paid too high a price to leave us.
In John 13 Jesus had predicted that Simon Peter would deny Him and in John 18 it occurred. In John 21 we see Jesus reaching out to bring Simon Peter back to Him. The angel at the tomb in the account in Mark 16 makes a point of specifically including Peter amongst those to be told of Jesus' resurrection, "But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' Although the last time we encountered Jesus he was weeping bitterly at his betrayal, the story was not over. God has not finished with you yet. You may have sinned and missed it terribly however He isn't done with you. He's not angry with you, regardless of what you may have done and regardless of how badly you have missed it. He is not angry with you. The wrath of God was placed upon Jesus.
Jesus had forewarned Peter that he would deny Him but Peter could not begin to conceive that as he was so passionate about Jesus. However it is often the case that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. The flesh is good for nothing in the matters of the Kingdom. Peter's reliance was on his flesh, his ability, his passion and his zeal. There is a very subtle double meaning in Jesus' statement in John 13: 38, "Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!' It indicated that Peter would come to the end of himself. He would come to the end of his brazen and impetuous life in the flesh. Anyone who has lived in the countryside will know that when the roosters crow, it marks the dawning of a new day. The roosters crow to Peter signaled failure and denial but to God, it was a new day for Peter. The rooster has crowed over this house and it is the dawning of a new day. God is doing a new thing in New Wine Church. Do not look back at what was it is a new season of God's favour and glory.
These experienced fishermen, we are told went fishing and yet caught nothing as they were out of the will of God. Jesus used this opportunity to take a stroll along the shore of the Sea of Tiberias and reach out and restore Peter. He asked them in verse 5 "Children, have you any food?" and then told them to cast the net on the right side of the boat. We are told in verse 7 'Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter "It is the Lord". Throughout the gospel of John, John describes himself as the 'disciple whom Jesus loved', this was how he identified himself. We too must be absolutely established in the truth of God's love for us. On Jesus' instruction to cast their nets to the right side of the boat, they caught 153 large fish and the net did not break. This is Jesus in the new covenant. Contrast this with the account of the miraculous catch of fish in Luke 5, under the old covenant where the nets were breaking. This is symbolic of the truth that the old covenant will lose people but the new covenant will not.
We learn in John 21:9 that on getting to the shore the disciples were met with fish and bread already laid out for them. We could wonder therefore Jesus asked them to cast their nets on the right side as the provision of food had already been arranged. The true reason for Jesus' mission to the seashore was unveiled a few verses later when he addresses Simon Peter "Simon son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" Jesus is very careful to address Peter as Simon son of Jonah. In your hour of darkness God knows how to reach the core of whom you are. The first time that Simon Peter was addressed this way by Jesus is recorded in Matthew 16:17 when Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ and 'Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.' This was the Peter that Jesus now re-affirmed and re-established as one of His own.
Jesus has saved you to the uttermost and has a vested interest in you. He will bring you to your expected end. He loves you dearly and desires that you understand that this new covenant is established on better promises. You are set free forever from the need to perform as you are a beneficiary of His unconditional love. The great High Priest who has paid the price for you in full has completed everything concerning you; He has therefore sat down at the right hand of God and you, perfected once and for all and righteous in God's eyes, are seated with Him. This is the incomparable Christ.
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