You are travelling on I-64 toward St. Louis. As you near leaving the state of Illinois and begin to enter Missouri you come to several bridges. The bridge spans the Mississippi River. When you drive south on Highway 41, you will come to the twin bridges which take us from Indiana to Kentucky and back again.
Now there are several ways to cross a river. You could fly over it. You could swim across. We could take a boat across. But most of the time we will drive over the bridge. Bridges help us cross over from one place to another.
Look at a passage in Hebrews 7. This passage teaches us about a bridge, of sorts. It tells us what it means to be a priest. And one of the titles for a priest, in the Latin world, anyway, was pontiff, which means bridge-maker. Now, we are not referring here to a Catholic priest, but the priest’s role in the Old Testament. And that’s just what priests were. Priests serve as mediators between the human realm and the divine realm—they served as a bridge between two worlds.
For many generations the mediators between man and God came from the tribe of Levi as described in the Old Testament, particularly in Exodus and Leviticus. These servants of God had many responsibilities. It was the priest who decided what was clean or unclean; what was holy and what was common. These priests had to live by stricter rules than the rest of the community, for they risked death every time they entered into the presence of God. They also served as teachers, as purifiers, as God’s spokespeople, as judges, and, probably most importantly, as those who made sacrifices to God. It was the priests who made daily sacrifices to God.
All of that was thousands of years ago. But about 2,000 years ago, God brought about a drastic change. God introduced a better bridge to him for us—his Son Jesus Christ.
Here in chapter 7 we see that we have better access to the Father through Jesus. The writer writes about Melchizedek, king of Salem, and priest of the Most High God (vs. 1). Here he is setting the stage to show us that Jesus is THE high priest, the single solitary Perfect Bridge between man and God.
Read what the Hebrews writer says, beginning in verse 11, and continuing through verse 28. I will not include it in print here because it is a rather long passage, but I urgently encourage you to read it from your Bible.
READ Hebrews 7:11-28
Under the old system, the high priests lived and died. When they died, the people had to get a new high priest. So they would appoint someone from the tribe of Levi, usually the son of the last high priest, if he had one, to the position. Generation after generation, the old bridges (priests) had to be replaced. The new high priest had to be trained, had to go through the growing pains, people had to get to know him. And so it went, on and on generation after generation.
But then Jesus comes along. And since he lives forever, since his life is indestructible, he will never have to be replaced. And unlike all the high priests before him, because of his indestructible life, he is able to save completely. He is always there, at the Father’s side, asking him to act on our behalf. The bridge will never be closed. It will never be replaced. It’s always open. We’ll never be denied access to God. We’ll always be able to get to where we want to go.
In verses 11-28, the writer gives several specific attributes of Jesus that make him a better bridge. Let’s look at them.
Jesus as the bridge provides access to God for each of us. No priest needed to intercede for us.
Jesus as the bridge will never need to be replaced. Jesus comes along, and since He lives forever, since his life is indestructible, He will never have to be replaced. He is able to save completely. He is always there, at the Father’s side, asking Him to act on our behalf. This bridge will never be closed. It will never be replaced. It’s always open. We’ll never be denied access to God.
This bridge – Jesus - has no flaws. Flaws on bridges are never good things. The Department of Transportation has a large unit devoted solely to bridge inspections. When a bridge has flaws, it is not long before it collapses.
Jesus, unlike the Old Testament priesthood is described as holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners. Jesus never sinned, never fell to temptation, and never came up short of God’s standards. And so, he never had to offer sacrifices for himself in order to be right with the Father. Jesus is always right with the Father.
We all know that people can and will fail us from time to time. But we can rest assured that Jesus will never fail us. He’ll never collapse. He has no flaws. This bridge is unshakable.
You may have, in your travels, come up on a toll bridge. There is a price to pay to cross that bridge – every time you cross it. The old priesthood required daily sacrifices – a price to be paid. And these sacrifices were only temporary fixes.
But Jesus ushered in a new age, in which He built a permanent bridge. He paid for its construction all by Himself. He paid for it with His own blood, the blood of the holy, blameless, pure and sinless One. It was a gift of love, a gift to us. No one charges for a gift.
Be thankful that Christ has paved the way for you free of charge. For no matter how rich we are in doing good deeds; no matter how rich we are in love, none of us comes close to having enough to pay our own way across this bridge. We must be thankful to God that even trying to pay our way is futile. We do not have to try. Jesus paid it all. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or what you’ve done, Jesus has paid the price of your crossing.
----- Gary K Fair