Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
THE MORE AUTHORITY YOU HAVE, THE MORE OF A SERVANT YOU SHOULD BE
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
5 JUNE 1988
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
John 13:8, 12-20
1 Corinthians 10:16
Hebrews 7:1-3, 11-17, 26-28
Preparation Verse: (1 Corinthians 10:16)
Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?
In our Old and New Testament lesson verses for this morning we read about a priest of God Most High named Melchizedek.
17 Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley).
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.
19 And he blessed him and said,
"Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand."
And he gave him a tenth of all.
21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself."
22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have sworn to the LORD God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth,
23 that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, lest you should say,' I have made Abram rich.'
24 "I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share."
And according to our Genesis 14 verses, Melchizedek came to Abram with bread and wine to serve him and bless him, and to praise God.
Later this morning, you also will be served bread and wine by a priest, or minister, of God.
In the order of things related to God, the priest has more authority than the layman; yet it is the priest who serves.
Why is this?
Why is the one with more authority serving the one who is lower in rank than he?
It is because that is the way that God intended it to be, and it is also the fulfillment of the example He set for us.
In order to truly live as Jesus Christ lived, we all must realize that THE MORE AUTHORITY YOU HAVE, THE MORE OF A SERVANT YOU SHOULD BE.
If we understand this, it will give us added meaning to the celebration of the Lord's Supper and, in particular, to the service that Jesus Christ renders to us.
Way back in the beginning of creation, God showed Adam that if he would be obedient to Him, then God would also serve him. He did this by example. Note Genesis 2:8-9.
8. And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.
9. And out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
All that Adam had to do was to obey God and to pick the fruit that he desired to eat. He had to do no work in order to get food.
But Adam sinned; thus he lost this blessing of God's service to provide his food without work.
In the same way as God provided for Adam, Melchizedek, priest of God Most High, brought forth the bread and wine to serve Abram.
What was the result?
Abram acknowledged that God had also served him by giving his enemy into his hands; thus he gave back to God a tenth of all that he had acquired in the battle; and all of the remainder Abram gave to those who served with him and to those he defended.
Thus we have the example of Abram also serving those who are below his position of authority.
But who is this Melchizedek, that we should take note of him?
Let's begin by taking another look at our New Testament lesson verses for this morning, from Hebrews 7:
1. For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,
2. to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.
3. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he abides a priest perpetually.
As to who this Melchizedek is, we do not know for sure. The important thing we do know about him is that he was made like the Son of God, Jesus Christ; and he is a priest continually.
This also answers the second part of our question: why we should take from him as an example. It is because he is a type of Jesus Christ, as we all should be today; because the priest serves others, as we should do.
Every Levitical priest of the Old Testament and pastor today are in office just for a season, for a portion of their adult life. They are not in office always.
The order of Melchizedek is a perpetual priesthood, and to this office went Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 7:11-17)
11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?
12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.
13 For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar.
14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.
15 And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek,
16 who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.
17 For it is witnessed of Him,
"Thou art a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek."
And what is the importance of this to us today?
Scripture answers this in verses 26-28.
26. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;
27. who does not need daily, like those high priests [the Levitical priests], to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
28. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.
So, what is the importance of this for us today?
As we have discussed many times before, our sin brings death and separation from God.
We have also discussed that God is a holy and righteous God; thus no sin can be in His presence and, if we approach Him in a sinful condition, we will die.
There is absolutely no way for any of us to atone for our own sins.
We all need an intermediary between us and God. It is our only hope of redemption.
Well, you may ask: "What about the pastors of our churches? Aren’t they there to do just that?"
There isn't even one of the pastors today (or for that matter, any time) who can even atone for his own sins; thus he is also rendered helpless to atone for the sins of any other person.
All that the pastors and preachers can do is to lead those who choose to hear to the One who can atone for our sins before Almighty God.
And that One, the only One who can do this, is Jesus Christ.
This is also why there is no blessing coming from the sacrifice or slaughter of any animal, for any reason.
In fact, I strongly believe that the killing and eating of any animal actually brings a curse:
This also relates back to the curse that befell Adam, and all of us, when he and Eve desired to eat more than the free food offered by God in the garden of Eden.
We need to return to that Eden diet, even of we have to work for it, for it will once again soften our hearts and souls and give is back the empathy to feel the suffering of the whole of creation.
And most importantly, Jesus Christ, who is Himself Almighty God and the Son, ministers continuously on behalf of all who come to Him before the Father.
When we sin and then call upon the Lord for forgiveness, it is Jesus Christ who pleads our case before the Judge; not as a lawyer who receives money for his services, but out of love, as a member of our own family, and He never tires of doing it, as long as we are truly repentant.
When He washed the feet of the disciples, Jesus gave a very practical demonstration of the degree to which we are to be one another’s servants.
For in that time when people went around in sandals, their feet became very dirty, and it was unsightly to recline at the dinner table and look at dirty feet. Thus a servant would come and wash the feet of the guests as a symbol of hospitality.
We may have no need of washing feet today, but there are many other things we should do, some of which are more humbling than washing someone else's feet.
Let's take a look at the explanation Jesus gives us in John 13:12-20.
12. And so when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and reclined at the table again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?
13. "You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.
14. "If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
15. "For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.
Not necessarily in the washing of the feet only, for His example was far more encompassing. We are to be a servant to all, as Jesus Christ is a servant to us.
16. "Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master; neither is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.
17. "If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
The blessing only comes with the doing of the will of God, and not from the knowing of it; for even Satan knows the will of God, yet he works against it.
18. "I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.'
19. "From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.
20. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me."
Listen carefully to what Jesus is telling us. We must receive Him on His terms, or we lose everything. He'll do it all. The only thing we have to do is accept it.
Note the conversation between Peter and Jesus back in verse 8:
8. Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!"Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me."
The washing of feet is the symbolism used here for the washing away of our sins.
If we do not accept the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, ministering on our behalf before the Father, our sins will always be visible, and we will have no part in Jesus, or the Father, and thus no place in heaven.
Our Communion Service this morning is a reminder of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for each of us.
He commands all of us to come and partake of the bread and the wine in remembrance of Him.
He also commands us not to come in an unworthy manner. This means that we are
not to come with unconfessed sins in our hearts. But we are to come!
Therefore, leave any bitterness and hardness behind.
Forgive those who have hurt you; for why should they continue to hurt you by stealing your joy?
And if you have harmed someone, tell them you are sorry, and you will bring joy to both of you and to the throne of God, for He knows every intent of the heart.
Come and partake of this celebration with a repentant heart, in remembrance of Him, knowing that Jesus Christ died for our sins so that we might live because of His atoning blood, and that He rose from the dead to prove that all He said was true; and that He sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, to minister on our behalf, and that He waits for all of us who accept Him and His gift of salvation.