REPLACING THE SHADOWS - John Piper
Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary, and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. —Hebrews 8:1–2
The point of the book of Hebrews is that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, has not just come to fit into the earthly system of priestly ministry as the best and final human priest, but he has come to fulfill and put an end to that system and to orient all our attention on himself ministering for us in heaven. The Old Testament tabernacle and priests and sacrifices were shadows. Now the reality has come, and the shadows pass away. Here’s an Advent illustration for kids (and for those of us who used to be kids and remember what it was like). Suppose you and your mom get separated in the grocery store, and you start to get scared and panic and don’t know which way to go, and you run to the end of an aisle, and just before you start to cry, you see a shadow on the floor at the end of the aisle that looks just like your mom. It makes you really happy and you feel hope. But which is better? The happiness of seeing the shadow, or having your mom step around the corner and seeing that it’s really her? That’s the way it is when Jesus comes to be our High Priest. That’s what Christmas is. Christmas is the replacement of shadows with the real thing.
After reading today’s Advent devotion, I began thinking about our church, not our local Arbor Bridge Church but the church universal — the church of Christians worldwide. It made me think of the church as an extension of God and His love, His compassion, and His sacrifice. History is filled with stories of people who, in the name of God, sacrificed everything to save others and help them in desperate and dangerous times.
As inspiring as these stories can be, it is just a shadow of the reality that God has in store for us. God’s glory is made available to us because of His sacrifice for us; that of sending His son to earth to live and die as a man, and to rise again in glory so that we may have our sins wiped away.
That’s why we are recognizing Advent this year. Not only to remember the birth of Christ, but also what the birth led to: the ability for all to live forever in the glory of God.