Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you. – Walt Whitman
When my kids were little, they loved to walk in my shadow. Sometimes I’d be rushed and forget to pay attention to my pace, when a frustrated kiddo would sound the alarm behind me. Having no time for the shadow game that day, I’d turn around, scoop up my child, and plop him or her on my shoulders. This was a guaranteed way to bring a smile. Yeah, Dad’s shadow is pretty cool, but being on top of the world with the real Daddy is always so much better.
As Hebrews tries to explain new covenant living to us this week, the author uses this contrast between a shadow and the real thing to make a point: Jesus is better.
“[Every high priest] serve[s] at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. … But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one….” - (Hebrews 8:5, 6)
God had given Moses detailed plans for the tabernacle and the Most Holy Place. Jewish priests understood that the Most Holy Place was an intricate copy – a replica – of the throne room in heaven. When the high priest entered that space, he was entering a place that shadowed the glory of heaven. But even though the early temple was glorious, it wasn’t as glorious as the real thing.
This shadowed existence was also true for the priesthood. When Jesus came, the real High Priest had arrived at last. In every way, the ministry and priesthood of Jesus was superior to the old.
Some of you have been living in the shadow. You’ve been trying to please God for as long as you can remember – trying to live in the shadows of the old covenant, frustrated that your best efforts leave you feeling inadequate. I want you to know that your High Priest is inviting you to step away from the shadows and into a real and better way.
Jesus is inviting you to rest by believing three essential promises of new covenant living.
Lord, I’m tired of trying to hide my sin and imperfection in the shadows of faith. Embolden me to take that first step into real living – into the warmth of Your glorious grace. Amen.
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