I’m not a car person, but lately I’ve been car-obsessed—ever since my beloved Hyundai Elantra got totalled in a chain-reaction accident on (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend. We were enroute to the family cabin with a huge turkey dinner in the trunk and six home-baked pies nestled in the rear window. Someone had lost a box—or several boxes—of household junk along the highway…and five vehicles swerved and braked to avoid the scattered debris. Our car got the worst of it.
Two pies perished in the crash. One pie sailed over my head to my feet, and the medics mistook the bumbleberry stains on my ankles for blood. Henry got punched in the chest by an air bag. The dog was so stunned, he ignored the smashed pumpkin pie (his favorite) covering the back seat.
It could have been so much worse.
So now I’m car shopping with my limited-budget insurance check. Last time I hunted, I got a great deal at the local Auction World, and hope to get lucky (blessed) again. Fingers crossed.
The big drawback at car auctions is you can’t test drive their vehicles. You can peer under the hood, sit in the driver’s seat, scope the stats, and turn on the ignition. You can drive a foot forward and reverse. You can pay a supposedly impartial mechanic $60 to peer along with you. The rest is a bit of a crapshoot.
This resonates with our ongoing topic: the pursuit of Perfection. I hope the car I buy will be as close to perfect as any ten-year-old auction car could be. But I know whatever car I choose will have flaws. That over time, my ‘new’ car will deteriorate and disappoint as we drive through life together. Brakes will give out. Clunks and glitches will develop. Scrapes, rust, cracks, and dings will happen. My already imperfect car, if it doesn’t get crunched in an accident, will eventually fall apart.
Here’s the passage we’re still hiking:
If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still a need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there must also be a change in the law….The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. (Heb.7: 11; 18-19)
Jesus offended the scribes and Pharisees on many levels, but it must have especially ticked them off to learn that their beloved Law, once fulfilled by Jesus, would be scrapped and found wanting forever. After all, the Law, for all its painstaking rituals, was their life! Its regulations and proscriptions defined them, setting them apart from all other people on earth. Being people of the Law made them holy—or so they thought. In fact, according to this verse, the Law was WEAK. And USELESS. And no amount of fervent attention or extra sacrifice would change that fact.
Letting go of the things that define us can be hard, even when we know they aren’t perfect or even good for us. Often the things we cling to are what make us feel special or cool, different from other people. When I first studied the Bible, many decades ago, I quickly repented of my dope-smoking, immorality, and basic self-centeredness. But I struggled to let go of a few spiritual books that weren’t Christ-centered. And to quit that single cigarette every evening, the one that made me mellow and philosophic for 20 nicotined minutes: it seemed harmless enough. Other aspects of the ‘old’ me, like my ingrained nonconformity, took even longer for me to let go.
Paul tells us the Law was given “because of transgressions”, and was “put in charge to lead us to Christ so that we might be justified by faith”. (See Galatians 4:15-25). The Law was never meant to impart holiness or perfection—it couldn’t. All it could do was show us our sinfulness, and the costliness of sin, and how much we need a Savior: someone who could offer the perfect, one-time sacrifice acceptable to God, and become our High Priest forever, based on the power of an indestructible life (Heb.7:16).
To return to my car analogy, imagine if instead of issuing a check worth the marketplace value of my aging, dinged-up car, my insurance company gave me A PERFECT CAR. One that will never break down, crash, rust, deteriorate, or need a mechanic’s touch. One that will drive flawlessly, year after year, for as long and hard and often as I need it. A car that requires no insurance, never gets flats, and never runs out of gas or oil. A car that changes its own tires from winter to summer, year after year, at no expense or effort.
This, in effect, is what God has given us. In place of the Law, with its endless commandments and sacrifices, and its constant reminder of our sinfulness, God has given us Perfection through our glorious High Priest, Jesus.
Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as priests men who are weak, but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. (Heb.7: 26-28)
Read that passage again. And again. Let it roll across your heart and soul. This is a pinnacle passage on our hike, a breathless, awe-inspiring truth: Jesus has given us everything we need. He is perfect. His sacrifice is complete, and its eternal worth is permanently credited to our spiritual accounts. We need no top-ups, no renewals, no fresh contracts— just a grateful, whole-hearted acceptance.
Now, wish me
luck God’s favor as I head to the auction lot!