Last night I was driving home after a night of beautiful chaos…musicians, vocalists and techs coming together to work on a new song, “Your Name is Matchless.” The lights of the passing cars reflected on the windshield as the line, “ransomed the captives / your name is matchless / beauty for ashes / your name is matchless”, circled in my brain.
It’s in those moments, that we again experience the gospel. That is the gospel in a nutshell. That is the “wonderful exchange” where Christ takes the ashes of our sinful, enslaved hearts and makes them beautiful. That is the moment where he takes our unworthy prayers and wrinkled worship and offers them up to the Father as our high priest. And we know that it is all an acceptable offering because of “Jesus’ sake”. One author has said it this way,
Whatever else our worship is, it is our…amen to the worship of Christ…Christian worship is…our participation through the Spirit in the Son’s communion with the Father, in his vicarious life of worship and intercession.*
This might be a new idea for some of us. We don’t think about it, but some of the songs we sing and some of the language we use makes it seem as if we are worshiping a God who is with us when we sing the right songs or play the right synth pad. The truth is this: we worship a God of grace who intercedes for us. Hebrews says it this way,
…because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. (7:24-26)
Did you notice that the word “forever” is used more than once? This isn’t something that was done only once. Jesus only had to die once, but he continues to offer up our prayers and worship to make them pleasing through his sacrifice now and forever.
He is our worship leader.
He is our high priest.
As I pulled into my street and saw the the streetlights sending shadows up into the trees, I again heard the words of the song. “…beauty for ashes / your name is matchless”
*Quote from James B. Torance, “Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace”