(Prepared for a sermon on 2nd Peter 1:5-11, especially verse 10.)
When was the last time you worried about your bank going under? My guess is that you’ve never worried about it at all. Yet, if you’re familiar with our country’s history, you know that many banks have and do fail. I’ll just mention a few examples to prove the point. There was the panic of 1907 in which several banks failed. The stock market crash of 1929 ushered in the Great Depression during which over 9,000 banks failed. No doubt some of you remember the Savings and Loan Crisis which started during the 1980s. In it over 1,000 savings and loan institutions closed their doors. Even closer to home was the financial crisis of 2008. Before the recovery, over 200 banks failed.
In addition to these examples, there are many, many more instances of banks and other financial institutions going under. Yet, in spite of the rather dismal record, we don’t hesitate to deposit our paychecks or Social Security payments at the bank. In fact, many people never even see their checks. They have the money due them deposited electronically into their account by the payer.
Why is it that we blithely go on depositing our money into banks when there is such a record of bank failure? Why is it that the jokes which used to be quite common in our culture about people keeping their money under the mattress fall flat? My guess is that to younger generations, those jokes just seem weird if they are even comprehensible.
The reason we don’t worry about losing our money when we put it in the bank is that if the bank is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, our government guarantees our deposits. If the bank should fail, the government will step in and return to us the amount of our deposit, up to $250,000. Since our account has the “full faith and credit” or our government behind it, we don’t have any reason to worry about our money disappearing. Whatever we happen to think about our government, we know that it generally pays its obligations. In due time we’ll see our money again, even if our bank doesn’t survive.
Unfortunately, people’s confidence in the safety of their money isn’t always matched by confidence in the safety of their souls. A lot of people are unsure of what the future holds. Even Christians are not always confident of their eternal destiny. A question you sometimes hear is, “How can I be sure that I am saved? How can I really know?”
When we stop and think about it, it’s ironic that we have more confidence in the safety of our bank balance than we do about our salvation. The guarantee we have securing our salvation is far stronger than the guarantee securing our bank account. Our bank accounts are guaranteed by the government, but our future is guaranteed by an oath from God. Personally, I have a whole lot more confidence in God’s word than I do in the word of our government.
In speaking of Jesus, the writer of Hebrews says, “...he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’” Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” (Hebrews 7:21- 27 NIV)
Did you notice what this passage says? Jesus is our guarantee of the covenant under whose terms we are saved. By means of this covenant, Jesus not only saves, He saves completely or, as your translation may say, forever. He lives forever and therefore, is always able to intercede on our behalf.
Also notice that Jesus’ position as the priest of the new covenant is backed by God’s oath. There can be no better or stronger guarantee. If we have put our faith in Jesus and entered the covenant, our future is secure. God will never default on His promises.
Every once in a while our banks send us a statement reminding us of their terms of service. We can think of that as an analogy for what we do each Sunday when we observe the Lord’s Supper. The bread and juice remind us of our covenant with God. They remind us that the covenant is still in force. When we eat and drink we’re agreeing again to the terms of the covenant.
But the bread and juice also remind us of the guarantee we have. Our future is secured by Jesus, backed by God’s oath. If you want to think of it this way, the bread and cup are equivalent to the sticker we see at the teller’s window: ‘Member FDIC.’ Except in this case, it’s: ‘Member New Covenant.’ And the guarantee is infinitely greater and stronger than any guarantee our government can give.
Today as we eat and drink, let’s thank God not only for our salvation, but also for His unbreakable guarantee.