Sweat the Details

Crown of thorns hanging on a wooden cross at Easter

Today’s reading:  2 Kings 25; Hebrews 7; Amos 1; Psalm 144

Doug Lemov is the Managing Director of an organization called Uncommon Schools.  The group’s mission is to establish and manage urban schools that successfully prepare low income students for college.  Lemov attributes the success of this organization to talented, passionate teachers who use a variety of techniques to drive positive outcomes in some of the most challenging settings.  Their methods are summarized in his bestselling books, Teach Like a Champion (Jossey-Bass, 2010) and Teach Like a Champion 2.0 (Wiley, 2015).

In Teach Like a Champion, Technique 40 is called Sweat the Details.  The underlying principle of this technique is that if you want students to follow a specific order and do things a specific way, you must create and enforce an overarching sense of order.  Be on time, keep everything in its place, and always follow a specific routine to accomplish tasks.  The order achieved by these disciplines leads to efficiency.  It is a proven fact that an efficiently run classroom leads to less wasted time, fewer lost assignments and ultimately more successful learning.

Our study of Hebrews 7 today makes me think of “sweating the details”.  How God aligned every detail throughout all of history to point to Jesus as the promised Messiah, our Savior and Lord, is simply mind-boggling. The book of Hebrews was written to Jews who were struggling to reconcile Old Testament law with Jesus’ message of grace through faith.  I’ll be honest, Hebrews has helped me connect the dots on details of Jesus’ fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy that I never even considered.  Jesus’ link to Melchizedek, as referenced in Hebrews 4-7, is one of those dots.

The author of Hebrews, in chapters 4 and 5, talks about our need for a Savior. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12-13).

The text then points to Jesus as our Savior, our High Priest. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:14-15).

It goes on to illustrate Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecy by referencing Psalm 110:4 where the Messiah is described as a priest from the line of Melchizedek. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. And God designated him to be a High Priest in the line of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:9-10).

Our text in Hebrews 7 today compares Jesus to Melchizedek.  It helps us understand the significance of Jesus’ priesthood through this line, rather than through the line of Aaron (Levites).

  • His priesthood has no end (Hebrews 7:3, 24).
  • His priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood (Hebrews 7:6, 23).
  • His priesthood establishes the new covenant – grace through faith (Hebrews 7:12, 18).
  • His appointment was from God himself (Hebrews 7:20, 28).

Verse 22 sums it up perfectly – This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant (Hebrews 7:22).

Think about this for a minute. All the details God aligned to signify Jesus Christ as the long-awaited Messiah aren’t going to make us perfect at managing our classrooms, managing our work, or running our households.  They certainly won’t make us perfect people.  We are still sinners, and nothing we could do will measure up to God’s perfect standards.  The beauty is God knows this.  Instead of trying to make us good enough, he aligned every detail, sent his son to pay the price on our behalf, and made a way for us to stand before the throne on judgment day without blemish, perfect in his sight.

What an amazing gift. As I reflect on things to be thankful for this holiday season, this tops my list.