Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hebrews 4:14 – 5:10 “Christ our High Priest”

Hebrews 4:14 – 5:10 “Christ our High Priest”

About the next six chapters of Hebrews are spent developing the theme of Christ our High
Priest.


Why? Think of it the audience it was intended to reach. The book of Romans was to a secular
and reasoned world. In Romans God’s actions are defended through the action of Jesus.
Hebrews makes that connection between Jesus and the fulfillment of the Law. To do this, the
writer of Hebrews (Paul) uses the images from the Old Testament to make his point. The
strongest one is Jesus who is both King and Priest.


The High priest possessed two qualifications.


First, the High Priest was one of the people. This made sure that he was sympathetic to the
weaknesses of the people. [v 2]


Second, the High Priest was appointed by God. [v 4 – 5] This made sure that nobody ever
claimed the right. Since it traveled through family lines and God reserved the right to change
High Priests every Day of Atonement (through the serving one dying)… It also meant nobody
actually wanted to be High Priest.


It was the most humble of jobs, it was the most dangerous of jobs, it was the most important of
jobs.


Jesus possessed a THIRD qualification: Jesus was also the sacrifice. Jesus’ sacrifice was the
foundation of the authority He now exercises in heaven. Jesus was made “perfect” though
suffering. [v 9]


“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to
glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” [Hebrews 2:10]
The word translated “perfect” is the word “teleos.” The word does not mean “flawless.” Jesus
was already flawless. “Teleos” means “the bringing of the person to a fixed goal” (Vincent). In
this case is the completion of the process. (Robertson)


I. Here’s the problem (two of them)


A. First, Jesus was not of the line of Levi (not from Aaron).


1. How could Jesus be a High Priest if He was from the “wrong” family?

2. The whole nation was called to be priests.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession,
that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous
light.” [1 Peter 2:9]

“But you shall be called the priests of the LORD; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our
God…” [Isaiah 61:6a]


B. Second, what happened to the priesthood that already existed?


1. It failed because the priests were as sinful as the people.

a. How often is the strength the major weakness?

b. It was because of sin that the people needed a mediator.

c. Aaron and others were officially “holy” but not actually spotless and pure.

2. It failed because the priests served in a copy of the original.

a. They served in an earthly copy of the heavenly reality.

b. Because they were not divine, they did not have the access necessary to function on a level above a crude, imperfect, and flawed copy.

Jesus, being the spotless and pure lamb of God was able to enter the real “holy of holies”
through His sacrifice for us.


II. Here’s the paradox:


A. One would expect the sinless one to be the severest, stickiest, and saintly judge
of those who sin.


1. Yes, Jesus as the Holy one of God will eventually judge.

2. However, Jesus (in perfect holiness) is the most merciful, compassionate,
and considerate Judge…

3. Our sins make us impatient and severe with others BECAUSE we see our
flaws in others!

4. Irony: the holier the character the more loving and sympathetic they are
toward others.


B. Possibly God’s guiding principle: He is not willing that ANY should perish but ALL
should reach repentance.


“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,
not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” [2 Peter 3:9]

1. Jesus made it a point to forgive those who crucified Him.

“And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to
divide his garments.” [Luke 23:24]

2. Forgiveness is so important, Jesus made it a point to tell us if we do not
forgive we will not be forgiven.

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” [Matthew 6:12]

“But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your
trespasses.” [Mathew 6:15]


III. Here’s the possibility: victory over death.


A. Jesus “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” [v 9]


1. Physical death is the “organic connection with divine wrath.”

a. No wonder Jesus cried out “let this cup pass from me.” [Matthew
26:39]

b. God the Father charged all our sin to Jesus’ account as He tasted
that cup of physical death for us.

2. Jesus’ obedience became the example for our obedience…

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example,
so that you might follow in his steps.” [1 Peter 2:21]


B. His obedience earned him the title and position of High Priest “in the order of
Melchizedek” (King of Salem and High Priest of God Most High… see Genesis 14:18 – 20)


1. Melchizedek was a King and a priest… nothing known outside Genesis 14
and the book of Hebrews.

2. Abraham paid a tithe to Melchizedek… (More in the weeks to come on
Melchizedek.)


IV. Here’s the prize.


A. Perfect peace.


1. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Romans 5:1]

2. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he
trusts in you.” [Isaiah 26:3]

Kicker: the only time perfect peace is clear is in the storm.

“Everyone is either heading into a storm, in a storm, or just coming out of a storm.” [American
Proverb]

3. This perfect peace is found only in right relationship to God the Father
through Jesus.


B. The God who cares…


1. Jesus extended tenderness towards the sinner in need. (Woman caught
in adultery John 8]

2. Jesus demonstrated compassion on those who were “without a
shepherd.”

3. Jesus perfectly sympathizes with us in our time of need… under the
pressure and pain of temptation and failure.

4. BECAUSE of all this Jesus knows the sorrow and brokenness that is too
deep for any human ministry.

a. Jesus is able to understand and heal that sorrow and brokenness in our soul.

b. Jesus intends to restore our spirit to a right standing before God the Father.

c. Jesus, the friend of sinners, calls us to engage the bottomless ocean of God’s love by doing away with sin and its burden, guilt, and future consequences.

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