Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Better High Priest Hebrews 4-5

Hebrews: Christ Above All
A Better High Priest

Text: Hebrews 4:1- 5:1-9

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Review: Paul is writing to the Hebrew Christians urging and encouraging them not walk away from Christianity and return to legalistic Judaism. In the letter to the Hebrews the word better is used 13 times talking about Jesus Christ and the word perfection is used 14 times. Over and over Paul uses argument after argument to convince the readers, Christ really is better.  


Christ’s revelation is better the angels
Christ offers a better rest
Christ is a better high priest
Christ’s new covenant is better than the old covenant


A Priest Passed Into the Heavens Hebrews 4:14-16

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

The Hebrews Needed to look To Jesus as a Greater High Priest

Jesus the High Priest of the new convenant was superior because he was not on earth as the High Priest of Judaism but was in heaven.
He was able to understand what they were suffering through since he also was tempted as they  were, but had withstood the temptation and had not sinned.
Knowing this they are encouraged to come boldly not to the reproduction of heaven in the Temple but to the true Throne of Grace in heaven to find mercy and help that they needed.
Paul was telling the Hebrew Christians not to quit, not to fall back in the ways of legalism and Judaism, but to instead to look to Jesus their great High Priest in Heaven.
Go to Jesus he tells them. Look to Jesus he urges them. Jesus understands your trials and suffering he went through more than you will ever know and He overcame sin and death.
Go to Jesus at the Throne of Grace and by going there you will find mercy, you will find grace.
You need not quit, you need not turn back for in the mercy and grace of God you will find the strength and comfort to continue on in His service.

We Need To Look To Our High Priest Today

What Paul tells the Hebrews is of course still true for us today.
We are to fully understand that Jesus is our High Priest, our intercessor and then act upon that knowledge in our time of need.
Christ left the earth that he might minister for us in the very presence of God the Father in Heaven.
Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
For this powerful reason, we also must not shrink back from our profession of faith. We also must not stop our service to Christ.
Being a true Christian is often difficult and many times seems almost impossible but God has provided for us even in those difficult times the means whereby we can obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of our need.
It’s there at the Throne of Grace, there where our Great High Priest intercedes for us. It’s there where Jesus is and where he invites us to come to Him. He will be there for us when we need him.

Illustration: Elihu’s Discourse on Job’s Remedy Job 33:21-24

His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen stick out. Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness: Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.

This is what Jesus has done for us and waits to do everytime we go to Him in prayer. He stands beside our weak and torn souls and says, I will deliver them. I have a ransom for them.

Transition: Now in Chapter 5, Paul begins in detail to explain why Christ was a better High Priest.

A Priest From Among Men Hebrews 5:1-4

For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

Jesus Greater than an OT Priest

Paul says the High Priest of the past were chosen from among men
They could have compassion on the ignorant and erring because they themselves were often ignorant and weak.
And because they were sinful they had to offer a sacrifice not only for the people but also for themselves.
The office of High Priest was an honor and this honor was bestowed by God not taken by the men themselves.
William Newell in his commentary on Hebrews sums it up like this
Priests are taken from among men
Priests are appointed for men
The priest is occupied with things pertaining to God
The priest offers both gifts and sacrifices for sins.
The priest must be one who can bear gently with the ignorant and the erring.
The priest must be called of God

Paul’s purpose in giving this summary of the office of High Priest was to use it as a comparison to their Heavenly High Priest Jesus Christ.
The Hebrews were looking back to what they used to have.
Paul was telling them to look forward not backward, look upward to earthward, to what you have in Jesus. There can be no comparison. Jesus is a Greater High Priest.

Jesus greater than a NT Pastor

Now by way of application let me talk about Pastors in stead of priests. For some of the same elements apply.
The pastor just like the high priest is taken from among men
The pastor is appointed for men
The pastor is occupied with things pertaining to God
The pastor does not offers gifts and sacrifices for sins, but preaches and teaches of Jesus God’s own gift of sacrifice for sin.
The pastor must be one who can bear gently with the ignorant and the erring.
The pastor must be called of God
Just as Paul would direct the Hebrew Christians toward their Heavenly high priest so also must we look not on our Pastors but upon the one they uphold and honor, Jesus Christ.
Just like the OT High Priest the pastor can identify with sin because he is a sinner.
Just as the OT high Priest would offer sacrifices for the people and for himself so must the Pastor understand he must continuously go before God and seek forgiveness for his own sins.
Now here is my caution, be careful that we do not look to pastors instead of to Jesus Christ. For there are many pastors today who would lift themselves up as somehow more holy, more righteous than the congregations they lead.They would tell you that God is closer to them because they are closer to God. Or that God speaks to them differently than He speaks to everyone else.
Such an attitude and such arrogance is an affront to the holiness of God and the shed blood of Jesus Christ. If any Pastor’s call to the ministry breeds conceit and self-righteousness rather than humility and meekness then it is a false call from a false God. And you need to be be looking for another pastor.

Illustration: Richard Baxter’s Pastor’s Prayer

And for myself, as I am ashamed of my dull and careless heart, and of my slow and unprofitable course of life, so the Lord knows, I am ashamed of every sermon I preach; when I think what I have been speaking of, and who sent me, and that men's salvation or damnation is so much concerned in it, I am ready to tremble lest God should judge me as a slighter of His truths and the souls of men, and lest in the best sermon I should be guilty of their blood.  Me thinks we should not speak a word to men in matters of such consequence without tears, or the greatest earnestness that possible we can; were not we too much guilty of the sin  which we reprove, it would be so.
            Truly this is the peal that conscience doth ring in my ears, and yet my drowsy soul will not be awakened.  Oh, what a thing is an insensible hardened heart!  O Lord, save us from the plague of infidelity and hard-heartedness ourselves, or else how shall we be fit instruments of saving others from it?  Oh, do that in our souls which thou wouldst use us to do on the souls of others.

Transition. Now Paul contrasts the earthly high priest with the heavenly.

 A Priest Of Perfection Hebrews 5:5-9

So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Paul Looks to Christ The Perfect Priest

Christ, God’s own Son, was called by His Heavenly Father to be our High Priest.
But was called after the order of Mechisedec, not the order of Aaron.
An order that preceded the priests called under the law.
An order that was outside the Jewish nation and reached both Jew and Gentile.
Though Jesus was God’s son he learned obedience by the things which he suffered.
This does not mean he had to be taught how to obey.
It means he learned through experience and trial what obedience could and did teach.
These lessons of obedience brought him then to perfection.
This word does not mean sinlessness for he was already sinless, but to completeness. Jesus and his ministry was not completed no perfected until he had fully obeyed His Father, went to the Cross and there suffered for our sins. Having done so he was then the author, the cause, of salvation to all them that obey him. This word is only used here in all the new testament and it means that Jesus is the source, creator, the causer of our salvation. It all flows from Him and only Him.

Keep Looking To Our Perfect Priest

I am afraid that too many times our Christian experience suffers in the same way that the Hebrew Christians did.
We are looking somewhere else instead of to our Heavenly High Priest.
We look to our church, our family, our heritage. We look to our baptism, our Christian friends or a pastor. These things are all good, just as the OT High Priest was a good man chosen by God but they are not what we need.
What we need is an high priest, an intercessor, that is passed into the heavens. We need a high priest who waits at the throne of grace to give us mercy and grace in our need. We need Jesus Christ, not a pale imitation, but truly the Son of God, our perfect savior who understands our suffering and can give us the help, the comfort, the strenght, the wisdom, the grace, the joy that we need right now.

Illustration: Florence Chadwick “If Only I Could Have Seen…”

When she looked ahead, Florence Chadwick saw nothing but a solid wall of fog. Her body was numb. She had been swimming for nearly sixteen hours.
Already she was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions.  Now, at age 34, her goal was to become the first woman to swim from Catalina Island to the California coast.
            On that Fourth of July morning in 1952, the sea was likean ice bath and the fog was so dense she could hardly see her support boats. Sharks cruised toward her lone figure, only to be driven away by rifle shots. Against the frigid grip of the  sea, she struggled on - hour after hour - while millions watched on national television.
            Alongside Florence in one of the boats, her mother and her trainer offered encouragement. They told her it wasn't much farther. But all she could see was fog.  They urged her not to quit. She never had . . . until then. With only a half mile to go, she asked to be pulled out.
            Still thawing her chilled body several hours later, she told a reporter, "Look, I'm not excusing myself, but if I could have seen land I might have made it." It was not fatigue or even the cold water that defeated her. It was the fog. She was unable to see her goal.
            Two months later, she tried again. This time, despite the same dense fog, she swam with her faith intact and her goal clearly pictured in her mind. She knew that somewhere behind that fog was land and this time she made it! Florence Chadwick became the first woman to swim the Catalina Channel, eclipsing the men's record by two hours! - Author Unknown Submitted by Michele Borba 

We are all as God’s children striving toward the goals in this life. We are trying to be good parents, good students, good witnesses, good church members, husbands and wives. We are striving to carry out the commission that Jesus left us here to do, but often we are surrounded by the fogs of suffering, pain, fear or worry. We must lift our eyes and look to Jesus the author of our salvation. We must lift our prayers to Jesus our great High Priest. We must lift our hearts to the Throne of Grace and find every time the help and comfort we need in our time of need.

Conclusion: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus  - Helen H. Lemmel, 1922

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace

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