Hebrews 5

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Focusing on our High Priest and what He did for us. Growing in Christ.


High Priest

A large and complex organization requires a head or leader/ This was true of the Hebrew priesthood. The covenant was established through Moses through whom God gave the offer and substance of the covenant relationship. Religious life within this covenant was the responsibility of Aaron, the first and chief priest. Leviticus 21:10-12 describes:
Leviticus 21:10–12 NASB95
10 ‘The priest who is the highest among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil has been poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes; 11 nor shall he approach any dead person, nor defile himself even for his father or his mother; 12 nor shall he go out of the sanctuary nor profane the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him; I am the Lord.
All priest had responsibilities, the high priest had a significant role. It was his duty to be the chief servant and chief guardian. In his hands lay the spiritual responsibility for the entire people of God. That was the true honor and gravity of the position.
The responsibility of the High Priest is most clearly seen on the most solemn of days - the Day of Atonement. On that day the High Priest alone entered the Holy-of-Holies, standing before the mercy seat, he sought forgiveness of the sins of the entire Nation of Israel.
Leviticus 16:1–10 NASB95
1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they had approached the presence of the Lord and died. 2 The Lord said to Moses: Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. 3 “Aaron shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 “He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and the linen undergarments shall be next to his body, and he shall be girded with the linen sash and attired with the linen turban (these are holy garments). Then he shall bathe his body in water and put them on. 5 “He shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering. 6 “Then Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household. 7 “He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 8 “Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 “Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the Lord fell, and make it a sin offering. 10 “But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat.
This was performed each year - the blood of bulls and goats could not provide a once and for all sacrifice for the sins of the people.
The first High Priest was selected by God - and every high priest in succession. He was chosen from men to minister for men. It was an essential role that maintained a relationship with God and His people.
Let us begin our passage in Hebrews with Hebrews 5:1-6


Hebrews 5:1–6 NASB95
1 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; 2 he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness; 3 and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself. 4 And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”; 6 just as He says also in another passage, You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”
Jesus Christ is the greatest High Priest. He was selected by God from man for man.
1 Timothy 2:5 NASB95
5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
Jesus became man so that He could experience all that we experience. He walked on this earth. He experienced hunger and thirst. He fell and skinned his knee as a child (and fell three time on his walk to Golgotha). He was tempted just as we are tempted, but He was able to resist.
He did not choose to be High Priest - He was chosen by God for that role. Indeed, in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night he was betrayed, he prayed:
Matthew 26:39 NASB95
39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
In verse 5, the writer quoted Psalm 2:7. He had quoted the same verse in Hebrews 1:5 to prove that Jesus is the Son of God, but the emphasis here is on His priesthood.
In Acts 13:33-34 the Apostle Paul quoted this same psalm and explained it’s meaning:
Acts 13:33–34 NASB95
33 that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today i have begotten You.’ 34 As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’
Thus begotten does not refer the His birth in Bethlehem but in His resurrection! He ascended into heaven in His glorified body to be our High Priest forever at the throne of Grace.
Aaron offered the sacrifice of animals year after year. Jesus offered Himself as the sacrifice and then rose from the dead!
Not only is Jesus a high priest, but a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.
Forever is an important term - Jesus is called a “priest forever” six times in Hebrews. Every other priest died and could not serve forever. Since Jesus rose from the dead He can serve forever and our sins are forgiven forever and our salvation is forever!
Secondly, the priests of Israel were of the order of Aaron while Jesus is a priest of the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek is mentioned in only two places in the Old Testament: Genesis 14:17-24 and Psalm 110:4.
Genesis 14:17–24 NASB95
17 Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. 19 He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” He gave him a tenth of all. 21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.” 22 Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have sworn to the Lord God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 “I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share.”
Psalm 110:4 NASB95
4 The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”
His name means “King of Righteousness” and he was the “King of Salem” (peace). But the fascinating thing about Melchizedek is that he was both King and Priest.
As a man, Melchizedek did die, although there is no mention of that in the Old Testament. He is a type of Jesus Christ, a priest forever. He is also a picture of our Heavenly High Priest.
Jesus could not become a priest on earth because he was of the Tribe of Judah, not of Aaron. He became a sacrifice on earth so He could become our High Priest in Heaven.
We will cover this in greater detail when we study Hebrews 7-10.


Let’s continue our reading in Hebrews 5:7
Hebrews 5:7–10 NASB95
7 In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. 8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, 10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
These verses remind us that Jesus, in the “days of His flesh” (when He walked as a man), He was subject to all the temptations of man. As I said earlier this morning, He experienced hunger and thirst. He fell and skinned his knee as a child (and fell three time on his walk to Golgotha). He was tempted just as we are tempted, but He was able to resist.
Matthew 4:1–11 NASB95
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ” 5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, He will command His angels concerning You’; and On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’ ” 7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ ” 11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
Later at Jacob’s Well
John 4:5–8 NASB95
5 So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; 6 and Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
How does the Son of God learn obedience? the same way you and I did: experiencing life.
Luke 2:51–52 NASB95
51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
As God, He needed to learn nothing. As the Son of God in human flesh, He had to experience everything we experienced in order to be the perfect sacrifice we needed for our eternal salvation.He did not need to learn how to obey - it would be impossible for God to be disobedient. As God in human flesh He had to learn what was involved in obedience to identify with us.
No one else ever died the kind of death Jesus died. He was made sin for us.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB95
21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
1 Peter 2:24 NASB95
24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
Men have died because of their own sins, but only Jesus died for the sin of all mankind. He experienced ultimate suffering so He could sympathize with us in our suffering.
No matter what suffering we experience in this life, it is nothing compared to the suffering experienced by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We should never doubt His ability to understand and strengthen us in our need. Indeed, sometime He allows us to suffer so we might better understand the needs and suffering of others and are able to comfort them.
2 Corinthians 1:3–6 NASB95
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer;
Let us continue in Hebrews 5:11-14


Hebrews 5:11–14 NASB95
11 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
Our writer is now going to begin an in-depth discussion of the heavenly priesthood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7-10)which will require spiritual maturity.
These verses explain Spiritual Im-maturity and next week in Chapter 6 we will look at the marks of Spiritual Maturity. The people to whom this letter is written should be in a position to teach others at this point in their Christian walk. But they are not.
What have we just read about Im-maturity?
Dullness of Hearing
We learned in chapter 2 the threat of drifting from the word and then doubting the word. As a result, the readers could now be dull of hearing.
The cannot listen, receive and act on the Word.
The teacher is dull, the sermon is dull, the class is dull...
On a diet of Baby Food
Only those with teeth can enjoy a good steak! You have to progress beyond pablum.
The meat of the Gospel is the teaching of the Lord’s Ministry now in Heaven as our High Priest.
The milk of the word is what Jesus did on earth - His birth, life, teaching, death, burial and resurrection.
The meat of the word is what Jesus is doing now in Heaven.
We still desire milk, because it strengthens us. But it is the meat that helps us grow.
Mature believers understand the heavenly priesthood of Jesus Christ and know how to come to the throne of grace for help. They are skillful in using God’s truth in their personal lives, and they can also teach others. Do you qualify?
Wiersbe, W. W. (1991). With the Word Bible Commentary (Heb 5:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Let us pray.
For the next three weeks, Denise and I will be traveling by car to Omaha and back to Williams. I will still lead class, but my message will be delivered by live stream from wherever we happen to be. I look forward to being with you in Spirit for the next three weeks and then in person after that.
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