Hebrews 5 - Jesus, Our High Priest

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We need Jesus as our GREAT High Priest.


Keep It Up! You Can Make It!

Several years ago, the church staff went to a conference in West Palm Beach, Florida. I think we all agree that it is our favorite church conference. As we pulled onto the church property, we were greeted by dozens of people holding up signs and welcoming us to the conference. They were all smiles, grateful we were there, and more than willing to answer any questions that we had.
I think it would be a huge spiritual B12 shot if one Sunday everybody here was greeted in the same way. Maybe there would be a tunnel of ‘high 5’s’ like at the beginning of a football game. The worship team was already pumping out some praise and worship and we just flowed into excitement and joy as we praise the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
What is the ‘WHY’ of the book of Hebrews? It seems to be telling us not to give up. It seems to be celebrating why your conviction that Jesus Christ is the Savior is correct. It seems to be reminding us of the great truths about Jesus Christ. It is about WHY Jesus is (or should be) our passion in this world. Your WHY is huge…
I believe that is why the book of Hebrews is written – to describe the ‘WHY’ to a bunch of weary Christians down on their knees wondering if they should get back up again.

We Have a GREAT High Priest

We are going to look at the fact that we have a GREAT High Priest in the person of Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 4:14 NIV
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
As we look at Jesus as our High Priest it made me wonder about how the Jewish people viewed the high priest. At the point that Hebrews was written, the Jewish priests (Caiaphas) would have been among those who crucified Jesus so the esteem meter wouldn’t be too high. In the century leading up to the birth of Jesus it was true that the high priest was a powerful religious and secular leader, but he was viewed as corrupted by the Romans and Greeks. Even before that we see that the high priest was placed by the Babylonians. It isn’t until we get back to King David and then all the way back to Aaron that we find a purity and a respect for the high priests. However, even Aaron was flawed; which takes us back to the priest, Melchizedek.
However, deep in their hearts was the admiration and respect for the High Priest. In pure Jewish tradition, the high priest held supreme authority over the temple and worship. He was the mediator par excellence between God and the people. He was expected to remain pure, and his most important job was on the Day of Atonement when sacrifices were made to make the people acceptable to God.
Here at the end of Hebrews 4 and the beginning of Hebrews 5 these Jewish leaders are reminded about their WHY.

Jesus – The BEST High Priest for Us!

Jesus is our High Priest. The speaker is going to lay out several reasons that it ought to be enough to inspire us to continue the fight, to continue the race. First of all, Jesus is in the right PLACE. Secondly, He is the right PERSON.

Jesus is in the Right Place for Us

Hebrews 4:14 NIV
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
Where is He? In HEAVEN. In the Old Testament the high priest of Israel passed through the courts and veils into the Most Holy Place, but Jesus has passed through the heavens into the very presence of God where He is seated at the right hand of His Father, continually performing His functions as our High Priest.
It is always nice to know someone in the right place! In 2008 when we finished the education addition to this building, we had some issues with the fire marshal. I will never forget having a conversation with him as we toured the building. He made this statement, “It’s a nice building, but I don’t know how you are going to use it.” In other words, ‘it looks nice but I’m not going to certify it.’ I didn’t know what we’d do. The truth was that there was nothing wrong with the building. It just needed a couple small corrections and the elevator installed. He was unhappy that we didn’t bring the blueprints by before the construction began. I didn’t know that I needed to….but, we knew a person and that person was able to resolve the issues. It is nice to know people!
Christ our priest has gone to heaven.
Acts 1:9–11 NIV
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Let’s keep trusting in Him.

Jesus is the RIGHT Person for Us

Not only is Jesus in the right place, but He is the right PERSON for us.
Hebrews 4:15–16 NIV
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

He is One of Us

Jesus came in the flesh. That is what the incarnation is all about – He became one of us. I guess that are some Catholics who believe that Jesus was performing miracles in the playground with the other kids or healing birds that were sick. I believe that Jesus was subject to all the problems that we had growing up. He had to deal with bullies, was embarrassed, and went through puberty.
“The Jewish high priest is merely a man like anyone else, but he is chosen to speak for all other men in their dealings with God. He presents their gifts to God and offers to him the blood of animals that are sacrificed to cover the sins of the people and his own sins too. And because he is a man he can deal gently with other men, though they are foolish and ignorant, for he, too, is surrounded with the same temptations and understands their problems very well” (LB).
Jesus did not live His life with the safety net that He was God. If you are a tight rope walker with a safety net, it’s cool but not extraordinary. However, if you walk a tight rope between two skyscrapers in NYC without a safety net – that’s a big deal. Jesus lived as one of us, without a safety net, and lived a sinless life.

He is Sympathetic

This high priest understands our weaknesses, failures, sicknesses, and troubles. Not only does He understand, He is also eager to help us.
When sportswriter Mitch Albom heard that his favorite college professor, whom he hadn’t seen in twenty years, was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease, he began visiting him weekly. In his bestselling book Tuesdays with Morrie, Albom describes their visits, focusing on his old professor’s wit and insights.
One time, Mitch asked Morrie why he bothered following the news since he wouldn’t be around to see how things turned out. Morrie responded, “It’s hard to explain, Mitch. Now that I’m suffering, I feel closer to people who suffer than I ever did before. The other night on TV, I saw people in Bosnia running across the street, getting fired on. I just started to cry. I feel their anguish as if it were my own. I don’t know any of these people. But—how can I put this? I’m almost drawn to them.”
Jesus understands our sufferings, too, but it’s more than empathy; he has suffered and is with us when we suffer. —Greg Asimakoupoulos, Mercer Island, Washington[1]
See how this lines up with what the speaker is telling the tired Christian leaders:
Hebrews 5:1–3 NIV
Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.

He is Pure and Perfect

In order for Jesus to be qualified as the High Priest, He needed to be PURE and PERFECT (not that any other priest had been except through the process of consecration).
Hebrews 5:4–6 NIV
And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
The priest is called by God. The calling of Jesus as the High Priest is the most consequential reality of all time. Jesus is the fulfillment of hundreds of prophecies from the OT. Let’s take a stroll through just a couple:
He would be the conqueror of the Serpent, satan.
Genesis 3:15 NIV
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
He would be “God is here”
Isaiah 7:14 NIV
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
He would be the perfect ruler
Isaiah 9:6 NIV
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
And all of this would have eternal consequences – completely unchangeable and unstoppable.

Where Are You?

Is Jesus Enough? That is what the author of Hebrews is really asking. Is He enough or are you looking for someone else? I know it is an old book but the ODG’s are the best. In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian is tempted by Worldly-Wiseman, Formalism, Hypocrisy, Difficulty, the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Lord Hategood, and more. In case you don’t know, these characters and situations are still out there. They want to seduce you into believing that you need Christ AND…, or cause you to doubt in the truth of the Gospel. If those don’t work, the enemy is happy just to let you fall asleep.
Do you want to give up? DON’T YOU DO IT!

We Have a High Priest Who is Cheering Us On!

Remember that group of greeters who welcomed me to the church conference? Our high priest, Jesus Christ, is cheering us on. He knows our pain. He knows our suffering.
Hebrews 5:7–10 NIV
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
We are told to come before Him with our needs. We should remember these things: (1) He cares. He feels our pain and knows our sorrow. (2) He is concerned. He is concerned with our life and plans. (3) He is filled with compassion. This compassion is more than love. It is love at work. It is love that does something. God more than loved us—He gave His Son to die as a sacrifice for us.[2]
Don’t stop now!
[1]Larson, C. B., & Ten Elshof, P. (2008). 1001 illustrations that connect (p. 435). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. [2]Pentz, C. M. (1979). Expository Outlines on Hebrews (pp. 11–12). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
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