Series on Hebrews, III Superior Priest, A Superior by Perfection, Text: 4:14-5:10. Title: God cares


The transitions from one subject to the next in the Book of Hebrews are extraordinarily smooth. Chapter three began with a  comparison of Jesus and Moses as those who brought the word of God. The argument then proceeds to admonish us to give the greater heed to Jesus so that we will not fall short of the peace he has promised and secured. Now the author begins to instruct us that we need not fall short because Jesus is our great high priest. He begins by pointing out that Jesus is a perfect high priest. His perfection consists in his compassion and understanding for us and in His work being perfectly acceptable to God.  You see every priest is a mediator. A mediator must satisfy both alienated parties and he must perfectly represent both. Before we go further, let us note that being Protestants who emphasize a personal relationship to God, we easily fall into the trap of thinking that one can just casually stroll into the presence of a holy God. Roman Catholics and others who have human priests today are afraid to come into God’s presence without a human mediator. One error is as bad as the other. Because of our sinfulness, no one can approach a holy God without a mediator. Our text teaches us that Jesus is an adequate priest or mediator for all men for all time. He is perfect. The whole matter is stated in Chapter 4:14-16 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. The rest of our text in 5:1-10 is elaborating on the point. We shall see His Association with us, His Assumption by God, and the Assurance this brings to our hearts.

I His Association with us.

In Chapter 4:15 we read that we have a high priest. Underline the words “we have.” It is the whole point here. Jesus belongs to us as fallen human sinners. He has been tempted in every way so he can sympathize. Now let us first see the argument and then its application.Chapter 5:1-3 forms the basis, Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them 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. Every high priest is selected from among men. A priest must come from the people otherwise he cannot represent them. Verse 2 tells us that the Levitical priests of the Old Testament  were selected from among men so that they could deal gently with those who were ignorant or going astray. God couldn’t just come down and be a priest, he couldn’t have the mere appearance of a man. He had to become man. Furthermore in verses 7 and 8 we learn that he had to experience what we experience, that is, He learned obedience from what he suffered, During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered. He prayed in extremity as we pray, he cried as we cry, His soul recoiled from the valley of the shadow of death exactly as we do. He learned to submit as we must learn, he learned to obey as we must learn. He suffered as we suffer. Notice, and this is important, it was not a mechanical process, but an organic one. That is, although Jesus was holy harmless and undefiled. Although He was sinless, each new experience He had as a man called forth from him a new level of obedience to His father. Thus He did actually learn through hardship. Now when you come to apply this to your situation don’t be like those foolish people who think that Jesus doesn’t care because he never endured what they endure. Jesus was never married to a difficult man or woman was he? Jesus never had cancer, did he? Jesus never lost his job or got divorced, or had a child die. So how can he sympathize? This totally misses the point. You see when God said to Adam if you eat of the tree I have forbidden you shall surely die, God already knew down to the tiniest detail every bit of the agony and suffering and misery that we would undergo. He made us and he knows. It’s that simple. He didn’t have to become man to find out. The point here is that Jesus becomes QUALIFIED to be your priest because he has experienced what it is like to be a man in this fearful fallen world. I haven’t suffered what you’ve suffered. I may never know the pain you know. Each person is different.  Millions may never know the agony you know. But Jesus had his own authentic experience of human suffering and this qualifies him to be your high priest to bring you to God. Never forget that. Consider the account in Mark 7:31-35. Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and They begged him to place His band on the man. After He took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put His finger into the man's ears. Tben He spit and touched the man's tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, 'Epbpbatba!" (which means, "Be opened!). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and be began to speak plainly. The deep sigh was a groan. It is the same word used to describe the groaning of the children of Israel in Egypt. In other words, Jesus shared the man’s misery.

II His Assumption by God

It is very clear in the Bible that the death of our great high priest was not a last minute measure. It was not a hastily conceived plan. Jesus is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. In eternity past God the Father said to God the Son, you are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek as we read in verses 4-6, No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. So Christ also did not take upon 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.” In the Old Testament the kings of Israel like David and Solomon exercised occasional priestly functions because they modeled the ancient King of Salem and priest of the most high God who blessed Abraham in Genesis 14. It was all planned that the true king of God’s people should be their priest. The focus of our text however is not on the plan-but on the fulfillment, not on the prophecy but on its realization WE HAVE a high priest. Notice the quotations from the Psalms in verses 5 and 6. Both Psalms quoted here may be coronation Psalms for the day that the king ascended to the throne. Both definitely speak this way. Psalm 2 says, I have installed my king upon my holy hill of Zion. Psalm 110 begins with the words Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet. We are looking at Jesus’ ascension and session at God’s right hand. God assumed him to that position because he was a perfect high priest. God assumed him because he had learned obedience, God assumed him because he had proven satisfactory. This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. This is the key thought here: according to verses 9 and 10, We have a high priest tempted as we are yet without sin, 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. Therefore his sacrifice for our sins is effective in removing them forever. He is not like the Levitical priests who must offer sacrifice for the sins of the people and for their own sins over and over. Thus he not only cares and understands, but he guarantees that those who come to God by Him are saved forever. This brings to our hearts

III  His Assurance from God.

There are two exhortations here we must revisit because they require our attention. First, Let us hold firmly to the faith we profess, found in chapter 4:14. Let us hold firmly through suffering and misery, through loss and grief, through sickness and sorrow, through temptation and trial. Let us hold firmly when all the world seems to crash around, us. How can we do that? The second exhortation is in  4:16, For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. We are told here to pray. I know what we want to pray. Bring back my lost loved one, bring back my job, bring back my health, bring back my marriage, deliver me from this circumstance. You may pray those things with confidence that God hears if you are coming through a sympathetic and triumphant priest. But you can never know what His will is. Jesus prayed to be delivered from the death of the cross, but then he said nevertheless not my will but thine be done. You can however be utterly confident of grace to help in time of need. And the grace you receive will come from a God who understands and if you seek him he will give you the strength you need.