Lesson Info:

Lesson 7 Winter Quarter
Lesson Text:  Hebrews 4:14-5:10
Golden Text:  Hebrews 4:14

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In our lesson last week, we saw the blessing of having an advocate in Jesus Christ.  An advocate is someone that speaks on behalf of another.  Our lesson this week essentially expounds on this thought of our advocate, or intercessor in this case.  We will see in our lesson this week that we have a High Priest, in Jesus Christ, who serves all who are of faith.  To have Christ be our High Priest is truly a wonderful blessing.

The Great High Priest

As we have done in the past couple of lessons, I want to remind you what it means for one to be blessed; therefore, reminding you what a blessing is.  To be blessed is to be made happy and content in your soul.  A blessing from the Lord is a good and perfect gift sent down from Him that makes us happy and content in our soul.  So, again for this week, we will see that Jesus is our blessing.

Jesus becomes our High Priest

Our lesson opens today with the writer of Hebrews stating that we have a great High Priest who passed through the heavens (v.14).  This, of course, is speaking about Jesus.  As we learned all of last month, Jesus came from eternity to our world.  So, who or what made Jesus be our – the congregation of genuine believers – High Priest?

To answer this question, I want to skip over to the portion of our lesson taught in Hebrews 5:5.  In this verse, the writer points out that Jesus did not glorify Himself to become High Priest; this is to say that the Son did not make Himself our High Priest.  Who made the Son the High Priest of the Church?

The writer stated that it was He who said to Him (the Son):  “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.”  The He that said these words would be God the Father.  The Son is the begotten of the Father and the Father gave the world His Son.  So, the Father is the one that ordained the Son as the High Priest of the Church of genuine believers.

The Son had been ordained to be High Priest over believers well before He entered the world and died for the sins of mankind.  The writer, quoting Psalm 110, mentions how the Father had said that the Son was to be priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek (Ps. 110:4).

In the book of Zechariah, there is a prophecy of the Son that stated, “He (the Son) shall build the temple of the Lord.  He shall bear the glory … He shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both (Zech. 6:12-13).  So, to be clear, it was God the Father that ordained and even foretold that His only begotten Son was to be High Priest; Jesus was to be High Priest forever.

Role of the priest and high priest

The role of the High Priest should be one that we are familiar with, but in case we are not, let’s briefly touch on the role of both priests and a high priest.  Priests were those that served both the Lord and the people as a mediator, or as an intercessor – a go-between.  When the Lord told Moses to anoint Aaron and his sons as priest, God described the role as one of ministering to Him (Ex. 30:31).

In another verse for this lesson we will see the writer of Hebrews wrote, “every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin (Heb. 5:1).”  So, let us recall that priests served in the tabernacle and temple as intercessors between the Lord and the people.  The priests would take the offering brought to them from one and then offer the offering up to God on their behalf.

The high priest also served in a role as an intercessor between the people and the Lord.  The role of the high priest really stood out on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16).  Once a year, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies to offer the atonement offering to the Lord on behalf of themselves and then the entire congregation of Israel.  The high priest would then lay the sins of the congregation of Israel onto the scapegoat and then the scapegoat would be sent out into the wild.

Jesus, our High Priest

So when the writer of Hebrews states that Jesus is now the High Priest, we should understand that what is being said is that we have an intercessor (a mediator) that ministers to the Lord on our behalf!  What is Jesus ministering on our behalf?  We will answer this question shortly.  However, I do want to touch a bit more on some other thoughts of Jesus as our High Priest.

We won’t see it written in this chapter of Hebrews, but the writer of Hebrews would later write in this book, “Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation (Heb. 9:11).”

Even more, the writer would write, “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12).”  Jesus did this same as the high priest on the Day of Atonement by shedding His blood on the cross; it was sprinkled in the Holy of Holies once to cover the sins of all of mankind for the rest of time.  Jesus dying on the cross was Him actually serving in the role of High Priest.

In His service as High Priest, we will see the writer point out that we have a High Priest that also sympathizes with all that we go through on our journey (v.15).  By living in this world, Jesus understands what you and I go through in the flesh; He hungered as we do, grew tired as we do, and He even faced anxiety as we do.  In the gospels, we also see that Jesus was even tempted to sin just as we are often tempted to do (Luke 4:1-13); though, we know that Jesus did not sin.

So, why did the writer point out that Jesus sympathizes with us?  Think about this:  we are supposed to go to Christ so that He can minister on our behalf to the Lord.  Would you go to one who you feel might look down on you?  Probably not, right?  So, the writer wanted us to understand that we have a High Priest that is not going to look down on us, but rather, understand what we are going through.

Again, in a verse that comes later but we’ll tie it in now, one of the qualifications for a high priest is that they have compassion for those they serve.  The writer stated, “He (the high priest) can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness (Heb. 5:2).”  So, for example, Aaron should have been a man of understanding and not look down on the sins of others since he was a sinner (Heb. 5:3-4).

Jesus was and is divine and does not look down on us in our sins.  Jesus sympathizes with what we go through and because He understands what we go through, we find that He is compassionate towards us.  So, we ought not be afraid to go to Christ with the sacrifice of our heart; we should go boldly to Him so that we can receive mercy and grace from the Lord (v.16).

Of the order of Melchizedek

There is a name mentioned here that I had mentioned earlier:  Melchizedek.  The writer uses Melchizedek as the example for the type of priesthood that Jesus was of.  Again, in Hebrews 5:6, we will see the writer state, “As He (the Father) also says in another place:  ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’”  So, what does this mean?

In Genesis 14:18-24, we are introduced to Melchizedek who was a priest of God in “Salem” (early days Jerusalem); he appeared during the earlier days of Abraham.  Melchizedek is a mystery in that he is one of the earliest priests of God mentioned to us in scripture and he also popped up out of nowhere with no beginning or even an end!  What I mean by this is that there is nothing that tells us about how he became a priest; there is no birth nor is there even a death of Melchizedek recorded in scripture.

Even more mysterious is that Melchizedek was a priest of God that was clearly ordained by the Lord.  Priests and high priests, we can recall, were to come through the line of Levi by way of Aaron.  Melchizedek, however, was a priest of God well before Levi and Aaron was even a thought and before such a law was given to Israel!

After Abraham defeated 5 kings to rescue Lot and all of those that those kings had taken away with them, he returned back home.  When he returned home, Melchizedek came out to him and served and blessed Abraham.  This is all that scripture ever tells us about Melchizedek: he was simply a priest of God at a time outside of the order through Aaron (Levi).

So, what does it mean that Jesus was of the order of Melchizedek?  Well, when we consider that only the Levites were supposed to be of the priesthood, we would remember that Jesus was of Judah.  Nowhere in God’s instructions was Judah ever mentioned being able to take part in the priesthood.  In fact, because of David, the line of Judah had a right to the throne.

So, Jesus lands outside of the Levi priesthood, just like Melchizedek.  Jesus, again, after having given His life in obedience to His Father (vss.7-9), was called to be High Priest by the Father (v.10).  Jesus was to be a type of priest like Melchizedek that served as priest of God outside of the line of Aaron (Levi).

Greatness of the High Priest

Earlier, I asked the question:  What is Jesus ministering on our behalf?  I want to answer this question before I close out this lesson.  To answer this question, let us turn to Hebrews 7.

In Hebrews 7, we see the writer expound more on the fact that Jesus began a new priesthood since he was risen from Judah (Heb. 7:14-16).  The writer expressed that Jesus came as High Priest, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life.

Jesus, the writer stated, became a surety of a better covenant (Heb. 7:22).  The blessing of Jesus’ priesthood is that it is unchanging (Heb. 7:24).  What this means for not just us but for all of those who come after us is that Jesus will be able to move to save them as well.  Jesus will always be able to intercede and be their intercessor (mediator).

As our High Priest, Jesus is always going before the Lord on our behalf making intercession for us.  Job, in his days of grieving, pleaded for a mediator.  Job said, “For He (God) is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together.  Nor is there a mediator (intercessor) between us, who may lay his hand on us both.  Let Him take His rod away from me, and do not let dread of Him terrify me (Job 9:32-34).”

Job desired for someone that could communicate to the Lord on His behalf; he desired someone that could speak the language of God to speak to the Lord on his behalf.  The blessing of the intercessor is just that for us:  through Christ, the Son, we have someone that can speak on our behalf.  Sometimes we believe that our words fail and that they do not reach the ears of the Lord, but I tell you, through our mediator, you better believe your words reach the ears of God!

So, this is what we learn today:  we have a great High Priest in Christ.  As our High Priest, Jesus intercedes on our behalf and communicates with the Lord for us.  Because we know that Jesus is speaking for us, we know that the Lord can understand what we may be going through because Jesus knows exactly what we went through.  So, we should all feel confident and comfortable in always going to our mediator.  When we go to our mediator, you better believe that you are going to receive the help that you need.


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