Forward in Faith #07
The Highest High Priest
2010 – can you believe it? we are two months away from completing 7 years of ministry together. That would make this a year of Jubilee.
In the Old Testament, every 7th year was a year of celebrations and restoration. Maybe we will talk more about that was we get closer to the first Sunday in March.
Today, however, after two months off for Stewardship emphasis and for Advent, we return to the book of Hebrews. This study we are calling, “Forward in Faith”.
Since we’ve been away for a couple of months let me remind you of the keys to this book. The writer’s identity is unknown. Chief suspects are Paul, Barnabas, and Apollos. It was written to a community of Jews and challenging them to embrace Jesus fully and completely leaving the wilderness of disbelief and enter the Promised Land of a life of Faith.
We’ve seen Jesus as the Greatest Voice of God
Greatest Leader of an Exodus,
And today we move forward in seeing him as our Great High Priest.
Remember that everything in the law, regulations, and practices of the Old Testament, established by God were for the express purpose of pointing us to Jesus and so the purpose of the High Priest was to point to part of the final work of Christ for us.
Let me remind us of something as we start the New Year. This Bible is All About Jesus. Jesus Christ is the LIVING Word of God. And so, while church is a fellowship, and church includes worship, and evangelism, and ministry, and discipleship, don’t ever lose the Word of God in the Church. King Josiah in the Old Testament had become King of a Country that was a CHURCHED Country. They worshipped the RIGHT God, and the Did it in the Right Place, but their worship and their theology was full of public opinion and the whims of the preacher. Interestingly, Josiah wanted the Word of God and they couldn’t find it. Finally the High Priest, Hilkiah “found” the Word of God. 2 Kings 22:8 says he found the Word of God in the House of the Lord. Well let’s let THIS House of God be a place where the Word of God is found, preached, and practiced. We will not rely on public opinion or our own feelings or leanings but let the Word of God Speak for Itself
As we read I want you to see, and realize that because in Jesus we have the Highest High Priest, we CAN hold firmly to our Faith and our Faith can hold Firmly to us.
Read with me
Doc spent the time while I as away reminding you that it was “All About Jesus” …
That means it is not about me, it’s all about him ..
So, what do we See about Jesus today? Our Great High Priest
1. He Came Down to Our Level
A. Sympathetic to our Weakness
1. Heb 5:1a – he was selected from among men
2. 2:17 says “he had to be made like brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people
Can you imagine the frustration for Jesus to limit an eternal limitless God to a body in time and space
3. the added frustration to of being limited to any extent to the physical strengths and weariness of a human body
John 4:6 Jesus sat down beside Jacob’s Well in Samaria because it says “tired as he was from the journey” – Jesus knew our physical limitations.
He got hungry, thirsty, weary, angry, frustrated, hungry, lonely and so …
4. v14 identifies our High priest as JESUS, the Son of God. JESUS … remember the word means “Jehovah Saves” or “Savior” – the fact that he is called Savior, means that someone needs Saving and that someone is US. And to Save US … he has to come TO us … He had to come INTO our Circumstance in order to Save us.
5. sympathize – sympatheo – suffer with; have sympathy for; compassion toward
6. weakness – astheneia – incapacity; illness; timidity; weak, sick – it’s a noun in plural form … we are ALL weak and Jesus understands our weakness and can feel it, understand it, have compassion on it Because he lived in our full bodily form and was
B. Tempted With Our Temptation
1. we already read that he had been chosen from among us … that is he became one of us because a priest must come from among us. Why? Heb. 5:1b – represents in matters related to God –
Job 9:33-34 If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.
In our natural state, what are we going to stay to a Holy God when he speaks judgment and justice to us? We can say NOTHING. We are completely guilty
But Jesus came submitted himself to our weakness so that he could take hold of us as full human while still laying hold to God as fully divine … and so Job then also comes to understand something of this in
Job 16:19-21 even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend
2. He didn’t just take up our form but he became …
just as we are in every way
the word is homoiotes – to be similar to, likeness
3. 5:2 – subject to weakness
His Humanity could experience the suffering of temptation though his divinity kept him perfect and pure
Heb 2:18 says He himself suffered when he was tempted, so he is able to help those who are being tempted
In the Garden Jesus experienced the suffering of the conflicting desires not wanting to follow the difficult nature of the path but not wanting to experience the fullness of the pain
Mk 14:36 Abba Father, he said, everything is possible for you. Take this cump from me. yet not what I will but what you will
Think about the scope of temptation that must have existed in the 40 days in the wilderness … we just have a few of the temptations recorded for us but even in those look at the scope of them. He was tempted with Pride to PROVE HIMSELF. He was Tempted to Question God to prove himself. He was Tempted to worship something besides God to get what he wanted.
What a 40 days that must have been, fasting from food, relying on God, being tempted in every possible way … yet he came through it victorious through relying on God and defending himself with the Word of God
And he whole live was like those 40 days as he …
2. He Lived Victoriously
There has never been a High Priest like he, nor COULD there ever be because of the limits of their humanity. And while Jesus was limited to humanity he was also liberated by his Divinity. And so he was
A. Over Sin
1. Other High Priests offered sacrifices for their OWN sin First before they could deal with our problem
Lev 9:7 Moses said to Aaron, “come to the altar and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and the people;
The High Priest had to have his own sin dealt with before entering the Holy Place or he would not survive the encounter with God. They tied a rope around his ankle for fear that his Own sin would not have been dealt with and they would have to pull him back out.
The High Priest was an important man, but he was a MAN nonetheless. He was subject to sin and bound to it. So though he was a mediator for the people, he was infected himself.
But NOT our GREAT HIGH PRIEST … NOT JESUS … He is Victorious Over Sin
He came without sin and ad he lived
2. he himself was WITHOUT SIN … v15 – he was homoiotes – as we are, in our likeness … YET with a key difference
Choris hor-ice separately, apart,
Hamartia – missing the mark, of offense to God, erring from the truth
He was NOT like this us in this one important fashion, he was born, completely apart from the infection of a sin nature to which we were born. That is why he was born the way he was, placed in Mary’s womb, OF the Holy Spirit, Apart from Joseph’s seed that he might be sinless and perfect
3. Oh and how good for us is this important difference.
The 1st things that a High Priest had to do before dealing with the sin of the people was to deal with his own sin.
Because since he doesn’t have to focus on his Own sin at any time he can focus fully on Our sin
B. Fully focused on Our Sin
1. Jesus could focus completely on our because he was sinless
2. At the Beginning of his ministry, Jesus Christ went into the wilderness, where he fasted for 40 days and Nights. In that time he was subjected to temptation by the Evil One … Once he had proven he was Victorious over sin, he could be fully focused on the mission at hand and that was to Redeem us from the plaque of sin and death to which we were bound.
But our High Priest
2 Cor 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God
that he might be Victorious Over Sin and Do away with the power of sin and death
So, Jesus, the Highest High Priest, Came Down to Our Level, Lived Victoriously but it should be noted …
3. He Was Appointed By God
To be a high priest you couldn’t take up your Own Way 5:4
He must be sanctioned by God
Just an aside, those of you who would be a minister of the Gospel or go on ANY mission from God, you better be SENT than just GO. Because if you just GO, you go Alone. But if you are SENT you Go WITH God, with his power, with his purpose, with his provision
You can’t just CALL yourself a Priest, you have not authority with which to carry out the duties.
If you were incarcerated … I could write out a letter of pardon, you could write out a letter yourself, but you wouldn’t be pardoned because you have no authority, I have no authority to impart a pardon.
If you had a friend getting married, you couldn’t just perform the ceremony because you got a book on ceremonies and read the words, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
Ted and Vicky are getting married in March. March 20th and I’m sure they hope you will be there. They’ve got lots of friends and people they love, but they didn’t ask them to pronounce them married. Dave, you can’t do it, Shaun Edwards can’t do it, Danny can’t do it, Teresa you can’t do it. But they asked ME to do it, partially because they honored me with the privilege but also because I am empowered to do it. I have been called by the Lord and Ordained by the Church to be a Minister of the Gospel and one of my privileges is to perform wedding ceremonies.
It takes one called out and sanctioned with the right.
For us to be pardoned from sin, and to be wedded to Christ, we needed one sanctioned and called to provide that.
God is serious about this. King Saul tried to take upon himself the duties of a Priest and Got took his crown.
Korah in Numbers 16 revolted against Moses and Aaron and said “we are ALL Holy, you are nothing special” … Well, God opened the ground up and swallowed them.
King Uzziah tried to offer incense in the Temple and God struck him with leprosy.
God must call and appoint one to the glory of his ministry.
Jesus didn’t take it upon himself but in the Glorious Purpose of the Trinity he was sanctioned, Called, Anointed High Priest
Aaron and his offspring were chosen FROM men to minister FOR men.
But Jesus was named not only the Son of God but the High Priest like the Old Testament Priest Melchizedek.
Melchizedek was a priest APART from the Law.
He was a Priest that seemed to come from nowhere though he was a person, the King of Salem. He was a King and a Priest as was Jesus.
But Jesus Christ was a FOREVER
Oh the High Priests from Aaron’s line were priests until they died. Then once they died another High Priest would take their place. And thus an endless supply of imperfect priests were needed.
But in Jesus was have one perfect High Priest and since HE provides for our Sin and HE is a Priest FOREVER then we are secure in him FOREVER
Melchizedek’s name means “King of Righteousness”
And his Position was the King of Salem which means Peace
As a priest forever like Melchizedek
He provides righteousness, peace with God, and the salvation that only a priest forever can provide
Jesus Christ on earth was our Sacrifice
Jesus Christ died our sacrifice
… but Jesus Christ Resurrected and Ascended to the Father is our High Priest Forever
So he Came down to our Level
He Lived Victoriously
He was Appointed our High Priest
And this is important to KNOW about Jesus that he IS our High Priest and he is the GREATEST High Priest
But what that MEANS for us is very very important. We are going to see NEXT week that is gives us security in our faith because it is HIS WORK not OURS …
But what conclusion can we make today about Jesus Christ as the greatest High Priest …
The First, Most important, and Simplest Conclusion to the work of Christ as our high Priest is simply this …
Once a year the High Priest who was from among the people, who had offered the sacrifice for his own sins and then offered a sacrifice for the sins of the people, would leave the courtyard where the sacrifice had been executed. He would pass out of the courtyard and into the Temple. He would pass through the Temple, where the incense was offered representing the prayers of the people who longed for God’s intervention and their sins forgiven. He would pass the stacks of showbread symbols of God’s provision for life, he would pass the candles showing God’s light. Finally he would pass the veil, the separating line between holiness and the unholy. He would pass into the Holy of Holies. And there before the Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy Seat on top, there he would offer the Sacrifice
But we have a GREAT high Priest
Megas – great, large, surprising, important, physical magnitude, great in stature, full grown
We have a High Priest who has fulfilled the purpose of a High Priest. Surprisingly important, great, imposing, high Priest
Who became one of us, was himself executed in the public square. He has passed through the public square, though the sacrificial courtyard, through the temple, through the heavens, into the Holy of Holies and has offered our Sacrifice, himself, offering himself, for us making us right with God.
Because of Jesus Christ, we can Come with Confidence
We have the Holy Spirit Living in Us and we can Read this Word and we can Pray
The story goes that a smart young theologian in the Church of England had heard about a uneducated, unlettered “Shoe Cobbler” who had a reputation for his knowledge of the Word of God. This “smart” young theologian wanted to meet and test him for himself. So, upon meeting him he asked the cobbler “can you tell me what the Urim and the Thummin are?”
The cobbler said “Well I don’t know exactly; I have been told that it was something on the breastplate of the High Priest. The words mean ‘light and perfection’. And he used them to discern the mind and will of God. But I can’t quite understand how he used them. But I have found that I can find the mind and will of God and direction for my life by changing a few letters. I Take this Blessed Book and by “Usin’ and Thummin’” I can get the mind, will, and direction of the Lord”
Well folks we need to do a lot more using and thumbing of this Word in 2010 and use our right in Christ … and
COME with Confidence
And HOLD ON FIRMLY to the Faith we Profess …
What are we holding on to?
A Source, a Sacrifice, and a salvation
Because our High Priest is
1. The Source
Hold on to JESUS … he is the source of life, of hope, of peace, of forgiveness
2. The Sacrifice
2:17 – remember says he became like us that he might make atonement – that is he became like us to be our sacrifice … the means by which God’s Law is satisfied
So Hold on to Jesus, he is the only thing that makes us acceptable before God because he has paid the price for our sin
1 Peter 2:24 he Himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
3. Our Salvation
Moses, David, Isaiah all knew this truth
Surely God is my salvation; I
Hold on to Jesus he IS what we profess
He is JESUS, Jehovah Saves
He IS our salvation, not MIGHT be our salvation
He IS the certainty of what we have
He IS our faith, he IS our hope
He IS our Life
He IS our Forgiveness
He IS all we need
Because we can approach with confidence
God’s throne on earth was represented by the Mercy Seat in the Temple. But while it was a throne of mercy, or forgiveness it wasn’t a throne of Grace. It was not offered to all it was placed for all but only one could enter.
You and I could have never approached the throne of Mercy
But because our High Priest went through the heavens TO earth offered himself a perfect sacrifice, Because he then rose from the tomb; because he then ascended THROUGH the Heavens and presented himself our sacrifice. He then seated himself NOT simply on the Mercy Seat. Oh Mercy is what we needed. Forgiveness is what we long for. But we don’t just find Forgiveness, but we FIND GRACE
Jesus Christ, our Sacrifice and Priest sat down and the seat became a throne of GRACE and so we can approach the Throne of Grace with confidence, knowing that we will receive the mercy we need escaping the punishment due, but also we will FIND GRACE!
We find at the throne more than we ever could have imagined. We find eternal life, we find peace with God, we find Power for today, and Hope for Tomorrow
So hold on to the faith you profess
Because your faith is not based on your ability to perform
Our faith is based on the performance of our High Priest
Hold on and Advance
Have Faith and Be Faithful
Because we have a GREAT HIGH Priest
Come to Jesus
What struggle will you go through that can overcome what Jesus has done?
What failure can you experience that can overcome what our High Priest has done
What sin can you commit that will be greater than the sacrifice offered and the one who in perfection offered it.
Hold on to the Hope you profess it is still GREAT and Glorious
If you have yet to experience it, Come with Confidence because Christ is enough
If you have sat down by the road of faith, get up, journey on because the work of Christ is enough and we have a Great High Priest who is even now at the Throne of God interceding on our behalf