Bible Baptist Church

" Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." ...... John 3:3


Our Great High Priest


Hebrews 4:14-16


Introduction:

·         The idea that Jesus is our High Priest was mentioned before (Hebrews 2:17 and Hebrews 3:1). But now the idea will be developed more extensively.

·         Remember, the audience is Jewish. He is encouraging those who were tempted to go back to Judaism that Christ is far better than the OT priesthood! He is also addressing those who were on their way to Christ…they have rejected Judaism but have not yet embraced Christ.

·         Throughout the entire Epistle of the Hebrews the priesthood of Christ is exalted. Men are at one end and they're locked in sin, God on the opposite and He's locked in holiness, and somebody's got to mediate in the middle. And it has to be a Somebody who knows God and a Somebody who knows man and can bring them together, and that's what Christ does!

·         The Hebrew recipients of this epistle were accustomed to approaching God through their high priest, a Levite. But our Lord was not from the tribe of Levi.  He did not even serve as a priest during His earthly ministry. Our Lord is descended from Judah, the kingly line.  This is developed later on (cf. 7:11-14)

·         Since Christ is now our great high priest, the Aaronic priesthood has been abolished.  All priests today are unscriptural.

I.                    Our Great High Priest

a.      What is greatness biblically? What makes Jesus great?

                                                              i.      Service- Luke 22:24-30 illustr disciples debate

                                                            ii.      Sacrifice- Christ is a Great High Priest because He Himself was our sacrifice for sin

b.      The priesthood of Christ is one of the great themes of this epistle- Heb. 3:1

c.       A priest is one who represents man before God- I John 2:1 (Advocate)

d.      The first place we find the word used in the Bible is in Genesis 14. Abraham entered into battle to rescue his nephew Lot, who had been captured by the army of Elam. On his return, Abraham was met by Melchizedek, King of Salem and priest of the Most High God. This man, whose name means the “king of righteousness,” blessed Abraham and the Most High God who gave victory to Abraham. In return for this blessing, Abraham gave a tithe of all the spoils of war to Melchizedek. By this act, Abraham acknowledged Melchizedek’s high position as the priest of God.

e.      Years later, Abraham's great-grandson Levi was singled out by God to be the father of the priestly tribe. When the Law was given on Mount Sinai, the Levites were identified as the servants of the Tabernacle, with the family of Aaron becoming the priests. The priests were responsible for making intercession to God for the people by offering sacrifices. Among the priests, one was selected as the High Priest, and he entered into the Most Holy Place once a year on the Day of Atonement to place the blood of the sacrifice on the Ark of the Covenant.

f.        These were temporary sacrifices pointing to Christ’s once for all sacrifice on the cross- Hebrews 9:12. This is why Jesus is our Great High Priest!

                                                              i.      Christ is our "great high priest." Aaron was never given that title, nor was Melchizedek.

                                                            ii.      Aaron was the first High Priest, but was never called a “great” high priest.

                                                          iii.      Melchizedek, the king of Salem, is identified in Genesis 14:18 as "the priest of the most high God," but never the "great high priest."

                                                           iv.      These were types and shadows pointing towards Christ, and the reality is always greater than the shadow!

g.      (Hbr 4:15) Our High Priest can sympathize with us.

                                                              i.      So far the writer to the Hebrews was careful to write about both the deity of Jesus (Hebrews 1:4-14), while careful to also remember His compassionate humanity (Hebrews 2:5-18)

                                                            ii.      The ancient Greek word translated “touched” has the idea of sympathize. It literally means “to suffer along with.”

1.      Spiritual pain (“if it be possible let this cup pass…”), physical pain (thirst, hunger, torture), emotional (despised, rejected, and forsaken)

                                                          iii.      He endured triumphantly every form of testing that man could endure, without any weakening of His faith in God or any slackening of His obedience

h.      He has chosen to identify with us! Illustr- claiming embarrassing relatives/friends

i.        He identifies with us, but not with our sin! He is completely separate from sin! II Cor. 5:21.

j.        Jesus can sympathize with our weakness and our temptation, but He cannot sympathize with our sin

                                                              i.      Don’t use this doctrine as a crutch for your besetting sin!

                                                            ii.      “Oh, it’s okay Jesus knows.” No, He doesn’t! And it’s not okay until you repent!

k.       Passed through the heavens- It's an interesting thing to keep this in mind, that when He passed through the heavens and He entered into the presence of God He did something that no priest could ever do. And that's the marvelous thing, when He got into the presence of God, chapter 1 says, "he sat down." Now what's the significance of that? He finished His work.

l.        The High Priest would die if he entered into the Most Holy Place and stayed passed the Day of Atonement

m.    But Jesus, our great High priest passed not through the temple or through the tabernacle but through the heavens to the very Throne of God! And when He got there, God didn’t tell him, you have 24hrs to get this over with and get out. When He got there, He sat down!

II.                  Let us come boldly to the throne of grace- v. 16

a.      (Hbr 4:16) An invitation: come to the throne of grace.

b.      Contrast: let us come boldly vs. the OT “afar off” (Exodus 19:12, 17, 23-24, 20:18)

c.       Because we have a High Priest who is both omnipotent and compassionate, we can come boldly to His throne. Discouraging us from this access is a key strategy of Satan. The devil sometimes wants us to consider Jesus as unapproachable. Many have even been deceived that they must come by Mary or by the saints, or the Pope. But we come through Christ alone!

d.      Boldly does not mean arrogantly, or with presumption.

                                                              i.      · Boldly means we may come constantly.

                                                            ii.      · Boldly means we may come without reservation.

                                                          iii.      · Boldly means we should come with persistence.

e.      Throne of grace- Ancient Jewish Rabbis taught that God had two thrones, one of mercy and one of judgment. They said this because they knew that God was both merciful and just, but they could not reconcile these two attributes of God. They thought that perhaps God had two thrones to display the two aspects of His character. On one throne He showed judgment and on the other throne mercy. But here, in light of the finished work of Jesus, we see mercy and judgment reconciled into one throne of grace.

f.        Remember that grace does not ignore God’s justice; it operates in fulfillment of God’s justice, in light of the cross.

g.      Many religions have prayer- but it is basically mindless chanting

h.      Spurgeon- “True prayer is not a mere mental exercise, nor a vocal performance, but it is deeper far than that-it is spiritual commerce with the Creator of heaven and earth…It is a spiritual business from beginning to end; and its aim and object end not with man, but reach to God himself."

i.        II Cor. 12:19- Christ told Paul: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” It is more than enough! What a provision!

III.                Times of need- v. 16

a.      “in time of need”- there is no need to great, or too small for God!

b.      In time of need- well-timed help. It is a timely access- “Just when I need Him most!”

                     Just when I need Him, Jesus is near,
                     Just when I falter, just when I fear;
                     Ready to help me, ready to cheer,
                     Just when I need Him most.

c.       God’s sovereignty at work- “He (God) permits the time of need, that we may call upon Him, and, being delivered by Him, may glorify His name." Adolph Saphir

Conclusion:

·         Because Christ is our superior High Priest, we have a precious resource of prayer

·         We pray in Jesus’ name

·         The great evangelist, RA Torrey, said: But what is it to pray in the name of Christ?

·         If I go to a bank and hand in a check with my name signed to it, I ask of that bank IN MY OWN NAME. If I have money deposited in that bank, the check will be cashed; if not, it will not be. If, however, I go to a bank with somebody else’s name signed to the check, I am asking IN HIS NAME, and it does not matter whether I have money in that bank or any other, if the person whose name is signed to the check has money there, the check will be cashed.

·         If I should go to the bank with a check for $5,000.00 made payable to me, and signed by one of the large depositors in that bank, they would not ask whether I had money in that bank or in any bank, but would honor the check at once.

·         So it is when I go to the bank of heaven, when I go to God in prayer. I have nothing deposited there, I have absolutely no credit there, and if I go in my own name I will get absolutely nothing; but Jesus Christ has unlimited credit in heaven, and He has granted to me the privilege of going to the bank with His name on my checks, and when I thus go, my prayers will be honored to any extent.