Summary: Jesus is better than Moses and High Priests
Hebrews - Part 2 - September 23, 2012
Turn with me this morning to the book of Hebrews. It’s found in the end of the Bible, 1&2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James. The book of Hebrews is a book written to encourage us! Sometimes we miss that because of all the visual illustrations and word pictures in the book. We get so caught up in the examples that we often miss the main point. The message of Hebrews is this: Christ is BETTER than the OT sacrificial system under the Mosaic law! The author seeks to encourage these Jewish Christians to move ahead in their spiritual lives by showing them that in Christ they have “better” blessings.
We mentioned last week that a Hebrew is a Jew - a descendant of Abraham. These are the people the OT is written about. Jesus was a Jew. But in the first century after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, the disciples went everywhere preaching the word. Many Gentiles were converted, and much of the NT is focused on Gentile Christians and churches, started by the Apostle Paul. They Gentiles came out of pagan idolatry and completely left their idolatry when they came to faith in Christ. But this is a book for Jewish Christians - they had a background in all the ritual of the OT system, they had come to faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, but they were in danger of going BACK to the sacrificial system of the OT laws.
This book is written to remind us that we have so much BETTER of a faith than that which existed under the OT system. Now, we are going to cover several chapters of Hebrews today, so if you aren’t turning and following along, pull out a pen or pencil and jot down notes for yourself. When we think of the way we process information as Americans, it’s often in a linear fashion - I did this, then this, then this. We know A leads to B and B leads to C. But when Jews process information, it’s in a cyclical approach. They keep cycling around to the same point. That’s why here in these first chapters of Hebrews we find the same ideas mentioned over again in different ways.
This morning, I’m going to take some of the main ideas and present them in a linear fashion. Hopefully, it will make it a little easier for us to follow the intent of this book. We mentioned last week that chapter 1 starts out reminding us that
• Jesus is better than the OT prophets - The prophets who helped bring us the OT - they only brought bits and pieces of God’s message and many times they didn’t understand what they were prophesying about, but Jesus is the embodiment of truth - He is the Father’s truth incarnate - in the flesh. We also saw that
• Jesus is better than Angels - the Jews saw the OT law being important because it was mediated by angels. But we see in chapter 1 that Jesus is better than any angel. The angels are merely servants, but Jesus is the Son.
Chapter 2 takes a rabbit trail - Well, if Jesus is better than angels, why was he made LOWER than the angels - in a weak, frail human body? And we saw the answer last Sunday night - look at 2:17 - Jesus became human so he could suffer and die in our place and so he would be able to help us. For this reason he had to be made like his 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. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Chapter 3 continues the comparison and says that
• Jesus is better than Moses, the lawgiver - the Jews looked to Moses as their lawgiver. This system of rules and regulations came from Moses. How does Jesus compare to Moses? Look at 3:5 - Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son OVER God’s house. Once again, Jesus comes out on top - Moses is a servant, but Jesus is the Son. Moses is part of the household of faith, but Jesus is over the household of faith; He is in charge.
In chapter 5, the Jews are given another reminder:
• Jesus is better than any high priest - even Aaron - The OT system of sacrifices and ceremony was all dependent upon a series of priests who offered the sacrifices, and one high priest who went into the tabernacle on the day of atonement to offer sacrifice for the people. In chapter 5, verse 2 we read about the high priest - 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 starting with Aaron down through the years was sinful. And before they could offer sacrifice for the people they had to offer sacrifice for their own sins. But Jesus serves as our high priest - 4:14 - and we see there that he is sinless: 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. So Jesus is far better than the high priests, because He was sinless. He suffered like us, and as a result can identify with us and offer us grace to help in time of need; but He never sinned.