Summary: A sermon that attempts to explore the ramifications of having Jesus as our Priest. Uses a number of sermon central illustrations - left them in in case they are useful to someone even though this is longer than what was preached. Cheers
Hebrews 4:14-16New International Version (NIV)
Jesus the Great High Priest
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Because Jesus is our High Priest.
Ever feel how good it is to have someone important on your side.
A number of us who played rugby at the 125th Waikaia Anniversary probably were delighted that we had an All Black on our side.
In life – what we are living right now -we have someone far greater than a famous sportsman politician or anyone else on our side. We have Jesus the son of God on our side and as we discover in the book of Hebrews he is praying for us right now.
The word “since” pops up in Hebrews and this morning lets take that word seriously and consider some of the implications of having Jesus as our High Priest.
Hebrews is the only book in the bible that calls Jesus High Priest
Although Paul talks about Jesus interceding for us [Romans 8:34], he does not use the term “high priest.”
It’s a pity that the word Priest is tarnished in modern usage by people who should not be called priests. The idea of a Christian Priest outside of Jesus is nonsense. We are all priests shouts Hebrews – In the time of Israel the descendants of Aaron were given the position of priests and they intervened to God on the peoples behalf. But, in the time of Jesus, at his death the curtain in the temple the curtain that blocked the common person from the Holy of Holies was torn in two. In Judaism Sacrifices, priests and rituals are now almost completely dispensed.
The temple has been destroyed and as we read in Revelation chapter 21 verse 3
And I heard a great voice out of Heaven, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them; and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and be their God.
I was particularly touched by these words from Hebrews chapter 5 about Jesus and in a way it shows how his High Priesthood is marked with obedience and humility from beginning to end.
Hebrews 5 verse 4
No one takes this honour upon himself, he must be called by God just as Aaron was. So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of being a High Priest. But God said to him.
“You are my son; today I have become your Father.”
As a result of Jesus humility and obedience
Peter can say
1 Peter 2:9New International Version (NIV)
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
The unthinkable had happened – the need for a high priest had gone now as the scriptures say God’s habitation was with his people.
All attempts to perpetuate the priesthood since those days have ended in failure.
Frank McCourt in Angelas ashes gives a picture of the life in Ireland in his day:-
People everywhere brag and whimper about the woes of their early years, but nothing can compare with the Irish version: the poverty, the shiftless loquacious alcoholic father, the pious defeated Mother moaning by the fire, pompous priests, bullying schoolmasters, the English and the terrible things they did for us for eight hundred years.
Sandwiched in this description is the pompous priests.
Any attempt at Priesthood since Jesus is always doomed to failure and ends in pomposity, arrogance or moral failure, generally speaking.
Any title = Priest, reverend, most holy, Father or anything else seems silly when you consider Peters words
you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. WE you and I are all priests – so to set apart someone as a particular mediator between us and God is a mistake and ends up in pomposity.
Basically elevation and pretence are disliked and unhealthy in any society
Come with me to a third grade classroom. There is a nine-year-old kid sitting at his desk, and all of a sudden, there is a puddle between his feet, and the front of his pants are wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop because he cannot possibly imagine how this has happened. It’s never happened before and he knows that when the boys find out, he will never hear the end of it. When the girls find out, they’ll never speak to him again for as long as he lives.