Summary: My Shepherd is the Lord: our Priest, our sacrifice, and our God!
6. GREAT SHEPHERD OF THE SHEEP
The closing benediction of the letter to the Hebrews is addressed to the God of peace, who brought again from the dead “our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep” through the blood of the everlasting covenant.
The peace spoken of is the holistic healing and salvation which comes from Jesus’ sacrifice. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is proof of the efficacy of that sacrifice.
The covenant is an eternal covenant, whereby our sins and iniquities are remembered no more (Hebrews 10:16-17). The blood of the covenant is His blood, shed on Calvary for His people’s sins.
Jesus is the good shepherd, who gives His life for the sheep (John 10:11). The shepherd calls His own sheep by name, and He leads them out. Those who hear the voice of Jesus will follow Him, and He leads us beside the still waters, and into the paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:2-3).
Jesus is the Shepherd of Israel (Psalm 80:1), but His flock includes those out of every nation, throughout all of time, who respond to His call.
*Peter instructs church elders how to behave - and how not to behave - in relation to the “flock” over which they are overseers. The Apostle reminds them that they are under-shepherds of the “chief Shepherd” - to whom they will be held accountable at His appearing, and rewarded accordingly (1 Peter 5:1-4).
7. GREAT HIGH PRIEST
The priesthood of Jesus is superior to that of Aaron. A man like ourselves, Jesus is a merciful and faithful high priest capable of facing (Hebrews 2:17-18) - and overcoming (Hebrews 4:15) - temptation. Yet though a man, Jesus is also the Son of God (Hebrews 5:5).
The earthly tabernacle is only a shadow of the heavenly (Hebrews 9:11-14). The sons of Aaron needed to repeat their sacrifices and offerings repeatedly, per a complex ritual: morning and evening, Sabbaths, new moons, festivals; day by day, month by month, year by year. Jesus has provided the one full final perfect sacrifice for sins, once and for all and for ever, by His own blood (Hebrews 9:24-26).
Jesus’ priesthood is of a better order than that of Aaron (Hebrews 5:10; Hebrews 7:11). It is not genealogy which qualifies our Great High Priest, but the power of an indissoluble life (7:16). Jesus has passed into the heavens (Hebrews 4:14) - and is set on the right hand of God (Hebrews 8:1) - and there makes continual intercession for His people (Hebrews 7:25-27).
This gives us boldness to approach the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).
8. THE GREAT GOD
It is the grace of God (Titus 2:11), manifested in the salvation purchased by Jesus (Titus 2:14), which teaches us to be good (Titus 2:12). Our posture is to be that of those who are looking for the hope that brings blessings, and hastening toward the final “appearing of the glory of” the “great God and our Saviour” Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). This latter expression appears to be a bold assertion that Jesus is God.
a) Grammatically, the presence of only one definite article to cover both these titles (“great God” and “our Saviour”) suggests that they both refer to the one Person: “Jesus Christ.”
b) Historically, this was how the early (Greek) fathers of the church understood the phrase.
c) Contemporaneously, it was also in keeping with common usage which referred to so-called “gods” - and even the Roman Emperor - as “God and Saviour.”
d) Contextually, the passage progresses from speaking of the “epiphany of glory” to speaking of Jesus’ death.
e) Theologically and textually, every other reference to “epiphany” in the New Testament refers to either the first or final appearances of Christ.
There are other passages of Scripture to confirm that Jesus is God (e.g. Matthew 1:23; John 1:1; John 20:28; Romans 9:5 etc.). It was also Jesus’ understanding of Himself - as is evident in the “I AM” sayings, and in His refusal to deny His deity when challenged. This was how His enemies understood Him - and the reason for their constant accusations of blasphemy, and of their murderous intentions towards Him.
Jesus is greater than Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets - and the Temple. He is our great Shepherd, our great High Priest - and the great God.