Sermons

Summary: The element of solidarity: the champion emerges out of the people; he can represent them only because he is one of them. Similarly, the high priest is chosen from among the people; he can represent them effectively only because He enjoys solidarity with the people.

6/17/19

Tom Lowe

Lesson #8: TO BECOME A MERCIFUL AND FAITHFUL HIGH PRIEST (HEBREWS 2:17-18)

Scripture: Hebrews 2:17-18 (NIV)

17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human 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{1] for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Introduction:

The final purpose of the incarnation, as set forth by the writer, is described in verses 17 and 18. Jesus had to be made like His brothers and sisters so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God and be to us all that we need. We need Someone to intercede for us compassionately. The portrayal of Jesus as champion leads directly into the body of the sermon where Jesus will be presented as our high priest. The concept of champion and high priest share two elements in common which may explain this development.

The element of representation: the champion represents the people in battle; the high priest represents the people in their coming before God.

The element of solidarity: the champion emerges out of the people; he can represent them only because he is one of them. Similarly, the high priest is chosen from among the people; he can represent them effectively only because He enjoys solidarity with the people. Representation and solidarity with the people are the thoughts which bring together in verses 10-18 the presentation of Jesus as champion and as high priest. This is, of course, the first time in the sermon that the preacher has applied to Jesus the title of the office, “high priest.” That his ministry was priestly in nature was implied as early as the opening lines of the sermon, with the reference to the Son “having made purification for sins” (1:3). But now, what had only been implied is made explicit: Jesus is a high priest in the service of God.

Commentary:

17 For this reason, he had to be made like them, fully human 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.

In the days of the Old Testament, the high priest led in a special time of worship on the Day of Atonement. During the service, the high priest would enter the holy of holies, a restricted area of the temple or tabernacle. Only the high priest could enter, and only on the Day of Atonement (see Lev. 16:34, 23:27-28). Once inside the holy of holies, he would offer a blood sacrifice to cleanse his people of their sin.

Christ became high priest when He offered His sacrifice {5] which He did by His death on a cross. To ‘purge sins’ and to make propitiation {3] describe the same act from different points of view. In the former case what is in view is the removal of uncleanness; in the latter, it is the alienation from God caused by sin.

Jesus serves as the perfect high priest because He presented Himself to God in order to atone for our sin. He also provided what was necessary for our atonement. By dying for us, Jesus made propitiation {3] for our sins. In other words, His death on the cross for our sins turned away God’s wrath so we can be at peace with God. His death on the cross for us demonstrates that He is altogether trustworthy in His service to God on our behalf.

Jesus came not only to save us but to sympathize with us. He can be depended on to represent us adequately and continuously before the Heavenly Father. He is Trustworthy.

When considering the character of Jesus Christ it is well to ask, “In what ways is He like His brethren and how is He unlike them?” (1) He was unlike them in that He was God as well as man; inasmuch as he was not represented in Adam, and so He could not be charged with original sin; in as much as he was born with original righteousness, and never committed any sin, never had a vile thought, never yielded to a temptation, never felt a sense of guilt and never in anything displeased His Father. Moreover, He was always destined to an infinitely higher position and an unspeakably richer crown than any they shall wear. But (2) He is like them in having a true human body and a reasonable soul capable of increasing in knowledge and happiness. He was really a man (fully human, v. 17). He had all the many innocent infirmities of our common nature; He was exposed to all sorts of temptations and miseries, which does not imply personal sinfulness. Like His brethren, He did suffer and die. He knew what it was to be hungry, and thirsty, and weary, and sad, and grieved. He was familiar with contradiction, and slander, and insults, and mockery, and contempt. As much as human suffering consists in pain from the nerves, Jesus Christ died a death, the theory of which was to extinguish life by nervous distress. Since the world began, there never was on earth a more approachable being. He is just as full of tenderness today as He was when He wept at the grave of Lazarus. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isa. 40:11).

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