Summary: As this letter paints a magnificent and majestic portrait of Jesus it highlights the immensity of how our lives are affected as a result of who Jesus is and what he has done for us. What better way to inspire those whose faith is flagging or whose hearts
AIM: To elevate our perspective of JESUS so that any sense of flagging faith is renewed by a fresh understanding of the importance and significance of JESUS.
Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians, probably 2nd generation, whose parents had embraced ‘Christ’ as Messiah and so these people had inherited a faith which they were finding challenging to follow. They needed to know that Christianity was true and Christ was worth following.
Hebrews 1:3 “After he had provided purification for sins….”
One of the great under-statements of scripture, one that is explained in so much more details throughout the rest of this letter.
The Hebrew writer shows what Jesus has done by identifying him as THE GREAT HIGH PRIEST. The High Priest was the highest religious authority in all of Israel.
Exodus 29:44-46 “So I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.”
The priest was the mediator and intercessor before God for the whole community. The High Priest represented the whole nation. It was both a spiritual and ceremonial role:
Exodus 28:4 “These are the garments they are to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother Aaron and his sons, so they may serve me as priests.”
The role had increasingly become more ceremonial than spiritual. After all since the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus the role of the High Priest had no usefulness before God, but for as much as 35 years they had continued in their robes and rituals.
The writer is saying that Jesus is now the ONLY High Priest needed to achieve right standing before God. His priesthood is superior to the existing Jewish priesthood because he achieved what they never could.
Hebrews 1:3 (NLT) “After he had died to cleanse us from the stain of sin”
There is a huge amount of Hebrews given to the theme of Christ’s priestly service, and in it we see why Jesus is elevated to such significance and importance.
• HE IS THE GREAT HIGH PRIEST (Hebrews 4:14-16)
The Hebrew nation had relied upon Priests for thousands of years to represent them before God, to mediate and intercede on their behalf and to present sacrifices and offerings to atone for their sins. These Priests had so often become superior in attitude and separated in understanding that the people felt further and further from God.
These verses reveal the magnitude of Jesus’ priestly ministry for us:
He represents us permanently in the presence of God 4:14 “…who has gone through the heavens…(gone into heaven)…”
7:24, 25 “Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
He sympathizes with us in our weakness 4:15 (KJV) “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities”
Greek – Sumpatheo = to be affected with the same feeling as another
He experienced life as we live it 4:15 “….who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin”
He makes it possible for us to approach God confidently 4:16 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence”
He offers help at our neediest times 4:16 “…so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”
The Hebrew writer is saying why retreat to an inferior experience of God with inferior representation before God when Jesus your High Priest offers you this ministry.
• HE IS THE GREAT SACRIFICE (Hebrews 9:11-14)
This Great High Priest didn’t offer a sacrifice he became the sacrifice. The blood of involuntary animals was an incomplete sacrifice, but the voluntary sacrifice of Jesus was a complete and final sacrifice.
His sacrifice obtained eternal redemption 9:12 “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption”
This sacrifice is complete and never needs repeating - Hebrews 9:24-26 & 10:10-12
His sacrifice cleansed us from the inside out 9:13-14 “The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death”
The ancient sacrifices cleansed a man’s body but the sacrifice of Jesus cleansed his soul. A man’s body might be clean ceremonially and yet his heart could be torn with remorse. He might feel able to enter the tabernacle and yet far away from God’s presence.