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Summary: As our great High Priest, Christ offers Himself as the sacrifice for our sins and intercedes for us with the Father.

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First Presbyterian Church

Wichita Falls, Texas

April 17, 2011

THE PRIEST WHO SHOWS GOD’S MERCY

Jesus Christ -- The Center of Our Faith: Part 3

Isaac Butterworth

Hebrews 4:14-5:6 (NIV)

4:14 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. 15 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. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

5:1 Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.

4 No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,

“You are my Son;

today I have become your Father.”

6 And he says in another place,

“You are a priest forever,

in the order of Melchizedek.”

I’ve only recently begun wearing my wedding ring again. Which is not to say that there is or has been any question about my marriage. There hasn’t. Jan and I love each other more than ever. I didn’t wear my ring because I couldn’t; osteoarthritis has changed the size of my finger, and the ring didn’t fit. So, a few weeks ago we had the ring resized. We had been meaning to do it for the longest time, and finally we got around to it.

Of course, the ring doesn’t make Jan and me married; we’re still husband and wife, with or without the ring. The ring is simply a sign of our promise to remain faithful to each other. But the promise is the important thing, the vows we took. That’s why we call marriage a covenant. A covenant is a promise, and promises, of course, are meant to be kept. We make covenants with the assumption that we will not violate them.

God makes covenants, too. In Scripture, we are told how God the Father made a covenant with God the Son ‘before the creation of the world’ when the Father ‘chose us’ in Christ (Eph. 1:4). Our Lord agreed to take upon himself our flesh so that he could purchase our redemption with his life. That is why we call this ‘the covenant of redemption.’

Before God created anything, he knew we would need rescue. His first covenant with humanity was a ‘covenant of works.’ It was made with our first parents, Adam and Eve. God promised them life and fullness and fellowship with him as long as they obeyed him. Of course, they broke this covenant and forfeited all its benefits. And, since Adam represented all of humanity before God, all of humanity was guilty and trapped in sin. You, me, all of us.

‘In Adam’ we are without God. But God was determined not to be without us. The blessed Persons of the Holy Trinity had made the covenant of redemption, an agreement that the Son of God would become a human being and, as a human being, represent all of humanity as Adam had. So, Jesus was born. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God was offering us another covenant, a new covenant, the ‘covenant of grace.’ This covenant required a mediator, and the mediator would be the representative man, Jesus Christ. The Scriptures attest to this in Hebrews 9:15, where we read, ‘Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance -- now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.’

Last week, we began talking about the three offices of our Jesus our Messiah, the Christ, the One anointed by God. These are the office of Prophet, the office of Priest, and the office of King. Each of these roles serves a means by which Christ becomes the mediator of this new covenant. Last week, we looked at our Lord as the Prophet who speaks God’s Word. Today, I want us to see in Christ the Priest who shows God’s mercy. A prophet is one who represents God to humanity; a priest is one who represents humanity before God.

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