Presentation on theme: "Presentation 07. Introduction Having exhorted his readership not to throw in the towel and forsake Christ but to press on into God's rest, the writer."— Presentation transcript:
Introduction Having exhorted his readership not to throw in the towel and forsake Christ but to press on into God's rest, the writer now points them to the source of their greatest encouragement. The high priestly role that was exercised by Jesus. Martin Luther, commenting on the writer’s purpose says, “After terrifying us the apostle now comforts us”. Throughout the epistle the readership are told to “consider Jesus”. Here Jesus is set before them as the church's great High Priest who, it is argued, is superior the Levitical high priests of the Jewish faith, a faith to which some of his readers were tempted to return.
Presentation 07 The Role Of The High Priest As a unit 4v14-5v10 lays the foundation for a more comprehensive exposition of Jesus‘ priesthood in 7v1- 10v18, where the emphasis will be placed on Jesus’ dissimilarity to the Levitical priesthood. The contrast which the author will introduce is established by first, indicating the role and function of the O.T. High Priest, then by highlighting some of the deficiencies of those holding the Levitical office. The following observations are made regarding the Levitical High Priest.
Presentation 07 The Role Of The High Priest a. The High Priest alone was able to represent Israel before God having unique access to the Holy of Holies. b. The High Priest alone was able to mediate with God on the basis of sacrifice within the Holy of Holies. c. The High Priest was in a unique position to be able to intercede for the people, because unlike the angels he shared a common humanity with them. d. The High Priest was also able to deal gently with those who failed because, being himself human, he knew the frailty of human nature.
Presentation 07 The Role Of The High Priest e. The office of High Priest was instituted by God and not manufactured by men. And as such it was the God appointed route for a God appointed representative to access the presence of God on Israel’s behalf. f. Clearly the office of High Priest was not a human appointment and men assumed this office to themselves at their peril cf. Korah in Num. 16v11; Saul in 1 Sam. 13v8-14; Uzziah in 2 Chron. 26v16-21.
Presentation 07 The Role Of The High Priest That said there were clearly limitations associated with the Aaronic Priesthood. a. The High Priest was himself a sinner and had to make sacrifice for his sin. b. The High Priest had limited access to God being permitted access to the Holy of Holies on only one day in the year. c. The High Priest was constantly required to offer sacrifices. This spoke both of their inadequacy to comprehensively deal with sin and of their symbolical function- pointing to a reality beyond them.
Presentation 07 Jesus The High Priest We are now in a position to ask, in what way was the High Priesthood of Jesus superior to that of the Aaronic priesthood? a. After his death and resurrection he enjoyed perpetual residence in the Father’s presence 4v14. His was not simply a once-a-year visit. b. He was better able to sympathise with those who experienced temptation because he has experienced the whole arsenal of Satan's temptations v15. Jesus experienced temptation in every area of his life, as we do.
Presentation 07 Jesus did not possess a sinful nature, but he suffered temptation as we do because he was fully human. Having endured every temptation successfully he has experienced temptations more thoroughly than any man. We often yield to temptation before we have experience4d their full intensity. As a result of his experience Jesus can sympathise [feel and suffer] with us when we experience temptation. Jesus The High Priest
Presentation 07 The writer's point is that Jesus understands us. He sympathises with us, as one who knew the full extent of Satan’s temptations. Let me illustrate the thoroughness of Jesus' resistance to temptation. Imagine a large rock on the seacoast. Since it does not move, it experiences the full force of every wave that beats against it. Smaller pebbles are moved around by the sea and because they are moved around they have failed to offer the same resistance as the rock. Jesus is the rock. He has experienced a greater intensity of temptation than other pebble men, pebbles because we have yielded to temptation. Jesus The High Priest
Presentation 07 The writer would have us grasp that providing ‘sympathy’ does not depend upon knowledge and experience of sin but of temptation in all of its fierce intensity. The weakness of Jesus was the weakness of his humanity and not that of depravity. The hymn-writer sums up the matter like this. There is no place where earth's sorrows, Are more felt than up in heaven There is no place where earths failings Have such kindly judgement given. The phrase, “deal gently with” [Gk. metriopathein] means being neither indifferent to moral lapses nor harsh in our approach to them. Jesus The High Priest
Presentation 07 Since we have such a High Priest to intercede for us with God, we can approach God confidently in prayer [cf. 3v6; 10v19, 35]. Every Christian can come to the Father’s heavenly throne. It is no longer limited to the Levitical high priests of Judaism. Indeed, they could only approach God at his earthly throne, in the holy of holies and then only once a year. Christians approach God’s throne of grace knowing they are guaranteed access and welcomed at any time and they do so because of the sacrifice that has been made on their behalf by Jesus their High Priest. Jesus The High Priest
Presentation 07 c. Our High Priest does not leave us to stand outside the presence of God like Israel of old. He leads us right in [5v16]. The curtain which once separated the people of God from his presence has been torn [Matt. 27v51] allowing immediate access. Christ's was a divine and a superior appointment. Two Psalms are cited: i] Psalm 2v7. A quote regularly used in early church to point to the resurrection cf. Acts 13v33. God’s divine imprimatur was placed on the High Priestly work and sacrifice of Christ. ii] Psalm 110v4. This quote deals with the nature of the messiah’s high priestly work. The significance of the order of Melchizadek [Gen. 14v18-20] is that this priesthood is both universal and eternal. Jesus The High Priest
Presentation 07 e. During his life on earth Jesus lived a sinless life. His costly obedience qualified him as a High Priest who could offer himself as a perfect sacrifice for sin. Through this sacrifice he became the source of our eternal salvation. In v7 a window is provided through which we can see Jesus at prayer in Gethsemane. Critics often point to the fact that other men have faced death with greater poise and less anguish - think of some of the early martyrs like Stephen. How then can Jesus’ anguish be explained? In 2 Cor. 5v21 we read that Jesus was ‘made sin for us’. In Gethsemane, “He saw the curse of God and the necessity to wrestle with the total sum of human guilt and with the very powers of darkness themselves” John Calvin. Jesus The High Priest
Presentation 07 Verse7 tells us that Jesus was heard because of his ‘reverent submission’ Towards the end of the epistle in 12v28 the writer used the same word and encourages his readers to adapt the same mind-set. The phrase “days of his flesh” [Gk. sarx] draws attention to the weakness that characterised Jesus' life during his earthly stay. Jesus' offerings to God in this context appear to include his prayers from Gethsemane and the cross. See also Ps. 22v22-24; Heb. 2v12. However, Jesus' entire passion ministry is probably in view here. God heard and granted Jesus' prayers, the evidence of which is rooted in Jesus’ resurrection [cf. Ps. 22v22-31]. Jesus The High Priest
Presentation 07 Godly fear was translated into obedience to God’s will. How then is this obedience learned? It involves perseverance in the road of suffering. Notice that Jesus did not learn obedience through painful correction of mistakes that he made but through an undeviating conquest of the temptation to throw in the towel. This thought returns us to the recipients of this letter who were poised to contract out of a path of obedience to the will of God because of the cost of suffering. Cross-bearing is not an easy option but there is no alternative for the Christian. Jesus The High Priest
Presentation 07 In what sense was Jesus was made perfect v9? He retained his integrity in the face of the fierce assault of temptation. Christ started with the same sinless human nature which Adam possessed. Throughout his life he was assaulted by temptation yet he resisted it. His perfection was unsullied despite all that Satan threw at him. The sacrifice he made was therefore one that has been tested by the fiercest temptation imaginable and yet Jesus remained sinless. This experience perfected Jesus Christ in the sense that it completed him by giving him experiential knowledge of what human beings must endure without succumbing to sin Jesus The High Priest
Presentation 07 Although Jesus was the Son of God and as such perfect, he nevertheless gained something through his sufferings, namely an experiential knowledge of what being a human involves. Similarly, Jesus grew in favour with God and man [Lk. 2v52]. Jesus learned obedience as he obeyed his Father's will as a human. God's will involved suffering [Phil. 2v6-8]. W. H. Griffith Thomas writes, "Innocence is life untested, but virtue is innocence tested and triumphant." Jesus had to suffer, not because but although he was a Son [huios], which shows that Jesus is Son in a unique sense. As divine son/huios in the sense of [1:1-2], we might expect that he would be exempt from such a discipline but he was not! His divine status was not allowed to dilute his suffering. Jesus The High Priest
Presentation 07 Conclusion The orientation given to this exposition is intensely practical. The solidarity of Jesus the heavenly high priest with the believing community in its weakness provides a strong motivation for earnest prayer. There is encouragement to draw near to the one who is thoroughly familiar with the human condition, who suffers with their suffering and is sensitive to the profound and intense pressure of temptation. There is none better qualified to be the mediator of his people than the Lord Jesus Christ.