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A Great High Priest

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Hebrews 4:14–5:10 HCSB
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. For every high priest taken from men is appointed in service to God for the people, to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he is also subject to weakness. Because of this, he must make a sin offering for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor on himself; instead, a person is called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, the Messiah did not exalt Himself to become a high priest, but the One who said to Him, You are My Son; today I have become Your Father, also said in another passage, You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. During His earthly life, He offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Though He was God’s Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. After He was perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him, and He was declared by God a high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Intro: The Roll of the High Priest

G. High Priest (v. 17)
The office of high priest was a hereditary office based on descent from Aaron. Usually the high priest served for life, but political reasons sometimes led to the removal of a high priest (). Ideally, the high priest was someone fully committed to the Lord, ritually pure, and always ready to do the Lord’s will.
Hebrews uses “high priest” seventeen times, and most of the references applied to Jesus. Its primary emphasis spoke of Jesus’ sacrificial death (). The author of Hebrews pointed out that the role of the high priest was to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray (). He also was appointed by God to the office (). As high priest, Christ encourages believers to remain firm (). He makes the good things of God relevant to believers today (). Other features about the high priesthood of Christ will appear as we study additional passages of Hebrews.

I. Jesus is our great high priest.

Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, pp. 36–37). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.I. Jesus is our great high priest.

HIGH PRIEST One in charge of the temple (or tabernacle) worship. A number of terms are used to refer to the high priest: the priest (Exod. 31:10); the anointed priest (Lev. 4:3); the priest who is chief among his brethren (Lev. 21:10); chief priest (2 Chron. 26:20); and high priest (2 Kings 12:10).

Responsibilities and Privileges The high priesthood was a hereditary office based on descent from Aaron (Exod. 29:29–30; Lev. 16:32). Normally, the high priest served for life (Num. 18:7; 25:11–13; 35:25, 28; Neh. 12:10–11), though as early as Solomon’s reign a high priest was dismissed for political reasons (1 Kings 2:27).

A special degree of holiness was required of the high priest (Lev. 10:6, 9; 21:10–15). This meant he had to avoid defilement by contact with the dead, even in the case of his own parents, and was forbidden to show any outward sign of mourning. He could not leave the sanctuary precincts. Such legislation identified the high priest as one totally dedicated to the Lord, always ritually pure and ready to serve the Lord.

If the high priest sinned, he brought guilt upon the whole people (Lev. 4:3). The sin offering for the high priest (Lev. 4:3–12) was identical to that required “if the whole congregation of Israel commits error” (4:13–21 NASB).

The consecration of the high priest was an elaborate seven-day ritual involving special baths, putting on special garments, and anointing with oil and with blood (Exod. 29:1–37; Lev. 6:19–22; 8:5–35). The special garments of the high priest included a blue robe with an ornate hem decorated with gold bells and embroidered pomegranates, an ephod of fine linen with colorful embroidered work and shoulder straps bearing stones engraved with the names of the twelve tribes, a breastplate with twelve precious stones engraved with the names of the 12 tribes, and a linen turban with a gold plate inscribed “Holy to Yahweh” (Exod. 28:4–39; 39:1–31; Lev. 8:7–9). The engraved plate and the stones engraved with the tribal names highlight the role of the high priest as the holy representative of all Israel before the Lord (Exod. 28:12, 29). In his “breastpiece of judgment,” the high priest kept the sacred lots, the Urim and Thummim, which were used to inquire of the Lord (Exod. 28:29–30; Num. 27:21). See Breastpiece of the High Priest; Ephod; Lots; Urim and Thummim.

The high priest shared in general priestly duties. Only the high priest, however, was allowed to enter the holy of holies and then only on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:1–25). See Day of Atonement.

The death of the high priest marked the end of an epoch. One guilty of involuntary manslaughter was required to remain in a city of refuge until the death of the high priest (Num. 35:25, 28, 32; Josh. 20:6). The expiatory death of the high priest removed bloodguilt that would pollute the land (cp. Num. 35:33).

The author of Hebrews lays out two points of qualification that every high priest must have. (F.F. Bruce)
i. must be able to sympathize with those he represents
ii. must be divinely appointed to the office
First, let’s look at Jesus’ superior ordination

A. His Superior Ordination

The ordination of a hp - elaborate process
Why Jesus’s was superior - He is the Son of God. (passed through the heavens)
He did not assume to role of his own but was appointed to it by God.
Philippians 2:5–11 HCSB
Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow — of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth — and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-

B. His Superior Sympathy

one of the duties of the hp
One of
Jesus lived as one of us
Made perfect in suffering

II. Hold fast to the confession.

See F.F. Bruce
The title Son of God is used in relation to the confession. hold firmly or be fully committed to, just as they had been urged to hold onto their boldness, confidence, and boast firm to the end.
In context, Jesus being designated as the Son of God echoes that confession.
The confession of the Gospel - that Jesus is the Son of God
The more desperate their situation is before the all-seeing eye of God, the more wonderful is his provision for their needs.

III. Boldly approach the throne of grace.

O’Brien, P. T. (2010). The Letter to the Hebrews (p. 180). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

III. Boldly approach the throne of grace.

F.F. Bruce
Warren Wiersbe
The author includes himself… “Let us...”
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Hebrews IV. Since We Have a Great High Priest, Let Us Hold Fast and Draw near, 4:14–16

The challenge to approach God’s throne of grace is an admonition to persistent, confident prayer that is based particularly on Jesus’ own experience of sufferings and trials, and his consequent ability to empathize with our weaknesses (v. 15).

The gospel connection
Jesus was everything necessary to be our superior and great High Priest.
What does this mean?
The very Son of God has been our go between. We can go straight to God because our great high priest offered a final sacrifice for sin. Himself on the cross. Not only that but He was raised from the dead three days later and has ascended into heaven and sits at the very right hand of God. We can boldly approach the throne because our high priest has made that way open for us.
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