Hebrews – Part 4: Jesus: The Great High Priest

The writer of Hebrews stressed Christians’ assurance and responsibility to boldly proclaim Jesus as the great High Priest redeeming them to God.

Prologue

“Jesus: The Great High Priest” is part 4 of a 10-part study on the Book of Hebrews. You may view any of the previous parts by clicking one of the links below.

Introduction

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NASB)
14 Therefore , since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens , Jesus the Son of God , let us hold fast our confession . 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses , but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin . 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

NOTE: The following information is quoted from Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical, WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews 4”.

  • Great High Priest
    • The object is to show that Christians have a great High Priest as really as the Jews had; to show wherein he surpassed the Levitical priesthood; to show how all that was said of the Aaronic priesthood, and all the types pertaining to that priesthood, were fulfilled in the Lord Jesus; and to state and illustrate the nature of the consolations which Christians might derive from the fact that they had such an High Priest.
    • The idea here is, not merely that the Lord Jesus was a Priest, but that he was at the head of all; in the Christian economy he sustained a rank that corresponded with that of the great high priest in the Jewish.
  • Passed Into the Heavens
    • The Jewish high priest went once a year into the most holy place in the temple, to offer the blood of the atonement. Paul says that the Christian High Priest has gone into heaven. He has gone there also to make intercession, and to sprinkle the blood of the atonement on the mercy-seat.
  • Jesus, the Son of God
    • Not a descendant of Aaron, but one greater—the Son of God.
  • Let Us Hold Fast Our Profession
    • This is the drift and scope of the epistle—to show that Christians should hold fast their profession, and not apostatize. The object of the apostle now is to show why the fact, that we have such a High Priest, is a reason why we should hold fast our professed attachment to him. These reasons-which are drawn out in the succeeding chapters-are such as the following:
      • We may look to him for assistance-since he can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,
      • The impossibility of being renewed again if we should fall away from him, since there is but one such High Priest, and since the sacrifice for sin can never be repeated,
      • The fact that all the ancient types were fulfilled in him, and that everything which there was in the Jewish dispensation, to keep men from apostasy, exists much more powerfully in the Christian scheme.
      • The fact that they who rejected the laws of Moses died without mercy, and much more any one who should reject the Son of God must expect more certain and fearful severity,
      • By considerations such as these, the apostle aims to show them the danger of apostasy, and to urge them to a faithful adherence to their Christian profession.
  • For We Have Not an High Priest Which Cannot Be Touched
    • Our High Priest is not cold and unfeeling. That is, we have one who is abundantly qualified to sympathize with us in our afflictions, and to whom, therefore, we may look for aid and support in trials.
  • But Was In All Points Tempted Like As We Are
    • Tried as we are. He was subjected to all the kinds of trial to which we can be, and he is, therefore, able to sympathize with us, and to aid us. He was tempted-in the literal sense; he was persecuted; he was poor; he was despised; he suffered bodily pain; he endured the sorrows of a lingering and most cruel death.
  • Yet Without Sin
    • The importance of this fact, that the great High Priest of the Christian profession was “without sin,” the apostle illustrates at length in chapters 7 through 9. He here merely alludes to it, and says that one who was “without sin” was able to assist those who were sinners, and who put their trust in him.
  • Let Us Therefore Come Boldly Unto the Throne of Grace
    • A throne is the seat of a sovereign; a throne of grace is designed to represent a sovereign seated to dispense mercy and pardon. The illustration or comparison here may have been derived from the temple service. In that service God is represented as seated in the most holy place on the mercy-seat. The high priest approaches that seat or throne of the Divine Majesty with the blood of the atonement, to make intercession for the people, and to plead for pardon. That scene was emblematic of heaven. God is seated on a throne of mercy. The great High Priest of the Christian calling, having shed his own blood to make expiation, is represented as approaching God, and pleading for the pardon of men. To a God willing to show mercy he comes with the merits of a sacrifice sufficient for all, and pleads for their salvation. We may, therefore, come with boldness, and look for pardon. We come not depending on our own merits, but we come where a sufficient sacrifice has been offered for human guilt, and where we are assured that God is merciful. We may, therefore, come without hesitancy, or trembling, and ask for all the mercy that we need.
  • That We May Obtain Mercy
    • This is what we want first. We need pardon-as the first thing when we come to God. We are guilty and self-condemned—and our first cry should be for mercymercy. A man who comes to God, not feeling his need of mercy, must fail of obtaining the Divine favour; and he will be best prepared to obtain that favour who has the deepest sense of his need of forgiveness.
  • And Find Grace
    • Favour-strength, help, counsel, direction, support, for the various duties and trials of life. This is what we next need-we all need-we always need. Even when pardoned, we need grace to keep us from sin, to aid us in duty, to preserve us in the day of temptation. And feeling our need of this, we may come and ask of God all that we want for this purpose. Such is the assurance given us; and to this bold approach to the throne of grace all are freely invited. In view of it, let us:
      • Rejoice That There Is a Throne of Grace
        • What a World would this be if God sat on a throne of justice only, and if no mercy were ever to be shown to men! Who is there who would not be overwhelmed with despair?
        • In all times of our trial and temptation we may be assured that he is seated on that throne, and, wherever we are, we may approach him with acceptance.
      • Make Use of the Privilege of Coming Before Such a Throne
        • We are sinful, and need mercy; we are feeble, and need grace to help us. There is not a day of Our lives in which we do not need pardon; not an hour in which we do not need grace.
      • Observe the Propriety and Necessity of Prayer!
        • Every man is a sinner, and should pray for pardon; every man is weak, feeble, dependent, and should pray for grace. Not till a man can prove that he has never done any sin should he maintain that he has no need of pardon; not till he can show that he is able alone to meet the storms and temptations of life should he feel that he has no need to ask for grace. Yet who can feel this? And how strange it is that all men do not pray!
      • Ask For Forgiveness
        • All that needs to be done is to plead the merits of our great High Priest, and God is ready to pardon. Who would not be glad to be able to pay a debt in a manner so easy? Yet how few there are who are willing to pay the debt to justice thus!
      • Obtain All the Grace That We Need
        • We have only to ask for it-and it is done. How easy then to meet temptation, if we would! How strange that any should rely on their own strength, when they may lean on the arm of God!
      • If Men Are Not Pardoned, and Fall Into Sin and Ruin, They Alone Are to Blame
        • There Is A THRONE OF GRACE. It is always accessible.
        • There is A GOD. He is always ready to pardon.
        • There Is A REDEEMER. He is the great High Priest of men.
          • He is always interceding.
          • His merits may always be pleaded as the ground of our salvation.

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ and His sacrificial work on the cross. We rejoice that He now sits at Your side interceeding for us on our behalf. we rejoice that because of this, we are encouraged to come boldly to Your throne. Be with us now and enlighten us as we study Your Word. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Probing Question

Why should Christians be assured and take responsibility to boldly proclaim Jesus as the great High Priest redeeming them to God?

Transitional Sentence

Christians should be reassured and take responsibility to boldly proclaim Jesus as the great High Priest redeeming them to God because…

Main Points

1. Christ Is Superior to Aaron

The Priesthood of Aaron

Hebrews 5:1-4 (NASB)
1 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God , in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins ; 2 he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided , since he himself also is beset with weakness ; 3 and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins , as for the people , so also for himself . 4 And no one takes the honor to himself , but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

The Priesthood of Christ

Hebrews 5:5-10 (NASB)
5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest , but He who said to Him, “YOU ARE MY SON , TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”; 6 just as He says also in another passage, “YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK .” 7 In the days of His flesh , He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death , and He was heard because of His piety . 8 Although He was a Son , He learned obedience from the things which He suffered . 9 And having been made perfect , He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation , 10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

  • Melchizedek vs. Abraham

Hebrews 7:1-10 (NASB)
1 For this Melchizedek , king of Salem , priest of the Most High God , who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all , by the translation of his name, king of righteousness , and then also king of Salem , which is king of peace . 3 Without father , without mother , without genealogy , having neither beginning of days nor end of life , but made like the Son of God , he remains a priest perpetually . 4 Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham , the patriarch , gave a tenth of the choicest spoils . 5 And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people , that is, from their brethren , although these are descended from Abraham . 6 But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises . 7 But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater . 8 In this case mortal men receive tithes , but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. 9 And, so to speak , through Abraham even Levi , who received tithes , paid tithes , 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

  • Milchizedek’s Order vs. the Levitical Priesthood

Hebrews 7:11-28 (NASB)
11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law ), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek , and not be designated according to the order of Aaron ? 12 For when the priesthood is changed , of necessity there takes place a change of law also . 13 For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe , from which no one has officiated at the altar . 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah , a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests . 15 And this is clearer still , if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek , 16 who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement , but according to the power of an indestructible life . 17 For it is attested of Him, “YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK .” 18 For, on the one hand , there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the Law made nothing perfect ), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope , through which we draw near to God . 20 And inasmuch as it was not without an oath 21 (for they indeed became priests without an oath , but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, “THE LORD HAS SWORN AND WILL NOT CHANGE HIS MIND , ‘YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ‘ “); 22 so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant . 23 The former priests , on the one hand , existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing , 24 but Jesus, on the other hand , because He continues forever , holds His priesthood permanently . 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest , holy , innocent , undefiled , separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens ; 27 who does not need daily , like those high priests , to offer up sacrifices , first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people , because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself . 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak , but the word of the oath , which came after the Law , appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

2. Danger of Degeneration (i.e., Backsliding)

Immaturity

  • Rebuke for Immaturity

Hebrews 5:11-14 (NASB)
11 Concerning him we have much to say , and it is hard to explain , since you have become dull of hearing . 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers , you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God , and you have come to need milk and not solid food . 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness , for he is an infant . 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

  • Encouragement toward Maturity

Hebrews 6:1-3 (NASB)
1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ , let us press on to maturity , not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God , 2 of instruction about washings and laying on of hands , and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment . 3 And this we will do, if God permits.

Apostasy

  • Warning Against Apostasy

Hebrews 6:4-8 (NASB)
4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit , 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come , 6 and then have fallen away , it is impossible to renew them again to repentance , since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame . 7 For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled , receives a blessing from God ; 8 but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.

  • Remember God’s Promises

Hebrews 6:9-20 (NASB)
9 But, beloved , we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation , though we are speaking in this way . 10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name , in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints . 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end , 12 so that you will not be sluggish , but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises . 13 For when God made the promise to Abraham , since He could swear by no one greater , He swore by Himself , 14 saying , “I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU.” 15 And so , having patiently waited , he obtained the promise . 16 For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute . 17 In the same way God , desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose , interposed with an oath , 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie , we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul , a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil , 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Conclusion

Christians should be reassured and take responsibility to boldly proclaim Jesus as the great High Priest redeeming them to God because:

  • Christ is superior to Aaron
  • Danger of degeneration (i.e., backsliding)
    • Immaturity
    • Apostasy

We must always remember God’s promises ultimately fulfilled through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and great High Priest.

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, help us to recognize Christ’s superiority over all. Because we are encouraged to come boldly to the throne, help us to remember that fact and give us the courage to seek You. Keep us close to You. Protect us from apostasy. We pray this in the precious name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Epilogue

“Jesus: The Great High Priest” is part 4 of a 10-part study on the Book of Hebrews. You may view any of the following parts by clicking one of the links below.

Gospel Invitation

Is the Holy Spirit stirring within your heart? Is He convicting you of the need to make changes in your life and/or calling you to take action? The Bible says:

James 4:17 (NASB)
17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

1 John 5:3 (NASB)
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

If the Holy Spirit is urging you to take action, it is important to respond with immediate obedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Please read the following sections that apply to your current situation and prayerfully consider the suggested course of actions.

I am lost. I need to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

John 3:16-18 (NASB)
16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Action

  • To learn more about Jesus and His gift of redemption, read God's Plan of Salvation. If you are already familiar with the Plan of Savation, skip forward to section How to Become a Christian.
  • If you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please let us know by participating in our poll located on the top left column of the page and filling out the Contact Form below.

I am saved; but, I have sin in my life that I need to confess and repent.

1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 3:19 (NASB)
19  "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially confess the sin in your life and your desire to repent. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

I am saved; but, I need to rededicate my life to the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Action

  • In your own words, pray a prayer similar to the following:

Heavenly Father, I have fallen short of Your glory and have failed to live up to Your expecttions for me. Please forgive me. Lord, I rededicate my life to You. Not my will; but, Your will be done. Thank You for being a God of second chances. Use me Lord. Shape me and mold me into the person You would have me to be. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.

  • If you just rededicated your life to the Lord, please let us know by participating in our poll located on the top left column of the page and filling out the Contact Form below.

I benefit from this ministry and want to become a member and/or make a donation.

Praise the Lord. We are glad you find Saved by Grace edifying.

Action

  • If you would like to become a member, please click "Register" in the "Log In" section on the top right column of the page. Members are allowed to comment on posts and other comments and may also provide Feedback.

Malachi 3:10 (NASB)
10  "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

  • If you benefit from this ministry and would like to support its efforts, projects, and missions, please consider making a tax deductible donation, of any amount. May God bless you for your generosity.




I need to discuss my situation confidentially.

James 5:16 (NASB)
16  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially discuss the situation in your life that is troubling you. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

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