Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,
“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;
as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
- Jesus is our high priest.
- Jesus is the Son of God.
- Our high priest passed through the heavens.
- Because Jesus is our high priest we can hold fast to our confession.
- Our high priest, Jesus, is able to sympathize with our weaknesses.
- The reason we know Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses is he was tempted just as we are.
- Jesus was tempted in every manner that we are tempted.
- Even though Jesus was tempted He did not sin.
- Because Jesus is our high priest we may approach the throne of grace.
- Because Jesus is out high priest we may approach the throne of grace with confidence.
- When we come near the throne of grace we receive mercy and grace.
- We receive mercy and grace to help us in times of need.
- Every high priest is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God.
- High priests offer gifts and sacrifices to God for the sins of men.
- High priests that come from men can deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he, himself has weaknesses.
- High priests who come from the ranks of normal men must offer sacrifices for his own sins the same way he offers them to the people.
- No one assumes being a high priest himself. He is appointed high priest.
- God calls a man to be high priest.
- Aaron was called to be high priest.
- God appointed Jesus to be high priest.
- Christ did not make himself high priest.
- Christ was appointed high priest by the Father.
- The Father said of Jesus, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”
- The Father said of Jesus, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”
- Jesus is a priest forever.
- When Jesus was here on earth he offered prayer and supplications to the Father.
- Jesus offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears.
- The Father was able to save Jesus from death.
- Jesus’ prayer was heard because of His reverence.
- Jesus learned obedience.
- Jesus learned obedience through suffering.
- Jesus was made perfect.
- Jesus is the source of eternal salvation.
- Jesus is the source of eternal salvation to everyone who obeys Him.
- Jesus was a high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
The writer to the Hebrews has just explained the greatness of Christ. He is God’s Son. He is the foundation of our salvation. He is greater than Moses and the prophets. He provides entrance into God’s rest. Now he shows the benefits Christ’s priesthood has brought to all of us. He can sympathize with us. He understands our trials, and pains. He knows how hard it is to live in this world. He was tempted, just as we are. But He did not yield.
We are often tempted to tell others, “You don’t understand what I am going through.” But we cannot say that to Jesus. He was tempted just as we are. Having been tempted like we are He sympathizes with our struggle. He went through want we go through. When he became a man he assumed all the qualities of the human nature except for sin.
Because of Christ’s triumph and the fact that He stands by the Father making intercession to the Father for us, we can come before God with confidence, knowing that we will receive not a just punishment, rather we receive mercy. We can come with our needs and find grace. This is not to be understood to say God grants all our requests. A loving parent does not always grant the request of a child. But we find grace. We receive comfort and peace. The important thing the writing is saying is that we can call upon God without fear.
The writer goes on to compare and contrast Christ with the Levitical priests to show Christ’s office abolished the ancient priesthood. The writer points out four things concerning the Levitical priesthood.
- Priests were taken from among men – This is one of the reasons Christ needed to take on human form. This does not diminish in any way His deity rather if confirms to us His fitness to reconcile us to God.
- Priests did not act own their own behalf but for the people as a whole —We have no access to God, except through a priest.
- Priests were to provide sacrifices – The priest without a sacrifice is not a peace maker between God and man. Christ presented the most holy and perfect sacrifice, Himself. A sacrifice never needing to be repeated.
- Priests had their own sins which need forgiveness. – Priests can sympathize with us because they suffer the same way we suffer. Christ suffered what we suffer except He did not yield to sin.
- Priests were not to enter into the office presumptuously. – What makes the office and office holder lawful is the call of God. No one can hold and perform the office rightly without first being made right before God. Other priests needed to offer sacrifices for themselves. But Christ was without sin. As with all priests Christ was appointed by God.
The writer goes on to quote parts of two Psalms to show that Christ was chosen by God, and His role as a priest.
Some may point out that it was unlawful for a king to also be a priest or perform priestly duties. Therefore Christ cannot be both priest and king. Uzziah is a good example of how God forbid a king to perform priestly duties. When Uzziah burned incense in the temple, a priestly function, God struck him with leprosy. The writer however, points to Christ as a priest not in the Levitical sense, rather in the order of Melchizedek.
The writer points out two reasons why Christ suffered, the proximate and the ultimate. The proximate was that he might learn obedience. The ultimate cause was that he might be thus consecrated a priest for our salutation.
We should not think that Christ went to the cross stoically, that He had no feelings. When He prayed to the Father He cried out loud. Tears ran down His face. He knew full well what was to happen and understood the pain. He asked that if there were any other way that the Father intervene and not allow it to happen. The Father could have intervened. The Father could have stopped the events from unfolding. But He did not stop them. Christ learned obedience and said, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) Christ did not undergo death and the other evils He suffered because he disregarded them or ignored them, or had not feelings of distress. He prayed with tears.
It was necessary for Christ to suffer to be initiated into His priesthood. When the writer says, “being made perfect,” sanctified may be a better word. The Greek word teleiotheis means both. The writer is speaking of the priesthood, so sanctification may fit better. Priest sanctified themselves. It is Christ who was sanctified through obedience to the Father that he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.
Did the Father not hear Christ’s prayer? Christ was not delivered from the cross. Since Christ was not spared, we may conclude that God did not hear Jesus prayer. But we would be wrong. By the same token we may unjustly conclude that God does not hear our prayers when we are not delivered immediately from our trials. We do not receive relief from our pain.
God answered Christ’s prayer and gave Him strength to endure the evil. And Christ obeyed. Because of Jesus obedience we may approach the throne of God with confidence. Christ is our priest, our intercessor. We will receive grace to endure. Let us also yield to the will of God and rely on the grace He gives us.
We may not be delivered for suffering. In the 20th century more Christians were martyred than all previous centuries combined. The 21st century is starting out like it will easily top the 20th century. These martyrs were not spared suffering but rather given the strength to endure for the cause of Christ. Those who would claim, if you do not get what you pray for it is because you do not have enough faith, have never read Jesus prayer in the garden. Pray as Jesus prayed, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” In doing so we may be assured of God’s mercy and grace.