We’re really excited to be getting back into the letter to the Hebrews! We have already seen that God shines a light on our Savior, Jesus Christ in this letter, showing us that He is perfectly suited to save us, and that He is indeed the fulfillment of all the shadows, types and prophecies that had come before His birth as a baby in Bethlehem. First, though, let’s remind ourselves what we saw at the end of chapter 4 of the letter when we considered it towards the end of November:
LOOKING BACK (Hebrews 4:14-16)
We saw three ways that Jesus helps us in our weakness and gives us confidence to draw near to God:
- Jesus has paved our way to God (v14). He became a merciful, faithful, Great High Priest for us (and one in whom we can have complete confidence) when He ascended into heaven to appear before God on our behalf. Only the Son of God could have done this. In addition, after offering a perfect sacrifice for us, Jesus ascended into heaven as a glorified man. He has taken glorified humanity into heaven, and therefore has paved the way for His brothers and sisters to be there also after the resurrection.
- Jesus knows us perfectly (v15). We are so weak, but Jesus knows our weakness. And He doesn’t just know this intellectually or academically but practically, since He became one of us when He took a human body. He experienced temptation on every level, just as we do, though He never yielded to sin (so He experienced it in its full severity, which we rarely do, because we yield to it so often and so early). This means that Jesus, our Great High Priest, can relate to us with a heart of sympathy and tenderness. He doesn’t condone our sin when we stumble under temptation, but He has a fellow-feeling with us in our situation and has a heart of compassion for us as well as Divine resources with which to help us.
- Jesus stands ready to help (v16). Without Christ, God’s throne is a throne of judgment for us. With Christ, the situation is transformed and He is ready, willing and able to give us the help we so desperately need if we will come to Him and ask for it humbly and in faith. Why would anyone stay away from God and from Jesus given these truths? He invites us to come. He died and rose so that we may have our sins blotted out and come to Him. He rose and passed through the heavens so that He may be a merciful and faithful High Priest for all who will come, giving grace upon grace to His needy brothers and sisters.
LOOKING AHEAD (Hebrews 5:1-10)
The writer is going to pick up in this passage where He left off at the end of chapter 4, by continuing his consideration of our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, the Son of God:
- He will continue to show us how much greater Jesus is than the high priests under the Old Covenant, and in doing so, he will reinforce why we may place all our confidence in Jesus to save us.
- He will stress again that the Old Covenant High Priests were beset with weakness and were therefore able to deal gently with those who were in danger of wandering away from God.
- He will point out that Jesus was no stranger to weakness Himself (though not through His own sin, but the certain knowledge that He must bear all the sins of His people). By becoming the “Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa 53:3), Jesus was “perfected” in His fitness to deal gently with the wandering sheep of God’s household.
- He will underline that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, but became obedient to His Father even to death on the cross. When He rose, He became the Firstborn Son of God from among the dead, so that He might ascend into the true tabernacle in heaven and take up His everlasting ministry as High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
- He will help us to see that Jesus was appointed to this Office of High Priest by God Himself. He didn’t come up by Himself with a new idea for a priesthood outside the line of Aaron (whose priests were mere men who died for their own sins). Rather, He fulfilled the prophecy that David had given 1000 years earlier that a new, better priest in the order of Melchizedek would come, and with Him would come a change in the law and a change in the covenant.
Through all of this, we should see our Jesus as One eternally appointed as the certain and sure source of eternal salvation to all who will obey Him and trust Him to be their own merciful and faithful High Priest.