A GREAT HIGH PRIEST
Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
“Seeing then” – These words indicate that we have previously been ‘seeing’ things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ as the great high priest. But where did such insights appear? In the immediately preceding verses we were shown “the word of God.” (Hebrews 4:12,13). Yet did not the apostle instruct us to “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus in the first verse of chapter three? And as we just studied “the word of God,” thus seeing the Lord as our Apostle, so now we come to study him as High Priest.
And also as we are instructed that our high priest is passed into the heavens, in our present text. And we were informed in the very third verse of this book that the Lord Jesus sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, only after he by himself purged our sins. And that purging of our sins was his work as our priest in the offering of himself as our sacrifice Hebrews 7:27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
But there is more! For in Hebrews 2:16-18 we read, “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” And in taking on himself the humanity of man for his person, he also took on himself the responsibility of redeeming, not angels, but human kind! Therefore he became a merciful and faithful high priest! For his Incarnation wrought both their regeneration and mediation! 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
Yet what about the term, “great?” How did he become a ‘great’ high priest? Well part of the answer lies in his own instructions to his disciples as they sought positions of honor in his kingdom. Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Notice in that verse twenty six that one who is “great” must be the servant to minister to all others. Then in verse twenty eight he instructs that he came not to be ministered unto, but to minister to the point of giving his very life as a ransom for many. THAT is why he is “great!”
He is also great because he is not like other men who have gained this high priest’s office by political means. Hebrews 5:4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
And finally, he is great because no one else in the entire universe can cause us to approach the Holy Father but Himself! John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Luke 10:22 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
There is salvation in none other! John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
The Apostle Paul had a personal experience with one of those high priests who had not the spirit of servitude within him. For Ananias, the high priest commanded that Paul be slapped in the mouth just for speaking in his presence. Then that same high priest orchestrated a group to go to the magistrate to testify against Paul. Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. 24:1 ¶ And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.
I’m sure that many of us have had self appointed pastors and teachers who attempted to violate our consciences, seeking to manipulate us for their own purposes. 1 Peter 5:3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 ¶ And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
But our Lord leads us gently with bands of love! Hosea 11:4 I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them. His yoke is easy and light, even bringing rest to our souls! Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Whereas these Pharaoh preachers, who wish to build monuments to their own glory with the sweat, tears and money of those kept enslaved by guilt, keep their members under cruel soul-bondage. They are said to have hair like a woman to entice unsuspecting souls, but with breast plates of iron as they show no sympathy for the torture they exact upon them. And should one try to leave them, they have stinging tails like a scorpion to exact punishment for daring to go away from them. Read Revelation 9:1-12 in order to see the full effect of these locust preachers let loose from the dark pit!
Make no mistake about it dear reader, Satan’s smooth talking, polished, religious orators, are only for the destruction of souls! It is Christ’s ministers alone, who are for the soul’s edification! John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 2 Peter 2:18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, (this is the same word, ‘filthy’ in 2 Peter 2:7), those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
But our Lord Jesus is holy, harmless, undefiled! Hebrews 7:26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Bless his holy name!
In verse fourteen of our Hebrew four text we see Our Priest and Our Profession. In verse fifteen we see Our Priest and Our Passions. Then in verse sixteen we see Reigning Grace and our Receiving Grace!
Our Priest and Our Profession – Verse fourteen. When the high priest went within the holy veil, the entirety of the Israelite population were represented. And they all depended on that high priest’s personal purity to accomplish God’s commands requiring his absolute obedience. It would mean the high priest’s life, and therefore the spiritual benefit to all the soul’s under his care if he were not acceptable to the Lord God! Leviticus 16:2 And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.
Because of the evidences of our Lord’s resurrection and his ‘passing into the heavens,’ we have complete assurance that he pleased and satisfied the Father. And this he did on our behalf. The Father was brought satisfaction in regards to the Son and all those for whom he died! Isaiah 53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Our souls are then anchored in the stedfast, assuring hope of our benefit through Christ’s completed and accepted work! Hebrews 6:18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Our Priest and Our Passions – Verse fifteen. Refer to Hebrews 2:17,18 listed in the second column of page one of this article. For there we read that his Incarnation brought him into the human race as an infant in order that he might grow up to manhood, experiencing first hand the temptations of all things to make of himself a perfect High Priest. Hebrews 5:1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: 2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
Our Lord did not come to represent God in some distant, sterile, austere personality. He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh! (Romans 8:3). He was indeed as much the son of man as he was the Son of God!
Right in the middle of one of the most encouraging verses concerning the suffering of temptations, the suffering believer is instructed that “God is faithful!” 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
And God being faithful, has provided ‘helpers’ for the believer’s passions! Their joy in the Lord is aided by Christ and his ministers! 2 Corinthians 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand. 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
You can tell the difference between Christ’s and Satan’s ministers. (See 2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Satan is always seeking to exalt himself! Isaiah 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
And therefore so are his ministers! 3 John 9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
The Lord Jesus is always seeking to bring himself low. This is also the ‘personality’ of his ministers. Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
And because that ‘angel of light,’ (Satan) seeks to make himself high and exalted, he shall be brought low! Isaiah 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
And because the Lord Jesus seeks to be humbled and lowly, he shall be exalted above everyone and every name in the universe! Philippians 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Through him grace now ‘reigns!’ (Heb. 4:16). It sovereignly provides ‘mercy’ for past sins, and helping grace for present faithfulness! All glory to the Lamb!
Pastor Gene Breed