Sunday, 8 June 2014


Hebrews 5:1-10
Sometimes someone will refer to me as a Priest. That tells me three things:
[1] They are not familiar with the names we give those who serve in our churches: Minister, Elder, or Pastor.
They properly come from a Roman Catholic background where they have Priests.
[2] They are seeking to show some respect and regard to the position I have here. I don't take any offence to them calling me a priest - but
[3] It shows me that they do not understand the gospel. (Yes if your ahead of me that means that the Roman Catholic Church does not understand the gospel). For anyone who does knows that we only have the need for one special priest, our high priest, Jesus.
When you have him as your high priest then you, along with every believer, are part of a holy priesthood:
1Pe 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1Pe 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
In that sense along with every believer I am a priest, but we have office of special priests for we need none besides Jesus.
The book of Hebrews has been used by God to bring Roman Catholic Priests to salvation in Christ - as they have read it they have seen Jesus is the only priest they need.
This is the main point of Hebrews - 8v1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,
He begins to teach this in detail in chapter 5.
v1-4: He talks about the office of high priest; what the high priest does; why his work is needed; what qualities he has to have to fulfil his tasks; and who chose him.
v5-10: He shows us Jesus as our high Priest: Who appointed him and what made him so especially suited to this office? What makes him such a great high priest?
This is not something that we are familiar with in our culture. You may wonder:
[1] Why do we need a high priest at all? He says:
5v1 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.
Why do we need someone to act on our behalf, to offer gifts, and to sacrifice for sins?
i) Isn't the idea of a priest old fashioned, a primitive concept, smacks of superstition, and has been thoroughly discredited by a whole series of scandals over recent years.
We no longer live in a deferential society; University lectures are known by their first name as our company MD's.
Prince Charles - polite but in no way deferential.
ii) We do not need to give gifts to God; if we do wish to do so we can give them ourselves.
iii) We don't need a sacrifice for sins! Again all that is primitive. We are above such things today, so if he exists must God be! We all make mistakes, we are sorry for them. That ought to be enough. If it's not then we have also done some good things in our lives. If that's not enough then we will pay our dues. We will take what we have coming to us. But sacrifice for sin! No we don't need to make any such sacrifices so we have no need of a high priest.
In short: If we want anything to do with God we will go to him ourselves. We do not need a high priest.
Try telling that to the Israelites at the foot of Mt Sinai! Exodus 19:16-25; 20:18-21;
So you don't need a priest, you want act as your own priest? You want to go before God yourself? How far do you think you will get? You have not begun to realise who God is and what it is like to go before him.
Later the writer will say: Heb 12:29 for our God is a consuming fire.
We need a high priest because God is holy and we are not! And when what is sinful comes into contact with what is holy there is only one result! And it is not good for the sinner!
We need a high priest for when we want to give gifts to God to express our gratitude to him; our thanksgiving; our love and joy.
We need a sacrifice for our sins.
Why doesn't God just say I forgive you? I can see you are sorry. It doesn't matter. Forget it.
Because it does matter!
"God will forgive me that's his job!"
God is holy. Sin is breaking his law. It is incurring a debt you cannot pay. It is against God. It provokes his wrath. It deserves death and hell!
Sin has to be dealt with!
We feel that! We prosecute people for crimes they committed 30,40, even 50 years ago! It is an offence. Time does not remove the need for justice to be done.
[2] What qualities does a high priest need?
v2-3 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.
v3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.
He has to be someone who remembers that he to is beset by weakness and he too is a sinner who needs to offer sacrifices for his own sins.
When he remembers this then he can deal gently with those who come to him - he must not allow his emotions to run away with him. If someone comes and brings a sacrifice for the priest to offer for a particular sin the priest may feel a sense of anger or indignation that this person has done such a thing! He must keep control of his emotions and be gentle with the person.
[3] Who appoints the high priest?
v4 And no one takes this honour for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
The idea of having a high priest is not something taken over from paganism. Pagan religions had priests. They had them in response to a need they felt for an intermediary between the gods and man. The misuse of priests does not mean there is not a legitimate need for a priest; The false does not mean there is not a genuine.
Did Aaron go to Moses and said he had a good idea - you lead the people and be the prophet; and I'll be your right hand man, I'll be the priest! No, it was not their idea.
Aaron was appointed by God. It came from God. Who appointed the high priest? God did. That alone ought to be more than enough to convince us that we need a high priest!
Now we are up to speed on the high priest he can teach us:
Do you remember picking teams at school? Everyone would shout their advice - pick him...not him...what did you pick him for...why didn't you get him!
Some people could pick a team. Others picked their friends regardless of whether or not they could play!
Now imagine Jose Marinio comes and watches everyone play and then he picks a team.
Who chooses the high priest? You and I do not have to pick a high priest to represent us. Who would you have for such a task?
No, our high priest is chosen by God the Father. He chooses who will come before him on our behalf. We know he will choose someone he accepts, someone he knows can do the job, the best there is.
He chooses Christ:
v5 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”;
6 as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”
(He will explain all about the order of Melchizedek later - all we need to know now is that it is a valid order of priests that God accepts.)
God chose his Son.
We can see how God would be pleased with that - but how does that make him right for us? What does he know about our situation?
[1] He became one of us: v7 In the days of his flesh,
God is spirit. The eternal Son of God took flesh and blood. Before the incarnation the Son was Spirit, now he is also a man.
He did not come in a privileged position. He was not born with a silver spoon, in a great palace, with many servants to do his every bidding.
He came and was brought up as the village carpenters son.
When he begun his ministry although he achieved great popularity among the people, he made powerful enemies among the religious and political establishment. They plotted to kill him.
He entered fully into the experience of being a man.
[2] What makes him to be the best man for the job is not only that he is the incarnate Son of God, but he knows what it is to reach that place where you feel you cannot go on, he knows what it is to reach breaking point.
Remember the writer is concerned some of his readers feel they are almost at that point where they cannot go on in the Christian faith; they cannot face more persecution; they cannot take the pressure of dying for the faith.
v7b Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death,
This is Gethsemane. Let's remind ourselves of this time in our Lord's life: Luke 22:39-46
But Jesus died! The Father did not save him! How is that meant to comfort us?
Because - v7c and he was heard because of his reverence.
Jesus' prayer was heard. He approached God and prayed and was heard.
And his prayer was answered. It was his Father's will that he goes to the cross. That knowledge gave him the strength, courage, faith and trust to go and die.
Jesus had a thorough preparation for the task of being high priest. Son of God he may be - but he was granted no special privileges, no exemptions, he could not have been tested any more rigorously than he was.
[3] Are you afraid of suffering? Are you suffering now and wondering how you can carry on in the way God wants you to do so?
(The devil will suggests strategies for avoiding suffering or relieving you of suffering: steal...have an affair...get your own back...give up...leave...hit them..!)
Jesus knows all about being obedient when the easier way out is to be disobedient to the will of God.
v8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.
He learned obedience through what he suffered - not as the child learns to be obedient through his parents discipline for Jesus never did anything wrong. So in what sense did he learn obedience?
Peter O'Brien: He came to appreciate fully what conforming to God's will involved'
His obedience was a call to suffer and die on the cross.
Phil 2:7 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.
This is why he is the perfect high priest:
v9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, v10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
He is the source of eternal salvation. You cannot go straight into the presence of God; walking into a nuclear reactor would be less dangerous!
Mt 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. (Radiation can only kill your body) Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
You need someone to represent you to God. You need a priest to offer a sacrifice for your sins.
Jesus is that high priest! You go to him. He is the source of salvation.

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