Hebrews: We have a Great High Priest Who is ABLE...

The Pope is very much in the news these days with the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.  And there's a lot of controversy surrounding the election of his successor. So since we are talking about popes, here's a bit of papal trivia:  did you know that the pope is referred to as Pontifex Maximus...the highest priest?  That's what a pope in the Dark Ages decided would be a good title for popes from then on.  He was borrowing from the title for the head priest in ancient Rome at that time.

But maybe this isn't trivia at all!  As you may or may not know, by definition a priest is a mediator.  According to Unger's Bible Dictionary, the term priest is

...used of one who may "draw near" to the divine presence (Exo 19:22; 30:20), while others remain afar off...

And there's nothing trivial about that!  In fact, it means life or death...and I'm talking ETERNAL life or ETERNAL death!

Why?  Because there is only ONE Mediator between God and man, and it's our Great High Priest, our Lord Jesus Christ!

And our Great High Priest is the All-Sufficient Christ...a glorious truth for all of us!  Do we really get that?  God wants us to get it...that it's all about His Son...He is All It, as I like to say!

But HOW, you ask, HOW is He All It?  In the early chapters of Hebrews, God the Father begins to tell us HOW.  He says that the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, is our Great High Priest Who Himself is ABLE...dynamically so at all times!  In fact, the word "is able" in the Greek is in a continuous tense and is the word from which we get "dynamite"  and "dynamic."

Let's look at three ways Jesus Himself, our Great High Priest, is ABLE on our behalf:

  1. He is able to help (Hebrews 2:14-18). He "takes hold of" us believers and "comes to our aid" ("runs to our cries for help"). HOW? with mercy toward us (because "He was made like His brethren in all things") and faithfulness toward God (as our Sin-bearer, making satisfaction before a holy God). Think of how Jesus was "made like us in all things."  Go to the Gospels and trace His human life from conception to death.  How can He run to your cry and help you because of all He went through merely as a human walking through a fallen world?  Thank Him!
  2. He is able to sympathize (Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:1-10). We have a risen, enthroned Christ who is sympathetic (compassionate) toward us at all times.  Why?  Because He was tempted, tried, and tested every day of His life, just as we are.  But there was one big difference...He didn't sin.  But He was truly tempted...He had soul fluctuations toward evil, as Dan Stone put it in The Rest of the Gospel.  The definition of temptation is a "solicitation to do evil."  So those negative feelings and struggles we have that we judge ourselves so mercilessly for may be temptation not sin.  Sin involves choice. It was very freeing and comforting for me to discover the passage in Hebrews 5:7-8 where we see our Savior struggling with the will of the Father.  The verses in Hebrews are referring to Christ's agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Take a look at Matthew 26:36-46 and Luke 22:39-46. Jesus didn't sin because of His fear and dread and agony.  He desperately didn't want the suffering in His humanness...and wasn't ashamed to express that.  In fact, He had been willing and actually wanted His disciples to be with Him in it!  But in the end of course, He chose to "drink the Father's cup."
  3. He is able to save forever (Hebrews 7:1-28). The word "save" is "sozo" meaning to deliver, make whole, preserve from destruction, rescue.  So our great High Priest saves us forever and completely, wholly and entirely...past, present and future.  Why can He do that?  Because His Priesthood is superior to that of any other kind of priest, before or since. It is based on His indestructible, indissoluable life (Hebrews 7:16).  As Spiro Zodiates says in his Word Studies in the NT: The life of Christ is declared as distinct from the life of someone else, life that was not acquired and that cannot be done away with.   It is inherent life (John 1:4 "in Him was life").  His life has no derivation and is interminable. So He always lives to intercede for us...He never stops, because He always lives...He's I AM! So what should we do, dear friend? Come boldly to the Throne of Grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need! Why?  Because we HAVE as our ever-present possession our Great High Priest Who... ...communicating even here and maintaining an everlasting, unchangeable life in us, that lifts our inner experience out of the region of effort and change and failure into the rest of God. Andrew Murray, Holiest of All


    Before the throne of God above

    I have a strong and perfect plea

    A great High Priest whose Name is Love

    Who ever lives and pleads for me

    My name is graven on His hands

    My name is written on His heart

    I know that while in heaven He stands

    No tongue can bid me thence depart

    No tongue can bid me thence depart

    When Satan tempts me to despair

    And tells me of the guilt within

    Upward I look and see Him there

    Who made an end to all my sin

    Because the sinless Savior died

    My sinful soul is counted free

    For God the Just is satisfied

    To look on Him and pardon me

    To look on Him and pardon me

    Behold Him there the risen Lamb

    My perfect spotless righteousness

    The great unchangeable I AM

    The King of glory and of grace

    One with Himself I cannot die

    My soul is purchased by His blood

    My life is hid with Him on high

    With Christ my Savior and my God!

    With Christ my Savior and my God!



    Homework --   Read Hebrews 5:11-6:20 Answer questions in Hoping for Something Better, p. 195-196 Read chapter 5,  Hoping... ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST  -- revised class notes PRIESTHOOD- chart for Hebrews 7:11ff Jesus' Priesthood acc to Melchizedek2 --  diagram of Jesus' priesthood/Melchizedek/Covenant