“Jesus is Better Than…” A look at the Book of Hebrews – Part 2

So, if somebody is casually skimming through the Book of Hebrews in the Bible, it might lead them to ask questions such as:  “Melchize – who??”,  or “God, what’s with the preoccupation with all the blood?”, or “High Priest – is this some sort of Dungeons and Dragons Lord of the Rings type thing?”  But, as you really read and meditate and study this fascinating book in the bible, you are sure to come away with a whole lot more…and that is some of what I want to share.  As I mentioned in my previous post, a great theme that I have found in the Book of Hebrews is best summed up to say that “Jesus is better than _________ .  You can fill in that blank with anything, but you have to be able to back it up with the reason “why”?  So…here goes with one of them…

Jesus is better than the Old Testament High Priest: Hebrews 5 tells us a little about the qualifications that a High Priest needed to have and the purpose for which they served:  (v.1) They had to be selected from among men (sounds crazy…but a High Priest had to be a flesh and blood human being, it could not be an angel or other spirit entity.  This is very important because of the purpose of the high priest in (v.2) in that they were appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, offering both gifts and sacrifices for sins.  The high priest, because he was a flesh and blood human being, was able to deal gently with the people who were ignorant and going astray, since the high priest himself was subject to weakness because of his own human frailty and propensity towards sin.  And (v.3) tells us that because of this propensity and weakness, he had to offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as for the sins of the people.  (v.4) tells us that the office of high priest is not something that a person takes upon himself, but must be called by God.  Therefore, Joe the plumber in the Israelite camp could not wake up one day and decide to trade in his plunger for the priestly robes.  Unless of course, Joe was from the tribe of Levi, because it was only the Levites whom God ordained to serve as priests in the tabernacle…that is, the earthly tabernacle

So…summing it up, the high priest was called by God through the tribe of Levi to represent the people in their relationship with God.  They were like the mediator between God and the people of God.  If Joe the Israelite plumber sinned, he would bring the offering that the law of God required for that sin (most likely an animal would have to be slain) to the tabernacle where the high priest served and the high priest would take care of the “atonement offering” on behalf of Joe.  Joe walks away with the knowledge of being cleansed and forgiven, and the high priest carries on in his role. And this is the life of the high priest…day after day…year after year…bull after bull.   And the high priest also, when he sinned, would have to bring his own sacrifice to be slain for his own sins.  Hebrews 10:11 tells us that the priest would stand day after day (which would lead to year after year, and priest after priest) performing his religious duties and offering the same sacrifices…and on and on that went for the longest time until…..Enter Jesus

Let’s take it from the top –  Jesus becomes man and walks among us…why?  Why couldn’t He be just fully God and walk among us?  Why did He have to clothe Himself in the stench of human flesh with all the weakness and suffering that accompanies it?  The answer is found in Hebrews 4:14-16  “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we might receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  That is amazing love that Jesus has shown us!!  He left the glories of heaven and clothed himself with human flesh so that He could fully relate to us…with our weaknesses, with our struggles and doubts, with our temptations to sin, yet He (unlike all the other high priests) never sinned and did not have to offer sacrifices for Himself.  But the Bible tells us in 1Tim.2:5 that “there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men…”  You see, through Jesus we no longer need to have a high priest to represent us in matters related to God…we have Jesus who has done it for us.  And that is why Hebrews 4:16 calls us to approach the throne of grace with confidence to receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.  we can come to Jesus with confidence, and not with fear.  We come to Jesus with certainty, and not with doubt.  Because He himself has become our high priest.  He became a man of flesh and blood so that He could sympathize with the weaknesses of all those that are too clothed with human frailty.  But He overcame human frailty…and so He is one who I fully believe can deliver me from my own human weaknesses.

As I said, the Bible tells us that the high priest stands day after day offering the same sacrifices, which can never really even take away sins.  BUT Jesus the great high priest offered himself once and for all to take away all sins and then He sat down. This sitting down signifies that the job is done…there is no longer a need for the priestly role to represent men before God.  There is no longer the need for repeated animal sacrifices.  And then Hebrews 7:25 says something beautiful…He (Jesus) always lives to intercede for us who have been called by His grace.  My Jesus, my mediator,…my God

And so I will close with Hebrews 7:25-28

25Therefore he is able to save completely[a] those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

26Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

Why does this mean so much to me????  Because I am just like Joe the Israelite plumber…  I sin, I struggle with sin, I suffer from the effects of sin (guilt, condemnation, etc) and I am ever so grateful that Jesus has become my great high priest who always lives to make intercession for me.  In other words, He is my mediator between myself and this holy and perfect God who is an all consuming fire.  I sin…confess it to God, and Jesus says something to the effect of…”Father, I come to you on Cody’s behalf.  I understand Cody’s weakness and struggle.  I love him so much that I gave my very blood as the only sacrifice that would take away his sins forever.  His sin is covered by my blood.  He can come to you.”  And God the Father replies to me, “Cody, come to me…come with confidence and let me offer you my grace and my mercy through my son Jesus.”  And so I come…

I don’t want to offend any catholics out there, but after studying the Book of Hebrews, I find it very difficult to agree with the continued practice of people going to a catholic priest to confess their sins and the priest telling them what to do or say in order to be forgiven…basically acting as a mediator between the person and God.  And so, the average catholic continues to believe that in order to be forgiven by God of their sins, they have to go to a priest who can best represent them before God.  But, according to Hebrews, Jesus is the only true and great high priest who can best represent us before God…why would we settle for somebody less.  Through Jesus Christ, we have been given direct access to God…we do not need another mediator…especially one who is clothed in human frailty just like us. We have Christ Jesus Himself who is our mediator…the One who loves us, sympathizes with us, understands us, and will one day return for us…

Comments always welcome…

One thought on ““Jesus is Better Than…” A look at the Book of Hebrews – Part 2

  1. An excellent exegesis on a difficult book! I can just picture Joe the plumber wearing his ephod and atoning for the sins of the people. Then we would all surely die in our sins! Judy

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