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Great High Priest (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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October 31, 2020 4:00 am

Great High Priest (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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October 31, 2020 4:00 am

What does Jesus’ title of Great High Priest imply? For a better picture of Christ’s role as our High Priest and to understand how this impacts our lives today, listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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The New Testament writers referred to Jesus in a variety of ways, and each one tells us something different about the offices or the virtues of Christ. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg mentions a rich and wonderful title for Jesus that appears in the book of Hebrews chapter 10.

Well we come this evening to the title of Christ as great high priest. When we looked in the first evening at Christ as our prophet, we said that he comes as prophet to deal with our ignorance of God. The work of the prophet is essentially that of representing God to men. Now as we consider him as priest, he comes as priest to deal with our alienation from God. And the work of the priest is essentially the reverse work. Rather, it is the representative of the people to God.

And those who were the initial readers of this letter were well familiar with all of the aspects to which the writer alludes. It is perhaps the most Old Testament of all of the New Testament writings. And indeed, it helps us better perhaps than any other New Testament book to get a grasp of all that is contained for us in the unfolding story of redemption as it is provided throughout the Old Testament record.

I just have five observations, so maybe that's five Os. But first of all, to notice that this high priest is both merciful and faithful. Secondly, Christ as our great high priest has done all that is necessary in relation to God. Theologians talk about both the active and passive obedience of Christ. In his active obedience, he has fulfilled all righteousness. You remember in his baptism, when John the Baptist says to him, I think we have this the wrong way around.

Shouldn't I be being baptized by you? And Matthew records that Jesus on that occasion said, Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting to fulfill all righteousness. Christ, in his active obedience, did everything that the law required.

He was without sin. And in his passive obedience, he then bore the penalty that our law-breaking deserves. God demanded that the law would be kept. Christ kept it. God demanded that a penalty would be paid for the sins of the lawbreakers. Christ paid that penalty.

And in doing so, he bore that which was due to us. Verse 26 of chapter 9, Nor did he that is Jesus enter heaven to offer himself again and again the way the high priest enters the most holy place every year with blood that is not his own. A reference to the Day of Atonement, as we have it in Leviticus 16 and out from there. The writer says Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world, but now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. And this is a recurring theme already for us in these talks.

The great exchange. He became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him, a righteousness that God requires if ever we are to stand before him, a righteousness which God achieves in the once-for-all sacrifice of his Son, a righteousness which God declares in the proclaiming of the gospel, and a righteousness which God bestows on all those who believe the gospel. Jesus has done everything that is necessary in relationship to God. Thirdly, he has done everything that is necessary in relationship to sin.

Well, you might say, well, you've already said that, haven't you? I suppose in part I have, because in doing everything that was necessary in relationship to God, he was providing this atoning sacrifice for sin. But it is important for us to point it out, because the writer points it out.

And you will notice that there in the 12th verse he contrasts what has been going on with the day-after-day priestly function, performing religious duties again and again, he offers the same sacrifices. If you ever take a taxi from a large airport—at least, I think, invariably throughout the world—you will, if you ever are only going a short distance to your hotel, let's say less than two miles, you will feel absolutely horrible if you have any sense of empathy in you at all for the taxi driver. If you don't understand it at first, you will understand as he finally pulls away. And as he pulls away, you will realize that he had come to the front of the line of an interminably long line of taxis that have been sitting there since the early hours of the morning, hoping and desperately praying that whenever their number comes up, the person who is getting on board in Heathrow wants to go to Aberdeen, only to discover that his fare wants to go a mile and a half up the road to the travel lodge. And then the poor soul must make his way back to the end of that line.

I must confess, I always pay substantially more. Even as a Scotsman, I cannot bear the thought of that poor soul going back to the end of that thing. And that's the sort of process, again and again, and round and round. And that's the picture here, not of the taxi driver but of the priestly function. They went in, they performed their religious duties, having come, their number has come up, they're at the front of the line, it's their turn, they do it, and then immediately they go and they take their place at the end of the line.

They never sit because their work is never finished. Again and again, the process continues, round and round they go. If that was able to make atonement for sin, all of that would have dealt with it and we would be finished and done. No, says the writer, but since it never could, since it could picture what Christ was to perform, but could not perform what Christ procured, it must be that this great high priest would make sacrifice for sin in the giving of himself.

And the wonder of what has happened there in that is just unquantifiable and a source of great encouragement to those of us who know ourselves to have sinful hearts and to reflect sometimes on our lives before Christ that we're full of all kinds of badness and nonsense and disreputable stuff. And the devil, who is the accuser of the brethren, comes to us routinely and tries to say, and sometimes in the strangest times and out of the blue and sometimes in church when our minds wander, and he says, you know, aren't you the one who did such-and-such? Aren't you the one who said such-and-such? You're here singing these songs. You're here preaching these sermons.

Aren't you the character that acted in such a bad and wrong way before? And what he wants to do is to get us rummaging around in the dustbin of forgiven sin. And the antidote to that is provided for us here—that in Jesus, as our great high priest, he has done all that is necessary in relationship to sin. And hence the wonderful quote, Their sins and their lawless acts I will remember no more. Because of who he is, he is able to do by his choice what we actually cannot do— namely, deliberately forget.

We are those who can't remember what we deliberately have tried to recall, and who cannot forget what we have deliberately tried to set aside. That's why we need a great high priest. Again, this afternoon, as we were talking about influences on our lives, a couple of the fellows said that Alec-Matea had been an influence on their lives, and all of us who have been the privileged ones to sit under his teaching of the Bible would concur with that for sure. And I was reflecting on the fact that in 1986, I had the privilege of being in Port Stewart and listening to him as he did a series on Hebrews. And as I speak to you now, his words come back to me. And I remember when he got to this portion in the Bible, he said in his sort of wonderfully lilting Dublin cultured accent, which I won't try and imitate, there will be occasions when you will find yourself, believer, he said, going back to God and saying, God, you know, I'm just so pressed down by what happened in 1994 or whatever else it is.

And God will say to you, please stop. I have no record of that at all. I have no record of that at all, because he puts our sins as far away as the east is from the west.

Infinity. What a great high priest! What a wonderful story!

For those whose lives are not only held in the fear of death, but those whose lives are trapped with a deep sense of guilt, and to, despite all of their attempts to find some kind of liberation, stumble along through life. And here we have the answer. Scotland produced all kinds of choruses in the post-Second World War era. I think everybody just started to sing. They'd been singing through the war, and they kept singing. And not all of them were great, and some of them are embedded in my memory for good and not so good.

But I remember there was one that we were taught to sing, and it went like this, You ask me why I'm happy, and I will tell you why. Because my sins are gone. And when I look at others who ask me where they are, I'll say, My sins are gone. They're underneath the blood of the cross of Calvary, as far away as darkness is from dawn, in the sea of God's forgetfulness.

That's good enough for me. I'll say, My sins are gone. In contemporary terms, in one of Stuart Townend's songs, which begins with the line, There is a hope, he has a masterful line in the middle of it when he writes in this way, When life has plunged me in its deepest pit, I find the Savior there. For he has entered into our humanity and into the depth of our predicament, because he fulfills the purpose of great high priest. Fourthly, he has done all that is necessary in relationship to Satan. Verse 13, still in Hebrews 10, that he has—unlike those other taxi drivers—he has completed the task, and he has offered a sacrifice for sin once and for all. Incidentally, that's all the furniture that you need in a church, isn't it? You just need a table and a pulpit—a pulpit on which you can have a Bible where God's Word has been once and for all delivered to the saints, and a table on which you can celebrate communion where Christ's once and for all sacrifice for sins is remembered. He has made this once and for all sacrifice for sins, and as a result of that, he is simply waiting until his enemies are made his footstool.

Until his enemies are made his footstool. There's no question that the devil is a defeated foe. It's the difference between, is it D-day and V-day, as I read the history of the war, when the declaration has been made, but it hasn't reached all the outlying outposts, and there are various skirmishes still going on. But there's no question about victory.

That has already been declared. Or if you like him playing chess, if you play with someone who's good, they look at you and they say, It's checkmate. And you say, Oh, no, it's not checkmate. I could move my knight over there. I could shove a couple of pawns around and so on. And then your friend will say to you, Yes, you can do anything you like, but it's checkmate.

You can make as many moves on the board as you choose, but you cannot alter the outcome. Now, that is true in relationship to the evil one—that Christ, as a great high priest, has done all that is necessary in relationship to Satan. So let us neither deny his evil influence nor become preoccupied with it, but let us again look at the great spiritual battle in which we engage in light of the great high priesthood of Jesus. And incidentally, in accomplishing all of this, Christ works in absolute cohesion and unity with the Father. I want to pause for a moment and say that because I have watched from the other side of the pond and listened to the ongoing sorry saga calling in question the nature of Christ's vicarious substitutionary atonement, as if somehow or another Christ was an unwilling victim of the Father, or that Christ went to the cross in order to twist the arm of the Father. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, then that's okay.

You can just relax. But if you do, then you will be aware of the helpfulness of these words by John Stott. When we talk of the Father's plan and the Son's sacrifice, we should not think of the Father laying on the Son an ordeal he was unwilling to bear, nor of the Son extracting from the Father a salvation he was unwilling to bestow. It is true that the Father gave the Son. It is equally true that the Son gave himself. We mustn't speak of God punishing Jesus or of Jesus persuading God the Father. We must never make Christ the object of God's punishment or God the object of Christ's persuasion. For both the Father and Son are subjects, not objects, taking the initiative together to save sinners.

Now, that quote from Stott is worth the price of this evening's CD. Fifthly and finally, this Jesus, who sat down because his work was complete, stood up again. This Jesus, who sat down because his work was finished, is still at work. Hence the theologian speaking of the finished work of Christ as Great High Priest and the ongoing work of Christ as Great High Priest.

And if you want your homework, then you go home, you get Hebrews, and you start in chapter 7 and in verse 23, and you read all the way through to the beginning of chapter 8. And after he has described what Christ is doing in his continuing office, because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood, right? That he has a finished work and a permanent priesthood. And then, says the writer to the Hebrews, the point of what we're saying is this—it's good when you come to something like that, isn't it?

Especially in the Bible, you say, Oh, good, I'm glad you're going to explain it now, because I just read chapter 7, and I was having great difficulty—the point of what we're saying is this. We do have such a high priest who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the majesty in heaven and who, present tense, serves in the sanctuary the true tabernacle set up by the Lord and not by man. In other words, he ever lives to make intercession for us. Behold him there, the risen Lamb, our great and spotless righteousness. Behold him there, as it were, as he bares his hands before the Father, metaphorically, in relationship to the sins of those whom he has redeemed. And the Father, as it were, looks to the Son and says, And what about this? And Jesus does this.

I mean, this is dreadful stuff, isn't it, to try and speak in these categorical terms, but this is the way my mind works. And the Father says, And what about this stuff? And Jesus puts his hands up like this, and the Father nods and says, Yes, that's exactly right. He is not there being re-sacrificed.

He is not there pleading a work that is an ongoing work. He is there as the very embodiment, as the very completion, as the very fulfillment of that once-and-for-all sacrifice that he has accomplished on behalf of sinners. And in his ongoing ministry as Great High Priest, our names are graven on his hands, and our names are written on his heart. And I know that while in heaven he stands, no one can bid me thence depart, because he stands as the one who had sat in completion.

Now, I hope this is a help to you. And what are the implications to be? Well, in terms of Hebrews 4, we should hold firmly to the faith we profess.

All right? And then we should approach confidently the throne of grace. Those verbs and that progression, I think, is absolutely crucial. We will not be able to approach confidently unless we hold firmly. So we hold firmly, we approach confidently, and we rest securely.

Because Jesus is our Great High Priest. You're listening to the weekend edition of Truth for Life, a message from Alistair Begg titled Great High Priest. Keep listening because we're going to hear a final teaching point from Alistair, followed with prayer.

But first, I want to provide some context for the message you've heard today. This is part of a series Alistair has done, a nine-part series called To Know Christ. If you missed any portion of the series, feel free to download the entire collection. There's no cost for these nine audio files. You can also purchase these messages on CD at our cost without any markup at slash store. Search the title To Know Christ. As an alternative, you can listen through the Truth for Life mobile app. In fact, you can access the entire archive of Alistair's teaching this way. If you've yet to download the app from your app store, you'll find it when you search for Truth for Life.

It's entirely free to download and use. Here again is Alistair Begg. The first question in the Heidelberg Catechism is this, What is your only comfort in life and death?

The answer? That I am not my own, but belong, body and soul, in life and death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and he has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven. In fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him. Father, thank you for sending Jesus. Jesus, thank you that you came. Holy Spirit, won't you teach us more about his lovely name, for his sake, for our good. Amen. Today we celebrated Jesus as our great High Priest. Next weekend we'll learn about his position as our Divine King. I'm Bob Lapine, hoping you can join us again as our study called To Know Christ continues. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-31 07:20:36 / 2024-01-31 07:28:28 / 8

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