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Jesus, the Great High Priest (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
April 28, 2020 4:00 am

Jesus, the Great High Priest (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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April 28, 2020 4:00 am

As twenty-first century believers reading a first-century book, sometimes we encounter cultural language that needs context. On Truth For Life, Alistair Begg explains why an Old Testament title for Jesus–the Great High Priest–remains significant for us today.


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When the writer of the book of Hebrews identified Jesus as a high priest that image resonated with every first century Jewish reader in our day. That reference is a little bit less clear. So today on Truth for Life. Alister Beck explains why this Old Testament title for Jesus is so foundational to our faith.

And I invite you to take your Bibles and turn with me to Hebrews into chapter 4 and begin reading at 1/14 verse of chapter 4 through to the 10th verse of chapter 5.

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 may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins, he is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to's offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.

No one takes this honor upon himself. He must be called by God. Just as Aaron wants so Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest, but God said to him you are my son, today I have become your father. He says in another place. You are a priest forever in the order of a deck during the days of Jesus life on earth. He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save them from death and he was Herod because of his reverence of mission.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered, and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Amen.

In reaching the 14th verse of Hebrews, for we come to the section in Hebrews, which embodies the central emphasis of the letter between this 14 verse of chapter 4 in the 18 verse of chapter 10, we have the writers prevailing emphasis on the priesthood the high priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has already mentioned this in passing in the 17 verse of chapter 2 in the first verse of chapter 3, and now he comes to it, and he explains it and applies it in the chapters before us now as in the ones to which we've already come demand are serious attention will be help by doing some homework and the homework is this read from the book of Leviticus chapters 8, nine and 10 and chapter 16. If you are braver or bolder read the whole book of Leviticus, you will be well served by it, but in particular, these chapters will help to give to you something. All of the background information upon which the writer draws and the knowledge of which the writer assumes in addressing these matters which are before is now. Now we are entering an arena which is far removed from our contemporary world. The events that are before us here in these chapters concerning the priesthood and the sacrificial system are aliens where most of us spend our time, but we should not on the basis of that make the assumption which would be erroneous that to pursue in any sense of detail the matters of the priesthood and the sacrificial system that to pursue these things would somehow or another be akin to an honors degree in theology, and indeed it ought to be left to those who have interest in such esoteric things that would be absolutely wrong. The teaching about the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ is absolutely basic to Christian living. Indeed, the two points of application here at the end of chapter 4. We mustn't be ashamed, and we need not be alone, are completely founded on all of this instruction concerning the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ and it is very possible for us to fall foul of an approach to the study of the Bible which is able to affirm certain little clichd principles, but when we are asked to give a reason as to why it is that we should not be ashamed, and we need not be alone.

We find ourselves bereft of any kind of meaningful response and therefore it is imperative that we understand what it is that gives substance to these points of application.

One of the things for which we are suffering many of us.

I don't say this is a judgment, simply as an observation is a sad lack of understanding of the Old Testament itself and it is something to which I and we as pastors need to pay careful attention in the way in which we frame the instruction that is offered to you. The congregation, because many of us have come through the Old Testament with only a scant awareness of what it teaches.

Through our Sunday school years.

We remember Moses and the Red Sea remember Daniel in the lion's den. Remember Jonah and the whale, and beyond that we don't remember much at all and we come many of us through our teenage years with no attention given to the Old Testament whatsoever, and indeed in many of his in the congregations in which we have been worshiping. We have paid very little attention to the Old Testament, a tall, and so when we come to this most Old Testament or New Testament books. It presupposes an awareness of most of us do not have. Hence my expectation that you would consider doing your homework. Ignorance breeds confusion and consequently many of us have vague and cloudy notions that need to be replaced by a clear grasp of basic truths. We dare not make the Bible any more complicated than it is. The Bible has not been written in code. The Bible is not a series of conundrums is not a bunch of rains and riddles which you have to read with a with a special kind of magnifying glass that it is only given to a small group of initiates whereby you can find out what the secrets and the mysteries really are no the Bible has been given to us written in historical form. In some cases, in poetical form written with clarity, not all immediately understandable to us, but nevertheless attainable to each of us who are indwelt and led by the spirit of God. The role of the pastor teacher is to seek to be an enablement in the process, but as with any good teacher, the pastor does not convey all of the information that he might but he teaches in such a way so as to instill within his listeners a strong personal desire to go and learn more for themselves and if you will, then you will become students of the Bible and in becoming students of the Bible. Your hearts will be stirred your lives will be changed and you will be able to make a dramatic impact in your generation for the things of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible has been written in truth and in simplicity in the mainmast and in the plainness of it in order that sinners might be brought to salvation. Now, in light of all of that, it is important then that we say just something concerning this Old Testament sacrificial system because many of us have grown up with the idea that somehow or another.

Whatever the sacrifices were about. We were instigated by man that men and women dreamt up the sacrificial system is aware is some kind of futile attempt to both reach God and make themselves acceptable to God. Nothing could be further from the truth. The sacrificial system was initiated by God. It was a gift from God to his covenant people, so that in the doing all these things, they may learn who God is and what he expects of his people, and they in turn might understand the wonder of redemption. That is why in instigating the sacrificial system.

It is in all of its parts, and in every place. Pointing forward to a great fulfillment that fulfillment. Of course, is here outline for his in the book of Hebrews and the finished in perfect work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He who is in the great high priest and the one who is the perfect sacrifice was helpful for me just to write down three things as I pondered this in these three things may be helpful to you when we think in terms of why in the Old Testament we keep coming across the sacrifice of these animals and the shedding of blood and we enter into a world that is very different from where we live our lives. Remember that the use of sacrificial animals pointed to these three things pointed to more than this, but definitely to this number one to let everyone know that forgiveness is costly. Number two to let everyone know that the punishment due to sin is death, and number three to make absolutely clear that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sins. So when you read in your Old Testament you come to those passages where there are sacrifices. Remember, at least that number one this is to show me how costly forgiveness is. Secondly, it is to make clear to me that the punishment for sin is death. And thirdly, that I may be in no doubt that without shedding of blood there is no remission and forgiveness of sins is a kind of background information that you will begin to put together as you study on your own and coming to the verses that have that I have just read. I want to reverse the way in which were going to study them. I want to use the first 10 verses of chapter 5, to expound the opening phrase of the 14 verse of chapter 4.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest because the fact is that for many overs.

Most of us if we're honest. That means very little because we have no real concept of who or what the high priest was and therefore what it could possibly mean for Jesus himself to be a great high priest, and so are we going to do is were going to try and unpack the first 10 verses of chapter 5 and then eventually will return to the application which is contained in verses 14 through 16. First of all, then will you notice that in the first four verses the writer gives to as the qualities that are required in high priests are the qualities that where required and high priests. If you were taking notes you would just write that down if you like to colloquial Isaac high priests job description or how to become a high priest or how to how to have your son become a high priest, what would be necessary you if you were living then and your boy said I think I'm going to be a high priest one day and what would you say to them what would be the essential elements that would need to be there if they were going to assume that role well that here and there on the surface of the text.

Let me simply outline them for you. Number one, every high priest is selected from among men. That's the first thing where you get high priests from you get them from among their peers. They don't come drop down from heaven on a string. They don't come out of some special little box somewhere. They come from the mainstream of humanity. If this individual was to be able to represent men and women.

Then he himself needed to come from those men and women and in the Old Testament, Aaron, and indeed all of his successors were taken from the large company of Israelites. They had experienced the same conditions they had lived with the same pressures in the same trials and on account of that when it came to dealing with all the matters for which they were to represent these people before God.

They understood because they wear from them they where one of them. That is why a good advocate a good banister in British terms will be somebody who is actually lived in the environment of the people whom he represents and understands it so that he can speak empathetically of the concerns of those who are his clients similar one selected from among men.

Secondly to represent them in matters related to God very clear phrase isn't what is the high priest knew what he represents people about what will in matters related to God.

She turned to chapter 9 for just a moment in the verse seven, you have the description of the high priest only entering the inner room, the holy of holies and that only once a year and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins.

The people had committed in their ignorance. The high priest was not set apart in order that he could dress up in special clothes and walk around and draw attention to himself. He was not given the privilege and responsibility of his priesthood simply to gain precedence over others, or to establish a lifestyle that would mark him out in a unique group, but he was given the responsibility to represent men and women in matters that related to God. Thirdly, and piggybacking on that truth and indeed expounding it somewhat what is it mean that he would not represent them in matters related to God what actually to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins of you drop down to verse three for just a moment you will notice that these high priests wear themselves subject to weakness. They were sinners and therefore they had to offer sacrifices for their own sins before they were able to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people. That's why when you do your homework and Leviticus you will find that the high priest on the day of atonement in Leviticus 16 is going first before God, to offer sacrifice for his own sin, so that he may then become the advocate and the representative of the people.

Fourthly, he must be able to deal gently with the ignorant and the wondering. That's verse two able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and her going astray selected from among men representing them in matters related to God offering gifts and sacrifices for sins and able to deal gently with them. In other words, the high priest's hands must be matched by the high priest's heart that his internal inward feelings are to be in keeping with his outward duties that he is to have a genuine sense of empathy which emerges from the fact of his own personal weakness and since he knows himself to be a sinner. It saves him from being on Julie, bombastic with those who, like him, are also sinners, but he is also to make sure that he does not in seeking not to be too harsh that he does not become totally apathetic and indeed the word which is used here for dealing gently is a philosophical term Metrorail pathfinding is the Greek word and it means that die mention of anti-chewed, which is held in tension between apathy on the one hand, and undo aggravation on the other see what of the great temptation to somebody who would fulfill the role of high priest it is that when he sees how dreadful everybody is being that he would throw up his hands and sail goodness gracious, as is dreadful. Why don't we just shut this man would have to be offering sacrifices ad nausea him here for these people.

I'm fed up with so becomes apathetic to the task or that he becomes on Julie rigorous and severe and is always chiding and beating on the people and the thing that will prevent him from that is the awareness of who he is. Forget who you are.

You may be the high priest, you may be able to go into the holy of holies. But remember, you can go straight in because you have to sacrifice for your own sins before you're able to go through and that will prevent you from appearing to lord it over people and it will prevent you on the other hand, from dealing lightly with sin. Hewitt commenting that on this says, and succinctly.

I wish I could learn this, it is necessary for him to avoid undue severity, for he is under the same condemnation yet is God's representative. He cannot be too lenient for God never overlooks sin, he should avoid undue condemnation diseases.

Sinner but he can start me into lenient because God doesn't overlook sent it's really a role of a mother or father is not. If you are too lax and apathetic towards the rebellion of your children you will punish them in the long run by being unprepared to intervene if we beat them on Julie for their faltering's and stumbling them. We will break their spirits. Therefore we have to live somehow in this tension between undue severity and undue leniency physically and finally the fifth Marcus that this individual must be called by God. Verse four.

No one takes this honor upon himself. He must be called by God and otherwise you can simply put a sign up on site is his front door, declaring that he is the new high priest as of February 10. I am the high priest. When John Calvin fastened on this in the midst of the Reformation.

He applied to his day with great clarity. Let me quote and hundreds of years later. I think it is a timely word for our own generation. Your sensible people.

You can judge the rightness of my assertion says Calvin as it is the promise of God to govern the church so he reserves to himself alone the right to lay down the order and manner of its administration. Fair enough taste church he can decide how you do it in the church my loved ones. This is just basic Protestant Christian teaching, but to propound it is to appear extreme in the whole history of Reformation Christianity is been absolutely clear. Why then does its straightforward statement appear so bizarre because by and large, the charge is so dreadfully on towards the spirit of our age which is so prevailing really syncretistic and pluralistic has so much indoctrinated itself with the idea that tolerance is on the throne and truth is its footstool finds it alien in its years when the situation is reversed and soaked fruitless on the throne and tolerance is its footstool. This has to means Jesus the great high priest at our subject today from Alastair big part of the series called fix our eyes on Jesus, your Truth for Life were committed to teaching the whole Bible, you may have heard somebody say it takes the whole Bible to make all Christian when you give to this ministry you're helping bring clear biblical teaching the people all around the world and show our gratitude for your support. One of the things we do is select high quality resources each month. Things you can add your personal library to help you grow in your faith. This month we have a very special selection.

It's a brand-new release of the classic book, the Pilgrim's progress and it's been newly updated includes 30 full-color original illustrations, this timeless book by John Bunyan tells the enduring tale of a man named Christian who is navigating temptation and danger. On his way to the celestial city. This is a brilliantly told allegory that mirrors our own Christian pilgrimage as we seek to stay on the path to eternal life. If you've never read this beloved story you want to get a copy of the book. And even if you already own a copy. This new addition. Beautifully illustrated makes a great gift. It's quick and easy to request the book when you donate online at or if you prefer you can call us her number is 888-588-7884. That's 88858878841 more thing. If you have never downloaded the truth from a mobile app to your smart phone or tablet or if it's been a while since you opened it you will want to take a look at some of the recent updates we've made, the app has been enhanced. Now you can pick up listing to a message where you left off and you can follow along with Alistair's teaching by using the complete ESV Bible that's accessible from the main navigation bar. So if you're not listening on the app today search truth for in your App Store and download for free Bob Lapine tomorrow. Alastair continues her study of Jesus. High priestly role what it means for our salvation. Part of her series called fix our eyes on Jesus will be sure to listen Wednesday Bible teaching of Alastair big is furnished by Truth for Life or the Learning is for Living

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