Who is your great high priest? - Hebrews 5:4-5
In biblical times, one of the questions a Jew might ask another person is, “Who is your high priest? Who is your mediator between you and God? Who offers the sacrifices for your sins?” Even today, it is common in many religions to have someone be your mediator. So the question becomes, who is the believer’s high priest? Who is the Christian’s priest and makes their sacrifices for sin? It’s an interesting question not many of us think about because of our culture. Some may say their pastor or clergy. And while they may be a pastor, do they act as the mediator? In the Old Testament, priests were chosen to be bridge builders between the Jewish people and God. Men could not just enter into the presence of God on their own. So God appointed a certain group of men who were facilitators to help man come into His presence. They would go into the Holy of holies and make sacrifice on the Day of Atonement. They would regularly be the one to offer up the burnt offerings of the people for their sin. They would intercede with God on the people’s behalf.
At the heart of Christianity is the truth that Jesus Christ is our great High Priest. He is our mediator, the one who makes sacrifice for our sin, who intercedes for us. Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ made the sacrifice once for man that will forever atone for man’s sins. Hebrews 5:4-5 says, And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” Several criteria was required to be a high priest. Chief among the qualifications was they had to be appointed by God. The criteria for being high priest was set by God. As noble as it was to be a priest, to be a priest happened when God called him – not man, not his family, not even himself…but when God called him. As Aaron was called by God, so God is the one who determines who would be the high priest. Jesus was sent by the Father. He was chosen as the name above all names. Jesus Christ is Lord of all. Interestingly, Jesus did not take the position for Himself or give honor to Himself. In John 8:54, Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’.” It was God who raised Jesus from the dead. It was the Father Jesus submitted Himself to. It was the God the Father who gave glory to His Son and bestowed on Him the name above every other name. At the baptism of Jesus, it was the voice coming out of heaven that said, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”
Jesus Christ is my Great High Priest because God sent Him to be my High Priest. He is not only my Great High Priest, but also of everyone who believes in Him through faith. Jesus Christ, the physical representation of God, the image of the invisible God, is my great High Priest and He intercedes for me today. He is praying for me. He is my mediator – praise the Lord!
Thank You Jesus for being my Mediator. Thank You for making sacrifice for my sin. Amen. Now let’s go lived the transformed life because Jesus is our great High Priest!
Jesus Can Relate - Hebrews 5:7-8
One of the true great mysteries of the Christian faith is that of the humanity and deity of Jesus Christ. He is God’s Son. He was God in the flesh. I have wondered what God would look like if I could see Him physically. But in reality Jesus answered that question when He said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” Jesus was the physical representation of the invisible God. But as much as He was God, Jesus was also human. As a human, Jesus was limited. So how could He be both God and human at the same time? While it is a mystery we do know Jesus submitted Himself to the Father and that may help us some. But as a human, he identifies with us.
Hebrews 5:7-8 says, In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. Jesus Christ identified with man. He understood us for He Himself was a man. Just as any high priest that served in the Tabernacle or Temple, Jesus too was human. He felt as we felt. He grew as we grow. He went through many of the things we as people go through. It tells us in these verses, He prayed loudly crying out to God with tears. It is not as Jesus can’t identify with us. He can!
The statement, ‘He learned obedience’ does not mean Jesus was disobedient and had to learn to obey. Rather, it means to experience it for himself. There is a difference between learning through education and knowledge and learning through experience. Jesus learned through experience what it mean to be obedient to the point of suffering. Suffering is a very skilled teacher. I have been around death and walked with others through the valley of the shadow of death. But recently in the loss of my own mother, I learned suffering differently. Jesus experienced suffering Himself. Jesus experienced ridicule, mockery and persecution. Jesus knew what it meant to have others talk about you behind your back. Jesus knew what it was like to have people question your every move and motivation. Jesus knew what it was like for people not to believe Him even though He was always faithful. Jesus suffered rejection by His own family and town as they questioned His heritage. Jesus was even run out of town for telling the truth. People would forsake Him and say they could not follow someone like Him. Jesus was beaten, whipped and crucified. He displayed His love on a cross and His own disciples left Him. One of his closest even denied knowing Him. He experienced suffering. But perhaps the suffering He experienced most was abandonment from His heavenly Father and God could not look on the sin placed on His only Son. That abandonment could be felt when Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me.” Jesus knew obedience, but now He learned it through experience.
The good news is we have a great High Priest who can identify with us because He became a man and experienced – learned suffering. He can relate and is our Great High Priest.
Thank You Jesus for being my Great High Priest – who understands me and knows what it is like to go through suffering yet still obedient. Amen. Now let’s go live the transformed life!
The Perfection of Christ - Hebrews 5:9
In many professions, one must go through a set of criteria to become qualified to carry out the profession’s duties. For engineers, it is graduating from an accredited university (which has its own process that must be followed), working for a number of years in engineering and taking two exams. Only once all the criteria is met can one be considered a professional engineer. The same is true for CPA (Certified Public Accountants) and Attorneys. Even certain trades have a criteria – as electricians start off as journeymen and make their way to becoming master electricians. Just as criteria must be met to become a professional in a particular arena, Jesus met all the criteria to becoming our Great High Priest.
Hebrews 5:9 says, And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation. When Jesus Christ offered the sacrifice of Himself for our sin, there is no longer any need for another priest. Jesus Christ alone is my Great High Priest. He is the source of eternal salvation. Jesus met all the criteria i.e. being made perfect so that he could be my Great High Priest. He was not made perfect in the sense of having His nature improved. We was already perfect in righteousness, holiness, truth and power. His nature and character did not need to be perfected. His perfection is in the sense that He completed the qualifications for becoming the eternal Great High Priest. Jesus was perfect in every way having been tempted as a man, but without any sin. He was perfect in being obedient to God no matter the cost or what others thought. He was perfect in the midst of suffering and crying out to God in prayer. He had prayed for God to take away the cup of suffering, but Jesus went on to say, “But not my will be done, but Yours be done.” Jesus was spotless, blameless in every way. Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world.
As a result of Him being the perfect sacrifice, we can have eternal life. Because He was perfect, there is no longer any need for sacrifices. He is sufficient for all eternity. He doesn’t have to come again. He doesn’t have to die for us again. He is all we need to receive eternal life. The verse says we who obey Him, He is our source of eternal life. This obedience is not a works based salvation, it is realizing Jesus is our Savior and Lord and as such we look to Him and choose to follow Him. He is our master and we choose to give our lives to Him in return for abundant, eternal life. There is a trade. We give ourselves including our sin, selfishness, pride and ugliness and in return we live for Him following Him, trusting Him, and walking with Him. He is my God and I follow no other. I don’t follow man or any other created thing. I follow Jesus. I walk in His grace, His strength and in His will. I am not my own for I have been bought with a price – His precious blood. And as such if I am to live fully, completely and abundantly, I will follow Him for He gives me purpose, meaning and fulfillment. He is my source of hope, joy and peace.
Thank You Jesus for being my Great High Priest! In You and You alone do I find my hope and forgiveness of sin. Amen. Now let’s go live the transformed life!
My Hope - Hebrews 6:11-12
Hebrews 6:11-12 says, And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. One of the greatest difficulties about being a believer in Jesus Christ is that it is daily. There are some things that are automatic everyday – they are secondary and do not require any thought processes to them – we just do them. We get up and have our routine for getting ready. We have our routine for the things we do before leaving for work or school. We don’t really think about it – really minimal things. We have a route we typically take and don’t think about. It is work to do something different. They are paving a road near my house. I take this road over 90% of the time. But because of the work being done, I choose to take a different route – but I must exert some energy to remember to go the different route. While it would seem automatic to live the Christian walk, some old automatic habits like to creep back in. Therefore, I have to make conscious, deliberate and not-so-automatic decisions each day. These decisions are to practice daily Christian disciplines to help me live out my faith in Jesus Christ. I must choose to die to my flesh and self-motivated behavior and choose to live today for Jesus Christ. I must discipline my mind to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and not my desires. I must choose to walk this day by faith and not by what I see.
To live every day by faith requires discipline. It is natural to not follow the disciplines. Hence the encouragement today not to be sluggish meaning not to be dull or lazy. It is natural to do the easy thing – which is laziness. It is work to discipline our mind to walk by faith. Most of the time, it is not difficult work – it is taking the time to choose to walk by faith. It is easy to give up especially when the circumstances are not favorable. Don’t give up! It may be easy to do, but don’t give up!
The writer of Hebrews tells us to imitate those who have walked by faith and were patient not easily giving up. In sports, coaches will tell you the most difficult challenge is being disciplined to do the right things every day that gives the team the best opportunity to win. Everyone wants the win, but very few are willing to put in the work every day. And once the win occurs, we want to slack up, but the challenge is maintaining the discipline to win again. When we think of those who have made an impact for the kingdom of God inside and outside of Scripture, the one common thread is their steadfast faith – unwavering commitment and trust in God. It wasn’t here today and gone tomorrow – it was steady and consistent. Similarly, if we are going to have an impact on the world around us, it will come as we choose each day to live for Jesus Christ, totally and completely. It will be steadfast and never wavering.
Dear God, I choose to live for You today by faith. I choose to die to self and live completely for You. You are Lord of my life today and I trust You. Amen. Now let’s go live the transformed life today in faith.
My Anchor - Hebrews 6:19
Living on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, I have seen quite a few ships. One piece of equipment essential to all ships is the anchor. Anchors are dropped into the water to keep the ship secure and stable in the turbulent seas. This imagery is utilized in Hebrews 6. Hebrews 6:19 says, This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil. In life, turbulent seas will occur. It could issues in your job, finances, health, family or personal life. One thing is for sure, anything that can be shaken will be shaken. Job 14:1 says, Man, who is born of woman, is short-lived and full of turmoil. I enjoy being on the mountain top, but I seem to live more days in the valleys looking at the top than being on the mountain tops. No complaining, it just seems life can be that way. God never said in His word life will be easy. Jesus actually told His disciples to expect more hardships as a result of following Him. Great encouragement – isn’t it?
But while Scripture tells us life is filled with difficulties, it gives us a greater promise. God Himself will be with us through the difficulties. He will never leave us nor forsake us. It’s a promise God gives us. It gives me hope that I can run to my Father and find refuge and strength. He is always faithful and what He is doing will last forever. Going into the veil is to enter His presence. My hope is not in my circumstances or life plan. My hope is in Jesus Christ who I can run to. He is my strength. He is my rock, my fortress, my refuge, my hope in time of trouble. He gives me peace when I should be terrified. He gives me strength when I am weak. He gives me joy when I should be despondent. He gives me hope when I am at my wits end. It is Jesus Christ in whom I trust in all things – good, bad, great, ugly – I trust him in everything. He is my anchor in life because the storms are coming. He gives me stability and security because not everything is life is so secure.
How can I be so sure to put my total confidence and trust in Jesus? Because God cannot lie – it is not in His nature. He sent Jesus to be my great High Priest – who died for me and gave me eternal life and even now - intercedes for me and prays for me. God has always been faithful. Even when I mess up and sin, He loves me and forgives me. When those around me turn away from me, He is always there. When I am lonely, He is ever present. He is the one I can cry out to because He is my God. He is my anchor and in Him I will put my trust. The hymn says it this way, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” It is interesting something so small as an anchor can keep that big ship so stable. But God is so big I do not have to worry – for He is bigger than anything I can face.
Dear Jesus thank You for being ever so steadfast – my anchor in the storms. I know You are faithful and I trust You in all things. Amen. Now let’s go live the transformed life because He is our anchor!
To Infinity and Beyond! - Hebrews 7:25
My kids love the movie series Toy Story. One of the characters is Buzz Light-year who says repeatedly throughout the movie, “To infinity and beyond.” I remember learning about infinity in school and learning how it never ends. Mind was blown. I learned that anything beyond infinity was simply infinity too. Again my mind was blown. Those concepts go beyond my finite mind. Traditionally my thinking is something has a beginning, duration, and an end. That is because I am bound by time. But what about those things that go beyond time and space? It is hard to conceptualize infinity. And Hebrews gives us something that goes beyond time – the greatness of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. Hebrews 7:25 says, Therefore, He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. The work Jesus Christ does last forever meaning infinite. The effects of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection has no end. That is because Jesus is far superior to anything I can conceive.
Jesus Himself is infinite – He was in beginnings with the Father. Such a difficult concept to understand. People have asked how do we know God is real and not something we made up? The reality is we are finite and limited in our understanding. God is infinite and unlimited in who He is. The only way something finite can understand the infinite is by the infinite revealing it to us. Man could not create even in his mind something as big as God. Isn’t it interesting, whenever man tries to create a god, that it is made of something by their hands or had limitations like man? Our Bibles begin with the verse, In the beginning, God created … In the literal Hebrew it says, “In beginnings” meaning before time began, God was already in existence. And we know Jesus was in beginnings with the Father because He made all things. Mind blown again.
As a result of the infiniteness of Jesus’ existence, we know He is infinite in His character and in His ways. He is holy, righteous and perfect. We get that. But we don’t fully grasp just how holy, righteous and perfect Jesus Christ is. Isaiah got a vision of God and realized just how holy God is. His response, “Woe is me, for I am ruined.” Moses asked God, “Show me Your glory.” God responded in Exodus 33:20, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” Moses was able to see God’s back – far more glorious than anyone could imagine. Our righteousness is but filthy rags when we compare it to the glory and majesty of God’s holiness and righteousness. Mind blown again.
But when I see the infiniteness of Christ and the infiniteness of His character and ways, I know Christ’s work is infinite as well. When Jesus died on the cross, His work was greater than we imagined. He paid all of sin’s debts once and for all. He died for all my sins past, present and future. No matter how small or how big – His blood can cover the multiple sins I have in my life. When Jesus arose from the dead, He made it possible for me to have eternal life. All I have to do is simply trust Him. I am saved forever – to infinity and beyond because of His great work – Mind exploded.
Thank You Jesus that You are greater than anything I can possibly imagine and You give me eternal life in You. Amen. Now let’s go live the transformed life to infinity and beyond!
No Longer in the Shadows - Hebrews 8:1-2
Hebrews 8:1-2 says, Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, Plato describes a man who has been placed in a cave his entire life. As such he can only see the back wall of the cave. Behind the man is a fire – a light source – but the man never is allowed to look in the direction of the fire nor is he allowed out of the cave. The only thing he can see are the shadows on the back wall. These shadows talk. These shadows move. Thus the man believes the shadows to be real. His entire life is built on the belief of the reality of the shadows on the back wall. Then one day, the man is set free from the cave and not only does he see the light for the first time, but he also sees what was causing the shadows. His eyes are opened and sees what is really true and real. He can’t comprehend it. He comes to realize the shadow only represents what is real. But the man cannot return to the cave for he now understands the truth of what is real and not real.
Similarly, the tabernacle and temple are merely a shadow of what is real in heaven. The Jews believed for a long time it was their sacrifices for sin, the offering made on the Day of Atonement that cleansed them from their sins. But the writer of Hebrews explains that the tabernacle and its sacrificial system are symbolic of the offering Christ made as our High Priest in the true tabernacle in heaven. The writer wanted the Hebrew believers to realize the sufficiency in what Christ did for us on the cross. He wanted us to realize the earthly rituals were not sufficient – they had to be repeated annually. But the work Jesus Christ did as our Great High Priest and as our sacrifice paid for all our sin for all eternity.
I wonder how much today’s Christian culture is dependent on the way we have been brought up or what others have said. I wonder if is a ritual or just a mere head knowledge. Christianity and faith is so much more. It is coming to Jesus Christ alone by faith. It is asking Him to be our Mediator and Great High Priest. It is looking to Jesus – far more superior than any religion or individual. It is trusting Him, following Him, looking to Him and obeying Him. It is seeing Him as the Master, Leader and Lord of my life. It is not about trusting in the things before Christ – for they are not sufficient. It is Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone I put my total faith, confidence and trust. He is my Savior, my Lord, my Master, my God. With that confidence, I cannot go back to my life before Christ. I cannot return to my former life. I cannot return to the shadows for I am now living in the light.
Thank You Jesus for being the true Great High Priest. In You will I follow and place by hope. Amen. Now let’s go live the transformed life because He is my only hope.
The cleansing of our conscience - Hebrews 9:14
Often when I think of the work of Jesus Christ, I think of how he cleansed me of sin. I realize that Jesus’ blood covered all my sin – past, present and future. But in this verse, it says that Jesus cleansed me of more than my sin. Jesus cleansed my conscience. Hebrews 9:14 says, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
The conscious is a remarkable thing. Physically speaking to be unconscious is to not be alert. To be conscious is to be alert, able to process what is going on. The words conscious and conscience come from the same root word but the conscience takes conscious to a new level. My conscience is that part of me that is alert as to what is right and wrong and guides me accordingly. The conscience can be used to let us know what we have done is wrong and to come into repentance. Spiritually this is the conviction of the Holy Spirit who guides as believers. But when I choose not to do what is right, and ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the willful disobedience stains my conscience.
Depending on the decision it can stain it with bitterness towards others, the lust for more, or a guilt that I cannot forget. These stains affect me and my decisions. If left unchecked, the bitterness, lust and guilt will continue to grow. I cannot see the effects it has on me, but David said in Psalm 32:3-4 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. One of the side effects of a guilty conscience is the inability to walk freely. It limits what God wants to do in my life. I don’t feel worthy.
But when Jesus died for me, He came to cleanse my conscious. I no longer have to walk in bitterness, lust or guilt. I am no longer prisoner to my past. Luke 4:18 says Jesus came to proclaim to liberty to the captive and set free those who are oppressed. When I come to Jesus in confession and repentance, Jesus cleanses me. It can be painful, but confession without cleansing does not produce life change. I must allow God to cleanse me. And when He cleanses, He cleanses me totally. He makes me new, pure and holy. There is a difference between straightening up and cleansing. There is a difference between picking up and true spring cleaning. While the process is difficult and not pleasant, the end result is more satisfying when I have been thoroughly cleansed. It’s a new start. Its fresh and full of life. That is what God will give me if I will let Him do His work.
Thank You Jesus for cleansing my conscience from the stains that sin brings to my life. I ask You to do Your cleansing work and to give me clean hands a pure heart. Amen. Now let’s go live the transformed life cleansed!