In our study last week, we saw a particular component of the Old and New Covenants compared and contrasted—the ministry of the High Priest. In our study this past Sunday, the writer of Hebrews wanted to carry that comparison further, but he didn’t. He wrote that it was difficult to explain—not because of the subject matter, but because the original readers had become “dull of hearing.” Even though they had found life and salvation in Jesus—they had grown and matured in the Lord—now, for various reasons, they had stopped advancing, stopped growing, and stopped maturing. They started to slide back.
While the letter of Hebrews was originally written to Hebrew believers, we know that the Word of God is living and active. So when we come to a portion like this, we pause and ask ourselves, “Is it I?—Am I moving forward in my faith, or am I sliding back? Are there things God wants to share with me but can’t because I’m dull of hearing?”
These are sobering questions we asked of ourselves this past Sunday. Watch a replay of our live stream or listen to the recording of the study as we worked our way through an initially challenging and eventually encouraging portion in Hebrews.
Jesus is our High Priest. Did you know that? If you are a follower of Jesus, you have a High Priest—an eternal and heavenly High Priest.
That’s a bold and true claim to make. To a Hebrew, that claim would need to be backed up with specific proofs and critical identifying characteristics. And so, beginning in chapter 5, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews does just that—he breaks down and offers proofs for Jesus being not just a high priest—but THE High Priest.
In order to be a high priest, Jesus needs to be fully man—and He is (see Philippians 2:6-11). In being both God and man, Jesus is able to mediate between God and mankind (see 1 Timothy 2:5).
In order to be a high priest, Jesus needs to be called and appointed by God—and He was (see Hebrews 5:5-6). God the Father called and appointed His only begotten Son as a priest forever.
In order to be a high priest, Jesus needs to have compassion on those He ministered to—and He does (see Hebrews 4:15). Jesus was tempted the way we were are tempted and suffered the way we suffer…and yet He was untainted by sin. He is able to sympathize with our weakness and have compassion on us.
In order to be a high priest, Jesus needed to offer a sacrifice to God on our behalf—and He did (see Hebrews 5:9). But unlike the priests who came before Him, His sacrifice was sufficient—once and for all time (see Hebrews 9:12).
Yes, Jesus is the eternal heavenly High Priest.
But is He your High Priest? Or are you attempting to gain God’s favor on your own? The truth is you need a High Priest—we all do. You can ask Jesus to be your High Priest today—simply confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. The Bible says that if you do this, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. Trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as the Lord of your life.
“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”
As Christians, we know Jesus was appointed by God to be the mediator between God and man. We know of His compassionate ministry. And we know that He offered Himself as a sacrifice for sins.
But what we might not appreciate is the fact that these are the aspects of the ministry of a high priest. To a Hebrew, certain questions would come up with claims of a new high priest. Questions like:
When was he appointed by God? How can he have compassion on those to who he ministers? What sacrifice does he offer to God on your behalf?
In the letter of Hebrews to the Hebrews, the writer understood these questions and how Jesus uniquely fulfilled the qualifications of the High Priest. So beginning in chapter 5, we see proof from the Scriptures that Jesus is not only a high priest, but the Great High Priest with a ministry superior and preferable to the ministry of the high priest under the Old Covenant.
Watch the replay of our live stream or listen to our study as we took a deeper look at Jesus – Great High Priest.
As the leader of the New Covenant, Jesus not only brings us to the rest promised in the covenant—He Himself is the promised rest. He is the promised place where we cease from striving and where we find rest for our souls.
Jesus spoke of this rest—the rest only He can give. In Matthew 11:28-29, He made an invitation to be received, a command to be obeyed, and a promise to be believed:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Jesus can lead you all the way in to God’s promised rest. It’s closer than you think—this promised land, the promised rest, the place where we cease from striving is not Heaven. It is a place and a Person to be enjoyed now. It is only found in Jesus.
Where are you today? Are you still in Egypt—captive to sin? Is your soul still striving to earn God’s favor? Jesus can set you free—ask Him today! Or are you in the wilderness—liberated from sin, but wandering around, looking for the promise land in your own strength? Is your heart unsettled with anxiety, discouraged and defeated, painfully aware of just how far you need to go as you wander? Jesus can lead you—ask Him today!
“Will you come, will you come, with your poor broken heart,
Burdened and sin oppressed?
Lay it down at the feet of your Savior and Lord,
Jesus will give you rest.”
As we work though the book of Hebrews, the writer continues to contrast the Old and New Covenants for us. In chapters 3 and 4, he specifically looks at the leaders that God chose to lead His people to rest. Moses in the Old Covenant and Jesus in the New Covenant.
In our comparison of these two leaders, we see quite a few differences:
Moses was a servant in God’s house. Jesus is a Son over God’s house. Moses was a butler in God’s house. Jesus is the Builder of God’s house. Moses was unable to enter God’s rest because of disbelief and disobedience. But Jesus extends an invitation to those in the New Covenant to come to Him, to learn of Him, and to find rest for their souls.
If we hold fast to the confidence of our confession and come boldly to the throne of grace, we will find that rest and we will obtain mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.
Watch a reply of our live stream or listen to our study from this past Sunday as we considered the leaders of the Covenants and which one leads us to find rest for our souls.
In light of all we have learned about Jesus in the first two chapters of Hebrews, the writer encourages us to consider Jesus. Observe Him. Understand Him. The original word used in this verse means to consider attentively, or to fix one's eyes or mind upon.
Just consider what Jesus did and who Jesus is. He lived a full life on earth—successfully AND sinlessly. Even after diving into death itself, He made it through alive!
But he wasn’t unaffected by the human experience—He was tempted in every way that we are today. He was familiar with suffering and sorrow. He knows what it’s like to be born to broke teenage parents in the midst of controversy. He knows what it’s like to grow up in a neighborhood of which people would say, ”Nothing good can come from there.”
He knows what it’s like to be singled out, misunderstood, and falsely accused. He knows what it’s like to be broke, hungry, and homeless. He knows what it’s like to be betrayed and deserted—to have all of His friends turn their backs on Him in His greatest time of need.
Consider Jesus—who sympathizes with your weaknesses so He can say to you, ”I am familiar with what you are going though.”
“Consider Him,” and as you run the race,
Keep ever upward looking in His face;
And thus transformed, illumined thou shalt be,
And Christ’s own image shall be seen in thee.”
That’s how chapter 3 of the book of Hebrews begins. And if you’ve been studying the Bible with us, you know that when we come to a “therefore” in our study, it is important to find out wherefore the ”therefore” is there for!
Which is something we could do a lot of in the book of Hebrews, given that there are 28 ”therefore’s” in this book. That’s significant, since the Bible often builds upon what was previously written. In order to understand a particular idea, we can simply read what was written before.
That’s exactly what we did this past Sunday as we began our study of Hebrews 3…and only studied the first verse—but what a verse it is! Watch the replay of our live stream or listen to the audio of our study as we discover wherefore the ”therefore” is there for!
In the second chapter of the book of Hebrews, the writer compares and contrasts the Old and New Covenants—the ministry of angels and the ministry of Jesus. As awesome as the Old Covenant was, the writer of Hebrews asks, “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation…”—how will we escape sin and death if we disregard the New Covenant?
The Old Covenant (which came by angels) could only cover sin with an endless stream of sacrifices. The New Covenant (which came by Jesus) completely cleanses sin with one sacrifice.
This salvation and this Savior give us reason to wonder with hope. Hope that Jesus not only rescues us and redeems us from sin and the destructive effects of sin, but also that He is going to restore us for what we were made for.
Only Jesus can do this because only He has done what no angel could. He alone is our worthy substitute. He is the Author of salvation. He is the One who sanctifies us. He is the Conqueror of Satan. And He is the One who sympathizes with our weakness.
Do you have this hope? Are you filled with wonder as you look to Jesus? Is He the captain of your salvation? The Bible states that today is the day of salvation—right now! You can have this hope, now and for all eternity. Simply confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. The Bible says that if you do this, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. Trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as the Lord of your life.
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends