The Book of Hebrews #15 chapter 4:14-16
The Book of Hebrews
Our Great High Priest
Hebrews 4:14-16
Tonight we will look at the closing verses of chapter 4 of the book of Hebrews.
Verses 14-16
The appeal of the writer is to get his hearers completely sold on Jesus Christ.  Most recently he is using the testimony of their forefathers who refused to enter the Promised Land, and in so many words, he is saying, “don’t be like them” and stop short of salvation.  Don’t run the risk of developing a hard heart and departing from God.
And up to now it's been a negative message.  Either enter into God’s rest or your carcasses will rot in the wilderness.  One of these days God will cut you open and reveal what’s there and no one will escape the scrutiny of God’s eye because everything is naked and open to Him.
But there is a positive encouragement in this message also and we find that in the verses before us this evening.
Salvation is not just a prevention policy, it's not just to keep you out of hell; it's also a very positive thing.  It’s not just, “I’m glad I'm out of hell, but this Christian life is a real drag.”
The Christian life is the happiest, best, most wonderful life anyone could ever live. And that is the appeal of these three verses.
Now keep in mind, it’s the same warning, but it is now framed in positives as he shows them, not only what will happen if they don’t follow Jesus, but also what will be the result if they do.
Now let me make a statement to kind of set up the study for tonight.  The results of following Jesus are based on who Jesus is. If there was no other reason to be saved, just getting have a relationship with Him would be reason enough.
And what the writer wants his hearers to understand is we're to receive Jesus Christ, we're to enter into God's rest not only because of the fear of Him, because of His beauty as well. It’s not only because of His wrath but because of His grace. Not only because He's a judge but because He is a merciful and faithful High priest. And both sides of the issue are equally important.
You see that in these verses.  For instance, in verse 11 he says, “Be diligent to enter that rest.. . .”  At the end of verse 14 there is the reminder to “Hold fast our confession.”  And the tone of those is a warning.  Do this or suffer the consequences.
But on the other hand, look at verse 18.  “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace. . .”
What an encouragement.  It’s not about warning; it’s about invitation and being welcomed and encouraged.   For several verses he’s been saying, “You ought to come because of what'll happen to you if you don't.”  But now he's going to tell you, you ought to come because of what'll happen to you do. You'll be introduced to our great High priest.
And that’s what we find in verse 14
Here we find the real central issue of the book of Hebrews.  It is the priesthood of Jesus.  Men are here and they're locked in sin. God is there and He's locked in holiness, and somebody's got to bring the two together.  And it has to be somebody who knows God and somebody who knows man and can bring them together and that's what a priest is and the only priest who can meet the requirements is Jesus.
Now in these verses we are given three key features that distinguish Jesus as our great High Priest.
First of all
1. His Perfect Priesthood
Verse 14
As a Jew, why should I serve and trust Jesus and not go back to the rich heritage of Judaism?  Because we have a great High priest who is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God. Notice how he uses the terminology and theology that a Jews was accustomed to. They understood the role and need of a priest.  And if you need a priest, then consider Jesus. Why would you refuse a priest like Jesus?
What makes the priesthood of Jesus so special?  The key is found in the phrase, “that has passed through the heavens”.
Some translations say, “Passed into the heavens”, and there is not a lot of difference in the two.  But the literal translation uses the word “through”.  That is a direct reference to the ascension.
When Jesus ascended, He passed through the heavens.  That means He left the earth and entered into the presence of God.  On what basis did He have the right to enter the presence of God? On the basis that He had finished the work He had to do on earth.
And the work He finished was a perfect priestly work.  What Jesus did made it possible for God and man to get together.  He performed a redemptive act that brought God and man together in an eternal relationship.  That's something no priest before Him had ever accomplished.
The best a priest could do was atone for sins for one year’s time, and every year that work had to be repeated on the Day of Atonement.  But Jesus Christ, through a perfect priesthood, with  one act, accomplished forever what every other priest could never accomplish.
So Jesus did what no other priest could ever do in that He offered His sacrifice, passed through the heavens into the presence of God and sat down because His work was finished. No more sacrifices ever needed to be made.
Now, watch this:  On the Day of Atonement, the Old Testament priest would take the blood and he would pass through three areas.  He would go through the gate into the outer court, through the door into the holy place and through the veil into the holy of holies.   He would take care of his business and quickly get out of the Holy of Holies. And he only did it once a year on the Day of Atonement to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat. You can read all the details of that in Leviticus.
Now what does our verse say?  Jesus passed through the heavens.  How many are there?  There are three.  The first heaven is the atmospheric heaven, the second heaven is the stellar heaven and the third heaven is the abode of God.
Jesus Christ passed through heaven number one, heaven number two, and entered into heaven number three but God didn't tell Him, “You've got 24 hours to get this over with and get out.”  When He got there what did He do? He sat down to stay.  Why?  It was done, it was accomplished, He made a perfect atonement for all sins for all time.
So says the Holy Spirit, you ought to come all the way to the throne of grace just because of the perfect priesthood of Jesus Christ. You don't need anything else, He's opened the way of access to God, and atoned for your sin.
Secondly, you ought to come because of
2. His Perfect Person
We see that in the phrase at the end of verse 14
"Jesus, the Son of God."
Then notice verse 15
Now remember, we said a perfect priest would bring God and man together.  Jesus was the perfect priest because He was God and He was man. That’s what we see in that phrase, “Jesus, the Son of God.”
That's His humanity and His deity, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and that's a powerful statement to these Jewish readers.
In that very name is the essence of who Jesus is. You see Jesus, the name Jesus is just a human name, Yeshua or Joshua as indicated in the Old Testament.  It means “Savior” or “God saves” but it is a human name.
But then the term “the Son of God” references His deity. That makes all kinds of sense because the perfect High priest would have to be a perfect combination of God and man to bring the two together.
Now notice what verse 15 tells us about these two parts.  “tempted as we are" Let’s stop right there. God the Son became man and as such He came in contact with temptation and testing and suffering so that He might be a sympathetic and understanding High priest.
I don't want to go to tell my troubles to somebody that doesn't understand.  I want to tell my troubles to somebody who really understands where I hurt and can do something about them.
He endured every form of testing that a man could endure, He went through every kind a circumstance that man will ever know.  Now some say, “But it was no big deal because He was God and could just shrug it off.”
Well if that’s true then He really doesn’t know what I’m going through and He can’t be sympathetic to it.  Jesus was tempted, tested and subjected to every kind of trial that you'll ever know and it wasn't an easier battle for Him because He was God; it was harder.
Let me tell you why.  Think in terms of pain. All of us know what it is to have pain.  But we only go through so much pain up to a point and then we black out. We go into shock. That means there is a degree of pain which you and I will never experience because our body will turn off your sensitivities before you ever get that far.
That same is true in temptation.  There is a degree of temptation that we never experience because we give in long before we get to that point.  We've blown it before we ever get to that place.
But Jesus Christ had no turn off point.  Since He never sinned He took the full expression of all that hell could throw at Him.  There was no shock system in Him to turn off the temptation.  And since He never fell to it, He took it to its extreme in every single case.
And He took it all as a man like you and me.  Listen:  He not only knows what you go through, He's gone through things you'll never go through.  There are agonies of temptation that Jesus knows that you will never experience.
Have you ever sweated drops of blood? Jesus went all the way in temptation and so when you go to Jesus Christ, remember that He knows things that you don't know about suffering. He’s been there.
And notice the word “weaknesses”. He knows the liability of human nature to sin.  That's what the struggle was all about.  There is a weakness in the human existence that pushes us toward sin and it was that against which Jesus fought.
And He was successful.  It says at the end of verse 15, He was without sin, and that means He never sinned.  There is in Jesus an absolute absence of sin.  He did not sin. Not the slightest taint ever even entered His mind. He did not have the ability to sin because He was God.
So our great High priest sympathizes with us in testing, but without the sin. He knew the weakness that makes us fall into sin and yet He was victorious over it.
Think about it like this:  If you were on trial for a crime, would you prefer a judge who is a criminal along with the other criminals on trial or would you like to have a judge who was moral and qualified to judge on what a criminal is?  What qualifies Jesus as a perfect person is He went through temptation of absolute severity and never gave in to it, thereby preserving His sinlessness.
He knows the full gamut of temptation and yet He can stand apart in absolute pure moral evaluation and be a fair judge. All our temptations Christ felt, and He didn't feel them with our perception but He felt them with His infinite sensitivity.
Therefore, whatever Satan brings our way, there's sympathy and victory in Jesus Christ. He  understands; He's been there.
There’s a story from the great heyday of the Salvation Army by a man named John Wilson. Booth Tucker was preaching in Chicago on the sympathy of Jesus for the Salvation Army.
A man came forward afterwards and said to him you can talk about how Christ is dear to you and how He helps you and how He's so sympathetic, but he says if your wife was dead as mine is and your babies were crying for their mother who would never come back, you wouldn't say what you're saying.
A few days after that Booth Tucker lost his wife in a train wreck, and her body was brought to Chicago and carried to the Salvation Army Headquarters for the funeral. Booth Tucker stood up after the funeral was completed, he looked down into the silent face of his beloved wife, his children's mother and he spoke these words and I quote, "The other day when I was here a man said I could not say Christ was sufficient if my wife were dead and my children crying for their mother.
If that man is here I tell him that Christ is sufficient, my heart is bleeding, it is crushed, it is broken, but it has a song and Christ put it there and if that man is here I tell him that though my wife is gone and my children are motherless, Jesus Christ speaks comfort to me today."
The man was there that day and down the aisle he came, knelt beside the casket and Booth Tucker introduced him to Jesus Christ. We have a sympathetic High priest.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God has a perfect priesthood and is a perfect person.
Thirdly and quickly,
3. He Made a Perfect Provision
verse 18
The Holy Spirit encourages these Hebrews to come all the way to the throne of grace and obtain salvation. What throne is it? It's the throne of God.
It used to be a throne of judgment, but when Jesus sprinkled His blood there He turned it into a throne of grace.
That happened every year on the Day of Atonement.  The high priest went into the holy of holies, sprinkled  blood there and turned the judgment seat into a mercy seat. When Jesus entered into heaven, offered the perfect provision of His own blood and turned God's judgment throne into a throne of mercy, a throne of grace.
And notice by it we obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need.  Do you know when that time is?  It is every moment of your life.  It means to find grace when you need it most before the time is gone.
We come boldly to the throne to receive the grace that a loving God has provided for us on the basis of a perfect sacrifice performed by a perfect person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Let's pray.


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