Title: The Understanding High Priest
Date: Jul 19, 2012
Scripture: Hebrews 4:1-16, Hebrews 2:17-18, Hebrews 9:26, Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 22:39-46
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The office of high priest was the highest office of spiritual leadership in Israel. The man who held this office was responsible to bring the people's needs and sins before God, to seek forgiveness and aid, and also to represent God to the people. But even the best priest was a needy sinful man, like those he represented. That made him an imperfect high priest. However, God made provision for that: through Jesus, our perfect High Priest. He is the One who understands our weakness and offers hope.
Jesus is the High Priest who sympathizes with our needs. He understands what it is to be a frail human being, to wrestle with temptation and suffering. Hebrews 4:15 tells us "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (ESV).
And God had a reason for this according to Hebrews 2:17-18: "Therefore he [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted" (ESV).
Because He experienced suffering and temptation as a human, Jesus understands and sympathizes with our pain and suffering. However, He wasn't limited by sinfulness or imperfections like we are, which made Him the perfect High Priest, one overflowing in mercy to the sinner. Hebrews 9:26 also tells us that Jesus was not only our priest but our sacrifice, the one who set us free from sin. "He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (ESV).
How does Jesus know what you're going through? He was tempted too. Read Matthew 4:1-11 (or Luke 4:1-13) and see what He faced. Now, the situations may look different but the underlying issue is there. Check these and jot down parallels in your life.
- Temptation to seek a quick fix for physical needs (Matthew 4:3):
- Temptation to test God (Matthew 4:6):
- Temptation to worship someone or something other than God to gain power and significance (Matthew 4:9):
Each temptation was Satan's way of giving Jesus a shortcut around God's plan. But Jesus instead held onto the Word of God and submitted to doing God's will God's way. This is especially true in what was probably His last temptation just before He was betrayed (Luke 22:39-46).
- What kind of temptations do you wrestle with the most?
- How has God's Word helped you overcome these temptations?
- What effect has temptation had on your walk with God?
So, what does your battle with temptation have to do with Jesus as your High Priest? Remember, He knows; He sympathizes; and He understands. Look at Hebrews 4:14-15, " Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (ESV).
Now add verse 16, "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (ESV). Jesus not only understands, He offers you the mercy you need and the grace to help in time of need. When you struggle, go to your perfect High Priest for real help.