Return to Study Guide for Hebrews – by Debbie Parnakian
Jesus, Our High Priest; Hebrews 4:14 – 5:10
Overview of Hebrews
Study by Debbie Parnakian
We can approach the throne of grace confidently because Jesus….
4:14‑16 …is a sympathetic High Priest
5:1‑6 …is qualified to be a High Priest
5:7‑10 …learned obedience through suffering
There is so much in these 13 verses I am sad that I don’t get to tell you all that I learned. There are stunning truths in these verses. The truths are life-changing. I could have lectured for an hour on any one of these points. But of course, we have a luncheon today and priorities are priorities!! So I’ll just hit the highlights and would encourage you to dig deeper for yourself — at least be sure to read the commentary this week. That’s right at your fingertips and it makes some points that I won’t cover–because it’s in your commentary.
A father and son were headed to McDonald’s one day and as they were on the road close to their destination, they passed a car accident. Usually, when they would see something terrible like that, they would say a prayer for those who might be hurt, so the dad pointed and said to his son, “We should pray.” From the back seat he heard his son’s earnest request, “Please, God, don’t let those cars block the entrance to McDonald’s.”
Now there’s a child of God who knows how to boldly approach the throne of grace to share with the God of the Universe his heartfelt request.
I want to encourage you today with the wonderful truth that we can run to God’s throne so that we can receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. But I also want to let God’s word convict you to hold on to the faith that you profess and to strive to obey God as Jesus did.
Did you think much about what it meant that Jesus has gone THROUGH the heavens? Some translations say gone “into heaven”. We have a tendency to think of heaven as “up”. But Jesus went through the actual physical heavens (the universe) and is now with God the Father in the heaven that is beyond time and space. A few weeks ago I talked about God being beyond our 4 dimensions. Of course, Jesus is also beyond our 4 dimensions because He is the Son of God. Therefore Jesus can be beyond the heavens and with us always. Do we understand that? No, but we know that it is true because that is what God’s Word says to us. That is part of the faith we profess. We firmly hold on to our faith because Jesus is near to us and He is standing at God’s right hand to be our High Priest.
And our High Priest, who is great and perfect and has gone through the heavens also sympathizes with us. The God of the Universe is beyond time and space. He is perfect love. He is holy and righteous, the Almighty God, Everlasting Father. It would be tough for Him to sympathize with our weaknesses when He had never experienced weakness. But He is sympathetic when I am faced with temptation. Why? Because Jesus was faced with temptation also. My kind of temptation? Your kind of temptation? Yes! He was tempted in every way. We tend to think of Jesus as God more than we do as man, but he was both. 100% God, 100% man. He didn’t have the fleshly draw to sin because of His virgin birth, but He did have the choice to obey or disobey. If He really didn’t have a choice, how could he sympathize with us? You know, Satan threw every temptation he had at Jesus–Jesus experienced more intense temptation than we’ll ever experience. Yet Jesus did not sin. Because of that, He can be our perfect High Priest.
So we can run to the Most Holy Throne of God with confidence and we can receive God’s mercy and grace to help us. Jesus would never say, “I don’t understand why this is so hard for you to overcome.” He sympathizes with us. He gladly gives us all the mercy and grace we need to overcome our temptations. Do we wonder why we don’t feel as if He’s answered our prayers? Maybe we’re praying that the cars won’t block the driveway to McDonalds. Are we praying for help in overcoming our temptations? Are we praying for God’s grace to get through our trials? Or are we praying selfishly for what we want? We can always run to the throne of grace and share our heart with our perfect, heavenly Father. We just have to trust Him that He truly gives us only the best. And He gives it to us at the right time. Notice verse 16 says, “in our time of need.” Literally, it means “well-timed help”. God’s help is well-timed, even when we don’t think so. Many people think that they can go before the throne of grace with confidence and come away with their little prayer request answered their way. They do not consider that they should be changed by being in the presence of God. The more we are before the throne of grace, the more we are changed to be more like Jesus. Now, that’s grace and mercy!
On to Hebrews 5:1-6
A high priest in Israel is someone who represents God to man and man to God, so there are some specific qualifications and specific duties involved. A high priest must be humble. He is to offer sacrifices in the Holy of Holies, where God dwelt among His people. He can never enter on his own initiative. He entered one day a year–on the Day of Atonement, also called Yom Kippur. He must purify himself and his household before going in to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people of Israel. It was probably the scariest job in the nation of Israel because if it wasn’t done perfectly, God’s wrath would come down on that priest. In fact, do you remember reading about the priest’s robe having bells on it? One reason for that was to let the people outside the Holy of Holies know that the priest was still alive and God was pleased with the sacrifices. It was serious business to represent a sinful people to a Holy God.
But the high priest in Israel was human and subject to the normal temptations of mankind. He therefore could deal gently with the people who came to him. He knew what they were going through. Verse 2 says, “He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray”–that’s pretty much everyone, don’t you think?
Verse 4 says that a high priest MUST be called by God, just as Aaron was. God called Christ Jesus to be our High Priest. Jesus did not take that glory upon Himself, God gave Him the glory. Think about it–God have His Only Son, the One who created the universe and continues to hold it together, the GLORY of representing you and me to God the Father. Now, I don’t think I thought of this as a glorious job, considering what we are like most of the time, but Jesus gave up His everlasting glory so that God could give Him the glory of being our High Priest! One commentary said, “God counts it an honor for His Son to be the Priest of poor sinners. The Son of God counts His priesthood His highest glory, as the power of making us partake as brethren with Him in the life and love of the Father.” That’s why we can boldly approach the throne of grace! Not only was Jesus qualified to be our High Priest, He is honored to be our High Priest!
Verse 6 is quoting Psalm 110:4. “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind. You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek”. We’re going to learn more about Melchizedek as we go along in Hebrews and our commentary does a good job of explaining this verse. I will say that Melchizedek is a “type” of Christ in the Old Testament–a symbol or foretelling of the Messiah. Jesus is King and High Priest. Melchizedek was before Aaron, who was the first High Priest after the law was given. Genesis 14:18 says that Melchizedek was the King of Salem and also a High Priest of God. No other priest in the Old Testament was both a king and a priest–a king was not allowed to offer sacrifices. An example is in 2 Chronicles 26 concerning Uzziah, who was king of Judah. But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. The Lord gave Uzziah leprosy as punishment for going into the part of the temple where only the high priest could go.
Verses 7-10 are so important to us! How do we know that we can boldly approach the throne of grace and that Jesus is sympathetic to our weaknesses? Because even though He was the Son of God, he learned obedience from what he suffered. Let me read verse 7 from the Amplified Bible. For those who have not heard of the Amplified translation, it is exactly what it says it is–it amplifies the text with words that clarify the meaning so that we can understand the text better. In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up definite, special petitions for that which He not only wanted but needed and supplications with strong crying and tears to Him Who was always able to save Him out from death, and He was heard because of His reverence toward God (His godly fear, His piety, in that He shrank from the horrors of separation from the bright presence of the Father). The writer of Hebrews is talking specifically about Jesus praying to God in the garden of Gethsemane.
Matthew 26:36-39 talks about Jesus bringing 3 of His disciples into the garden with Him so that they could stay awake with Him while He prayed. He told His disciples that His soul was deeply grieved, to the point of death. He had never asked for help from His disciples before this. He went off a little ways to be by Himself and fell on His face and prayed to God to save Him from the suffering He was to endure for us. He cried, agonized, sweat blood and then gave His will over to the Father. Jesus wasn’t just afraid of dying–He knew He would take on the sins of the world. He would suffer more than we could ever imagine. He was afraid. Therefore, He is sympathetic when we are afraid. But He also chose obedience to God the Father. He did not sin. You can be afraid and not sin. I think we forget that. I always told my kids that courage is doing what you have to do even when you are really afraid. That also is true for obedience to God. Andrew Murray says, “It only becomes sinful where God would have us submit and suffer, and we refuse.” Serious words. But of course, we can always run to God’s throne with confidence, knowing that Jesus understands us completely and sympathizes with our weaknesses. He also gives us the strength to endure I Corinthians 10:13 says, No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. Our way out, Ladies, is to run to the throne of grace! God will give us mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.
Jesus was made perfect through obedience in suffering. We tend to think of the word “perfect” as “without fault”, so it’s confusing to think of Jesus, who is God, without fault to begin with, becoming “without fault” through obedience. But as we have studied before, Jesus was made “complete” by choosing obedience to God every second of His life on earth, even in the midst of overwhelming suffering.
Once Jesus completed His work on earth by dying on the cross for our sins and being raised from death on the third day, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him. Uh oh! Sounds like salvation by works, doesn’t it? What did we learn while studying Galatians? Salvation is ONLY by God’s grace through our faith.
I read several commentaries on this and I’m going to give you Debbie Parnakian’s version. Please go to your pastor if you have questions. I’ve spent hours studying this, he’s spent years. OK, that was my disclaimer…. Remember when I used the illustration of someone trustworthy giving you a check for one million dollars? That person gave you a gift. If you keep that check in your purse and never cash it, it’s pretty much worthless, isn’t it?
Well, if you deposit it into your checking account, you are accepting the gift through your faith that the check is good and the money will be in your checking account when you need it. But take it a step further. You can deposit the check, find out the check was indeed good, but never draw money out of that account. So the million dollars is sitting there, waiting to be used, doing no good whatsoever and you might as well not bothered to cash it. It must be used. And would you just sit on a million dollars and not use it??? Rhetorical question. So it is with our faith. Although we don’t understand it fully, even today we learned more of what God did for us in sending His Son, Jesus, to suffer and die for our sins.
Are we going to sit on that truth and not change our lives because of it? How can we? James says, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” That is James 2:14-18.
And don’t forget, our eternal salvation started when we accepted Jesus into our life. So the peace and joy that comes from our salvation NOW is a result of obedience to God. So how do we learn to be obedient as Jesus was obedient? Approach the throne of grace with confidence.
This is Cisco. He’s a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix and he’s my baby, my 50 pound lapdog. I put a doggie bone on the ground after I told him to sit. I then told him to stay. Now, you know he’s got to be thinking that I’m crazy or stupid because he knows that the doggie bone is for him and he knows it’s gotta be good for him and I’m telling him he can’t have it.
BUT, he is obeying me because he loves me and has faith in me that I know what is best for him. How can he overcome the urge to disobey me and eat the doggie bone before I say it’s OK? He is focusing on ME and not on the tempting doggie bone. Of course, I don’t let him wait beyond what he is able. I love him and want what is best for him, too.I’ll end with a visual example of obedience. It involves my dog. I’ve always said I wish I loved the Lord as much as my dog loves me. My dog loves me so much that he will obey me (well most of the time) even when he doesn’t understand why he has to do what he is doing. Here’s an example.
Run to the throne of grace with confidence, Ladies. Jesus is our High Priest and He is sympathetic. He will give us mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. And trust Him enough to obey Him this week by lookingat Him and looking away from temptation.
Return to Study Guide for Hebrews – by Debbie Parnakian