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Hebrews 5 Sermon Notes

By July 17, 2022Sermon Notes

Last Fall we baptized a couple of college students out at Terry’s property, in his pond – Terry was gone for the weekend but he let us use his property and even offered to let the students go inside and change clothes before they left so they wouldn’t have to drive home cold and wet

But we had some miscommunication about how exactly his security system worked and we ended up setting off alarm – Alarm is going off, I’m trying to call Terry, can’t get ahold of him – I call Christy, can’t get ahold of her – Finally, alarm stops ringing and I think we are in clear – But as I am walking to my car to leave, a county sheriff pulls up – I’m thinking, “Oh, great.” – He get out of his car and begins to question me

So I do my best to explain whole situation and put him at ease – But it becomes clear that he isn’t going to let me off the hook that easy – And that’s understandable – He didn’t know me – He knew nothing of my character – And, even if he did, as a civil servant he had a clear duty/obligation/desire to preserve good and punish evil – And unless owner said I had right to be on that property, I was at least trespassing

Thankfully, as I’m trying to defend myself, Terry calls me back and I put him on speaker phone and he get’s me me off the hook with sheriff – But here’s what I realized as I was talking to sheriff: Nothing I said was going to be sufficient to meet sheriff’s requirements – Nothing I did was going to be sufficient to satisfy sheriff’s demands

Only thing that was going to put me in good standing was to have the person with the right status, right authority, right legal backing stand up for me and say, “He has right and privilege to be here because I said so” – And, the moment that person spoke on my behalf, sheriff’s whole demeanor changed – No longer did I endure his scorn – Now, I received his smile

This morning we are going to look at most of Hebrews 5 and explore how Jesus, the Great High Priest of the New Covenant, is better than Aaron, the original high priest of the Old Covenant – We’ll discuss how Jesus, because He has the right status, the right authority, and the right credentials, is able to mediate for us in a way that Aaron never could

But, before we look at Hebrews 5, I want to visit Book of Exodus – The Book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish-background Christian community – Ethnic Jews who had become Christians – Therefore, author of Hebrews uses allusions/quotations/references from OT extensively throughout book – These references would have been rich, powerful, clear, obvious to ethnic Jews who’d grown up studying Jewish Scriptures

But, they may not be so obvious to us today – If we aren’t familiar with OT, we lose some of depth and richness of Hebrews – So, before we start in discussing Jesus’ role as Greater High Priest of New Covenant, I want to briefly refresh our memory about high priests of Old Covenant

In Book of Exodus, God delivers His chosen people out of Egypt through a series of plagues, the Passover, and the parting of the Red Sea, He brings them to Mt. Sinai in Wilderness of Sin – There, God forms His chosen people group into a nation-state, replete with its own legal code and a set of regulations for conducting religious worship

Those regulations for worship included instructions for building an elaborate, portable sanctuary called the Tabernacle and instructions for designating a select group of men within Israel to performs religious rites of Tabernacle – This select group of men would be called the priests – And the first and chief priest among them was Moses’ brother, Aaron

Aaron and his sons, as priests of Israel, were given two key functionsThe first was to represent God to IsraelTo mediate between God and Israel

One way we see this is that God gives instructions for priests to wear holy, glorious, beautiful garments, unlike any other garments in Israel, as a visible reminder of His character – Priests are to wear finely crafted breastpieces and robes and turbans and sashes so that, when people see them, they are reminded of God’s holiness, glory, and beauty – Visibly, priests represent God to Israel

But they also represent God to Israel in a functional way – Priests were given task of standing between holy God and unholy people – They were to be mediators – According to OT law, only the priests were allowed to enter Tabernacle – Only the priests were permitted to perform religious ceremonies – Only the priests could make atonement for sins – In OT, common Israelite could not approach God on his or her own terms – They had to approach God through a priest – Priests represented God to Israel – That was first key function

Second key function of priests was to represent Israel to God – I mentioned priestly garments – Well, Aaron, High Priest, was to wear something even more special – When he entered Holy Place of Tabernacle, where God’s presence dwelled, he was to wear a special ephod (robe) – Listen to description of this ephod as God gives instructions to Moses:

You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth…And you shall set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel…So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the Lord. (Exodus 28:9-10, 29)

Hear me: No one from Tribe of Benjamin could enter Tabernacle – No one from Tribe of Dan could go before presence of God – No one from Tribe of Gad could approach Holy Place – So Aaron did it for them – High Priest was given charge of representing Israel to God because they couldn’t do it themselves

And as he bore their names before God in Tabernacle, Aaron was to offer sacrifices for their sin – In Leviticus 7:9, Moses gives Aaron these instructions: “Draw near to the altar and offer your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and for the people, and bring the offering of the people and make atonement for them, as the Lord has commanded.”

So, Aaron, uniquely appointed by God from among all nation of Israel, was given task of representing God to Israel and Israel to God – Central to his work was to offer atonement for Israel’s sin – All of that is just background author of Hebrews assumes we’ll know when we start reading Hebrews 5

So, with that in mind, let’s look at Hebrews 5

1 For every high priest chosen from among men (like Aaron) is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this (because he is beset with weakness) he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

So, author of Hebrews points out three specific characteristics of Aaron, high priest of Old Covenant:

1) High priest is a man appointed by God – Aaron didn’t get his job by volunteering – He didn’t get his job by submitting an application and acing an interview – Moses didn’t pick him in act of nepotism – God chose Aaron to be His man

2) High priest functions to represent men and women to God, namely by offering sacrifices for sin

3) High priest, because he, himself, is a man, can empathize with people he serves, which is good thing – But, because he, himself, is a sinful man, he must offer a sacrifice for his own sins just as he offers sacrifices for sins of people

So, now that author has highlighted these three characteristics of Aaron’s priesthood, we are going to see him make an argument from lesser to greater – He will show how Jesus is like but unlike Aaron and how the differences render Jesus far superior

First, author will show how Jesus, like Aaron, was appointed by God – And to do this, he will quote two Psalms – Psalm 2:7, 110:4

So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

So Jesus is like Aaron in that He received an appointment from God – He didn’t volunteer – He didn’t apply – He wasn’t voted in – He was appointed by God

But Jesus is unlike Aaron in that He is only begotten Son of God and His priesthood is an eternal priesthood, not a temporary one – He is a priest forever – Aaron Lewis will help us understand these references to Melchizedek in a couple of weeks – But, first main point is that Jesus was appointed by God to an eternal priesthood, like but unlike Aaron

Next, author shows how Jesus is like and unlike Aaron, in those other two characteristics – In way He represents mankind to God and in way He empathizes with people He serves:

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Verse eight and the beginning of verse nine demand some attention, I think – They say, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation…”

We might wander, “How can Jesus, who is fully God, the perfect, all-knowing, God, learn obedience?” – “Shouldn’t He already know and have perfect obedience?” – “And if He was already perfect, how could He be made perfect?”

Remember immediate context here – Author is attempting to show how Jesus is like but unlike Aaron – Namely, how Jesus is able to empathize with the people He serves

This is what I think author of Hebrews is saying – Although Jesus is the perfect, all-knowing God, and fully so, in the days of His flesh Jesus was encountering new temptations and trials – Temptations and trials that He had never encountered previously, until He took on human flesh

And it was necessary for Jesus to enter into these temptations and trials in order to be qualified for the position of Great High Priest – And it was necessary for two reasons: First, because a high priest must be able to empathize with those He serves

In order to be able to empathize with a fallen humanity, Jesus needed to encounter kind of suffering and temptation that we encounter – Before taking on human flesh, Jesus dwelled in perfect, righteous, eternal fellowship with Father and Spirit unaffected by this realm of brokenness and decay – So, when he took on human flesh, He entered into this brokenness and decay in a new way – For first time, He personally experienced the suffering and temptation of human life in fallen world

And author of Hebrews is saying that Jesus’ obedience and perfection met and far exceeded even these new challenges – His level of obedience and perfection didn’t change, it was simply proven in a new way

We have a consistent flow of aerospace students coming through Christian Challenge and our church – During their senior year, aerospace students have a year-long project where they have to build a small remote-control plane that is capable of completing some mission assigned by their professor – They spend all year running calculations, gluing balsa wood, soldering circuits, until plane is finally complete

And if you were with them on day plane is finished and asked them, “Can that plane fly?” – They will tell you, “Absolutely” – And you can ask them, “How do you know if it will fly?” – And they will tell you, “Because I’ve done all the math and double-checked it and triple-checked – I glued balsa myself – I soldered circuits myself – This plane will fly” – They have confidence in their work before it is ever tested, because they trust in their skill and expertise

But before they get a passing grade, that plane actually has to get up in the air – They actually have to go fly it – And flying plane is a new and different kind of test – It changes nothing about the plane, itself – Plane was always capable of flying – It simply proves capability in a new way, confirms it in new light – That’s what trials and temptations did for Jesus’ perfect righteousness and obedience – They changed nothing, but they proved everything

And they qualified Him to be a high priest – Because they equipped him to empathize with us and to offer a worthy sacrifice on our behalf – A sacrifice that was totally unlike anything Aaron could ever offer – Verse 9 says, “he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him…”

Aaron, in his Old Covenant ministry, continuously offered temporary reprieves from guilt of sin by sacrificing bulls and goats – He did this first for his own sin and then for sins of people – But Jesus offered an eternal pardon from guilt of sin, once and for all, by sacrificing Himself

In Hebrews 10 author writes, “11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”

Jesus, like Aaron, represents men and women to God – But, unlike Aaron, the sacrifice Jesus offers renders an eternal salvation for those who will trust in Him by faith and obediently follow Him – Jesus is far greater than Aaron

Now, as we move toward applying this truth to our lives, I actually want to go backward in text, to the last three verses of chapter four

14 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. 15 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. 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.

Two points of application this morning:

1) Let us hold fast our confession (v. 14)

Greek word for “confession” here is a noun that refers to “a declaration of belief” – Let us hold fast our declaration of belief about Christian faith – That belief which we draw directly from Old and New Testaments of Scripture

We live in a society, as you know, that attacks very idea of truth – To hold tightly to any concrete body of beliefs is dangerous territory if you want to make friends with culture at large – If you hold fast your confession, you will not make it very long before you are labeled “closed-minded” or “uneducated” or “insensitive” or “barbaric” – Some people within modern American church will likely call you a “Pharisee” or a “Biblicist” or something of that nature

And when that happens I want you to know that you are not encountering anything new – In fact, people to whom author of Hebrews was writing would probably envy the relative ease with which most of us hold fast our confession – They were facing intense persecution: losing their jobs, losing their homes, being thrown in prison, being kicked out of town – We might face an inconvenience here or there – I don’t say that to induce shame but to shape our perspective and to inspire courage – If they held fast their confession, we can, too

And we must – Some modern iterations of Christianity have done away with their confession, either in whole or in part – Instead, they emphasize an “experience” with Christ or an “encounter” with Christ as being “true” truth – But that belief quickly spirals into subjectivity and all sorts of deviations from historic Christianity – Yes, Christianity is about a relationship with the living God – But it is a relationship established through concrete events in history and communicated through concrete Words of Scripture – And if we let go the confession, we let go of Christ

So, if we can’t let go of the confession, what do we do? – We hold fast our confession, but we do it with a smile – We close one hand around a sure confession and open the other hand to care for a world that is collapsing on itself and has no way to save itselfWe close the door on the beliefs of world but open it to people who hold them – And we show them and tell them about Great High Priest who is better than anything world has ever known

2) 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. (v. 16)

Anybody here in a time of need? – Anybody here like some help? – Anybody here want to find grace or receive mercy? – I think that’s probably all of us

Here’s what all this Great High Priest talk means – It means that, whatever trial or temptation you face this morning, you can bring it before Almighty God who made you and who loves you – You can bring your burden to throne of grace – Not a throne of judgment – Not a throne of condemnation – A throne of grace – And you can bring it with confidence

Why? – Because you have a Great High Priest, appointed by Father, who can sympathize with your weakness, and who mediates on your behalf

I don’t know what you are carrying this morning – Maybe you are under fire for your faith, from family members, friends, coworkers – Maybe you are facing a different trial – Maybe you have a chronic disease that you carry in silence day after day – Maybe you are dealing with infertility – Maybe you are in dark pit of depression or racked with anxiety – Maybe you wrestling with a same-sex attraction or a pornography addiction – Maybe there’s nothing especially bad about your life right now, you’ve just grown weary with task of going to work and raising kids and fixing leaky faucets and paying bills

Whatever the situation, one thing that trials and temptations tend to rob us of is confidence – Trials and temptations usually leave us with doubt and fear and shame – We wonder, “Is God real?” – “Is He trustworthy?” – “Is following Him really worth it?” – “Would He really love me if He knew I struggled with this?” – “Will all of this sacrifice of my time and energy and resources really be worth it in the end?” – And we wonder all of these things in secret because of our doubt and fear and shame – We fear approaching God and being honest with Him – We fear really showing Him our true self and telling Him our true feelings

But can I tell you something? – We hold fast a confession – And our confession tells us that we can approach with confidence – Not a confidence in ourselvesNot a confidence that what we can say right thing Not a confidence that we can do right thing

But a confidence that we have a Great High Priest with the right status, right authority, right credentials to stand in gap for us and declare “He has right to be here…” – “She has privilege to be here…” – “Because I said so” – And that’s good, good news


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