In our second Christmas series message, Pastor Ray Viola shares from the scriptures that Jesus is our Great High Priest. He stands for us to the Father and because of His blood, we have access to the Father, and forgiveness of sins. How do you pay for your sins? Is it your works, your religious affiliation, or the grace of God? Trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross as your sacrifice and Great High Priest!

This very important doctrine that Jesus is our High Priest is brought forth in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews is the only book that describes Jesus as our great high priest. Psalm 110 alludes to it, but the book of Hebrews explains it.

The doctrine of Jesus as high priest is first mentioned in Hebrews 2:17 and Hebrews 3:1. It is picked up here again in chapter 4.14-510, and then further developed in Hebrews 7.

It is important for us to remember that in the OT, the high priest was the appointed mediator between God and His people. Sinful man could not approach God apart from 2 things (1) a sacrifice without blemish according to the law and (2) an appointed priest of the sons of Aaron according to the law.

  • It was height of arrogance for any Jew to think that they could approach God apart from a God ordained sacrifice that was offered up by a God ordained priest.
  • The only way that any sinner can approach The Living God is by His appointed sacrifice and His appointed High Priest. There is not other way.

Hebrews 4.14-5.6

4.14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

  • No other priest was called great, for that title would be reserved for Jesus Christ, The Son of God.
  • Jesus Christ is The One Mediator between God and man. As man’s representative, He intercedes for us before God. As God’s representative, He assures us of God’s forgiveness.
  • John would write if any man sin, we have an Advocate with The Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

4.15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

  • David Guzik writes this: Sometimes we think that because Jesus is God, He could never know temptation the way we do. In part, this is true: Jesus faced temptation much more severely than we ever have or ever will. The Sinless One knows temptation in a way we don’t, because only the one who never gives into temptation knows the full strength of temptation. It is true that Jesus never faced temptation in an inner sense the way we do, because there was never a sinful nature pulling Him to sin from the inside. But He knew the strength and fury of external temptation in a way, and to a degree, that we can never know. He knows what we go through; He has faced worse.

4.16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

  • What is the difference between mercy and grace? Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we do not deserve. Because of the sinless, perfect sacrifice of Our Great High Priest Jesus Christ, when we come before Him in prayer we obtain mercy (this is not getting what we deserve) and find grace (this is getting what we don’t deserve) in our time of need.
  • This passage is an invitation for sinners to come boldly unto the throne of grace. And here is the reason that makes such an invitation to come boldly possible. It is because we have a High Priest, The Lord Jesus Christ Who has passed into the heavens Who is both The Perfect Lamb of God and The Perfect High Priest.
  • Is this a time of need for you beloved? The Spirit of God compels you to come boldly to the throne of grace for help in time of need. Yes, we all need help. Yes, none of us deserves the help we need. But look at what God says. Because we have a great High Priest, the throne of God is a throne of grace. And the help we get at that throne is mercy and grace to help in time of need. Grace to help! Not deserved help, gracious help.
  • This is the whole point of the Old and New Testaments. God planned for a High Priest, a Savior, a Redeemer, a gracious Helper.

5.1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:

5.2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.

  • God established both the priesthood and the office of high priest in the days of Moses, as described in Exodus 28. The primary responsibility of the high priest was to offer gifts and sacrifices for the sins of the people.
  • Please note that one of the essential virtues that every high needed was compassion. He was to minister the atoning sacrifices with a loving heart for the people and a deep reverence for God and His holiness.
  • One of the most beautiful pictures of the compassion of the high priest is given in Exodus 28.4-30. There we read that in the breastplate of the high priest were set twelve stones engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel, and on the shoulder straps were stones engraved with the names of the tribes. In this, the people of Israel were always on the heart and on the shoulders of the high priest (Exodus 28:4-30).
  • This is a beautiful picture of The Lord Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest. He is moved with compassion for us, and He bears the name of each and every one of His sheep on His heart. 

5.3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

  • On the Day of Atonement, the high priest had to sacrifice for himself first, to remind himself and the nation that he had sin to atone for, just like the rest of the people of Israel.
  • But here is another place where the types of Christ end, because Jesus Christ had no sin to atone for. Jesus was made sin for us, He who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5.21).
  • Heb 7.26-28 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
  • Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for sin was made once and for all and forever.

5.4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

  • The office of high priest was nothing to aspire to or campaign for. Right of birth gave it, it was chosen by God. It was an honor no man could take to himself. 

5.5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

5.6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

  • Today I have begotten You refers to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. It was at the time of His bodily resurrection from the dead that Jesus fully assumed His role as our great High Priest. The resurrection of Jesus vindicated Jesus as the Father’s Holy One (Acts 2:2, 2:27), Who bore the wrath sinners deserve, without becoming a sinner Himself.
  • Jesus did not make Himself High Priest. Instead, just as much as Jesus was declared to be the Son (Psalm 2:7), He was also declared to be a priest forever (in Psalm 110:4). A priest forever is not only an important contrast, but an important theological doctrine.
  • As stated earlier, the Levitical priesthood of the Jews was grounded in the order of Aaron, but the priesthood of Jesus Christ is grounded in the order of Melchizedek. The mysterious Melchizedek appeared in Gen14:18-20 and was not mentioned again until the messianic promise was made in Psalm  110 . The author of Hebrews drew from the OT witness to show that the order of Melchizedek was eternal in origin and scope.
  • Melchizedek participated in the divine attributes of eternity, righteousness, peace, and sovereignty.
    • His eternality is evident in that he was a priest forever—without beginning or end.
    • His righteousness is evident in His name since Melchizedek is Hebrew for “king of righteousness.”
    • His peace is evident in the fact that he was also declared to be the King of Salem, which means “king of peace.”

For those who are born again

Since we have a great high priest Who by His blood has opened a new and living way for us to enter into the most holy place.

  • Let us draw near unto God in full assurance of faith (Heb 10.22).
  • In spite of the adversities and difficulties that you are facing, do not draw back from running the race that God sets before you (Heb 10.39).
  • Determine today and every day that you will preach the gospel to yourself and fix your eyes on Jesus, The Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb 12.1,2).
  • In a day and age where being a Christian causes us to be the object of ridicule, mockery and rejection, let us be prepared to go outside the camp of society and bear reproach and humiliation for His Names sake (Heb 13.13).

For those who have yet to receive Christ as Lord

Last week we talked about the doctrine of the virgin birth from Genesis 3.15 and Luke 1.35. We saw in Scripture that the virgin birth of Jesus was necessary for Him to be the sinless, spotless Lamb of God Who taketh away the sin of the world.

If you don’t believe in the virgin birth, you have some very serious theological problems.

Think about this today: Your salvation is inextricably interwoven with the doctrine of the virgin birth my friend. No virgin birth, no deity. No deity, no sinless life. No sinless life, no sacrificial death. No sacrificial death, no salvation. No salvation, you’re going to hell. Jesus came to earth that we might go to heaven; born of a virgin that we might be born again. Thank God for the virgin birth of The Lamb of God.

To the Jews, the high priest was the highest religious authority in the land. And the most important part of his ministry was when he entered alone the Holy of Holies once a year to make atonement for the sins of the whole nation (Lev 16). Thank God for our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. Listen with your heart to the word of The Living God.

Heb 9.11-15 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

Heb 9.24-26 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world:but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Heb 7.23-28 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

  • What we have learned is this. IN The Lord Jesus Christ we have  “A Great High Priest”; “A Sympathetic High Priest”; & “An Approachable High Priest”.
  • John 3.17 tells us that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 1 John 3.8 tells is Jesus came into the world to destroy the works of the devil, not man. In Him is life, and the life is the light of men.
  • I beseech you in the Name of Jesus Christ to be reconciled to God. Jesus saves to the uttermost those who come unto The Father by Him. Receive Him as your sacrificial lamb and great high priest today!
  • Eternal life is knowing The Father and His Son Jesus Christ (John 17.3).
  • If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” – “Let the little children come to Me, – “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – “And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come.” As we sing, I invite you to come.