Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. More specifically, today’s passage begins with the fourteenth verse of the fourth chapter and continues through to the tenth verse of the fifth chapter. When we come to this portion of scripture we find the author of the epistle transitioning from speaking of rest, and the rest that has been promised and provided unto us by the Lord to now writing and speaking of Jesus the Christ as our great high priest. This isn’t the first time the author of the epistle wrote concerning Jesus being our high priest, for you will recall in the opening verse of the third chapter the author writing of Jesus Christ that He is not only our Apostle, but also our high priest. Even in the second chapter the author mentions and alludes to the reality of Jesus the Christ being our high priest, and now in this particular passage of Scripture, the author dives headfirst into the awesome reality of Jesus as our high priest. This is actually quite incredible and captivating when you truly take the time to think about it, for there are many who write and even speak of Jesus the Christ as Savior, as Redeemer, and as various other descriptive names and titles. The language which we find in this portion of scripture is actually language that much like that which is found within the writings of Paul revolutionizes and completely transforms our thinking. The writings of the apostle Paul completely and totally transformed our thinking concerning Jesus the Christ and took it to an entirely new level. Now, when we come to the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews we find the author of this epistle writing from a completely different place of thinking—a thinking that wasn’t really mentioned during that time. The author of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews sought to present Jesus the Christ in a powerful light—one that might have been completely different from that which was present and prevalent during that time.
One of the greatest realities I absolutely love about the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews was how absolutely centered and focused it was on Jesus the Christ. You cannot even escape the first chapter of the epistle without being confronted with the supremacy of Christ. Within the first chapter alone you are wonderfully and powerfully caught up and taken up into a tremendous and beautiful reality concerning Jesus who is the Christ and the Son of God. Within the first chapter of the epistle we are brought face to face with the supremacy and sovereignty of Jesus the Christ, while immediately in the following chapter we are again brought face to face with Jesus, however, this portrait of Christ expresses not His supremacy and divinity, but rather His humanity. While in the first chapter of the epistle we encounter the tremendous reality of the divinity and eternity of Christ—in the second chapter we are brought face to face with the humanity of Christ. What’s more, is that it wasn’t the divinity of Christ which brought about our salvation or our redemption. If you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Philippi you will find him writing concerning Jesus Christ laying and putting aside His divinity in order that He might take upon Himself the form of a servant. Within the words which the apostle wrote unto the Philippian congregation we are confronted with the awesome reality that when the Father sought to accomplish His work of redemption and salvation within the earth, He sent the Son born of a virgin and in the form of human flesh to carry out and complete that work. The reality which the author of the epistle unto the Hebrews wrote concerning Jesus Christ was not a new revelation, for the apostle Paul had previously written concerning Christ’s trading His divinity for humanity in order that He might complete and accomplish that for which He had been sent.
When I read the words which the author of the epistle unto the Hebrews wrote, I am absolutely and totally gripped and captivated with the Christo-centric focus that is contained within the epistle. We cannot escape the first chapter without being brought face to face with a powerful portrait of Jesus the Christ, and one the describes His divinity, His supremacy and His sovereignty. We cannot move past the second chapter without encountering and coming face to face with the wonderful and glorious picture of the humanity of Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is that the author of this epistle not only writes concerning the humanity of Christ and Christ taking on the form of flesh, but we also read how it was through death and death on the cross Jesus the Christ destroyed and defeated him who had the power over death, that is the devil. When we write and speak of the humanity of Christ we must speak of it in direct relation both suffering and pain, as well as death and crucifixion. We cannot and must not write and even speak about the humanity of Christ without being confronted with the incredible and tremendous suffering He experienced while on the earth. If you are going to attempt to write and speak concerning the humanity of Christ you must understand that directly connected to that humanity is a complete and direct association with us in every way possible. If you are going to speak about the humanity of Christ you must come to terms with that humanity as being directly connected to the concept of suffering and death. When we speak of the divinity of Christ we speak of it in terms of glory, and majesty, and splendor, but when we write and speak of the humanity of Christ we understand and speak of it in terms of suffering and death. In fact, it was only as a direct of, and only in response to Christ’s humanity that He was able to experience and endure that which was both required by the Father, as well as directly connected to us.
I can’t help but be reminded of two distinct passages found within the sacred Scripture which powerfully demonstrate and speak—not only to the humanity of Christ and the suffering He experienced here in the earth, but also of His role, purpose and function as the great High Priest. In fact, in the fifty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah we find one of the strongest and most powerful descriptions of the humanity of Christ within all of scripture. In this particular passage of scripture we find the humanity of Christ directly connected to His suffering and death, and the tremendous joy, pleasure and delight in the heart of the Father to allow it to happen. The second passage I can’t help but be reminded of is found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John the apostle John. Within this particular passage we find the apostle high brining us face to face with the great high priestly prayer of Jesus. Consider if you will the words which are found in the fifty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, as well as the words which are found and recorded for us in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel according to the apostle John:
“Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to His own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? For He was cut out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken. And He made His grace with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travel of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:1-12).
“Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorified thee: As thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given Him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am g lorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I k pet them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them throughout thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:1-26).
While these two passages might not seem like they are in any way connected, or have anything to do with each other, I would strongly suggest and present unto you reality that if we are going to truly understand the role, the purpose and the function of Jesus the Christ as our great, our merciful and our faithful high priest, we must first understand His humanity. We cannot truly understand the reality of Jesus the Christ as our great high priest without first encountering and coming face to face with His humanity. It is the humanity of Jesus the Christ which in all reality prepares us to encounter the awesome reality that He is indeed and is in fact our great and merciful high priest. The humanity of Jesus Christ are found in three distinct and specific places within Scripture—one in the New Testament gospel of Jesus Christ according to the apostle John, one in the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippians, and the third which is found in the second chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. Consider each of these passages and allow the depth, the wonder, the magnificence that is found within each of them truly captivate you and bring you face to face with just what Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God was willing to do to fulfill and complete the work of the Father for which He was sent:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not…That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-5, 8-14).
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a. servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).
“But now we see not yet all things put under Him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both the He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that though death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:8-18).
Each of these three passages presents the tremendous truth that Jesus who is both Christ and Lord traded His divinity for humanity, and He did so in order that He might taste and experience in the flesh that for which the Father had previously manifested upon the altar with the blood of lambs, and bulls and goats. It was absolutely necessary and imperative that Jesus trade His divinity for humanity, for it was only through His humanity He could truly complete and accomplish in the earth that which needed to be accomplished. It was only through His humanity on the earth that He could become obedient unto death, even death on the cross. It was and could only be as a direct result of His humanity that He would be made our captain who was perfect through sufferings. It was absolutely necessary for Jesus to trade His divinity for humanity, for that which needed to be accomplished in the earth could and would not be accomplished as God. It was absolutely necessary for God to become a man and to take on the form of human flesh, for in order to redeem that which had previously been damaged and tarnished, it needed to be done through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as a man. It was absolutely necessary that Christ take on the form of flesh and blood, and to even be made in the fashion of what is a little lower than the angels in order that He might experience the sufferings required to make atonement for our sins, and to restore the relationship we once had with the Father in the garden of Eden when Adam was formed from the dust of the earth. There is another passage found within the New Testament which further confirms the reality of Christ being found in the form of human flesh, and its direct relation to the first man Adam which was formed from the dust of the earth. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the fifth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the church at Rome beginning with the twelfth verse:
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similtude of Adam’s transgression who is the figure of Him that was to come. But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is many offences unto justification. For if by one’s man offense death reigned but one; much more they which receive abundance of grace of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:12-21).
What we find in this particular passage of Scripture is a powerful description of Christ coming in the form of man—Christ coming in the form of flesh and blood—in order that He might reverse and undo that which entered into the world by the first man. In fact, in another one of the epistles which the apostle Paul wrote we find him writing and referencing concerning the first Adam being the one which was formed of the dust of the earth, but also the second Adam, which took on the form of human flesh and blood in order that He might fulfill, complete and accomplish that for which He was sent. When Jesus the Christ took on the form of flesh and blood, He did so in order that He might reverse and undo that which was committed by the first Adam—namely, the transgression that was committed there by partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus the Christ took on the form of flesh and blood, and He traded divinity for humanity in order that He might taste and experience suffering and death the same way we as mankind experience on a daily basis. You will notice towards the end of the second chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews that the author emphatically writes and declares that “it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:17-18). Within these two verses we find that Jesus Christ became like His brethren, and took on the nature of flesh and blood, in order that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God. What’s more, is that it was in that flesh—it was in the form of flesh and blood being made a little lower than the angels—that Christ suffered being tempted, and as a direct result of this reality is able to succour those which are tempted. This is directly linked and connected to that which is written in the fourteenth verse of the same chapter, for in this particular verse we find Christ taking on the form of flesh and blood in order that He might accomplish something else in addition to becoming a merciful and faithful high priest. In the fourteenth verse of the second chapter we find and read the following words: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy Him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). We dare not miss or lose sight of the tremendous significance that is found and contained within this passage of Scripture, for Christ’s humanity—His taking on the form of flesh and blood—not only allowed Him to destroy him who previously had the power of death, but it also allowed him to become a faithful and merciful high priest in things pertaining to God. What we find in the second chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews is a powerful dissertation concerning the humanity of Christ, and how it was through and as a direct result of that humanity that He was perfectly and powerfully able to become a merciful and faithful high priest on our behalf.
In considering this reality of Jesus the Christ being made our faithful and merciful high priest, we must recognize and understand that this role was not one that He took upon Himself, nor was it one which He exercised upon the earth. In the fifty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah we find the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world as the sinless and spotless sacrifice of God. In the fifty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah we encounter the sacrifice that was offered upon the altar of the cross atop Golgotha outside Jerusalem, while in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John we find a glimpse of Jesus Christ as the merciful and faithful high priest—one who passionately prayed for and interceded on behalf of His saints and disciples. In the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John we find the High Priest which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote of, while even in the third chapter of the gospel we find the Lamb and the sacrifice. Twice within the first chapter of the New Testament gospel of John we find John the Baptist writing and declaring concerning Jesus the Christ that He was indeed and was in fact the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world. Just two chapters later we find one of the most powerful declarations concerning the Lamb of God which took away the sins of the world, for in this passage of Scripture we find Jesus Himself declaring that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. One of the single greatest realities concerning the New Testament gospel of John is that if you read the entire book you will clearly see that it has within it a pattern of the tabernacle found in the Old Testament. The pattern and shadow of the tabernacle in the wilderness found within the New Testament gospel of John began in the third chapter when we read of the Lamb of God who would die in order that He might take away the sins of the world, and then as you continue reading the gospel you find Jesus continuing to fulfill the pattern and type of the tabernacle—namely, demonstrating the bronze laver, the table of shewbread, the altar of incense, the golden lampstand, and ultimately the mercy seat and the Ark of the Covenant. The New Testament gospel of John is perhaps one of the greatest examples and testaments to the type and shadow of the tabernacle—not only in that everything points to and leads to the Ark of the Covenant, the Mercy Seat, and the triumph of God over His own judgment.
When the fourteenth verse of the fourth chapter begins, it begins with the author of the epistle writing concerning the reality that we have a great high priest—a great high priest which passed into the heavens. In direct response to this reality, we are to hold fast our profession—a reality which is expressed later on in the tenth chapter—“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He that is faithful that promised;)” (Hebrews 10:23). This entire passage of Scripture is completely dedicated to the tremendous reality of Jesus Christ as our merciful and faithful high priest—one that cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, and yet was without sin. It was as a result of Jesus the Christ being tempted in all ways like we are and yet without sin that we are able to come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we might obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Jesus thought not to take upon Himself the nature of the high priest, but was appointed and ordained by God to remain in the heavenly realms making intercession for us before the Father. What I absolutely love is that as our merciful and faithful high priest Jesus is able to have compassion on those who are ignorant, as well as those which are out of the way, because He Himself was compassed with and by infirmity. When I read this particular passage of Scripture, I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the reality that Jesus Christ is a merciful and faithful high priest who not only knows the infirmities which we have experienced, but can also be touched with the feelings of those infirmities. In other words, it’s one thing to merely declare unto us that He knows what we are going through, and what we are experiencing, and yet not being able to actually identify with it. It’s something else altogether when He is able to not only declare that He knows what we are going through, but is also able to identify with and understand the actual feeling associated with our infirmities. There are those who would state that they know and understand what we are going through, yet they are not and cannot be touched with the actual feeling of our infirmity. When the author speaks of Jesus the Christ as our merciful and faithful high priest, what they are actually doing is bringing us face to face with the tremendous reality that we have a high priest who has passed into the heavens—a high priest which makes intercession for us, and a high priest who is able to completely and totally identify with the feeling of our infirmities, the feeling of our sufferings, the feeling of our troubles, for He was in all ways tempted as we are, and yet is and was without sin. Oh that we would come boldly before the throne of grace, and that we would recognize and understand the merciful high priest we have at the right hand of that throne, in order that we might find mercy and grace to help in time of need.