Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the entire eighth chapter of the epistle. When we come to this passage of scripture we leave the words which the author wrote concerning Melchizedek and this Old Testament priest of Salem and priest of righteousness. As we come to and approach the eighth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews we find the author transitioning from the language that was used in the Old Testament book of Genesis to describe this mysterious figured known as Melchizedek. This Old Testament figure who was a type and shadow of a priesthood that would indeed come later, yet a priesthood that would not be ministered by man, nor a priesthood that would be ministered upon the earth. I have already written, and it warrants strong consideration again, that the reality and concept of Jesus as priest of the most high God being perhaps the single favorite designation of Jesus within the entire epistle. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus as—not only the priest of the most high God, but also as the high priest of God—is perhaps the most dominant theme contained within the entire epistle. The author of this epistle wasted no time bringing us face to face with the awesome reality that Jesus who is both Christ and Lord is also our great high priest. In the Old Testament there were countless high priests which ministered upon the earth and within the Tabernacle—high priests which began with Aaron as being the first high priest of God ordained, appointed and anointed by the Lord of hosts. The eighth chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews brings us face to face with the reality that Jesus Christ is our great high priest—a great high priest who is not here in the earth but in the heavens.
I have to admit that I absolutely love reading the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews, for this particular epistle brings us face to face with a facet of Jesus’ ministry which continues in until this very day. When we think of the work and ministry of Jesus the Christ we tend to think of a work that was performed and engaged in while on the earth, and while it is true that our Lord did engage in ministry while on the earth, there is a ministry which began on the earth and passed into the heavens. WHEN MINISTRY PASSES FROM EARTH INTO THE HEAVENS! It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that this ministry of high priest of the most high God began on earth, yet it would and could not remain here on the earth, but would pass unto the heavens. It has already been written that in and through Jesus we not only find the sacrifice and the Lamb, but we also find the priest as well. As the Lamb of God Jesus was bruised and crushed for our iniquities and our transgressions. As the Lamb of God Jesus was sent to take away the sins of the world and to throughly purge ya of our sins, as well as our consciences. What’s more, is that in Jesus—not only do we find Him as the sacrificial Lamb and sacrifice of God, but we also find Him as the priest who ministered the sacrifice upon the altar of God. The reality and concept of Jesus as the high Krist of God is one that began here on the earth, and was evidenced and manifested through His high priestly prayer which he prayed just before going to the cross. We dare not miss the tremendous significance of this reality, for the concept of Jesus as high priest of God should give us tremendous hope, comfort and encouragement. It is absolutely imperative that we pay close attention to the reality of Jesus as high priest of the most high God, for it directly impacts and affects our reality here on the earth.
The more I read the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews, the more I can’t help but be gripped with the powerful reality that Jesus as our faithful high priest has the incredible power to directly impact our reality as the saints of God. Not only does Jesus as the faithful high priest directly impact our lives as priests and ministers of the most high God under Jesus, but when you read the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews you will find the author appealing to the reality of Jesus as our high priest in order to provide us with tremendous encouragement and instruction. I can’t help but read the epistle written unto the Hebrews and be directly and completely challenged by Jesus as our high priest, for it truly does have the power to dramatically transform and altar our lives. No other book in all of the New Testament focuses so heavily on the reality of Jesus as high priest and priest of the most high God than does the epistle written unto the Hebrews. Wouldn’t it be something if this epistle was written by an actual priest who ministered in the Temple during that day? To this day we absolutely uncertain and unclear who exactly wrote the epistle, although there are many who suspect that the apostle Paul wrote it. Throughout the years there had been much speculation and debate surrounding who wrote this particular epistle—and while it is not important who actually wrote the epistle, I can’t help but be fascinated by the concept and possibility that it could very well have been written by an actual priest who ministered in the temple. What we can say for sure and be absolutely certain of us that whoever wrote this epistle had a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Old Testament to be able appeal to it so frequently within and throughout the epistle. You cannot read this epistle without being confronted with the awesome reality that the author was intimately acquainted and familiar with the Old Testament, and particularly that which pertained to and regarded the Levitical priesthood, the sacrifices, the ministry of the tabernacle, and even the covenant itself. There is not a doubt in my mind that whoever wrote this epistle wasn’t sitting there with a concordance looking up all the various references they could to write this epistle. The author of this epistle was intimately acquainted with the Old Testament, and as a result of this knowledge, crafted a beautiful epistle describing the ministry of Jesus Christ as our great high priest.
I am convinced that in order to truly understand that which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews has written concerning Jesus as high priest, it is absolutely imperative that we study the entire epistle and that which the author wrote concerning Jesus as this priest of the most high God. The reality of Jesus as priest of the most high God was first mentioned in the second chapter of the epistle, and is built on the tremendous reality that surrounds the humanity of Christ. If we are going to understand how Jesus Christ could be our great high priest before the living God, it is absolutely necessary that we first recognize and understand it in direct relation to Jesus’ humanity upon the earth. We cannot, we dare not, we must not even consider the reality of Jesus Christ as high priest of the most high God without first recognizing and understanding His humanity. In fact, I am absolutely and utterly convinced that it was this humanity of Jesus that stood as the foundation upon which the reality of Jesus as the high priest of God was built. The entire second chapter of this epistle is built upon the reality that man was made a little lower than the angels, and that Jesus Christ Himself took on this form that was made a little lower than angels in order that He might fulfill and accomplish that for which He was sent from the Father to accomplish. Consider if you will the words which are recorded in the second chapter of this epistle beginning with the fifth verse:
“For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crowndedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. 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 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 through 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 2:5-18).
This second chapter opens up with an appeal to take heed to those things which we have heard, but then only a few verses later begins to embark upon this journey of the humanity of man within and upon the earth. What would begin with a reference to the words of David in the eighth chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms would immediately transition to a declaration concerning Jesus, and how Jesus Himself understood this nature of man, and deliberately and intentionally took upon Himself the form of man. As early as the ninth verse we find the author writing how we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour. What’s more, is that it was because Jesus was made a little lower than the angels that He could taste and experience the suffering of death, and by the grace of God should taste death for every man. In the fourteenth verse of the same chapter the author writes concerning the children being partakers of flesh and blood, so also did Jesus Himself take part in the same, in order that He might deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Please don’t miss or lose sight of that tremendous reality, for in order for Jesus to fulfill and accomplish that for which He was sent, He needed to come in the form of man and take upon Himself flesh and blood. It was absolutely impossible for Jesus to taste death for every man, and to experience the suffering of death had He come in the glory which He had with the Father before time began. We must recognize and understand that the only way Jesus could accomplish and fulfill that for which the Father had purposed and intended upon the earth, He needed to partake of the same flesh and blood as those whom He was sent to ransom and redeem. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus need to take on the form of flesh and blood in order that He might taste and experience the suffering of death, but it was also imperative that he take on the form of flesh and blood in order that he might be made like unto His brethren. Consider in the seventeenth verse of this chapter how the author declared it behaving Jesus in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, and to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
What an absolutely tremendous and incredible picture is painted in the seventeenth verse, for it suggests that were it not for Christ becoming like His brethren and partaking in the same flesh and blood, He could not directly identify and associate Himself with them. What I so love about this particular verse is not only that we read of Jesus becoming like us, but we also find and read the author declaring that Jesus was made like unto His brethren—that word brethren being the key and optimal word within the verse. It is imperative and important that we recognize and understand that by taking on the form of flesh and blood, and by being made like unto us in all ways, Jesus could in fact be the firstborn among many brethren, and could in fact call us His brethren. Please note and understand that the only way Jesus could call us His brethren is by willingly and voluntarily taking on the form of flesh and blood, and being made like unto us in all things. It is this reality of Jesus being made like unto us who are His brethren that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, which includes making reconciliation for the sins of the people. In the seventeenth verse we find the first mention of Jesus as high priest of the most high God, and we find it in direct relation to Him as being a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God. The first mention of Jesus as high priest of the most high God is centered upon the reality of His humanity, and from that place of His humanity, He is able to be a merciful and faithful high priest in all things pertaining to God. With that being said—Jesus as our faithful and merciful high priest was able to make reconciliation for the sins of the people, and is able to succour them that are tempted. This word “succour” can be understood as giving assistance and support in times of hardship and distress, and is a powerful concept to consider and think about in terms of Jesus as our faithful and merciful high priest. It was because of the humanity of Jesus Christ—because He was made like unto His brethren and partook of flesh and blood—that He was able to be a merciful and faithful high priest of God, and it is because He suffered being tempted in that form that He is able to provide assistance and support in times of hardship and trouble. In seeking to understand the reality and concept of Jesus as being a merciful and faithful high priest, it is imperative that we first recognize and understand its direct connection to His humanity, for it was only through and as a result of His humanity that He is able to stand and serve as a faithful high priest.
It is when we come to the first verse of the very next chapter that we again encounter the reality and concept of Jesus as a faithful and merciful high priest, for in the first verse we find the author writing the following words: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all His house” (Hebrews 3:1-2). Within these words we find the author directly linking and connecting Jesus as our high priest with the reality of Jesus being our Apostle. What’s more, is that the author directly links and connects the reality of Jesus as our high priest to the profession we hold on to, and the profession we make. If you read this particular epistle, you will notice this word “profession” over and over again, for it was something the author of the epistle sought to convey to their readers and audience. In the third chapter we find Jesus Christ as being the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, while it isn’t until we come to the fourth chapter that we again encounter the reality of Jesus as high priest. In verses fourteen through sixteen we find the following words which were written concerning Jesus who is our faithful and merciful high priest: “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. 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. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16). When reading this particular portion of Scripture we not only once more encounter the reality of Jesus as a great high priest, but we also encounter the awesome reality of Jesus as being a great high priest which has passed into the heavens. Please don’t miss or lose sight of this truth, for I am convinced that this priesthood of Jesus began here on the earth, and yet that ministry of the priesthood was carried into the heavens—a priesthood that was marked by scars. A PRIESTHOOD MARKED BY SCARS! If you journey back to the four gospels you will find that although Jesus rose from the grave—when He rose from the dead He did not leave His scars behind. Oh, He did in fact leave His grave clothes behind there in that empty grave, but the scars of His suffering He took with Him as He passed into the heavens. One of the most incredible and powerful realities concerning Jesus as being our merciful and faithful high priest is that instead of leaving the scars in the grave with His grave clothes, He not only chose to keep the scars, but also chose to take the scars with Him into the heavens.
I wrote last year concerning “Rising With Scars and Ascending With Keys,” and it was essentially a powerful treatise concerning Jesus rising from the grave with the scars of His suffering, and not only did He rise from the grave with the scars of his suffering, but He also ascended into the heavens and the right hand of God with the keys of death, hell and the grave. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for when I read the words of how Jesus is our great high priest which passed into the heavens, I can’t help but consider the awesome reality that when He passed into the heavens He did so carrying the scars of His suffering with Him. As I read the words which this author wrote concerning us not having an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, I can’t help but look to the proof of the scars which He carried with Him into the heavens. I believe that when Jesus passed into the heavens, he passed into the heavens with more than just the blood of the sacrifice to make atonement for the sins of humanity, but He also passed into the heavens with the scars of His suffering. When Thomas refused to believe that Jesus had been risen unless he saw the print of the nail in His hands and feet, and saw the print of the spear in His side, He would and could not believe that He had risen from the grave. In all reality, I am convinced that this might be one of the main reasons why Jesus chose to hold on to and retain the scars of his suffering—as tangible proof and visible evidence of His suffering. Not only this, but it’s in the scars of His suffering that we can clearly see how Jesus Christ so thoroughly and completely identified with us as His brethren. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our lives are without scars and without wounds and without bruises, and how absolutely wonderful and powerful it is to consider the reality that when Jesus passed into the heavens, He passed into the heavens with the scars of His suffering—the proof and evidence of His suffering, His temptation, and all that HE experienced here on the earth. We cannot, we dare not, we must not miss or lose sight of the tremendous reality that the scars which Jesus chose to carry with Him and pass into the heavens with are a powerful testament and testimony of all that He experienced here on the earth. When Jesus ascended to the right hand of His Father which was in heaven, He did so carrying the scars of His suffering with Him, which I am convinced He still has until this very day. I am convinced that when we read of the Lamb which was slain from the foundations of the world in the book fo the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the proof and evidence of that suffering is found in heaven through the visible appearance of the scars from the nails which pierced His hands and feet, as well as the spear which was thrust into his side.
As you continue reading the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews you will find that the author is not done with continuing to refer to Jesus Christ as our faithful and merciful high priest. When you come to the fifth chapter of this epistle you will find the following words written concerning Jesus our high priest: “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: 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. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an hnigh priest; but he that said unto Him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. And he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec, who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 5:1-10). With these words we again encounter the tremendous reality of the humanity of Jesus, as evidenced from the author’s use of the phrase “in the days of His flesh.” It was in and during the days of His flesh that He offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard from that place. It was in the days of his flesh that he learned obedience through the things which He suffered, and was made perfect, becoming the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him. It is at the end of the fifth chapter where we first read of Jesus Christ as our faithful high priest being after the order of Melchizedek, who appeared unto Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings. One thing I absolutely love is that just as Melchizedek appeared unto Abraham after the slaughter of kings, so also Christ appears to us after our suffering, after our struggle, after the conflict, after the battle, after the war is over. Just as Melchizedek appeared unto Abraham after the struggle and conflict was over with bread and wine, so also does Jesus Christ our merciful and faithful high priest appear unto us after the conflict and struggle is over. What’s more, is that I am convinced that He even appears unto us in the midst of the struggle and in the midst of the conflict, for we do read of the Lord preparing a table before us in the presence of our enemies. I am convinced that just as Melchizedek essentially prepared a table for Abraham after the conflict and struggle was over, so also does our faithful and great high priest prepare a table before us in the place of our conflict and struggle.
As you continue reading the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews you will find the author continuing along the lines of this theme of Jesus as our merciful and faithful high priest, for beginning with the fifteenth verse of the seventh chapter we find the following words: “And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similtrude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, who is made, not after the law of the carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifeth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. And inasmuch as not without an oath He was made priest: (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec) by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. 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. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefined, 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” (Hebrews 7:15-28). How absolutely wonderful and remarkable are the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture, for not only do we find that Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those which come unto God by and through Him, but He also ever lives to make intercession for us. This faithful and merciful high priest is holy, harmless, undefined, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens, and does not have need to daily offer up sacrifice—first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people—for this great high priest already offered up the only sacrifice that was necessary. OH that we would truly recognize and understand just how awesome this reality and concept of Jesus as our merciful and faithful high priest truly is, for as our merciful and faithful high priest He is absolutely able to succour us in our time of need, He is able to save us to the uttermost, and ever lives to make intercession for us.
Consider if you will the words which the author of this epistle wrote in the eighth chapter beginning with the first verse of the chapter concerning Jesus as our high priest: “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: we have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law;: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when He was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises” (Hebrews 8:1-6). What I so absolutely love about what is found within this passage is actually what is written in the seventh verse, for in the seventh verse the author emphatically declares that if that first covenant with the tabernacle and the priests and the sacrifices and the offerings had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. The truth of the matter, however, is that there was fault with that first covenant, and with that first testament, and there was need for a second covenant and testament. Oh that we would truly allow ourselves to encounter the awesome beauty and wonder this new and better covenant—this new and living covenant, which has at the very center and forefront of it a great and merciful high priest who is able to save us to the uttermost, and who ever lives to make intercession for us.