Our Great High Priest and the Body He Left Behind

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses one through twelve of the thirteenth chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you find yourself coming to the final chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews. I have to admit that going through this epistle has been an absolute joy, and I feel incredibly privileged and blessed to be able to spend time reading, studying and meditating upon scripture. I am so thankful to the Lord for providing us with His written word which not only provides us with an account of events which transpired long ago, but which also provides us with instruction, direction and discernment. The more I read and the more I study the sacred text the more I am gripped and captivated by the incredible truth that is contained therein. I am finding myself reading the words which are presented on the pages of scripture and being hungry and thirsty for truth, for knowledge, and a greater experience with the presence of the living God. I can’t help but be excited when it comes to reading the sacred text, and be joyous concerning all the Father has provided for us. What’s more, is the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews was an absolutely hoy and delight to read through, study and digest. The words and language that are contained within this epistle concerning and regarding Jesus Christ as being sovereign and supreme over absolutely everything in heaven and upon the earth is absolutely wonderful and marvelous to consider. The thought of Jesus Christ as being the ultimate sacrifice that ended all Old Testament sacrifices is truly wonderful and remarkable when you take the time to consider and meditate upon it. Pause and think about that reality for one moment—the reality that one sacrifice outweighed and far surpassed every other sacrifice that was made, and every sacrifice that perhaps were still being made during the days of Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is that through His sacrifice—not only was the veil town in Twain from top to bottom, not only were graves opened so resurrection could spring forth, but so also was atonement and sacrifice made once and for all.

The epistle written unto the Hebrews is one that is absolutely remarkable and one that is truly wonderful in that it presents us with the reality that not only is Jesus Christ our sacrifice and the propitiation for sin, but Jesus Christ is also the great high priest who ministered and presented the sacrifice. Through the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews we encountered and came face to face with the awesome reality that as our faithful and true high priest Jesus is able to succor all who are tempted, and all who suffer. What’s more, is that we do not have a great high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all ways tempted as we are and yet was without sin. This great high priest fulfilled and completed the work which was assigned unto Him from the Father, and when that work was fulfilled, finished and completed He sat down at the right hand of all majesty on high until His enemies were once and for all made His footstool. The epistle written unto the Hebrews is one that is absolutely breathtaking when you take the time to think about and consider it, for its ultimate objective is to being us closer to and bring us face to face with Christ. One cannot and should not read the epistle written unto the Hebrews and not be struck with the tremendous reality that Christ is at the very heart and center of the entire epistle. One cannot read this epistle without encountering Jesus Christ—perhaps for the very first time, or perhaps even in a new and fresh way. In all reality, I am convinced that there is a great need for men and women to experience Jesus Christ in a new and fresh and living way, and if it is within one’s heart to have such an experience, they need only look to the epistle written unto the Hebrews. What I so love about the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews is that it is an epistle that shines a new and exciting light on Jesus Christ and presents Him in a light that perhaps we are not and have not been accustomed to.

The more I read the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews the more I am captivated with and by the reality that within its pages we see Jesus Christ in a powerful way—one that was not presented in the previous epistles. It is true that the apostle Paul encountered and experienced Jesus Christ while in the desert and wilderness of Arabia where he was for three years, and it is true that the apostle Paul had an incredible revelation of the person and work of Jesus Christ. What is so captivating and alluring about the epistle written unto the Hebrews is that we aren’t given the identity of the author. There are some who speculate and conjecture that it was the apostle Paul who wrote the epistle, and while there are certain similarities between this epistle and those which we know the apostle Paul wrote, we aren’t given absolutely certainty as to who wrote this epistle. It’s quite remarkable that such a revelation is found in an epistle which we aren’t even aware of the identity of the author. Throughout the years it has not been given to know who the author of this particular epistle was—mainly due to the fact that it does not open up with a signature greeting and salutation as do the writings of the apostles Paul, Peter and John, and even James, and Jude. In all reality, the way this particular epistle begins and opens up is similar in nature to the way the gospel of John opened up in the New Testament. Please note that I am in no way suggesting that the epistle written unto the Hebrews was written by the apostle John, but there is a strong similarity to how the New Testament gospel of John opened, and how the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews opened. Consider if you will the words which are found in the opening verses of the gospel written by the apostle John: “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” (John 1:1-5). Now consider how the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews opened: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Hebrews 1:1-4).

When reading the four gospels contained and found at the beginning of the New Testament we encounter four unique accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ here upon the earth. Of these four gospel three are considered to be synoptic gospels in that they bear strong similarities to each other. The Gospel of John is the only one of the four major gospels that does not appear to have any similarity to the other three gospels—although the apostle John recounts several of the same events and occurrences within the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The reason I mention this is because the four gospels written and contained in the New Testament at the very outset present us with and bring us face to face with the tremendous reality of who Jesus Christ was as a person. If there is one thing I absolutely love about the four gospels, it’s that they bring us face to face with who Jesus Christ was in the form of human flesh. The four gospels which were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John present us with a powerful picture of who Jesus Christ was while He was here upon the earth. The epistles—and particularly the epistle written unto the Hebrews—on the other hand, present us with a completely different reality. The epistle which was written unto the Hebrews presents us with a tremendous picture concerning the reality of Jesus Christ—a reality that not only touched His humanity, but also His divinity. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand about the epistle written unto the Hebrews, it’s that not only are we given a powerful glimpse into the humanity of Jesus Christ, but we are also given a wonderful and powerful picture into the divinity of Christ. In fact, if we are going to truly understand Jesus Christ as the great high priest who is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize that wrapped up and contained within that reality is both the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ. If you consider what it takes to stand and serve as a faithful high priest, it is necessary that you recognize both the human element, as well as the divine element, for Jesus Christ as our great high priest needs to be able to faithfully serve in the role of high priest after the order of Melchizedek. I can’t help but consider the various references which directly speak to the reality of the humanity of Jesus Christ found and contained within this epistle. Consider if you will the references which point to the humanity of Jesus, thus enabling Him to stand and serve as a faithful high priest:

“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 you visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst 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 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 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 sanctifieith and they who are sanctified are 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).

“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).

“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 high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As 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 healed 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).

“For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which the tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment,m but after the power of an endless life. For he testifies, 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 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).

All of these references point to the distinct reality that in order for Jesus to faithfully serve as our high priest, there needed to be an experience with humanity. IN order for Jesus to faithfully minister the office of high priest—high priest of a new and better and living way—there needed to be as much an element of humanity as there was divinity. What I absolutely love about Jesus Christ is that He was neither afraid, nor hesitant in taking on the form of human flesh, and was not afraid to take on Himself the seed of Abraham in order that He might fulfill and accomplish that which needed to be accomplished. There needed to be a wonderful encounter in the person of Jesus Christ as humanity and divinity collided and were found within one single life. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand both the humanity, as well as the divinity of Jesus Christ, for it is His humanity which enables Him to associate and identity with us, but it is His divinity which enables Him to fulfill and faithfully execute the role and office of high priest. Oh, please don’t miss or lose sight of this reality, for to do so would be to miss something truly remarkable and truly incredible concerning the person of Jesus Christ. I cannot escape the fact that it was the humanity of Jesus which enabled Him to Idenity with us, for He knew and understood exactly what we go through, and exactly what we experience. With that being said, it is necessary that we understand that it was that which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote in the first chapter of the epistle which begins to reveal and paint the picture of the divinity and supremacy of Jesus Christ. If you read the entire first chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews you will quickly encounter an incredibly captivating picture of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Consider if you will the words which are found in the first chapter beginning with the first verse:

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to Him a father, and He shall be to me a Son? And again, when He bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh His angles spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:1-14).

I previously wrote about Jesus the High Priest and His cloud of witnesses, and after having read the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of the epistle written unto the Hebrews I am gripped with a secondary concept which builds upon this one. I firmly believe and am convinced that Jesus is our faithful High Priest, and that He is surrounded in heaven by His great cloud of witnesses—those who obtained a good report through faith, and those for whom the world was not worthy. I am convinced that in heaven we not only have Jesus Christ our faithful high priest, but we also have myriads upon myriads of cherubim and seraphim who not only worship the living God day and night, but who also are ministers of a flame of fire. In addition to the myriads of cherubim and seraphim which are found in heaven, there is also this great cloud of witnesses which compass the saints round about. There is within heaven this wonderful and powerful cloud of witnesses which is made up of those who have gone before us, and those who have run their race, and those who have fought their own fight, and as I read the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews, I would like to write and speak about a host that is found upon the earth—a host that is made up of those who are running with patience the race which is set before them. There is present within and present upon the earth a great company and host of men and women who are not only running with patience the race which has been set before them, but also those who are faithfully serving and ministering as an extension of the ministry of the great high priest in heaven. It’s important and imperative that we recognize and understand that this faithful high priest is also the head of the body of Christ, and as such, His body remains within and upon the earth. From the day of Pentecost two thousand years ago there has been a spiritual and physical body of Christ which has existed upon the earth, as the Head of the body is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Oh, it is true that the Head of the body might be in heaven, but the actual body itself remains present and very much active within and upon the earth. This is actually quite an incredible concept when you think about it, for with the head of the body being found in heaven, then it holds true that the Head of the body is directly connected to the heart, the mind, and the will of the Father. With the Head of the body present in the heavens and the body present within the earth, the body should function exactly according to the divine will and purpose which is found in heaven. The body of Christ which exists upon the earth should move, operate and function exactly and according to the divine will of the Head. Consider if you will the words which are found—first in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Corinthians, and second in the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto the Romans:

“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet buy one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:3-21).

As we come to the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews we find the author beginning by writing of this company of men and women on the earth who are laying aside every weight, as well as the sin which so easily besets them, in order that they might run with patience the race which was set before them. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote concerning this company of men and women within the earth who look unto Jesus the author and finisher of their faith as they continue to faithfully run the race which was set before them. This company and host of men and women within and upon the earth consider He who endured such a contradiction of sinners against Himself, so that they would not be wearied and faint in their minds. This company and host of men and women despise not the chastening and disciplining of the Lord, for the they know and understand that the Father chastens and disciplines those whom He loves. This company of men and women knows and understands that no chastening for the present seems joyous or is joyful, but is grievous; yet they understand that afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which exercise such. What’s more, is this company of men and women which exist within and upon the earth lifts up the hands which are hanging down, and the feeble knees. This company and host of individuals upon the earth make straight paths for their feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way. This company and host of men and women upon the earth follow peace with all men, and holiness, for they know and understand that without which no man shall see the Lord. They look diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God, and lest any root bitterness spring up and trouble them. This company and honest have not come unto the mount which might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto the blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, but they have come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn. This company and honest of men and women are such which are faithful ministers of the high priest which sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven, and who faithfully execute and carry out the ministry of the great high priest. Consider if you will the words which are found and recorded in the first twelve verses of the thirteenth chapter:

“Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefined: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate” (Hebrews 13:1-12).

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