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Lesson 5: Jesus, Our High Priest *

Introduction: What is Jesus doing right now in Heaven? Hebrews tells us Jesus is in Heaven working as our High Priest. How can Jesus be our High Priest since He does not have the proper credentials? He came "from" the tribe of Judah, not Levi. Priests come from the tribe of Levi, right? Are all priests the descendants of Levi? Solving this problem with Jesus involves a Bible mystery man. Let's jump into our lesson and solve these mysteries!

  1. The Bridge

    1. Before we solve our mysteries, we have to cross a bridge. When we ended our study last week, the writer of Hebrews showed us that those who followed Moses and left Egypt failed to enter Canaan, the promised land. Why? Because of rebellion and unbelief. The writer encouraged us to hold on to our confidence and belief in Jesus so that we could enter the heavenly promised land. Read Hebrews 4:8-11. Did the people ever enter into Canaan? (Yes - but not the original people who refused to enter the first time. After all of those who were unfaithful died, Joshua led their descendants into Canaan. Joshua 1&3.)

    2. What is this "Sabbath rest" referred to in verse 9? What does it have to do with Joshua?

      1. Is it the weekly Sabbath?

      2. What "day" is this "other day" of verse 8?

      3. Did God ever mention another day of rest? (Hebrews cannot be referring to a literal day of the week because "the rest" of Joshua was not a day, it was an event. The people had finally returned to the land promised to Abraham. ( Genesis 12:1-7) They "rested" because the promise to Abraham had now been fulfilled to Abraham's descendants to the degree they were faithful.)

      4. What do you think is the "other day" of which God spoke later? (This again is the Heaven parallel. Just as Moses led the people back to the land promised to Abraham, so Jesus is leading us back to the "land" given to Adam and Eve. We will re-enter this relationship of rest with God.)

        1. Would the weekly Sabbath have anything to do with this heavenly rest? (Yes. It reminds us of the Heavenly rest, and symbolizes the rest that is our goal.)

        2. If you believe in the "young earth" theory (as I do), would it surprise you if Jesus returned sometime after 6,000 years had elapsed? (I do not promote the theory that after 6,000 years Jesus will come again and we will spend the "Sabbath" 1,000 years in Heaven (see Revelation 20:6-7). However, it would not surprise me in the least if last-day events turned out that way.)

  2. Jesus' Priestly Work

    1. What do you think Jesus is doing right now that is related to leading us back into that Heavenly rest?

    2. Read Hebrews 5:1-3. What was good about the High Priest system used by the Israelites for the forgiveness of sin? (The High Priest, being human, could understand the sins and weaknesses of the people. A human represented other humans before God.)

      1. What was bad about that system? (A sinful man represented other humans in dealing with God. Because the High Priest was himself sinful, he had to offer sacrifices for his sins just like everyone else.)

    3. What else can you think of is unique about Jesus as our High Priest as opposed to the high priests of Israel? (None of them was also the sacrifice.)

      1. Why is this an important factor?

    4. Read Hebrews 5:4. How was the High Priest chosen? (God selected the High Priest. God's selection of Aaron and his sons is recounted in Exodus 27-29.)

    5. Read Hebrews 5:5-6. Was Jesus selected as our High Priest? (Yes.)

      1. When? (Hebrews is quoting from Psalms 2:7, which is a Messianic prophecy. It seems to have been fulfilled by the words of God at Jesus' baptism. Matthew 3:16-17. The second mention of Jesus as a priest in the order of Melchizedek is also a quotation - a Messianic prophecy from Psalms. Psalms 110:4.)

    6. Overall, how does Jesus compare to the high priests of Israel? (He was chosen by God, He had all of the positive attributes of the human High Priest, such as being human and compassionate about sins and weakness. However, He had none of the bad attributes, such as personal sin or being a human dealing with God. Because He was offering Himself, He forever won the controversy between good and evil and insured the defeat of sin and death.)

  3. Jesus Perfect for the Job?

    1. Read Hebrews 5:7-10. How can Jesus be "made perfect?" Was He not already perfect? (The context is that Jesus suffered through difficulties here on earth just like we do. Once He lived a perfect life, died in our place, and arose to life eternal, He now is the perfect High Priest for us.)

    2. I'm a little troubled here about Jesus' perfection. Why is Jesus a priest in the order of Melchizedek, and not the order of Aaron, the "authorized order," the order that we know so much about?

      1. Was Jesus either a Levite or a descendant of Aaron? (Jesus was "of the tribe of Judah." Matthew 1:3&16; Revelation 5:5; Hebrews 7:14. Since these tribes bore the names of the brothers who were the sons of Isaac, Judah was a different person than Levi. Let's turn to this "problem" of Jesus' genealogy next.)

  4. Order of Melchizedek

    1. Read Hebrews 7:1-2. What strikes you as being unique about Melchizedek? (He was both a priest and a king.)

      1. Scan 1 Samuel 13:5-14. What was Saul's primary error in this story? (He was the king and he offered sacrifices - which was the job of the priest.)

      2. Did one person ever hold the position of priest and king among the Israelites? (No. This is what makes Melchizedek unique.)

    2. Read Hebrews 7:3-6. What else do we learn that is unique about Melchizedek? (He has no mother or father or beginning or end.)

      1. Who was this guy? (That is the point. We do not know. No further description of him is given in the Bible.)

      2. How is Jesus like Melchizedek? (In many ways. He is both our Priest and our King. He has no beginning or end. As humans, we do not understand the "father and mother" situation with Jesus very well in terms of a heavenly Father and an earthly Mary.)

    3. Read Hebrews 7:7-10. Was Melchizedek greater than Abraham? (Yes. The text makes at three arguments. First, it teaches us that the greater blesses the lesser. Melchizedek blessed Abraham. Second, We noted in the preceding verses that Abraham paid a tithe to Melchizedek. These verses suggest that Levi paid the tithe to Melchizedek, rather than the usual case of the tithe being paid to Levi. Third, Melchizedek did not die. A person who does not die is superior to humans.)

      1. Is Abraham greater than the Levi and his descendants? (Yes. The argument is that since Abraham was the great-grandfather of Levi (the order of descent: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Levi), Abraham was greater than the Levites. This is also the way in which the text argues that Levi "paid" the tithe to Melchizedek through Abraham.)

    4. What is the main point that Hebrews is making through all of these arguments? (The problem is that Jesus did not come through the normal order of priests. Therefore Hebrews uses the obscure Melchizedek figure to point out that not all priests need to come through Levi. Instead, the mysterious priest-king Melchizedek is the "type" of Jesus - a priest-king of superior attributes.)

    1. Read Hebrews 7:23-26. Are you glad that Jesus is your High Priest? Why? (We have already discussed several ways in which Jesus is superior to the high priests of the line of Aaron. This text points out to us that Jesus is always on the job. Added to all the other great things about Jesus being our High Priest, is that He is working as our High Priest right now. He never takes a break, never takes vacation and never will die.)

    2. Friend, would you like Jesus to be your High Priest? If so, the time to ask Him to intercede on your behalf is right now!

  1. Next Week: Sanctuary Language in Hebrews.
* Copr. 2003, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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