Jesus Our Great High Priest, Part 2

Entering the Most Holy PlaceIn the last post, I recommended looking at passages describing Jesus as our high priest and categorizing what you found by marking phrases in different colors.  To summarize the findings of our study group, I’ll use another way to categorize what a passage is teaching, which is to list them out under different headings.

Jesus as High Priest

  • Fully human in every way (Heb. 2:17)
  • Merciful (Heb. 2:17)
  • Faithful (Heb. 2:17)
  • Suffered when He was tempted (Heb. 2:18)
  • Ascended into heaven (Heb. 4:14)
  • Empathizes with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15)
  • Has been tempted in every way we have (Heb. 4:15)
  • Never sinned (Heb. 4:15)

Similarities: Jesus and Old Testament Priests

  • Selected and appointed to represent people to God (Heb. 5:1)
  • Offer gifts and sacrifices for sins (Heb. 5:1)
  • Able to deal gently with the ignorant and straying (Heb. 5:2)
  • Priesthood received by call of God (Heb. 5:4-6)

Differences: Jesus and Old Testament Priests

  • OT priests had to offer sacrifices for their own sin, but Jesus did not because He was sinless (holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, made perfect forever)  (Heb. 5:2-3, 7:26-28)
  • Jesus was made priest through God’s unchangeable oath; OT priests were not (Heb. 7:20-22)
  • There were many OT priests because they died; Jesus lives forever and therefore is a permanent priest (Heb. 7:23-24)
  • OT priests offered sacrifices day after day; Jesus offered Himself as sacrifice once for all (Heb. 7:27)

Benefits We Receive from Jesus as High Priest

  • Makes atonement for our sins (Heb. 2:17)
  • Able to help those who are tempted (Heb. 2:18)
  • Gives reason to hold firmly to our faith (Heb. 4:14)
  • We can approach God’s throne with confidence (Heb. 4:16)
  • We will receive mercy (Heb. 4:16)
  • We will find grace to help us when in our need (Heb. 4:16)
  • Able to save us completely when we come to God through Him (Heb. 7:25)
  • Always lives to intercede for us (Heb. 7:25)
  • Truly meets our needs (Heb. 7:26)
  • Since Jesus offered Himself as our once-for-all sacrifice for sin, it implies that we never have to make another sacrifice for our sins, because His sacrifice forgives ALL our sins, past, present and future (Heb. 7:27)

All that from just three paragraphs! It’s amazing what rich detail there is in scripture if we will only look for it!

Sometimes, though, if we only look at the details we can lose sight of the main message a biblical author is trying to convey. Today our group will use another study method that helps show us the bigger picture. We will study each paragraph and then write a summary of the main teaching in the margin on the right. If you do that for a whole book, you can then read all your summaries in order to see the flow of the logic, which will help point you toward the main lesson of the book. (Notice that different translations divide paragraphs differently; there are no paragraphs in the original Hebrew and Greek! That means  it’s okay if you disagree with your  bible’s paragraph divisions!)

We’ll do this exercise with the following excerpts from Hebrews 8 and 9 about Jesus’ ministry as High Priest that relate to what we have studied about the Day of Atonement:

  • Hebrews 8:1-5
  • Hebrews 9:6-14
  • Hebrews 9:24-28

I invite you to do this on your own, and compare your findings with ours when I summarize our group’s findings in my next post.

(This post is part of a series. See Entering the Most Holy Place: a Study on the Day of Atonement for an introduction and list of posts.)

Jesus Our Great High Priest, Part 1

Entering the Most Holy PlaceThe high priest played an incredibly important role in the annual Day of Atonement. He alone entered the innermost room of the tabernacle (or later, the temple) where God manifested His presence, and he could only do it on that one day each year.

The book of Hebrews in the New Testament teaches that Jesus is our high priest. Hebrews 1 shows Jesus’ deity, then Hebrews 2 shows His humanity, and most of the book compares Jesus to the priesthood and sacrificial system in the Law of Moses.

Our study group is doing a bible study exercise with Hebrews 2: 14-18, Hebrews 4:14-5:6 and Hebrews 7:20-28, which are all about Jesus’ high priesthood. I’ll describe the steps so you can do the exercise yourself.

Step 1: Print out the three passages in large print and with wide margins on both sides. You can do this by copying and pasting them from biblia.com, biblegateway.com or blueletterbible.org. I find that this makes it easier to focus on the text itself instead of getting distracted by my bible’s study notes, and I have plenty of room to mark up the text and write any insights or questions. This helps me listen to God as He speaks directly through His word.

Step 2: Pick three contrasting colors of pens, pencils, markers, or highlighters.
Use the first color to mark words and phrases that describe Jesus as high priest, the second to mark the benefits we gain from His ministry, and the third to mark descriptions of the Old Testament priests.

Step 3: Do a bit of analysis of what you’ve discovered and write insights or questions in the margins. For example, list comparison (similarities) and contrasts(differences) between Jesus as high priest and the Old Testament high priests.

Step 4: Make this personal; ask yourself questions about what you’ve learned like “What practical difference can this make in my life?” or “Is God asking me to do something in response?” God may speak to you about a specific circumstance in your life where you need to apply His truth, or He may lead you to practice a spiritual discipline like memorizing a verse from one of the passages, or you may simply be led to praise Him for what you’ve learned. Be open to His leading, and He’ll let you know!

Last Wednesday our group looked at the first two passages this way, and tomorrow we’ll look at the third. Then in my next post I’ll list some of what our group found in the process.

(This post is part of a series. See Entering the Most Holy Place: a Study on the Day of Atonement for an introduction and list of posts.)

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