If you are following along in the blog you may have noticed I’ve begun to post my sermon notes. Our pastor, Paul Kemp, is preaching through Hebrews – such a rich study! It ties beautifully with my theology study since the author of Hebrews draws from the Old Testament to make his points! Anyway – you can find the sermon series online complete with study guides!
This week our pastor preached from the second half of Hebrews 7. Last week we explored the significance of Melchizedek which lays the foundation for the essence of today’s lesson – as our high priest, Jesus guarantees a better covenant. Two key points – we needed a new high priest and we will never need another one!
So if perfection had in fact been possible through the Levitical priesthood—for on that basis the people received the law—what further need would there have been for another priest to arise, said to be in the order of Melchizedek and not in Aaron’s order?Hebrews 7:11
Hebrews 7:11 gives us the clue as to why we needed a new high priest! Notice the implication, “if perfection had in fact been possible!” The law could not complete our salvation! The law was given to make us aware of our sin and to point us to Christ. The law was our tutor! It could not complete salvation – remember the high priest had to atone for his own sin and the sins of the people continuously.
For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. … Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.Galatians 3:21 – 25
For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law,Romans 3:20
for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
But how can Jesus be our high priest? Priests came from the tribe of Levi – Jesus was of the tribe of Judah. So how did that happen? Notice what the writer of Hebrews says –
For it is clear that our Lord is descended from Judah, yet Moses said nothing about priests in connection with that tribe. And this is even clearer if another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest not by a legal regulation about physical descent but by the power of an indestructible life. For here is the testimony about him: “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”Hebrews 7:14-17
Early in the history of God’s redemptive plan, God appointed Melchizedek a priest – well before the tribe of Levi had been established. God confirms that Christ is a priest in the order of Melchizedek in Psalm 110.
God’s power raised Jesus from death, the eternal victor over death. Jesus has the power of an indestructible life! He is a priest forever – Jesus exists in eternity past, present and future! Hallelujah! In Psalm 110, God confirms the eternal nature of Christ’s priesthood and the writer of Hebrews expands by reminding us that the Levitical priests were not eternal, they were bound to die. BUT Christ LIVES forever!
The Lord makes this promise on oath and will not revoke it:Psalm 110:4
“You are an eternal priest after the pattern of Melchizedek.”
And the others who became priests were numerous,Hebrews 7:23-24
because death prevented them from continuing in office,
but he holds his priesthood permanently since he lives forever.
Notice how Jesus meets our needs as our great high priest! He “is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Imagine right now that Jesus is praying for you, for me. That’s the prayer I want God to answer in my life – the prayer that Jesus prays for me! Right?!?
Jesus is “holy, innocent, undefiled, separate from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” and because of this He does not need to make sacrifices to atone for His sin – He has none! Instead His one perfect sacrifice, His death on the cross, has met the requirements of the law for everyone who will believe on His name!
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.Romans 8:1-4
We have a great high priest, His name is Jesus! He lives forever and through Him, we can be set free from sin and death! This is a glorious truth!
Jesus, my great High Priest,
offered his blood and died;
my guilty conscience seeks
no sacrifice beside.
His powerful blood did once atone,
and now it pleads before the throne.
To this dear Surety’s hand
will I commit my cause;
he answers and fulfills
his Father’s broken laws.
Behold my soul at freedom set,
my Surety paid the dreadful debt.
My Advocate appears
for my defense on high;
the Father bows his ears
and lays his thunder by.
Not all that hell or sin can say
shall turn his heart, his love, away.
Should all the hosts of deathIsaac Watts, 1709
and powers of hell unknown
put their most dreadful forms
of rage and mischief on,
I shall be safe, for Christ displays
his conquering pow’r and guardian grace.