Hebrews 4:14-5:11 – Jesus Our High Priest (Part 1)

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Last time we thoroughly examined the concept of Jesus as the living and eternal Word of God, by whom all things were created, who is also omniscient, knowing the very depths of our hearts, and who will judge all mankind at the end of days – those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life to determine our eternal rewards, and those whose names are not written in His Book unto eternal condemnation in the Lake of Fire.

Jesus – Our High Priest (Part 1)

The Hebrews writer now continues by expounding Jesus’ role as our High Priest who eternally makes intercession for the saints before God the Father. Exploring this grand theme will take up a good deal of the remainder of the letter as we shall see. The writer introduces the concept here at the end of Hebrews 4 and the beginning of Hebrews 5, and will take it up again more thoroughly at the end of Hebrews 6 through to the beginning of Hebrews 8.

4:14Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

5:1For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. 3Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. 4And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.
5So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him:
“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.” [Psalm 2:7]
6As He also says in another place:
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek”; [Psalm 110:4]
7who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 10called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” 11of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. [Hebrews 4:14-5:11 – NKJV]
Recall from our study of Hebrews 3 that the writer referred to Jesus as the Apostle and High Priest of our confession[Hebrews 3:1]. When we looked at that verse, we considered the definition of an apostle – a delegate, a messenger, one sent forth with orders – and we looked at each of those aspects of Jesus’ ministry. The definition of a priest is similar. The Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines priest this way…
one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God
Jesus role as mediator between God the Father and sinful mankind is affirmed by Paul in his first letter to Timothy…
5For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, [1 Timothy 2:5-6 – NKJV]
But what exactly is a mediator, and how does Jesus fulfill this role? The Greek word used by Paul in this verse is μεσίτης mesitēs. It means – one who intervenes between two, either in order to make or restore peace and friendship, or form a compact, or for ratifying a covenant. Just as the word “ἀπόστολος apostoloswe saw in our study of Hebrews 3:1 provided a perfectly apt description of Jesus as God’s representative and envoy to mankind, we find that the word μεσίτης mesitēs in 1 Timothy 2:5 perfectly describes Jesus’ role in representing humanity before God.
After the great flood, God gave Noah the sign of the rainbow to signify the new covenant between God and mankind that He would never again destroy life on Earth by water…
11Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
12And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.” [Genesis 9:11-17 – NKJV]
Of course the flood water was scarcely dry before mankind violated this new covenant with God through sin, making ourselves enemies of God once again. We needed a Mediator who would re-establish our covenant of peace and friendship with God.
8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. [Romans 5:8-11 – NKJV]
When Jesus instituted the ordinance of communion at the Passover meal on the night of His betrayal, He spoke of our new covenant with God that He would establish on the cross…
In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” [1 Corinthians 11:25 – NKJV]
Now having (re)established God’s covenant with mankind through the shedding of His innocent blood on the cross, Jesus has once more assumed His rightful place beside the Father in Heaven, where He acts as our mediator who continually pleads our case to the Father against the accusations of our enemy, satan.
33Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. [Romans 8:33-34 – NKJV]
One of my loved ones says that she doesn’t need anyone to act as a go-between for her in her relationship with God. I understand why she believes this. Throughout human history, societies have established a select class of people to act as priests, whose purpose in the society is to bring the prayers and offerings of the people before their God (gods), and to present the will and character of their God (gods) before the people. Sadly, since these priestly classes are composed of sinful men, the priesthood is frequently characterized by abuse of the people’s trust, despoiling of the people to provide personal riches for the priesthood, and even worse, misrepresentation of God’s divine nature and will before the people. My dear one is correct. She certainly doesn’t need those sorts of charlatans acting as intermediaries between herself and God. No one does. Nevertheless, she just as certainly does need the Mediator between herself and God just as we all do – the Man Christ Jesus.
God Himself established a human priesthood among the children of Israel during the time of the wilderness wandering we studied in Hebrews 3 and the beginning of Hebrews 4. God’s purpose in establishing this priesthood and the associated ceremonies and animal sacrifices was to demonstrate through this model of imperfect human priestly service the need for the perfect High Priest – Jesus the Anointed One – who was to come later. The priests of Israel were taken from the tribe of Levi, and specifically from the clan of Moses’ brother – Aaron.
“Now take Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister to Me as priest, Aaron and Aaron’s sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. [Exodus 28:1 – NKJV]
But because this priesthood was made up of sinful men, it had barely been established before they started straying off course – misrepresenting God to the children of Israel, even before God had finished giving His ordinances to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
1Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
2And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.
Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” [Exodus 32:1-4 – NKJV]
By the time of the judges, the Jewish priesthood had become rife with corruption and exploitation of the people. Recall that Samuel was dedicated to the LORD as a child, and ministered in the service of Eli the high priest and judge of Israel. Eli himself was a righteous man as was Samuel after him, but Eli did not properly discipline his sons who had become part of the priesthood by inheritance, although they were corrupt, unbelieving, and self-serving.

12Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the LORD. 13And the priests’ custom with the people was that when any man offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fleshhook in his hand while the meat was boiling. 14Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; and the priest would take for himself all that the fleshhook brought up. So they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who sacrificed, “Give meat for roasting to the priest, for he will not take boiled meat from you, but raw.”

16And if the man said to him, “They should really burn the fat first; then you may take as much as your heart desires,” he would then answer him, “No, but you must give it now; and if not, I will take it by force.”
17Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for men abhorred the offering of the LORD. [1 Samuel 2:12-17 – NKJV]
Because of his sons’ abuses and Eli’s failure to correct them, the LORD pronounced a curse on the house of Eli and utterly destroyed them all. Sadly, the people also paid the price for this priestly corruption when the LORD allowed the Philistines to triumph over Israel in battle (1 Samuel 4). Over the centuries, the Hebrew priesthood had its highs and lows. By the time of Jesus’ incarnation it had developed into a large corrupt industry which defiled the temple of the LORD, and exploited the people for personal gain. Of course it was the priesthood which eventually orchestrated the crucifixion of Jesus by the Roman authorities. Jesus railed again and again against this corrupt priesthood in the time of the Roman occupation, culminating in His turning over the tables of the temple merchants just a few days before He was betrayed.
 12Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ [Isaiah 56:7] but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'” [Matthew 21:12-13 – NKJV]
Having then driven these exploiters of the penitent from His house, Jesus condemned the priestly leaders whom they had served…
1Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
13“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
15“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
16“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.17Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.19Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. 22And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.
23“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
25“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’
31“Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. [Matthew 23:1-36 – NKJV]
Aside – The priests in the temple during Jesus’ earthly lifetime had quite the little racket going. Recall that God’s ordinances call for the sacrifices of various animals who are “without blemish.” It was a very simple matter then to inspect the animals which the penitent population brought to the temple for sacrifice, and reject them due to some ostensible “blemish” which made them “unsuitable.” The priests would then buy these animals at cut-rate prices and exchange them for “blemish-free” animals raised locally by the priests’ cronies. These exchanges were not made using ordinary money, but with special “temple” shekels which had to be purchased from the official money changers at the temple with exorbitant exchange fees. There was also a system of kickbacks to the Roman authorities through the institution of the “temple tax” (Matthew 17:24-27). Furthermore no doubt, the animals which had been rejected for their “blemishes” were resold either as miraculously-blemish-free sacrifices or as ordinary livestock, increasing the profits of the priesthood even more. Interestingly, all of the lambs sacrificed during Jesus’ time were raised by shepherds in the temple fields outside the nearby town of Bethlehem.
Notice that in His blistering chastisement of the scribes and pharisees, Jesus did not condemn the temple itself, the institution of the priesthood, or the temple ceremonies and sacrifices. After all, these had been ordained by His Law given to Moses. Jesus’ condemnation was of those who were abusing their God-granted positions for personal gain and status seeking. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the character of the human priesthood has changed little since Jesus ascended to His Father once again. The Roman Catholic church has been rocked with controversy for decades over the sexual improprieties of some of its priests abusing young children under their care. A 2014 survey of Anglican priests in the UK revealed the startling news that 2% of them don’t even believe in God at all! The broadcast media is infested with charlatan scam artists like Peter Popoff who line their pockets by fleecing the flock. Whenever a famous – ostensibly Christian – preacher is caught in sin, the story is almost instantly blasted across the global broadcast media, whilst the quiet, self-sacrificing ministries of true Christian evangelists around the world continue unsung day-by-day. The true tragedy of these events, though, is that such debauchery and hypocrisy among the “Christian” clergy leads many to turn away from, or even abandon their faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to their own destruction. The apostle Paul warned of this…
21You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written. [Romans 2:21-24 – NKJV]
The apostle James also gives a fearsome warning to those who would presume to teach in the Name of God.
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. [James 3:1 – NKJV]
Small wonder then that my dearly beloved sister says she doesn’t need anyone to go between her and God. But even in the corruption of the human priesthood, God has an ordained purpose that the Hebrews writer is bringing out by contrasting the ineffectiveness and detrimental nature of the human priesthood with the perfect ministry of our Great High Priest – Jesus – in whose ministry alone salvation and eternal life may be found.

4:14Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. [Hebrews 4:14-16 – NKJV]
The writer begins with a reminder of Jesus’ divinity, calling Him the Son of God who has passed through the heavens. The writer then reminds us in Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus was also fully man – Immanuel – indwelling human flesh with all our weaknesses and temptations to sin, yet by relying on the power of God’s Spirit within Him and around Him able to live the perfectly sinless life of which we mere humans are incapable. Nevertheless, He knows our weakness, and loves us in and through them, as David wrote.
13As a father pities his children,
So the LORD pities those who fear Him.
14For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust. [Psalm 139:13-14 – NKJV]

Because our High Priest was once one of us, we are able to approach Him as a friend, brother, and confidante as well as our righteous, holy, and awesome God. Recall that the heart of the tabernacle and later the temple in Jerusalem was the most holy place where the ark of the covenant was placed with its cover that God called the “mercy seat.” Access to this holiest of holy places where the very glory of God dwelt was blocked by a veil or curtain, behind which only the high priest was allowed to enter, once per year on the Day of Atonement – יֹ֧ום הַכִּפֻּ yom kippur. But when Jesus died on the cross, this veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, signifying the free entrance into the grace of God and access to His mercy seat that was purchased for all who believe by the blood of Jesus Christ! The Hebrews writer urges us in this passage to lay hold boldly of this promise of God’s mercy and grace. But what does the writer mean when he says we should come boldly seeking grace and mercy “in time of need?”

Are we to approach God’s throne in prayer seeking His grace and mercy only when we perceive some need for Him to intervene in our lives? It might surprise the reader to know that I believe that is exactly what the writer is saying here. But please don’t misunderstand this subtle truth. In point of fact, our “time of need” is every moment of every day of our lives continuing forevermore! An indication of our growth in Christ is our increasing realization of  just how deeply we need our LORD and Savior to guide and keep us, and how powerless we truly are, apart from Him.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. [James 1:17 – NKJV]
1“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. [John 15:1-5 – NKJV]

Now having extolled the high priesthood of Jesus, the writer contrasts His perfect priesthood with its imperfect human model ordained by God in the calling of Aaron. God’s purpose in this was the same as His purpose in the giving of the Law – not to provide salvation and atonement, but to point out the need for the perfect salvation and atonement provided through the perfect and glorious priesthood of Jesus.
1For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. 3Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. [Hebrews 5:1-3 – NKJV]
As we just saw, Jesus – although He lived in human flesh, subject to all the same temptations against which all human beings struggle – lived a perfectly sinless life. Not so with the priests chosen from among men. The ancient Hebrew priest’s purpose, as we have seen was to act as an intermediary between the people and God, bringing the prayers and sacrifices of the people to God, and teaching the Word and will of God to the people. Yet as ordinary sinful men, even though they – being subject to all the same human weaknesses as those whom they served – could sympathize with the weaknesses and sins of the people, the human priests were also themselves in need of salvation and atonement – unlike Jesus. Therefore, the Law set forth detailed ceremonies for the cleansing of the priests themselves before they were allowed to bring the offerings of the people before God (Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8). It is these rituals to which the Hebrews writer refers here in Hebrews 5:3.

4And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.
5So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him:
“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.” [Psalm 2:7]
6As He also says in another place:
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek”; [Psalm 110:4]
[Hebrews 5:4-6 – NKJV]
The Hebrew priesthood was ordained by God. The priests did not call and ordain themselves, although the clan of Aaron and the tribe of Levi did afterward become priests and temple ministers by right of inheritance. Just so, Jesus did not declare Himself High Priest. He fulfills this position as our Great High Priest by His inheritance as God the Son. Jesus Himself confirms that His ordination comes from God the Father.
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. [John 8:42 – NKJV]
The two quotes in Hebrews 5:5-6 come from the Messianic Psalms 2 and 110 which would have been very familiar to the Hebrews writer’s Jewish audience. Recall that the writer also quoted the words of Psalm 2:7 in his declaration of the deity of Jesus we studied in Hebrews 1.
The quote from Psalm 110:4 refers to the King of Salem (later called Jerusalem) who met and blessed Abraham as he returned from rescuing his nephew – Lot – who had been captured by the armies of Chedorlaomer  – king of Elam – and his allies after they defeated the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and their allies (Genesis 14). The fascinating thing about Melchizedek is that he was not only King of Salem, but also the priest of God…
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. [Genesis 14:18 – NKJV]
In this, Melchizedek is unique. Nowhere else in God’s Word is any man called both priest and king with the single exception of Jesus Himself. The Hebrews writer will expound on Melchizedek’s lineage and role again in Hebrews 7, and we will defer further discussion of him until we get to Hebrews 7 in our study.

7who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. [Hebrews 5:7-8 – NKJV]

One of the toughest concepts for us to understand in the Christian life is how God uses suffering in order to mold us into the image of His Son that He created us to be. Indeed, the entire book of Job is devoted to this concept. The story of Job is important, in showing us not only how God used Job’s suffering to perfect Job’s own relationship with God, but also that our enemy – satan – has only the limited power on Earth to inflict such suffering that God Himself grants to him. This is the hard thing for us to understand. How could a loving God allow the suffering we witness among our brethren and we experience ourselves. The answer, of course, is that our God is not only a loving God who knows that our suffering will bring us into a deeper, more dependent relationship with Him, but He is also a just God who cannot abide the sin of which we are all guilty. He must purge us from this sin through suffering. Solomon admonishes us not to despise the LORD’s chastisement, knowing that it is for our own good.
11My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor detest His correction;
12For whom the LORD loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights. [Proverbs 3:11-12 – NKJV]
The Hebrews writer has more to say on this subject in Hebrews 12. For now, though, he reminds us that Jesus was also made to suffer for the learning of obedience to His Father – not for His own sins, but for the sins of all mankind. Remember the context of this discussion in Hebrews 5:7-8. Jesus, our Great High Priest, also once dwelt in the flesh of a man Himself. Therefore, He is familiar with the suffering we face day-by-day. It was necessary for Him to suffer thus in order to take on Himself the sins of mankind – even suffering unjust death on the cross in our place. Ultimately, it was necessary for God the Father to abandon Him temporarily as He hung on the cross so that He could bear the full burden of the wrath of God against our sins. Although Jesus is also fully God and therefore knew exactly what was about to take place as He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, the prospect of His Father’s abandonment terrified Him to the point He literally sweated blood.
41And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed,42saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.[Luke 22:41-44 – NKJV]
Aside – Γεθσημανί Gethsēmani is a Greek transliteration of a pair of Hebrew words גִּת gath, and שָׁמְנָא shemen which taken together mean oil press – quite a fitting name for the place that Jesus prayed under such immense distress that He actually sweated blood.
Notice that the Hebrews writer is careful to point out that God heard Jesus’ prayer, but of course God did not spare Jesus the suffering of the cross, and the ultimate (albeit only temporary) abandonment by His Father. The Father heard Jesus’ prayer, just as He hears our earnest prayers.
11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.[Jeremiah 29:11-13 – NKJV]

9And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 10called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” 11of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. [Hebrews 5:9-11 – NKJV]
The Hebrews writer concludes his introduction to Jesus’ ministry as our great High Priest, by reminding us that Jesus – having been perfected through His suffering on the cross – has once more taken up His exalted place at the right hand of the Father on high where He serves eternally as the means of our eternal salvation by His shed blood, and acts as the Mediator between ourselves and God. In conclusion, the writer hints that he will have more to say about Melchizedek and the priestly order He founded later on. First, though, he needs to lay some more groundwork before taking up the subject of Jesus’ High Priesthood again.

Looking Ahead

Next time, we will see that before taking up again the subject of the priestly order of Melchizedek of which Jesus is heir, the Hebrews writer gives his readers a solemn warning of the perils of spiritual stagnation, and the critical need for continual growth in Christ.

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