Holding Fast By Drawing Near
I told you from the first sermon in our time in this book that we would see three great themes unfold in this book:
1. That Jesus Christ is greater than all of his forerunners and his rivals.
2. That the conquest of Christ’s Kingdom is a global one—a conquest that the invasion of the Promised Land by Israel was but a shadow.
3. That in light of the supremacy of Christ and his Kingdom, you would be a fool to go back to the shadows or to bend the knee to one of his rivals.
Hopefully you see how that first theme—the utter supremacy of Christ—is the greatest of the three, and the reason for the other two. The whole book of Hebrews could be summed up under the banner: Christ is King!
And so far in the book, we have seen Jesus’ greatness: We have seen in Hebrews 1:1–3 that Jesus is greater than the prophets of the Old Testament—that in the former days, God spoke through those prophets, but in the last days, he has spoken to us by his Son.
We have seen in Hebrews 1:4–2:18 that Jesus is greater even than the glorious angelic beings, powerful though they are—that Jesus is the only one seated at the right hand of the Father, the only one to whom the Father has said, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance.”
We have seen in Hebrews 3:1–6 that Jesus is greater even than Moses, the Law-receiver; greater than Moses, who led the people to freedom in Exodus and who wrote the bedrock first five books of the Old Testament—as much greater as the builder of the house is greater than the house.
And we saw last week that Jesus is greater than Joshua and that he leads his people into a greater rest than the land of Canaan that Joshua led Israel into—that Jesus’ rest is an everlasting Sabbath rest and his Kingdom a global and eternal and unshakeable one.
In our text today, the theme continues as we find that Jesus is greater than another Old Testament forerunner: Aaron and his priesthood. With the exception of a small excursion on the issue of Christian maturity and apostasy, this will be the theme for most of the middle portion of the book of Hebrews.
And so we’ll find that Jesus is a greater priest than Aaron, the immortal High Priest of a better priesthood. Look with me at verse 14 of chapter four, and we will read through chapter five, verse ten. This is the Word of the Living God:
“Since then we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
For every High Priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a High Priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,
“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;
as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.”