Hebrews Week Five – Jesus: The Perfect High Priest
I missed meeting with you girls last week. I left my computer at home and spent Thanksgiving with my family in Walt Disney World. We had beautiful weather and ENJOYED being all together in the “happiest place on earth!” When I returned, I checked my web site and loved hearing how you used our time apart to catch up on and dig deeper into your lessons. Your personal stories, prayers, words of wisdom, and answers bless all of us. Please continue to share. And for those of you who feel behind, please hang in there and be encouraged. We will take a longer break over Christmas to enable everyone to catch up and pick up again after the first of the year. But for the next two weeks, we will dig back into Hebrews.
Throughout the book of Hebrews, the author continually presents a revolutionary picture of God and of Jesus. This chapter is no different.
In the Old Testament, God was aloof. Because of sin, He had to separate Himself from His people. The Israelites were forbidden from being in His Presence. Every interaction they had with God had to be done through an intermediary…a priest.
But God longed to regain the relationship He once had with Adam and Eve in the Garden. To accomplish this, He sent His Son, Jesus. Through Jesus, God was able to once again become part of our lives. He experienced in His own body everything we think and everything we feel. He did this so He could sympathize and deal gently with us.
In John 10, God gives us a beautiful picture of His Son as a shepherd, the Great Shepherd. The shepherd always stayed with his sheep. He slept at the gate of the sheep pen. He knew His sheep by name. Just as the shepherd loved his sheep and gently dealt with them, Jesus loves and deals with us in the same way.
Keep this picture of Jesus in your mind as we study again how Jesus was better than the Old Testament priests, more specifically how His priesthood was better than the Old Testament priesthood.
This Week’s Memory Verse: But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:14.
This Week’s Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to teach me each and every week. Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit Who teaches me and gives me understanding. Father, I offer back to You all that I have learned. Please take it and multiply it within me. Take me to deep places with You. Over these next months, the principles I have learned will be expanded. You will give me more “meat” to chew on. Enable me to ingest it and digest it. Don’t let a single morsel of knowledge go unused. May I be different for the time I have spent with You. With every day I spend in Your Word continue to heighten my spiritual senses to discern Your voice, to know truth from lies, and good from evil. Teach me, Lord, teach me. I ask all this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Assignment: Read Hebrews Chapter Five
Once again, the author of Hebrews presents his case that Jesus is superior, again pointing to Jesus’ priesthood and the fact that He is the Great High Priest. The frequency with which he addresses this subject matter in this letter reveals what a great stumbling block this truth was to his audience.
1. Read Hebrews 5:1-5 and list the qualifications for the Great High Priest. If you want to dig deeper read Exodus Chapter 28 and Numbers 25:10-13.
2. How is Christ similar to Old Testament high priests? How does He differ?
**I want to remind you to continue to hide your memory verses in your heart. This week’s verse is a key memory verse for our study. What we are studying is deep and difficult. Pray this verse when you are struggling with the lesson and feel discouraged. Know that with every verse you read and every question you answer, you are training your mind and deepening your faith. God will bless your efforts. He is faithful! **
3. For the next several verses, the author of Hebrews sets forth evidence to prove that Jesus meets all the requirements for high priest, and is, in fact, the only perfectly qualified high priest. He begins with a quote from the Old Testament…the same verse quoted in Hebrews 1:5.
- What is the Old Testament verse? (Hint: it is from Psalm 2)
- Why does he use it again here?
- Read Romans 1:1-4. How does this passage support the author’s words in Hebrews 5:5?
4. The author presents more evidence in the next verse. God not only said: “You are my Son,” but also said, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” He quotes from Psalm 110:4.
Who is Melchizedek? He is mentioned in only two places in the entire Old Testament – Genesis 14:17-24 and Psalm 110:4. We will discuss him more in Hebrews Chapter 7. First, Melchizedek was a king and a priest. Aaron was only a priest. Tuck these facts away in your mind for a later lesson.
Scripture reveals nothing about Melchizedek’s ancestry. We know he lived during Abraham’s time, long before God established the Aaronic priesthood. Why is this important? Because it reveals that he was a priest of a different order. He did not come from the Levitical line which began during the time of Moses and ended with the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.
There is nothing in the Old Testament recording Melchizedek’s death. We can assume he died, but nothing records his death.
From the facts I just stated, share how Melchizedek’s priesthood was different from and superior to Aaron’s priesthood.
Okay, let’s stop here and take a breath. If you are thinking, I give up. I will never get this stuff. It is too complicated. Please do not give up! I had these very same thoughts. I promise! But then I read to the end of this chapter and was encouraged by the author. You see he knew these thoughts would flood our minds. He speaks specifically to our thoughts in the last few verses of this chapter. Stick with me. You will be so thankful that you did. You are digging deep into God’s Word. He will bless you richly as He takes you deeper still with Him.
5. Read Hebrews 5:7-8. In these verses, the author states how God prepared Jesus for His priesthood during His days on earth.
- Share what you learn in Hebrews 5:7 about Jesus’ next qualification. See also Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 2:48-52, 22:39-46, and John 4:6-8, 19:16-18, 25-30.
- Read Hebrews 5:8. What is the next piece of evidence he offers for Jesus’ qualification?
How can the Son of God “learn obedience?” Read these words written by Warren Wiersbe:
i]n the same way any son must learn obedience: by the experiences of life. We must remember that our Lord, in His earthly walk, lived by faith in the Father’s will. As God, He needed to learn nothing. But as the Son of God comes in human flesh He had to experience that which His people would experience so that He might be able to minister as their High Priest. He did not need to learn how to obey because it would be impossible for God to be disobedient. Rather, as the God-man in human flesh, He had to learn what was involved in obedience. In this way, He identified with us.
His preparation involved the experience of suffering and death. The best, and oftentimes only, way to learn sympathy is to suffer ourselves. Jesus learned obedience through suffering. He learned the full meaning of the cost of obedience because for Him, the path to obedience led to death on a cross.
6. What a wonderful truth this is. There is no pain, no loss, no hurt so deep that our God cannot sympathize. When our hearts are breaking, He is right there with us, enveloping us with His Love and Presence. He whispers into our hearts, “I know my child, and I understand. No matter how hard it is, precious one, I will never leave you or forsake you.”
- Read the following verses and share what they speak to you: Mark 14:35, Matthew 26:42, and Luke 22:43.
Friend, if you are hurting or doubting God at this time, take comfort in these verses. God did not take Jesus’ circumstances from Him. Rather, He equipped Him to face what He had called Him to do. Jesus knew this was the only way He could become the perfect High Priest that God had destined and called Him to be. God will do the same for you and me! Sometimes God may choose not to answer our prayers in the way we asked. Sometimes He may choose not to change our circumstances. But through the power of His Holy Spirit He will strengthen us to change our prayer, to pray more earnestly, and/or to trust more deeply. He will equip us to rise up and be ready to handle whatever it is He has calls us to walk through.
- Share what the following verses teach you about prayer: Luke 3:21-22, Luke 6:12, Luke 11:1-13, and Luke 18:1.
- Does this lesson challenge you in your prayer life? What one thing will you change in your prayer life because of what we have studied today?
7. Read Hebrews 5:9. In what ways was Jesus’ sacrifice different from those offered by the Old Testament high priests? For insight, read Leviticus 16:11, 15-16, and 29-34.
8. There are only two possible responses to Jesus’ work on the cross. You either believe or you don’t. Whoever believes, whoever puts their faith in Jesus Christ, obeys His call and receives eternal salvation. Whoever does not believe, no matter how good or how moral he is, is disobedienct and will not receive salvation.
- Read the following passages and share how Jesus suffered and sacrificed to become your great high priest: Isaiah 52:14, Isaiah 53, Mark 14:6-72, and Mark 15:16-20.
- What part of Christ’s sacrifice to be your perfect high priest touches your heart the most?
In verse 10, the author again brings up the name Melchizedek. Are you like me right now saying, Oh, no, not him again! I think the Jewish audience to whom he was speaking said the same thing.
The author knew this. So just before he launched into a deeper discussion about Melchizekek, he interrupts his teaching with a warning. I promise, you will understand this warning. He is very clear. In fact, when I read it, it became that Hebrews 4 living and active word we studied. It pierced my heart to its core, causing me to ask myself, is that me?
9. Finally, we arrrive at our memory verse. It is our third warning.
- Review your reading and homework to locate the first two warnings (hint: Hebrews 2:1 and Hebrews 3:7-8).
- Now read Hebrews 5:11-14. What is the third warning in Hebrews 5:11?
- What words does the author use to describe his audience?
In the King James translation, he says his audience is “dull of hearing.” The word “dull” comes from the Greek word nothros, which means “slow, sluggish, indolent.” It refers to a condition of spiritual apathy and laziness that retards spiritual development.
- Is this verse speaking to you? Have you walked with God for a long time? Have you been reading the Bible for years? If you answered yes to these questions, then ask yourself these questions. Are growing in the knowledge of the Word? Are you going deeper in your prayer life? Are you living out your faith in a way that is unmistakable?
If his words convict your heart, let me encourage you. You are not stuck because you are here! You said “yes” to God to study His Word. You said “yes” to make yourself vulnerable to join this group. God is moving and working in your life.
Friend, God wants us to LOVE and DELIGHT in His Word. Listen to these words from Jeremiah:
When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty. Jeremiah 15:16
Don’t you love that!! Because Jeremiah bears God’s Name, God’s Word is his joy and heart’s delight. When God’s Word comes to him, he eats it. He did not just read the Word; he digested it so that it became a part of who he was.
That is my prayer for us today. That we would so love God’s Word that it would be the source of our joy and our heart’s desire.
10. Read Hebrew 5:12.
- What is the author telling his audience is their problem?
- In the NIV, he says, “you need milk, not solid food.” What do you think he means when he uses “milk” and “solid food?”
11. Read Hebrews 5:14 and rewrite it in your own words.
- What characterizes a mature believer in Hebrews 5:14?
- What does spending quality time in God’s Word contribute to your relationship with Christ?
- Read 1 Timothy 4:7 and 2 Timothy 2:15 and share what you learn.
12. Our study this year is entitled “Living a Cross-Centered Life.” What have you learned over the last few weeks to help you better live a cross-centered life?
As we close our lesson today, please know that I continue to pray for you and look forward to reading your comments each and every day!