Service Video Message Video Message Audio The service video is unavailable at this time. The sermon video is unavailable at this time. The sermon audio is unavailable at this time. Scripture Verses Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 5:1-10, John 14:1-6, Hebrews 2:17-18 Downloads & Resources The Priesthood of Christ Dr. Jon Morrissette - 3/9/2003 Since the beginning of time, men have felt a need to seek out representation before God. After college I held a part time marketing job at Lewis Memorial Christian Village. One of the first things I had to do was to go through an employee orientation process. Shortly after all the new employees introduced themselves (I introduced myself as a minister) a girl in our group asked me to pray for a situation in her life. I told her that I would, but sensing that she wasn't a Christian I asked her if she thought she could pray directly to God also. Her response was, "No, you have a closer connection with God. He'll listen to you." Need a priest? Her response is very typical of how many people feel. We do not feel secure approaching God. So we ask someone who understands us to intercede, to plead our case, and to seek God's good graces on our behalf. This is why so many people pray to patron saints who have died and gone to heaven. This is why people pray to their guardian angels or seek out a priest or pastor to pray for them. We want someone to intercede for us, to more adequately represent us before God. It is like when you were in grade school. You eyed a boy or girl you liked, but instead of asking that person out yourself, you appointed a friend to go and make a fool out of you on your behalf. Or more seriously, intercession occurs during a legal matter in which you ask a lawyer to represent your interests before a judge in the court of law. Traditionally this responsibility of representation has been relegated to priests. Since the beginning of civilization people sought out priests to represent their interests before God. People have appointed priests to minister on their behalf, to seek God's favor, to make sacrifices, to carry out religious rituals, and to pray and speak to God. Now there is nothing wrong with this. We actually do need someone to represent us before God in some of the ways I have just described. But who should be our priest? Who should represent us? Human priests. Hebrews 5:1-3 (NIV) describes the positive and negative aspects of human priestly representation. "Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people." Positively, human priests can deal gently with us. They can show patience and understanding when we are ignorant of God or when we fall into sin. They can be sympathetic because they know the reality of temptation. They have sinned and they have had to face the consequences of their sin. In other words, priests can put a friendly, compassionate, merciful, human face on God. But read between the lines. The positives are also negatives. Last year, as sexual scandals rocked the Catholic Church, we discovered the negative side of Hebrews 5:1-3. We saw how human weakness wreaked havoc and destroyed the spiritual souls of thousands, perhaps millions. Because priests are human, because they are in the same boat with us, because they sin and fall short of the glory of God, they can only accomplish so much. Human priests are subject to our same weaknesses. They are subject to temptation. They are prone to sin. They fail morally in many of the same ways average ordinary people fail every day. Hebrews 5 is making the careful point that there is only one priest who can truly, fully, adequately, and effectively represent us before God. That priest is Jesus Christ. If you could turn to Hebrews 5 I want to give you ten one word reasons why you should trust Jesus to be your only high priest and representative before God. I think it would be great if you jotted these ten words in the margin of your Bible alongside this passage. If you jotted these words in your bulletin, I hope these words will be simple enough for you to explain to anyone. Reason number one: Jesus was successful. If we back up to Hebrews 4:14 (NIV) we read the opening words, "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess." If I were to choose someone to represent me before God, it only makes sense that I would choose someone who has successfully made it to the place I want to go. Jesus, our great high priest, has gone through the heavens. He knows the way to God. In John 14:1-4 (NIV) Jesus tells his disciples, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." Jesus knows his way around the Father's house! Jesus knows his way to the Father's house. In John 14:6 (NIV) he tells his disciples, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Reason number two: Jesus is the Son of God. Hebrews 4:14 (NIV) continues, "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess." If I were to choose someone to represent me before God, it makes sense to choose someone with the closest connection possible with God. If you are Catholic, why pray to a saint when you can pray directly to the Son of God? If you are caught up in New Age philosophies, why pray to angels when you can pray directly to the Son of God? Angels are just servants or messengers! One of my favorite talk radio programs is the "Clark Howard Show." Clark Howard is a storehouse of consumer advice and financial information. On his program he regularly talks about bypassing customer non-service and going to the top of the food chain where we can quickly resolve our issues. This is great spiritual advice! Why pray to anyone less than the very Son of God? Through Jesus the Son we can make the closest connection possible to God. Reason number three: Jesus is sympathetic. Hebrews 4:15 (NIV) says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are— yet was without sin." Remember that the benefit of having a human priest is his ability to sympathize with us in our weakness and in our temptations as he represents us before God. But the negative of having human priests is the presence of sin in their lives. In Jesus Christ our high priest, the best of both worlds come together. Consider a passage that we studied earlier in this series. Hebrews 2:17-18 (NIV) says, "For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Positively, Jesus was made like us in every way. He lacks nothing in being able to understand the temptations and pressures that we face every day. He is not indifferent or unsympathetic. When I was in seminary I took one of my first counseling classes. In the class we learned how to empathize with people and how to truly listen. So in the class we would do these role play exercises in which one person would play a counselor and the other person would be assigned a problem. I thought that I was doing a very good job learning how to empathize, but after a few days of role playing I noticed that no matter what scenario we chose, all these counseling majors would sob, break down into tears, ask to be excused, ask for Kleenex, and ask to play other parts. It was over the top! It seemed that the counseling majors needed some serious counseling. Anyway, I did a study on the word sympathize in this passage. It means, "to suffer along with, to be touched with feeling. "It carries the idea of being so united with another person that you feel her pain. Have you ever heard that line before? As our high priest Jesus experiences the full depth and range of our troubles. He is very in tune with us at any given moment. Nothing escapes his notice. But consider this next point. Reason number four: Jesus is sinless. As our high priest Jesus is able to sympathize with us in our weakness. But unlike human priests Jesus is sinless. He overcame the pressures and temptations in life without falling prey to sin. He stood strong. So on the one hand he is merciful and sympathetic and is the human face of God. But on the other hand he is the faithful high priest who because of his sinlessness can truly connect us to God. Jesus can atone for our sin and help us move beyond sin. In Jesus, the best of both worlds come together. He sympathizes. He helps. Reason number five: Jesus is Savior. Hebrews 4:16 (NIV) continues, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Through Jesus our high priest, the throne of God is a throne of grace. We can set aside the insecurities that keep us from seeking God's throne directly. We can set aside the feelings of unworthiness, the fear of judgment, the fear of condemnation, the guilt, and the shame. Through Jesus we can approach the just throne of God with confidence and with the full assurance of salvation. With Jesus, we have the guarantee that we will receive mercy and find grace, and that Jesus will save us completely. We approach the throne knowing that we will be forgiven of our sin and purified from all righteousness, and that we will be understood. And it is a throne that through Jesus, we have immediate access to. We can approach the throne right now in our time of need, to seek healing and help. Reason number six: Jesus was selected. Hebrews 5:1-6 (NIV) says, "Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father.' And he says in another place, 'You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.' " Jesus didn't presume to be our great high priest. He was selected by God. Jesus is God's first and only choice for our salvation. Reason number seven: Jesus struggled. Reason number eight: Jesus was submissive. Reason number nine: Jesus suffered. Now that's progress, isn't it? Hebrews 5:7-8 (NIV) continues, "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered..." The phrase, "during the days of Jesus' life" can be translated, "during the days of Jesus' flesh. "This is an image of vulnerability. In his vulnerability Jesus found himself dependent on the Father in every way. He had to offer prayers and petitions just like we do. And notice how Jesus prayed with loud cries and tears. The Greek got my attention. It reads, "with strong shouting and tears." In my last church everyone was really fond of a particular picture of Jesus. The picture was a lighted hologram, the kind you see in many funeral homes. In the picture Jesus looks sedated, emotionless, passionless, and almost detached. Contrast that with what we read here. Jesus was passionate. He was dramatic. At times, he shouted prayers to God. He cried out in desperation, in anguish. He learned obedience through reverent submission and through suffering. Life was just as difficult and frustrating for Jesus as it is for us at times. Honestly, we can be so cavalier in our prayers, especially in difficult times. In our loneliness, in our hurt, in our pain, in our anger, in our frustration, in our anxious moments, in our uncertainty, in the face of pressure or temptation, in our despair, or in our grief, sometimes we pray as if God doesn't understand. But Jesus didn't get a pass just because he is the Son of God! He cried real tears. He shed real blood. He wrestled with every temptation and pressure common to man. He had to swallow just as hard before obeying God's commands as we sometimes do. He had to learn obedience in the school of hard knocks in an environment that was antagonistic to his values, his beliefs, and to the will ofhis Father. There is no challenge in your life that Jesus hasn't already faced and overcome. And this makes Jesus all the more qualified to be our great high priest. It makes him qualified to represent us before God. Reason number ten: Jesus is the source. Finally Hebrews 5:9-10 (NIV) says, "and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. "I know you are dying to know about Melchizedek. Yeah, right! We will talk about him in a few weeks. Hebrews 5:9 tells us that Jesus became the, "source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Jesus)." Let me conclude with this one last thought. I mentioned ten good reasons why Jesus should be your high priest and why he should represent you before God. It isn't enough that Jesus was successful, is the Son of God, is sympathetic, is sinless, is savior, is selected by God, is submissive, that he suffered, or is the source of salvation. Based on our study of Hebrews I could give you a hundred more reasons. But it is unlikely that more reasons is what you need. For most of us we need to answer the question of obedience. Hebrews 5:9 says that Jesus is, "the source of eternal salvation for all who obey." Jesus doesn't want you just to sit there and mentally agree that he is a merciful and faithful high priest. He wants you to enter into his rest by responding. As we will see next week, Jesus wants us to respond by trusting in his promises, by confessing and repenting from our sins, by being baptized by immersion, and by obeying Christ in every way. This is what our time of invitation is all about.