Jesus Christ, Our Sympathetic High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:1-10)


By Daniel L. Sonnenberg | March 25, 2012

Recording not available.


2012-03-25 Jesus Christ, Our Sympathetic High Priest | Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:1-10) Lent 4

Hebrews 4:14-16 – 5:10 (ESV) 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. 15  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.  16 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. 5:1 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. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 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”; 6 as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” 7  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. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10  being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

 

When you’re suffering emotionally – maybe you just lost a friend, or a boyfriend or girlfriend, maybe you just failed a test in school or are so behind in your work you think you’ll never catch up, maybe you just lost your job or were passed over for a job, maybe you’re being persecuted for your faith, maybe you’ve been sick or injured for a very long time, maybe you find yourself tempted by or addicted to some kind of substance or some habit, maybe you’re frustrated with how your life has turned out, maybe you’re in a very dark place and you’re not even sure how you got there, maybe you’ve even considered taking your own life.

 

You may be in so deeply, you don’t know what to do. Maybe you think you’re the only one who has ever gone through this, so no one could understand or help you. Maybe you’ve thought of asking someone for help, but you’re too proud, or too fearful, or too ashamed to ask. Maybe you’ve asked for help before, but no one seemed interested or to be able to help.

 

This passage tells us three things about these times in our lives. When you’re experiencing

temptation, suffering or persecution, it tells us:

 

  1. What we should do
  2. How we should do it
  3. Why we should do it

 

First, it tells us

  1. What we should do:

 

It tells us v14   let us hold fast our confession

 

We are to hold on to our faith in God through Jesus Christ. This means we should hold onto what we have believed, what we have confessed to be true in the past about Christ. We are being told simply to hold on to Christ, to hold on to our faith in Christ, to hold on to what we have believed about Christ in the past in spite of the difficulties we’re going through right now.

 

But when we’re in pain, it’s hard to do that, isn’t it?

 

(Illustration):

A man fell off a cliff, but managed to grab a tree limb on the way down. The following conversation ensued:

 

“Is anyone up there?”
“I am here. I am the Lord. Do you believe me?”
“Yes, Lord, I believe. I really believe, but I can’t hang on much longer.”
“That’s all right, if you really believe you have nothing to worry about. I will save you. Just let go of the branch.”
A moment of pause, then: “Is anyone else up there?”

–Bits & Pieces, June 24, 1993, p. 3.

 

We’ve been told what we should do – we’re to hold on to our faith.

 

Second, we’re told,

 

  1. How we should do it: 

 

We find this in v 16. We are to hold on to our faith by confidently drawing near to God in prayer to receive the help we need when we need it.

 

16 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.

 

The verb here means “to approach,” to move in to God’s presence, to draw near to him.

 

We are told further to draw near with confidence. This is the same word we saw last week. In this context it means “confident self-expression before God,” especially in prayer. And we are promised when we do this we will receive God’s help in our time of need.

 

“Mercy” probably refers to our past sins, and “grace” probably refers to our contemporary and future needs.

 

“Time of need” means that we will receive the help we need in a timely manner, that is, when we need it. However, as we know, God’s time, is not always our time. We may have to wait longer than we expect or wish.

 

We’ve been told in times of persecution or suffering or temptation we are to hold on to our faith in Jesus by confidently coming to him with our concerns in order to receive the help we need in a timely manner.

 

But the crux of this passage is the third point,

 

  1. Why we should do it:

 

And there are two reasons.

  1. Because Jesus understands our weakness
  2. Because Jesus can help us in our weakness

 

These two are somewhat difficult to separate, however.

 

Let’s look at the first reason. When we are suffering or tempted or persecuted we should come to Jesus

  1. Because as our high priest Jesus understands our weakness

 

Look at verse 15.

 

 15  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. 

 

The author uses a double negative to emphatically say that Jesus understands our pain. “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness” means we DO have a high priest who is able to sympathize.

 

The phrase “sympathize with our weaknesses” here refers to weaknesses especially that result in sin. Jesus can understand our weakness because he too has experienced the same temptations, yet without sin.

 

It says that Jesus has “been tempted in every respect as we are.” We may object by saying, “But he was God, so he wasn’t as tempted as I am.” He had the ability to resist that we don’t have.

 

But what this telling us is just the opposite. Even though he was God, he was fully man as well, and as man, he was tempted “in every respect” as we are. In order to become our sympathetic high priest, in order to sympathize with our weaknesses, he had to be tempted in exactly the same ways as we are tempted. If he hadn’t he couldn’t understand what we feel. We are being told that Jesus can feel our pain, he can feel our temptation because he experienced the same pain, the same temptation in his earthly life.  He fully participated in humanity during his earthly life.

 

In fact, he suffered in ways that are greater than any other human because he experienced the full wrath of God on the cross. That’s why he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” And later in Hebrews, we read, Heb 12:3-4 (NAU), “..consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.” So it’s not fair or true to say that he can’t understand what we feel because he was God. He was also fully man and therefore can sympathize with us in our time of need.

 

Have you ever shared one of your weaknesses with someone who had never gone through what you were experiencing? Through no fault of their own, they simply can’t understand what you are feeling. They can’t sympathize with you because they don’t know what it feels like.

 

They cannot share your pain because they have not experienced your pain. They cannot say, “I know how you feel,” because they have never felt it, or if they do say they know how you feel, it sounds hollow because they really don’t know through their own experience.

 

But if you’ve shared the same weakness with someone who has experienced it, they can truly sympathize with you because they have had the same experience. When they say they know how you feel, it rings true because they have had the same painful experience.

 

This is telling us that Jesus has experienced every temptation that you have felt, are feeling and will feel. He knows from experience the temptations you are going through right now, and therefore he can sympathize with you. You can be assured that when you come to him in prayer about this issue, that in his humanity he has experienced the same thing and therefore can sympathize with you.

 

But this passage tells us, not only can Jesus sympathize with our weakness,

 

 

The second reason we should come to Jesus when we are suffering

 

  1. Because as our high priest Jesus can help us in our weakness

 

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. 15  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.  16 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.

 

How do we know this?  First, because verse 15 says,  yet without sin. 

 

He can help us because though he experienced the same temptations as we do, he did so “without sin.” He triumphed over the temptations he experienced. He can help us in our temptations because he learned from difficult experience how to overcome temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) tells us, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

 

And 2 Peter 2:9 (NLT) …the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment.

 

Illustration: the people who sympathized with you the most are those who have gone through it themselves. They can listen sympathetically to what you are feeling and acknowledge those feelings. (Beth’s experience)?

 

How do we know Jesus as high priest can help us?

 

We know he can help us second, because verse 14 says, “he has passed through the heavens.” He is exalted to the right hand of the Father because of his sinless life and his sacrificial death and Heb 7:5 “he ever lives to make intercession for us.”

 

A high priest is a mediator between God and man. Because of Jesus’ continuing ministry as our high priest in heaven on our behalf, we have direct access to God and all the resources at his command. Therefore, we can count on his promise of help.

 

Illustration: the people who can help you the most are those who have overcome the difficulty. (Beth’s experience).

 

Objections to Jesus’ ability to help:

  1. His current position prevents him from sympathizing. Because Jesus is exalted in heaven, he is aloof to the pain of living under persecution on earth;
  2. His current position prevents him from helping. He is far away in heaven and cannot reach us.
  3. His state of being prevents him from sympathizing. Because he is God, he doesn’t understand the temptations of this life.
  4. His state of being prevents him from helping.
  5. You can’t sympathize with me because you haven’t experienced what I’m experiencing.
  6. You can help me because you don’t have the means or power to do so.

 

(Since Jesus is our faithful, sympathetic high priest, we should persevere in the faith and should draw near in prayer in time of need)

 

 

 

 

Summary:

This passage tells us three things about these times in our lives. When you’re experiencing

temptation, suffering or persecution, it tells us:

 

  1. What we should do – hold fast
  2. How we should do it  – by confidently drawing near to find help in time of need
  3. Why we should do it –

because Jesus sympathizes with our weakness

because Jesus can help in our weakness

 

 

When we have a problem, why do we resist or fail to get help?

  1. Pride – don’t want to admit I have a problem; don’t think anyone else could do it as well: men resist getting directions when lost;
  2. Shame – elders’ wives resisted getting help and committed suicide; men and pornography – get help!!
  3. Fear – as source of resistance, fear of losing control, of unknown, of pain to change, peer rejection
  4. Resisting evaluation and assessment
  5. Aging parents
  6. Suicide – do they have a plan, do they have the means; call someone to go with you
  7. Peer pressure
  8. Powerlessness
  9. Young people – Cutting themselves – Resisting the Urge to Cut
    1. Things to Distract You
    2. Things to Soothe and Calm You
    3. Things to Help You Express the Pain and Deep Emotion
    4. Things to Help Release Physical Tension and Distress
    5. Things to Help You Feel Supported and Connected
    6. Substitutes for the Cutting Sensation
    7. You Can Do It
  10. Alcoholics, drug addicts
  11. Laziness – don’t want to have to do the hard work of getting better –
  12. You like being needy, it’s become a way of life, wouldn’t know how to function if you got well – Jesus to the man, “Do you want to get well? What do you want me to do for you?
  13. If your parents ignore you, it’s a way of getting attention
  14. Sexual addiction, pornography  – Jim G, a false intimacy
  15. Loose women – you give yourself to men bc you NEED them and can’t live without them.
  16. Food addiction – comfort, relieving anxiety and stress,
  17. My experience in 8th grade – got behind in assignments
  18. Perfectionism
  19. Dementia
  20. Physical impairments, etc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Objections:

  1. His current position prevents him from sympathizing. Because Jesus is exalted in heaven, he is aloof to the pain of living under persecution on earth;
  2. His current position prevents him from helping. He is far away in heaven and cannot reach us.
  3. His state of being prevents him from sympathizing. Because he is God, he doesn’t understand the temptations of this life.
  4. His state of being prevents him from helping.
  5. You can’t sympathize with me because you haven’t experienced what I’m experiencing.
  6. You can help me because you don’t have the means or power to do so.

 

Since Jesus is our faithful, sympathetic high priest, we should persevere in the faith and should draw near in prayer in time of need.

 

Jesus is a merciful high priest in service to God

 

  1. How Jesus was faithful to God
    1. How earthly high priests were like him
      1. Both appointed by God – like an earthly high priest
      2. Both offered sacrifices to God – “”
    2. How Jesus is greater than earthly high priest
      1. He is a unique son of God
      2. He is an eternal priest
  • He was without sin, therefore his offering was accepted by God
  1. How Jesus became sympathetic to us
    1. Christ participated fully in humanity
  2. How we should respond
    1. Persevere – hold fast
    2. Pray – draw near

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. We should draw near to X because he can sympathize with our weaknesses (4:14-16); in order to receive help in need

 

Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV) 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. 15  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.

16  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,

that [purpose]we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

  1. Because just as the OT priests were called by God to represent the people to God by offering sacrifices and were compassionate towards others who were likewise weak, (5:1-4)

 

Hebrews 5:1-4 (ESV) 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. 2  He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3  Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. 4  And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

 

  1. So Jesus’ was called by God as a priest to suffer for those who believe in him (5:5-10).

 

Hebrews 5:5-10 (ESV) 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”; 6  as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” 7  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. 8  Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9  And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10  being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

 

The point: Because Jesus is a man he is able to sympathize with us as men and women, therefore we should go to him in time of need.

 

 

http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/problems/resisting_cutting.html

http://www.gci.org/disc/temptation

http://www.schulersolutions.com/resistance_to_change.html

http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/friends/peer_pressure.html http://www.bipolartoday.com/overcoming-powerlessness-how-to-get-a-bipolar-person-help/

http://www.everydayhealth.com/alzheimers/when-dementia-patients-resist-help.aspx

http://www.everydayhealth.com/alzheimers/when-dementia-patients-resist-help.aspx

http://www.tltgroup.org/flashlight/Handbook/Resistance.htm

http://www.walking-wounded.net/html/christians_and_sexual_temptation.html

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100713195419AAwXEMP sleeping with other men

http://www.deepeningrelationships.com/tag/men-resisting-help/

http://www.arinanikitina.com/14-strategies-to-overcome-others-resistance-to-change.html

 

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV) Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. 16  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 5:1-4 (NIV) Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2  He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3  This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4  And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.

Hebrews 5:5-10 (NIV) In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” 6  And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” 7  During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8  Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9  and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10  and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

 

 

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT) So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Hebrews 5:1-4 (NLT) Every high priest is a man chosen to represent other people in their dealings with God. He presents their gifts to God and offers sacrifices for their sins. 2  And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses. 3  That is why he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as theirs. 4  And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was.

Hebrews 5:5-10 (NLT) That is why Christ did not honor himself by assuming he could become High Priest. No, he was chosen by God, who said to him, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.” 6  And in another passage God said to him, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” 7  While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. 8  Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. 9  In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. 10  And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

 

http://www.velaction.com/8-reasons-people-resist-change/

Reasons people resist change…

  1. Fear. By far the biggest reason for resistance to change, fear creates paralysis. People get worried that the new way won’t work, that they will not do well following the modified process, or that it will mean having to change to another job within the company. Worst of all, they fear layoffs.
  2. Comfort. When people have it good, they are reluctant to give that up. This is most common when an improvement effort in one area requires additional work in another area. For example, let’s assume area ‘A’ can save 10 minutes by moving 5 minutes of work to area ‘B’. The employees in area ‘B’ are likely to be less than thrilled by the change, especially if things were humming along smoothly for them.
  3. Not perceiving a need. When things are going well, there is often little thought of the challenge or threat down the road. It is hard to rally the troops when there is no crisis.
  4. No faith in the process. As powerful as Lean is, if employees have had a bad experience with it, or have no background in it, they will be unlikely to throw their support behind it.
  5. Lack of knowledge. People don’t want to feel helpless. If they think that the change will make them a novice again, they won’t want to move in that direction.
  6. Lack of trust. Team members have to trust their guides when trying something new. If they don’t have that bond with their leaders, they won’t want to follow their managers forward.
  7. Heavy-handedness by leaders. Making changes is difficult. When teams are moving cautiously, leaders can make matters worse by pushing too hard. People have to be led into change, not forced into it.
  8. Personal preference. Some people have a personal style that makes it hard for them to accept change. This is basically the ‘other’ category of resistance. Some people just like things the way they are.

So given that there is a lot of variety in why people resist change, it follows that there are many things that leaders must do to prepare their teams for transition.

The first is that leaders should know the people working for them. That means frequently visiting work areas to talk to their employees one-on-one. It is surprising how often key leaders don’t spend time speaking with people beyond their direct reports.

When leaders know how their teams think, they can customize a change management plan that matches the culture of the organization. There are a few universal steps, though, that leaders should always take.

  1. Communicate. This means clearly spelling out the need for change, and it means explaining where the organization is going. A word of caution to leaders: Be direct and honest. Not every decision is going to benefit employees as much as other stakeholders. Employees are smart and will see through efforts to repackage unpopular decisions in a favorable light.
  2. Train. Give employees the tools to feel comfortable with change. Teams have to be confident that they have the necessary skills as a group to handle any challenges that come up.
  3. Demonstrate success. Teams won’t want to make wholesale changes without proof. They need to see some examples of success early on in the transition before they will fully support a new method.
  4. Involve teams in decision making. Give teams a voice. When they are heard, they will be more likely to get on board. There is a pitfall here, though, if employees start to see this as mere lip service. Leaders have to use employee suggestions at least some of the time. More of the time is even better.
  5. Communicate more. Leaders should find out how the change is going, but more importantly, they should be looking for the hidden, unmet needs of their teams. Often, the stated reasons for resistance to change are not the real ones.

If those steps above don’t work, there is some soul searching ahead. As a last resort, people and companies have to decide if they are a good match for each other. No matter how good a job is, or how talented an individual is, if the cultural match is missing, it is going to be a long bumpy ride.

 

http://www.osu.edu/eminence/assets/files/Stop_Blaming_Resistance.pdf

http://www.justhear.co.uk/Hearing-Aid-Options/Common-Reasons-for-Resisting-Hearing-Aids

 

Communicating our needs:

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS466US466&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=communicating+your+needs+to+jesus+high+priest

 

http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols34-36/chs2148.pdf tenderness of jesus

 

High priests

http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/426-exploring-the-concept-of-priesthood

http://bible.org/seriespage/principles-priesthood-leviticus-8-10

 

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