Hebrews 4:14,15 – OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
The entire book of Hebrews was written as a message of exhortation for God’s saints (Hebrews 13:22). This epistle shows that God communicates and saves through Jesus, and in contrast with the Old Testament system, via the Christ we have a better covenant and better promises. Thus, we ought to be committed to our King and His word.
We find the following encouraging words recorded in Hebrews 4:14-15, a message that we want to break down and look at piece by piece.
(14) Seeing 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. (15) For 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.
- We have a high priest (4:14) – We have a lot of blessings and a lot of people in our lives. One of our greatest blessings is our high priest. Only in Hebrews do we read the direct message that Christians have a high priest, and the fact that we have such a priest is repeated throughout this unique book (2:18; 4:15; 5:5; 6:20; 7:26; 8:1).
- We have a high priest (4:14) – For the Christians to whom this epistle was addressed in the first century, it was important for them to appreciate that, yes, under the old law there was a priesthood, including a high priest, but we, too, have a high priest under the new covenant. And not only do we have a high priest, He is superior to those who served under the old system. With His new, superior priesthood, there had to be also “a change of the law” (7:12).
- Our high priest is Jesus the Son of God (4:14) – Our first and last high priest was the only begotten Son of the Father. Who chose Him to serve as high priest? God did. Thank God that we do not have to fret about waking up tomorrow and learning that a new high priest must be chosen from among mere humans. There will never be another high priest to take our Savior’s place! Rather than offer animal sacrifices for Israel’s sins as high priests did under the old covenant, the Christ offered Himself – “one sacrifice for sins forever” (10:12).
- We have a great high priest (4:14) – In the history of Israel, not all high priests were great in God’s sight. We recall Eliashib, who served as high priest in the days of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 13:4-8,28). What a disaster he was. Not Jesus. He Who rules as high priest over God’s house (10:21) was holy, harmless, and undefiled (7:26), showing His greatness by submitting humbly to the Father’s will (John 6:38; 8:29).
- Our high priest has passed through the heavens (4:14) – Our Lord ascended from the earth and “entered . . . into heaven itself” (7:24), where He “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (1:3). We have no guarantees about how many other high priests will be in heaven, but we know that ours will be there! How wonderful it will be to live with Him forever.
- Our high priest sympathizes with our weaknesses (4:15) – Because He took on flesh and blood when He lived on earth (2:14) and during His life He suffered and endured trials as all humans do, He is able to understand, sympathize with, and aid those who are tempted (2:18; 4:15).
- Our high priest was tempted (4:15) – “If Jesus was God in the flesh, then I do not see how He could have been tempted.” Believe it, because it really occurred: “And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan . . .” (Mark 1:13). How could God be tempted? When Jesus became a human, He voluntarily, temporarily became lower than angels (2:9), and in the process of living in a human body, He was tempted. To what extent?
- Our high priest was tempted in all points as we are (4:15) – Rest assured that the tempter’s temptations were forceful when he made his lustful appeals to our Lord. We are reminded that whatever temptations we might face in life, the Christ faced similar ones long before we did.
- Our high priest lived a flawless life (4:15) – What is it that the Bible says? Though the Master was tempted in all points as we are, He lived “without sin” (4:15). Not once did He violate the Father’s will – nothing that He thought, said, or did went against God’s desires. That is perfection, a perfect role model for every person of every age. There are many talented, popular people in the world. Not all of them are good examples for us or anyone else to follow. When we imitate Jesus, we know that we are following the right path. His sinless life proves His divine nature, as only God is without unrighteousness (Psalm 92:15). Because we have such a wonderful high priest, what should we do? The text of Hebrews 4 gives us two concrete answers. First, we must hold fast our confession (4:14) and second, we need to come boldly to the throne of grace (4:16). Simply reminding ourselves that Jesus is a great high priest is not sufficient, is it? Because of Whom He is and what He has done for us, we need be committed to serving Him sincerely, gratefully, and sacrificially . . . unto the end . . . and spread the good news about Him and His Kingdom to others!
— Roger D. Campbell