Hebrews 7:23-28 | A High Priest Who Meets Our Needs

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A High Priest Who Meets Our Needs

 

Hebrews 7:23-28

Key verse 7:25

 

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

 

We’re still in the subject of Jesus High Priestly office, which the author takes pains to explain it to us in detail. He explains why Jesus is the greatest High Priest this world has ever known. He’s the Son of God. He had been appointed and ordained as God’s High Priest from eternity and made High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. We talked about that in the last passage we reviewed! Jesus, by virtue of who he is and what he’s done, and the way he’s done it assumed his role and position as our High Priest. And he serves now at the altar in heaven. We need him as our High Priest for a good many reasons. But the apostle tells us in this chapter that we need him to help us draw near to God. We talked about that too in the last passage! God’s standard is perfection and no one can draw near to God unless he or she attains to that standard of perfection. We couldn’t attain perfection through the Law— that is, by following the law. And we couldn’t attain perfection through the help of priests— that is, through those whose role and function is to intercede for us. It just wasn’t enough. The Law was more than any human being could live by, and the priests were imperfect themselves. So God appointed a High Priest for us who could help us draw near to God. Our Savior Jesus— the Son of God. In him and through him God gave us a better hope by which we can draw near to God. And this hope is sure because it came with an oath. And because of this hope, the author tells us that Jesus became the guarantee of a better covenant.

 

And so the apostle continues his discussion on why Jesus’ priesthood is better than any other priesthood in every way. He makes a case for the Lord Jesus as a better High Priest— a case that we ought to listen to very carefully. Why is that? Here’s a good reason for those who think that all this talk about Jesus’ priesthood isn’t necessary. Paul says something very interesting in Romans 10:17, which is often overlooked. He says: “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word [about] Christ.” This is the truth! Faith comes by hearing the message about Christ, and then faith grows in our hearts. Like any other subject, the message about the superiority of Jesus’ priesthood is crucial for our faith. We don’t know how faith works, but we know that when we hear the word about Christ, if we’re listening carefully and we take it to heart, faith comes and grows and consequently also bears the fruit of life. So I’ll tell you what the Lord tells us: “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13:9)

 

Now the subject of this passage we’re looking at here is simple; because Jesus is Priest forever, he also saves us forever completely (23-25). Forever means forever, not temporarily; and completely means what it says, completely, perfectly, absolutely. You and I are secure in heaven and on earth as long as Jesus Christ lives, and we know he lives forever! And we too can live by the power of his indestructible life. (16) Now let’s look at this passage more closely.

 

Read verses 23-24. “Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.” What the apostle is saying here is that throughout God’s people’s history, many priests assumed the role of high priest, probably about 80 of them since the time of Aaron till the time the temple was destroyed in AD 70. None of them held a permanent priesthood on account that each of them died and another had to assume the role in his place. Regardless of what kind of priests they were— that is, good or bad— they died and their duty of intercession ended with them. Even if they were a good and honest priest, whatever they knew of the people, however earnestly they helped them and interceded for them, and eventually whatever relationships they had were all cut off because death took them. That is why Jesus’ permanent priesthood is essential and critical. Because Jesus lives forever, he is also priest forever and cannot and will not be changed. We needed a priest like this who knows us and intercedes for us always before the throne of God, one who will always be there for us to rely on. In our lives at times, not even the most intimate of people remain faithful, nor can we count on them to extend a helping hand when we need them. Sometimes even those who we rely on the most betray our trust, or renege on promises made. Even if they want to, we know how frail the human nature is and how prone to failure it is despite every good intention to maintain integrity and excellence of character. Whether the most intimate people, or even the most devoted of mothers or daughters, of priests or pastors, of elders and servants, no one is permanently bound to us for life and death and beyond. Only the Lord Jesus is permanent because he lives forever. It is a pity that men and women rather put their lives and their future, and even the destiny of their own souls in the hands of failed people, rather than entrust them to the hands of the Lord Jesus who is priest forever! What tragedy they will meet on the day when they need such a priest and they have none. The truth about Jesus’ eternal priesthood is not just a doctrine for knowledge. It is a living truth that you should start building your faith upon.

 

Besides this eternal truth, what else does the apostle tell us about Jesus’ permanent priesthood? Read verse 25. “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Now we come to one of the most intriguing and critical truths of the Bible. The apostle does not say, “He is able to save those who come to God through him” which is perfectly correct and satisfactory. He rather says, “He is able to save completely those who come to God through him.” It is not hard to understand why the apostle uses such strong words in describing the salvation which the Lord brings those who draw near to God through him. Listen to what Paul says in Romans 5:10 regarding the power of Jesus’ salvation in our lives. He says: “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” So after having once been his enemies, not only are we reconciled to God through the death of his Son— which in itself reveals the tremendous power of Jesus’ saving work in our lives— but the apostle goes on to say how much more are we saved through his life. This gives us an idea of the extent to which we are saved through our Lord Jesus. In verse 25, the apostle uses the words “Save completely.” Another way of putting it is found in the KJV where it says “Save them to the uttermost”. What then does it mean to be saved to the uttermost, or completely? Perhaps it means that there is absolutely no part of his salvation work begun in our hearts and lives that is or will be left missing, or left undone or become incomplete. Think on that!

 

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him”. “Save completely”! What comforting words these are, especially for those whose struggle with sin is discouraging. Not only does the record of their past seem too dark to be forgiven, but old habits seem to constantly crop up again, scorning even the strongest commitments to abandon sin and crushing that soul and heart to the ground. At times like these, when we are faced with our failures and weaknesses, with our endless struggles and failings, we wish we were animals or vegetables who, in their innocence do not sin against God and others and blessed to be incapable of sin. But as dark and grievous as are our sins in their depth and scope, so high and immeasurable is the grace of our Lord. Where our sins abound, the grace of our Lord abounds even more. Even if we hit rock bottom in our wretchedness and our failures go deeper yet, God’s mercy to us is ever deeper than that. The love and grace and power of our Lord Jesus are far more in measure and power than we need— and even more! He saves us completely and to the uttermost. This is our assurance. This is our confidence and joy. This is our faith!

 

Moreover, there are many who have endless questions about— how to cleanse their hearts— and the extent to which they can be delivered from sin— and the Lord’s faithfulness in forgiving recurring sins— and all other kinds of speculation. To them we say, don’t think so much of your cleansing but think of the Cleanser and purifier himself. Don’t speculate about your deliverance and the extent of it, but look to the Deliverer himself. Don’t think too much about salvation but let the Savior into your heart. And be perfectly assured that as long as he has your heart, no matter where you are in your spiritual life, sin has no power before the glory of his presence and the cleansing power of his blood. He saves us completely to the uttermost. That’s the absolute assurance of his word, and the depth of his grace and the greatness of his love for you and me. He saves us completely “Because he always lives to intercede for us”! We will never ever be without our High Priest to represent us in heaven. This does not mean that he has to constantly avert God’s wrath from us all the time, or every time we sin. God loves us and has already forgiven and accepted us into his presence and into his holy family through Christ Jesus. He stands forever before God and we stand in him, forgiven, cleansed and purified. Whoever takes his stand on Christ and lives in Christ will forever belong to Christ.

 

Read verses 26-28. “Such a high priest meets our need— one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” Here, the words: “Such a high priest meets our need” are very important. In the old version, these words are read as such: “For such an high priest became us” (KJV) meaning that this particular High Priest is suited for us. The author has said something like this earlier in Hebrews 2:10 where he says: “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.” In other words it suited God to do this; it suited his character that he should Perfect our Savior through our Saviors suffering. Whatever God does is fitting for him. It suits him. It reflects his character and person. When he subjected our Savior to suffering to make him a Perfect Savior, it was as expected of God.

 

So also in this verse, “Became us”, or it was fitting for us that he should give us a savior— one who meets all our needs. This Savior is ideally suited for us. And he tells us why this Savior is ideally suited for us. Because that is exactly what we really need. We need a Savior who meets all our needs, and God gave us One who does. In other words, we don’t need a Savior who meets some of our needs, nor even most of our needs. We need one who meets all our needs. Now here is an interesting truth we should consider very carefully. And most of us know this truth, yet we secretly detest it in our sinful nature. What we want, and what we need are two completely differing things. Think on this! Some want a savior who is suited for them. Others want a savior who is pliable and easy to please. Still others want a savior who doesn’t interfere with their lives, but lets them live as they wish and then picks them up when they fall. Others want a compliant savior, a kindly one, a savior who agrees with them and all their ways. And often such people get what they want— a false savior, having gotten caught in a deathtrap. But it’s what they want! And often God lets them have what they want because they love themselves and the world and their pleasures more than they love the Lord of glory.

 

It’s true though— what we want and what we need are two completely different things. God our good shepherd, however, has given us Savior who meets our needs. The question is what needs? And the answer is of course, our need for salvation from sin and from its consequences. These are our most urgent needs. We have no greater need than the need to be delivered from sin and its horrible effects on our lives. We have no greater need than God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with our Father. We have no greater need than that! Everything else in this world is worthless. People waste their lives pursuing all kinds of worthless things. Some run after fame and fortune; others run after relationships that are unhealthy and destructive; others run after pleasures of life— and they never even once think about their real need. And what every human being— every sinner— really needs is salvation from sin and from the everlasting death and condemnation that comes as a result of sin. And we have no excuse, for God has given us a High Priest who meets our needs. One day, it will all come to this: Either he stands to represent us, or to stand apart from us.

 

We also need a Savior who understands us and looks at us with compassion— a savior willing to help us make the journey from this world of sin to the holy city of God— one who stands with us in our struggles and gives us the strength we need to fight the spiritual battle and win the spiritual victory, even if in the process we lose everything humanly. For “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) And for this, we need the Savior’s grace and truth to guide us regardless of how painful to us the truth is at times. And so God has given us such a Savior who meets all our needs. Sometimes we need the Savior’s rebuke telling us to “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk”. (John 5:8). Sometimes we need the Savior’s counsel to “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11) Sometimes we need his truth to: Repent and believe”. (Mark 1:15) And other times we need his life giving courage to “Have faith in God”. (Mark 11:22) Whatever is our need Jesus is such a savior for us full of grace and truth (John 1:14) who meets all our need.

 

Why then is Jesus such a Savior who meets all our needs? Read verses 26-28 again. “Such a high priest meets our need— one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” First of all, he meets all our needs because he is holy and blameless, pure and set apart from sinners, one who is exalted above the heavens. Who on earth could claim such a position? I don’t know any human being who meets these descriptions. But Jesus by character is holy, untouched by sin; he is blameless, having lived without sin; he is pure, having no corruption in him; and he is set apart from sinners. Although the Lord sat down to eat and drank with notorious and wretched sinners, he was with them but never of them, forever exalted above the heavens. He is truly the holy, blameless, and pure Son of God. I need such a Savior on my side, the only one able to represent me before the throne of God and to absolve me of my sins by virtue of his spotless character and Holy Person. Who will vouch for you in heaven on the Day of Judgment? No priest, no good man, nor anyone of the human race can meet my need on that day. Only Jesus can— and he has praise his name!

 

Second, Jesus meets our needs not only by virtue of who he is— his spotless person and character, but also because of what he has done. He offered and sacrificed himself for our sins once for all! There is therefore no more need for any sacrifices to be made. In the past, every sin required a sacrifice. Actually two perhaps, one for the sinner who comes to sacrifice for his sin, and one for the priest who is offering the sacrifice on his behalf. It was a system that did not meet our needs at all. There are sins we know about and sins we do not know about. Even if man never sins against God by breaking the law (which is impossible), he sins by omitting the law; he sins through the thoughts of his mind and the desires of his heart. No one escapes from the punishment of sin. One must live every moment in sacrifice for sin, and even then it is never enough. But Jesus sacrificed himself on our behalf to wipe out every sin past, present and future. And the Lord of glory who meets our every need repeatedly tells us to trust him when his word tells us such things as this: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Do we believe that he saves completely those who come to God through him, even you and me? Do we believe that he has sacrificed himself for our sins once for all, and sits at God’s right hand to intercede for us now and forever? It takes faith. And we need our faith to mature until this faith in Christ our High Priest sees us through victory upon victory and bears the fruit of life in us. For “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith”, (1 John 5:4) as the apostles tell us. Amen.

 

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