Hebrews 7:23-28 And the others who became priests were numerous, because death prevented them from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently since he lives forever. 25 So he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 For it is indeed fitting for us to have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separate from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need to do every day what those priests do, to offer sacrifices first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people, since he did this in offering himself once for all. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men subject to weakness, but the word of solemn affirmation that came after the law appoints a son made perfect forever. NET
Hebrews 9:11-14 But now Christ has come as the high priest of the good things to come. He passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, 12 and he entered once for all into the most holy place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. NET
Hebrews 10:10-14 By his will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands day after day serving and offering the same sacrifices again and again – sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy. NET
This week we look at the end of Christ’s first earthly journey through His ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. We will explore three passages within the larger section of Hebrews (4:11-10:18) that capture some of the most significant aspects of His priesthood. Use the outline below to help you keep the passages rooted to the whole context as we try to gain an overall snapshot. Try to put yourself back into the shoes of the Jewish people who relied daily upon a physical sacrificial system—very foreign to us!
Living overseas away from our home culture, there are few things that evoke as much excitement as a package from Nana. One such day, the girls and I headed to the post office with a skip in our step anticipating all the fun treats inside. When we arrived with the slip in hand, we were met with dreaded words of disappointment.
“Your package is not here.”
“But this slip says it’s here…Well then where is it?”
“It’s at another very far away post office. You must go there. They will not deliver it.”
I could tell this was going to be a long day. Two hours later, we arrived at the very far away post office. After fumbling around for 20 minutes, I found the right window and presented them with my ID. I could see our package sitting across the counter. Again our goals were blocked.
“This permit is fake. It will not do.”
“No, it’s not fake. It’s the one the police gave us.”
“Well, it looks like a copy. This one could be forged. You’ll have to get another original.”
“But our package is right there. And you can see our names right here that match it. Please help me!”
“There’s no way.”
For two little girls who have been twice delayed in receiving their grandma’s package, this was too much to bear. In those moments, mommy had no words of hope or encouragement, as we all sat down and cried. There was an eternal divide at the package counter with no mediator to plead my case.
In the wake of this ‘minor’ trauma, I considered Jesus’ role as mediator from a fresh perspective. We sit helpless on the other side of the counter with an eternal divide between us and our salvation. Jesus stands as the perfect mediator who rescues us with an eternally valid ID, securing a package of infinite worth! How has He done this? What difference does it make in our lives today?
Outline of Hebrews 4:14-10:181: Christ is a superior priest because…
4:14-16 …He has a better position than Aaron
5:1-10 …He has better qualifications than Aaron (Grow to maturity 5:11-6:20)
7:1-28 …He comes from a better order; not a Levite, but that of Melchizedek
8:1-13 …He offers a better covenant
9:1-10 …He offers from a better sanctuary
9:11-10:18 …He offers a better sacrifice
Suggested Study Schedule:
Day 1: Read Hebrews 7:11-25; 9:11-22; 10:1-18 (our context for this study)
Day 2: Read Leviticus 16 which details the events of the Day of Atonement
Day 3: Read Psalms 110 referred to in Hebrews 7:17, 21 and 10:12-13.
Day 4: Read “Other passages speaking of Christ our Priest” below
Day 5: Complete chart and answer the “discussion questions”
Day 6: Answer the “application questions”
Day 7: Meditate on Christ our Priest; Christ our Sacrifice
Other passages speaking of Christ our Priest/Christ our Sacrifice:
Romans 3:25-26; 4:25; 5:1-2, 8-9; 8:32-34; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Galatians 1:4; 2:20; 3:13-14; Ephesians 1:7; Philippians 2:8; 3:10-11; Colossians 1:13-14, 20, 22; 3:1-4; 1 Tim. 2:5-6; 1 John 2:2; 4:10
Discussion Questions: Grasping the Meaning2
1. In Hebrews 7:23-25, what aspect of Christ’s priesthood is emphasized? In what way does His priesthood continue even now, although this sacrifice was made long ago?
2. In 7:25, what is meant by “save completely”? What is the relationship between “save completely” and Christ’s intercession for us? Several Scriptures speak to the finished work of Christ. From the cross, He cried, “It is completed!” In Hebrews 10:10 we read, “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Yet, if His work is finished, why does He continue to intercede3?
3. In 7:26-28, in what ways is Christ different from earthly priests? What is the “the word of solemn affirmation” (See Psalm 110.)
Here we begin a shift from the nature of the Priest to the nature of His sacrifice…
4. In 9:11, what are “the good things to come”? And what is the “greater and more perfect tent”?
5. In 9:12-14, what was accomplished through the blood of goats and calves? Comparatively, what is accomplished by the blood of Christ? (For more insight, read about the Day of Atonement referred to here in Leviticus 16.)
6. Hebrews 9:13 and 10:11 might seem possibly contradictory. How can you explain this?
7. In Hebrews 9:13 & 14, what is the difference between the cleansing of the flesh and the cleansing of the conscience from dead works? What is His ultimate purpose for Christ’s greater cleansing work?
8. Hebrews 10:12-13 is quoted in Psalm 110. What picture is painted in this Psalm? What is the significance of Christ who “sat down at the right hand of God”? What is the future event for which Christ is waiting? How does this future event relate to His past sacrifice?
9. Rewrite 10:14 in your own words, making clear what has already happened, what is happening now, and what is yet to come. (Reading this verse in a few different translations might be helpful.)
10. Write a short summary of what these three passages emphasize about Christ the Priest and His Sacrifice.
Application Questions: Grasping the Heart
1. Imagine the possible reaction of the original readers learning that the entire sacrificial system was no longer necessary and that it ended in this one sacrifice, Christ. Try to recapture some of the original shock of these statements. Why might this have been hard for them to believe4?
2. If Christ is “exalted above the heavens” and not needing to offer sacrifices first for His own sins, then how can He relate to sinners like us? In other words, how do you hold together His being a sympathetic high priest (see 4:15-16) but yet One who cannot relate to us experientially as a sinner (see 7:26-27)?
3. How do you imagine the ongoing intercession of Christ on our behalf? What is He praying for us? Are there any other Scriptures that would help you answer this question? What would happen if He ceased praying for us now? Stop and meditate on “He lives to make intercession for us” and write your thoughts.
4. Hebrews 9:14 says that “Christ purifies our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.” Why do our consciences need to be cleansed from dead works? How does this cleansing promote our service to God? Share a time in your life when you felt under a weight of a guilty conscience and how you found freedom from guilt. If someone came to you expressing a heavy sense of guilt, how would you use this passage and your own experience to counsel them?
5. He has “purified consciences from dead works to worship the living God.” How does this last phrase correct self-absorbed thinking about our own salvation? In what ways are you growing towards serving the living God as a result of His cleansing?
6. Christ’s priestly functions can sometimes begin to seem commonplace to us. What if any new thoughts have deepened your understanding of His priesthood and sacrifice for you this week?
7. Share with one another what truths have been most meaningful to you. Spend a moment writing down the insights you have heard from others during this study that have enriched your own perspective.
8. Christ: our once and for all sacrifice, our ongoing Priest. What about this week’s study has made Him appear more glorious or beautiful to you? Write a prayer expressing worship in view of your deepening understanding of His role as your Priest and Sacrifice as well as one application you will take away from this lesson.
Group prayer requests
What was earth-shattering to the Jewish way of life sometimes becomes commonplace to us. Help us to more fully grasp the depth of your sacrifice on our behalf! We praise you for the beautiful mystery of our salvation—You have fully guaranteed our holiness, yet this very day we are being saved by your intercession for us. How we need you every day! Thank you also for reminding us that our salvation is not about us as an end, but unto your service and worship. May you be glorified as we praise you!
What is true of the former priesthood:
How Christ’s priesthood is different:
1 Hannah, Hebrews Class Notes.
2 Before you begin this section, I found it helpful to make a chart comparing the former priests with the priesthood of Christ. Complete this chart first (on the last page of this lesson) and use it as a reference as you answer the questions.
3 It is helpful to know that the word “salvation” in Hebrews refers to our future-fulfilled inheritance n Christ. In other words, the author of Hebrews uses this word to indicate the entire package of promises given to Christians, not complete until we are joined together in heaven with the saints in the presence of the Lord.
4 “What this means, in essence, is that the entire worship life of the Old Testament has been radically refocused onto Jesus himself and has become a radically spiritual thing, as opposed to an external thing. The external is still important, but now the spiritual is so radically pervasive that virtually all of external life, not just church life, is the expression of worship.” John Piper, Our High Priest is the Son of God Perfect Forever, Sermon on December 8, 1996 at http://www.desiringgod.org//, accessed March 2, 2007.