Who Is Jesus?: insights from Hebrews 7

image 2 - Jesus Pantocrator

Hebrews 7:26 begins by telling us that Jesus is “a high priest [who] truly meets our need.” What does this tell us about Jesus? Well, the writer continues by telling us that Jesus meets our need in two ways, both of which are directly related to who Jesus is.

That first way that Jesus meets our need is found in the rest of verse 26. Here’s the entire verse:

Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. (Hebrews 7:26)

Who is Jesus? First of all, Jesus is “holy” – that means He is unlike us and He is like God. He is “the holy One of Israel”; the One whom Israel has been looking for throughout all their history. We need someone like this.

Next, Jesus is “blameless, pure, set apart from sinners.” No one could assign any sin or blame to Jesus. He is unstained and undefiled. Nothing has come into Him or gone out from Him that reflects sin or evil. He is, as it says in Hebrews 4:15, “one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet did not sin.” We need someone like that.

Finally, we are told that Jesus is “exalted above the heavens.” He is no ordinary man. He is both the One “through whom [God] also made the universe” while also “the exact representation of [God’s] being.” After His death and resurrection, Jesus is now ascended and given by the Father the name above all other names. Jesus is magnificent and glorious. We need someone like that.

The first answer by the author of this letter to the question, “who is Jesus?”, is that Jesus is unlike us and beyond us. We need someone like that because, as we have seen throughout human history, we cannot bring the answer to all our wrongs merely from our own efforts and abilities. We need the answer to come from beyond us.

Now, the second answer to the question, “who is Jesus?” and how does he meet our need, though familiar to us, comes somewhat unexpectedly. Look at verse 27:

Unlike the other high priests, [Jesus] 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. (Hebrews 7:27)

All that we said before has emphasized how transcendent Jesus is – pure, sinless, holy, exalted – but this verse now emphasizes how earthy and humble Jesus is.

He is a priest offering a sacrifice. But He is not some priest who offers the sacrifice and then washes His hands and goes home. No, Jesus is so earthy, so humble, so in the midst of the muck and mire, that He actually offers Himself as the once-for-all sacrifice. John the Baptist helps us here when he says of Jesus:

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

What does this mean? Well, it means Jesus has entered into humanity’s real need to such a great extent that He has actually Himself become the offering. He has become the sacrificial offering so that God’s true blessing might come into the world. As that Passover Lamb, Jesus took judgment that humanity might live. He entered death’s captivity so we might go free.

As the writer sums up in verse 28, Jesus “has been made perfect forever.”

Who is Jesus?

The writer of the epistle known as Hebrews tells us:

  • He is sinless, even set apart from sinners…yet He is the sin-bearer.
  • He is holy and pure…yet He becomes wholly defiled for our life and salvation.
  • He is exalted…yet He is humble.

Here, the writer of Hebrews gives us a most helpful and essential picture of Jesus: He is perfectly what we need.

The Final Word: Knowing Christ through Hebrews

This coming weekend at Eastbrook Church we began a new preaching series entitled “The Final Word: Knowing Christ through Hebrews.” Over the course of the next several months we will steadily walk through the entire book of Hebrews, drawing our attention to Jesus Christ and learning about the life of faith. The title of the series is drawn from the first verses of the book:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4)

The epistle known as Hebrews is one of the most unique books in the New Testament. Structured more like an extended sermon than a letter, Hebrews brings us into rich understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done in light of the Hebrew covenants and sacrificial system. As we walk through this book we want to know Christ more as our understanding grows and our faith is enriched that we might “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (12:1).

Join us for this series each weekend at “Eastbrook at Home” and consider joining a virtual discussion of the sermon each Sunday at 11 AM.

A Prayer for Christmas Day

Christ candle.jpg

Almighty God,
who hast given us thy only-begotten Son
to take our nature upon him,
and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin;
Grant that we being regenerate,
and made thy children by adoption and grace,
may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit;
through the same our Lord Jesus Christ,
who liveth and reigneth with thee
and the same Spirit ever,
one God, world without end. Amen.

Source: The Book of Common Prayer (1928)

A Prayer for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

Advent candles

O Lord,
raise up, we pray thee, thy power,
and come among us,
and with great might succor us;
that whereas, through our sins and wickedness,
we are sore let and hindered
in running the race that is set before us,
thy bountiful grace and mercy
may speedily help and ‘deliver us;
through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord,
to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost,
be honor and glory, world with out end. Amen.

Source: The Book of Common Prayer (1928)

A Prayer for the Third Sunday in Advent

Advent candles

O Lord Jesus Christ,
who at thy first coming
didst send thy messenger
to prepare thy way before thee;
Grant that the ministers and stewards
of thy mysteries may likewise
so prepare and make ready thy way,
by turning the hearts of the disobedient
to the wisdom of the just,
that at thy second coming to judge the world
we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight,
who livest and reignest
with the Father and the Holy Spirit
ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Source: The Book of Common Prayer (1928)