Who Is Jesus?: insights from Hebrews 7

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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.

A Prayer inspired by Hebrews 7:26-8:13

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Throughout our new series “The Final Word: Knowing Christ through Hebrews,” I am writing prayers related to the text on which we are preaching each week. This prayer is drawn from Hebrews 7:26-8:13. The complete list of prayers inspired by Hebrews is included at the bottom of this post. You can also view my message from this passage “New Promise,” here.

Jesus, You are the One we truly need—
holy, blameless, pure, set apart.
You are exalted above the heavens
and the Name above every name.

Jesus, You are the Lamb of God we need.
You offered Yourself as once-for-all sacrifice.
You take away the sin of the world.
You do what we cannot do for salvation and life.

Jesus, You are the Mediator of the New Covenant we need.
You brought forgiveness of sins,
wrote God’s guidance on our inner being,
and have made knowing the Living God accessible to us.

Jesus, we love You.
Jesus, we need You.
Jesus, we call out to You.
Jesus, we praise You.
Amen.


Prayers from Hebrews:

Eastbrook at Home – June 28, 2020

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Join us for worship with Eastbrook Church through Eastbrook at Home at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM as we continue our series “The Final Word: Knowing Christ through Hebrews.” This weekend I will preach from Hebrews 7:26-8:13. Follow along with the entire series here. Access the downloadable bulletin, sermon notes, and sermon discussion guide here.

We also continue in-person services at 9:30 AM this weekend at the Eastbrook Campus, but you do need to RSVP ahead of time this week and in coming weeks. Find out more info here.

Don’t miss the chance to join in with a virtual small group discussing the sermon every Sunday at 11 AM. More info here.

Each Sunday at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM, you can participate with our weekly worship service at home with your small group, family, or friends. This service will then be available during the week until the next Sunday’s service starts. You can also access or download the service directly via Vimeo or the Eastbrook app.

If you are not signed up for our church emailing list, please sign up here. Also, please remember that during this time financial support for the church is critical as we continue minister within our congregation and reach out to our neighborhood, city, and the world at this challenging time. Please give online or send in a donation to support the ministry of Eastbrook Church.

A Prayer inspired by Hebrews 7:1-25

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Throughout our new series “The Final Word: Knowing Christ through Hebrews,” I am writing prayers related to the text on which we are preaching each week. This prayer is drawn from Hebrews 7:1-25. The complete list of prayers inspired by Hebrews is included at the bottom of this post. You can also view my message from this passage “Unlike Any Other,” here.

Father in heaven,
You made humanity in Your image
that we might show forth who You are to the world.
Thank You that although we fell into sin
and failed in our created calling,
You sent Your Son, Jesus, to redeem us
as both the once-for-all Sacrifice
and the Eternal Priest who offers that great gift.
Our lives have been bought with a price –
they are Yours, our God –
so fill us with Your Holy Spirit
that we might live in the fullness of Your power
and display the fullness of Your character
to the far reaches of this world
until the fullness of Your kingdom.

All this we pray, through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord
to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit
be honor and glory, now and forever.
Amen.


Prayers from Hebrews:

Jesus the Messiah: Our Promised Priestly King

 

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Rembrandt van Rijn, Pilgrims at Emmaus; Oil on mahogany; 1648.

In Advent we enter into the longing of Israel for a Messiah; the longing for the promises of the prophets to be fulfilled. We sing songs with words like, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lowly exile here until the Son of God appear.” We sing these words to remind us of the longing of God’s people for the appearance of a figure who would bring about the restoration of God’s people in a new way as a priestly king.

The early Christians saw Jesus as the fulfillment of this promised priestly king. His teaching was unlike any other because it had such power. His sacrificial crucifixion and His resurrection from death spoke of Him as Messiah. As they reflected on Jesus’ life and ministry, again and again they returned to Psalm 110, finding in this psalm a picture of Jesus as the promised Messiah, who would be a priestly king forever.

Thus, Peter, at the first sermon of the newly founded church on Pentecost day in Acts 1 and 2, weaves Psalm 110 into his message, saying this:

32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”’

(Acts 2:32-35)

Peter understands that Jesus is the eternal priestly king, not just for Israel, but for humanity. On that Pentecost day, Peter knew that as the priestly king, Jesus brought salvation and also the great gift of God’s presence – His Holy Spirit – to empower His people to live out their calling.

We need a priestly king who can fill us with God’s life – the Holy Spirit – so that we can live as God has called us to live upon earth, and Jesus is the priestly king who pours out the Holy Spirit of God upon all who reach out to Him in faith.

And Paul, writing to the early church in Corinth about the meaning of Christ’s resurrection for believers, weaves in Psalm 110, writing:

22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
(1 Corinthians 15:22-25)

Paul saw that Jesus, in His death and resurrection, had put won victory in battle over the principalities and powers of evil, as well as against the ultimate enemy of humankind: death. In the face of human sin and failure, Jesus is the priestly king who deals with all of our greatest opponents, putting them all under His feet.

We need a king who can destroy death and bring life, and Jesus is the priestly king who destroys death and brings life forever.

The unknown writer of Hebrews, in his extended “letter,” which is more of a sermon, writes about Jesus as both High Priest and High Sacrifice:

15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared:

“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
(Hebrews 7:15-17)

The writer sees Jesus, in light of Psalm 110, as the fulfillment of the deepest longings of God’s people for a king who can bring true worship of God from the heart of humanity. We know that, as Isaiah the prophet reminds us, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). We need a new High Priest who can deal with that forever.

We need a priestly king who can stand before God on our behalf as the perfect human being living perfectly righteous. And we also need a kingly priest who can stand before us as the very face of God Himself, bringing forgiveness of sin. The writer of Hebrews tells us Jesus is the priestly king who stands uniquely forever representing humanity before God and God before humanity with an indestructible life.

So join me this Advent in praising God that our Advent hope is not an empty hope but a pregnant hope, giving birth to righteousness, peace, and love through Christ.