Hebrews

The source of eternal salvation. 5:7-10

 
Introduction

In this passage, our writer defines the qualifications of Jesus our High Priest. The writer wants to show that Jesus is a genuine High Priest, far superior to any of the descendents of Aaron, and is therefore, someone we can rely on to speak for us before the throne of God's grace. The first qualification of Christ's high priestly rule is given in v5-6, namely, that he is appointed by God. The second qualification is that Christ is a perfect High Priest, able to renew our relationship with God, v7-10.

 
The passage

v7. We are told that during his life, Jesus prayed for his eternal salvation and that his prayer was answered. It was answered in his resurrection because of his "reverent submission" - he was "heard for his godly fear." What this means is that our Lord's prayer was heard because of his devotion and submission to the will of God. He came through the trial victorious and as such, he did not suffer annihilation. It is difficult to know exactly what the writer is alluding to in this verse. It seems a bit like the Gethsemane scene, but he may be harking back to Psalm 22; in "crying and tears" he was "heard". The phrase, he was "heard because of his reverent submission", simply means that he was heard by God because of his devotion and submission to the will of God.

v8. Our writer goes on to say that although Jesus was the Son of God (the definite article ["the"] is not in the Greek, but is best translated this way) he still had to strive to be obedient to the Father. Jesus had to struggle with all the temptations, tests, strife..... that are part of human existence. Faced with the cross, he chose the path of honour and integrity rather than dishonor, and in so doing could stand before God as the tested and honourable Son - having emerged perfect through suffering.

v9-10. The writer concludes by making the point that Christ was "made perfect". Christ is perfect in the sense that he is the fully qualified saviour of his people, having traveled the way of faithfulness unto death, and he is God's designated perfect high priest according to the type of Melchizedek, which priesthood was not Aaronic, but rather an eternal order which was superior in nature. As God's high priest, Christ is the pathfinder and source of a permanently valid ("eternal") salvation for his people. This salvation is available to all who "obey" Christ ie., all who are loyal to Christ in the sense of identifying with him, following him, believing in him.

 
Discussion

1. If Jesus offered up prayers to the one who could save him from death, in what sense was his prayer answered?

2. if Jesus is without sin, how could he have "learned obedience from what he suffered"? v8.

3. How could Jesus be "made perfect if he was without sin? v9.

4. Is it a sin to contemplate an evil act?

5. In what sense are we free from sin because of Jesus' high priestly role?

 
Our confidence in Christ

Some years ago I developed a gospel presentation which I have used ever since. It has changed a little as time has moved on and it is always adapted to the circumstance and the person or group I am speaking with. I call it the 5 by 5 presentation. 1. This is God's world; 2. We have lost eternity; 3. God in Christ has sorted out our problem; 4. In Christ we may possess life eternal; 5. We must ask for God's gift of life.

The center of the gospel is the resurrection of Jesus and the consequent blessings that flow from this. The substance of God's blessing is his free gift of grace in Christ - "because he lives we may live also." I sum this truth up in five sub points under point 4. i] A new friendship with God; ii] A new life-style; iii] A new freedom; iv] A new community to be part of; v] The hope of a new world.

The second sub point in this gospel presentation affirms freedom. This is pure John Stott, in fact, he sees this as the central statement of the gospel - freedom from guilt, self and fear. I can't think of any better way of saying it, so I use it. This world cries out for freedom. In Christ we are offered the gift of freedom: Freedom from the dominance of self, of the psyche; Freedom from guilt and condemnation - forgiven; Freedom from the fear of judgement - loss, death...

Of course, it is not just unbelievers who cry out for freedom. I believe Christians find themselves enslaved as do unbelievers, yet our slavery is different. We are so easily enslaved to our piety, to Sunday religion.

Hebrews reminds us that Jesus functions as a High Priest. That is, he stands between God and ourselves and gains for us a right of approach to the throne of God. The point our writer wants to drive home to us is that Jesus has experienced all the limitations of humanity. He understands our weakness and identifies with it, for he was "tempted in every way as we are". He cannot be horrified by our sin. He has felt everything that we feel. The only difference between him and us is that he is "without sin." Therefore, we need have no hesitation to come before God's throne and cry for mercy. We don't have to ask twice for forgiveness.

Jesus is a perfect High Priest. He is sinless and therefore, his sacrifice upon the cross did not have to be applied to his own sin, but could be fully applied to ours. In him is forgiveness, and in forgiveness there is freedom. Christ is the "source of eternal salvation" therefore we are eternally free.

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