Hebrews Study: Jesus, Our Compassionate High Priest :: By Sean Gooding

Hebrews 5:1-4

For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. 3 Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. 4 And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was” (NKJV).

Over the past few weeks, we have talked about Jesus’ role in our sinful state and how He is there to help us to sin less and also to help us be restored when we sin. There has been and is a lot of discussion about sin in the life of a Christian and what is and is not a Christian. There are things that we are called to be and do as Children of God. But a child of God is a child of God. If one is saved, whether he is the next Samson or the next Paul, he is a child of God. The ‘heroes’ of the Scriptures, except for a few like Daniel and the Christ types like Joseph and Joshua, all have sin recorded in their lives. All the way from lying and adultery like Abraham to murder like David.

In the New Testament, we find Jesus and Peter sparring over the direction of the movement; we find men vying for positions; we find lying, deceit; we find adultery that even the Gentiles did not talk about, according to Paul as he addressed the church in Corinth. There are a few things that we should look at here in these four verses. I pray that they will encourage us when we fall, that they will inspire us to be gentler with those that fall and help us to truly be loving spiritual siblings. One may say that I am becoming soft as I get older; maybe. But I think that as we get closer and closer to the time of the accounting of our lives to the Lord, we can maybe see life more and more clearly.

  • The High Priest and Compassion, verse 2

The word that we get in the New Testament for compassion is often this word in the original language: SLAGCHNIZOMAI; it means to ‘be moved as to one’s bowels, hence to be moved with compassion.’ In the time that the writer was writing Hebrews, the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity. We get the phrase ‘a gut feeling’ from this concept. The High Priest was not to be a judgmental superior; rather, he was a man who loved you and felt compassion in that he understood your weakness. He would have to offer sacrifices for his sins just like he was offering sacrifices for yours.

By the time of Jesus’ day, the Pharisees and other sects had hijacked the whole Judean religion and made it to be a source of hatred rather than a source of compassion. The high priest took on a role of superiority rather than being a compassionate servant. The high priest that God called, beginning with Aaron, knew they were sinners, humbly acknowledged it, and used it as a tool to help them deal with their fellow Jews lovingly and in Godly pity. At no point did this compassion condone sin – never; rather, the compassion acknowledged the weakness that we all have, and the high priest had to come face to face with his own sins each time he performed a sacrifice on behalf of a brother or sister.

We have lost or, for the most part, suppressed this kind of compassion in our churches and in our lives. While we are not to condone sin, we are not to behave so Pharisaical that we present ourselves as sinless and as above anyone. Many Pastors fall into the trap; they want to appear spiritually mature, so they portray a façade of sinlessness. But spiritually mature means acknowledging our/my sins and asking for God’s forgiveness, and then extending the same compassion and grace to others when they ask me to forgive them. Look at Luke 7: 3-4,

3 Watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 Even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times returns to say, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him” (Berean Study Bible).

Notice the imperative command in verse four above, ‘you must forgive him.’ Why? Because this is what compassionate, saved people who live in God’s grace do. This is the love from John 13: 34-35, not tolerance for sin but compassion for our human weaknesses and frailty.

  • Jesus, God’s Choice for High Priest verse 4

God sent Jesus to be our final and eternal High Priest. Jesus, the Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:1-2 that Jesus became both the High Priest and the sacrifice for us and that He did so with joy.

Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (NKJV).

Jesus did not have to be coerced or cajoled into helping us; why? Because He is our compassionate High Priest. He does not condemn us and does not turn us away. He never leaves us, and when we fail, even the consequences can be mitigated by His compassion. Even in the sinfulness of Samson, there was a victory; Solomon came out of David’s sin; the sparring between Peter and Jesus did not disqualify him from being the leader when Jesus left.

Now, there are some sins that reap immediate and seemingly harsh results. Ananias and Saphira died instantly, Moses was forbidden from entering the Promised Land, and we can think of a few others. But for the most part, the Bible is filled with a compassionate God, who sent His Son; that Son came joyfully to show us God’s love, to be our Advocate, and to be the full payment for sins. He took on our flesh so that He could understand the frailty of man and deal with us compassionately. Stop giving up on each other; rather, be compassionate and helpful. The one you help today will one day be the one to rescue you. Galatians 6: 1-2 reminds us of this.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him with a spirit of gentleness. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Notice, we are to use a ‘spirit of gentleness’; this is compassion and pity. The goal is to forgive and restore, not to recall and destroy. We are to carry each other’s burdens; this is what Jesus does for us, and this is what we need to do for each other. Lord, please forgive us for the number of brothers and sisters we have given up on when You did not give up on us. Lord help!!

My family and I will be away for a much-needed break next week; the next lesson will be on August 13th.

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

How to Connect with Us

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MississaugaMissionaryBaptistChurch
Online: https://www.mississaugamissionarybaptistchurch.com/ (under construction)
Email: missionarybaptistchurch76@yahoo.ca

Hebrews Study: God is Faithful Even in Temptations :: By Sean Gooding

Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (NKJV).

Last week we talked about the help we have in Jesus when it comes to temptation. Jesus was tempted, the Bible tells us, in all points like we are, and yet, He never sinned. You and I are tempted, and we sin. Sadly, we sin more often than we would like to be honest about. Jesus did not even sin by accident. We often do. We are caught off guard, and we say, do, or think something that is sinful. Jesus never did that. Not once. This morning I was reading in my devotions, and I came across this verse; it reminded me of what we had explored last week, and I wanted to expand on this to add to the benefits we have in Jesus and His humanity. Paul, writing to the church at Corinth, says this through the Holy Spirit:

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide an escape, so that you can stand up under it” (Berean Study Bible).

When we add this verse to the verses above, there is an understanding that we are able to say ‘No’ to sin much more often than we do. These are convicting verses. But as with all scriptures, we need to explore all things. God is a practical and realistic God. In 1 John 1: 8-9, John tells us that if we say we have no sin, we are liars, and if we confess our sins, God will forgive us because He is faithful, and He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Once again, God’s faithfulness is emphasized as the reason that He will forgive. God is faithful, even in our temptations and even when we fail. So, yes, we can sin less, but we will not be sinless in this life, at least on the outside. Inside we are already sinless as the Holy Spirit lives in us and marks us as children of God.

  • Jesus Will help, Hebrews 4:16

Jesus will help you and me when we are faced with temptation. He is there for us from experiential knowledge, and He is compassionate and kind. Maybe you think this is overkill. But temptation never goes away, even as an old man Solomon’s wives helped to turn him away from the Lord. There is no time in our lives when there is no temptation. We are tempted in many ways: money, sex, power, revenge, and pride. This list is far more exhaustive than this. But as long as you are breathing, you will be tempted. Satan will find a weakness, find a pressure point, find a crack that he can exploit, and it is important that we know that we have a Helper – Jesus, our Friend, who is there to help us.

Sadly, too many of us, myself included, have ‘pet’ sins. We have nurtured them over a lifetime, and the same sin that haunted us as young men/women seems to still haunt us as we get older. Often, and it is true for me, we get better at avoiding or saying ‘no’ to some sins, but for others, we are less able or rather willing to say ‘no.’ These sins satisfy something in us even when we know the end will be shame and guilt. Jesus, our Friend, will help here as well.

  • God will temper your/my temptations, 1 Corinthians 10:13

We are promised that the temptations we face are common to all men. All men, even the greatest evangelists and famous preachers, the apostles and the saints that have gone on before us, were all tempted the same way as you and I. We are not unique, and the sinful opportunities placed before us are not some netherworld concoctions that no one has ever seen before. We are tempted in one of three ways or all of these three ways over a lifetime:

1 John 2:16 16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life— is not from the Father but from the world” (Berean Study Bible).

These are the only three categories of sinful temptations; all sin falls into one of these. All sin is common to all men, nothing new or unique just for you or me. There is nothing new under the sun, not even sin. But we are promised that God will NOT allow us to be tempted beyond that which we can bear. This is a part of His faithfulness; God does not set us up to fail.

  • God will provide a way out

Sometimes the best way to avoid sin is to run. Remember Joseph and Potiphar’s wife; Joseph ran and left his cloak behind. Run, run, and keep running as far as possible. Often, we need to change the people we hang around with.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:33, Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good character'” (Berean Study Bible).

One of the hardest things to have to do as a person, and especially as a Christian, is to leave the friends that you are familiar with so as to lessen the power and frequency of temptation. But this may be yours or my way out; this may be yours or my help from Jesus. Some of the ways out are practical: don’t steal, go to work; don’t commit sexual sins, get married, and on we can go. These are practical ways out that we can see and take steps to do.

Not all of God’s ways are miraculous and other-world fixes; some are simple and practically executable and for our benefit. We must also remember that making the right choice may also come at a cost. Joseph still went to prison, even though he did not sin against God. Daniel went to the den of lions, and the three Hebrew boys still went into the fiery furnace. Choosing not to sin is not about earthly rewards; it is about honoring God’s faithfulness to us, even when and if it costs us.

  • God will help you stand

When we have to endure the fight that comes between the flesh and the Holy Spirit in us, God will help us to stand and make the right choices. But if and when we fail, He is just as faithful to forgive, and He still loves us. Standing up is like a muscle, and the more often you use it and exercise it, the stronger it will become. Just don’t quit, don’t give up, and know that when we fail, Jesus is still our Friend, and He still loves us. Grow in this grace, my dear brothers and sisters; Jesus is there to help, and God our Father is faithful.

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

How to Connect with Us

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MississaugaMissionaryBaptistChurch
Online: https://www.mississaugamissionarybaptistchurch.com/ (under construction)
Email: missionarybaptistchurch76@yahoo.ca