"THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS" The Superiority Of Christ's Priesthood (7:20-28) INTRODUCTION 1. In the first seven chapters of "The Epistle To The Hebrews", the main thought is the superiority of Christ... a. To the prophets - He 1:1-3 b. To angels - He 1:4-2:18 c. To Moses - He 3:1-5 d. To Aaron and his Levitical priesthood - He 5:1-10; 7:1-28 2. In showing the superiority of Jesus' priesthood, the author has done so step-by-step... a. Jesus is qualified to be a priest by virtue of His calling by God and His suffering - He 5:1-8 b. He has been called to be "a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek" - He 5:9-10 c. The priestly order of Melchizedek is shown to be superior by comparing Abraham and Melchizedek - He 7:1-10 d. That Christ has become such a priest has several implications - He 7:11-19 1) The Levitical priesthood could not make one perfect before God 2) The Law upon which the Levitical priesthood was based has been annulled 3) Christ now provides "a better hope, through which we draw near to God" 3. This brings us to He 7:20-28, in which we find a climatic comparison... a. Where Jesus is contrasted with those who served in the Levitical priesthood b. Where "The Superiority Of Christ's Priesthood" is clearly demonstrated [In this passage, we find at least four points illustrating Jesus' superiority, the first of which pertains to...] I. HIS DIVINE APPOINTMENT (20-22) A. LEVITICAL PRIESTS WERE APPOINTED BY A "COMMAND"... 1. Beginning with Aaron, he and his descendants served in the Levitical priesthood 2. It was a divine command that so appointed them - Exo 28:1-4 3. While divinely commanded, it was not with an oath A. JESUS WAS MADE A PRIEST WITH AN "OATH"... 1. Again, the reference is to Ps 110:4, in which God swore an oath concerning the coming Messiah and His priesthood 2. We saw earlier that a promise joined with an oath really confirms the "immutability" (unchangeableness) of God's counsel - cf. He 6:17 2. Appointed by an oath and not just a command, Jesus has become "a surety of a better covenant"... a. "surety" means "guarantor" (NEB) b. Appointed by such an oath from God, Jesus guarantees the new covenant, that it is "better" (there is that key word again!) [The superiority of Christ's priesthood is also illustrated by...] II. HIS ETERNAL INTERCESSION (23-25) A. LEVITICAL PRIESTS WERE LIMITED IN SERVICE BY "DEATH"... 1. When one died, another took his place 2. Of necessity there had to be "many priests" B. JESUS "EVER LIVES" TO MAKE INTERCESSION FOR US... 1. That is because "He continues forever" 2. As seen earlier, Jesus came "according to the power of an endless life" - He 7:16 3. He therefore "has an unchangeable priesthood" a. He is "able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him" 1) He can do what the law could not do: make one "perfect" - cf. He 7:19 2) That is, make one "holy, and blameless" - cf. Col 1:21-22 b. And "He ever lives to make intercession for them" 1) I have always been impressed by this phrase 2) For it suggests what Jesus is doing for us now, and is most willing to do! [As we continue in our text, we see yet another contrast with Levitical priests...] III. HIS PERFECT CHARACTER (26-27) A. LEVITICAL PRIESTS WERE "SINNERS"... 1. Some more so than others 2. Even the best of them had to "offer up sacrifices"... a. On a daily basis b. For his own sins before offering sacrifices others B. JESUS IS "SEPARATE FROM SINNERS"... 1. We see our High Priest described in regards to... a. His holy character: "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" b. His preeminent position: "higher than the heavens" -- Thus He does not need to offer sacrifices for Himself 2. This makes Him a High Priest "fitting" (becoming, seemly) for us [Add to His perfect character another element that shows His superior priesthood...] IV. HIS PERMANENT SACRIFICE (27) A. THE LEVITICAL PRIESTS SACRIFICED "DAILY"... 1. Every day they offered sacrifices for their own sins and for those of the people 2. That they had to be continually offered implies a fundamental weakness in the efficacy of the sacrifices themselves 3. Later we learn that the problem was the inability of animal sacrifices to make one perfect and to cleanse the conscience of sins - He 10:1-4; cf. 9:9 B. JESUS OFFERED HIMSELF "ONCE FOR ALL"... 1. This implies the efficacy of His sacrifice 2. The superiority of Jesus' sacrifice will be explained further, later on- cf. He 9:11-15; 10:11-14 CONCLUSION 1. In verse 28, we find a summary statement that contrasts the two priesthoods... a. The "law", upon which the Levitical priesthood derives its authority, appoints men who "have weaknesses"; for example: 1) They are sinners themselves, and death terminates their service 2) Their sacrifices cannot truly remove sin, so had to be repeated daily and yearly b. The "oath", given after the law and the basis for Christ's priesthood, appoints the Son "who has been perfected forever"; for example: 1) His humanity and the obedience learned through suffering makes Him most "fitting" to be our High Priest - cf. He 2:17-18; 4:14-16; 5:8-9 2) His sinlessness makes the sacrifice of Himself the perfect and all-sufficient sacrifice, given once for all! - cf. He 10: 12-14 2. In chapters 9 and 10, the focus of this epistle will center on the superiority of Christ's sacrifice; but for now, our attention has been on those things that illustrate what our great High Priest: a. His appointment by an oath from God, not just a command b. His eternal intercession, not limited by death c. His perfect character, untainted by sin d. His permanent sacrifice, offered once for all when He offered Himself Don't you desire to have such a High Priest interceding in your behalf? Then as Christians... "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - He 4:16 Let us never forget that "He ever lives to make intercession" for those who come to God through Him!