Lecture 17: Hebrews - Part 1
Lesson 17: Hebrews - Part 1
The Superior Person of Christ
Hi, I’m Carl Laney and it’s my privilege to give you this introduction to the New Testament. You know the New Testament can be divided into five parts. We look first at the Gospels which present the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. Then we go to the Book of Acts which teaches us the acts and the teachings of the Apostles. Then we move into Paul’s letters, Paul’s Epistles, and after that we come to the General Epistles and finally the Book of Revelation. The Book of Hebrews is the first of the General Epistles. These General Epistles include Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1,2,3 John and the Book of Jude. We are going to be focusing this morning on the Book of Hebrews, which is representative of these General Epistles.
Let’s have a word of prayer as we begin. Heavenly Father it is a great privilege to encounter Jesus in the pages of scripture. I pray that as we study the Book of Hebrews that that might be the experience of these students that they might encounter Jesus in a new and special way as we study the person and work of Christ in the Book of Hebrews. It’s in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
I. FACTS ON HEBREWS
Do you like a mystery? Boy, I do. It’s really fascinating, I enjoy watching Masterpiece Theater. They’ve got some great mysteries on Masterpiece Theater. Well, the Book of Hebrews is a great mystery to us. We don’t know exactly who wrote it, exactly when it was written or who it was written to. So, it raises a lot of questions as we study this Book together but let’s get acquainted with the Book of Hebrew, as we examine the facts on the Book of Hebrews.
A. Author, Hebrews 2:3
As I indicated the author isn’t identified and many people have speculated that it might have been written by the Apostle Paul, but that’s doubtful in light of the statement in Chapter 2:3. That the author received the things that he wrote from those who taught them from an earlier tradition. We know that Paul received his message from Jesus personally. Other suggestions include Barnabas, Apollos, Clement of Rome, Luke, Silas, Philip, Priscilla, and John Mark. I think we can agree with Origen who confessed the author of the Book of Hebrews, God only knows. God knows and God alone. But the Book has been accepted as a Book with authority. Intrinsic apostolic kind of authority and that’s why it’s part of the Canon.
B. Readers, 13:24
Who are the readers? Well the ancient title, letter to the Hebrews, indicates the readers were Jewish people, Hebrew in background but the letter itself doesn’t mention the readers as being Jews or Gentiles. Internal evidence does suggest they had a Hebraic background in view of the many quotations from the Hebrew scriptures. So, they were Hebrew believers perhaps living in Rome.
C. Date of Writing, 12:4
As to the date of writing a date in the 60’s accords well with the available data. The Epistle may have been written before the Neronian Persecution began in July of AD64.
D. Historical Setting, 5:11-12, 10:25, 13:2-17, 12:2, 2:1, 10:1
Now as to the historical setting, although these folks had been Christians for some time the readers were making no spiritual progress. That was the concern of the writer. They fail to grow in the Lord and this was reflected in their conduct as believers. These Hebrew Christians were looking backward instead of forward. Backward to their Jewish ways instead of forward and focusing on Christ. In the face of the hardships of the Christian life they were in danger of drifting, drifting away from the substance, Christ, to the shadows of the Old Testament sacrificial system. Now the Old Testament sacrificial system was a great foundation and it was good background for what they knew to be true about Jesus. But they needed to focus on Jesus rather than drifting back into the Old Testament ways.
I think this illustration can kind of help you see what the problem was for these Hebrew readers. The cross of Christ is central, and they had experienced Jesus. They had encountered him. They had become saved, but instead of growing from infancy to maturity they were linking at the cross. They had failed to move on from the shadows of the Old Testament system to the true substance, the person of Christ. That’s what the writer of Hebrews wants to get these readers to do, to move on. To move on from the cross, which is so foundational to the full substance of Christ and the Christian life.
E. Purpose & Theme
The purpose of the Book is to first of all teach concerning the superiority of Jesus Christ. Secondly to warn of the danger of drifting into sin and disobedience. And third to exhort the readers to move on in their maturity, move on in maturity to Christ. I suggest that the theme of the Book is Christ’s person and work. It really focuses on Jesus as an incentive to maturity and service.
As we think about the Book as a whole, it can be divided into three main parts. First of all, the teaching about the person of Christ. In Chapters 1-7 we find a focus on Christ. Then in Chapters 8-10:18 he goes from teaching about the person of Christ to teaching about the work of Christ. This first major section from Chapter 1-10:18 is all about Jesus, his person, and his work.
Then in the second part of the Book the author focuses on exhortations, exhortations to maturity. And he focuses on the fact that we have a superior life that can be enjoyed by faith as we move on to maturity.
Then sprinkled throughout the Book of Hebrews are five warning passages. Five warning against the danger of drifting. We are going to look at those warning passages individually.
III. THE SUPERIOR PERSON OF CHRIST, 1-7
But let’s get started on the first section of the Book Chapters 1-7, which emphasizes that Christ is better. The word better occurs eight times in this section of the Book, Chapters 1-7. Christ is better, he’s better than prophets, he’s better than angels, he’s better than Moses and he’s better than Aaron. Christ is better. The danger these readers had was drifting back into what the Old Testament offered, and the writer of Hebrews is saying you need to move forward and focus on Christ rather than drifting back to these older persons and issues.
A. Superior to Prophets, 1:1-3
So, let’s see how Jesus is better than the prophets. In Chapter 1-3 we see that God revealed himself in past times through the prophets. And he did it in many portions and many ways. He did it in many portions, bit by bit. No one prophet had the full revelation of God and he did it in many ways. Some prophets received visions, others signs, others heard the voice of God speaking. So, God did it in different ways and in different portions back in the Old Testament era. But in these last days God has revealed himself in a final way through his son Jesus. What we have here, is a Son of God kind of revelation, not just through prophets bit by bit or in different ways. In these last days he has spoken to us in his Son. It’s a Son of God kind of revelation that we have and it’s superior to anything that the prophets offered.
These great truths emphasize that we have a revelation that is complete. You know we don’t need a book of Mormon to give us more revelation about God or his Son Jesus. We don’t need the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. We don’t need the Koran. We have all we need in the revelation of the New Testament as it presents the person of Christ. And that’s what the writer is trying to emphasize here. In order to do that, he gives us seven great truths about Jesus that helps us appreciate how God has given his full and final revelation in his Son Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at these verses as he goes on in verses 2 & 3. He says about Jesus now here’s what we need to know. Verse2, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things. Jesus is the heir of all creation. Not only that, Jesus is the creator, he is the one through whom God made the earth. God is the architect and designer, but Jesus is the creator, through whom he made the world. Going on in verse three. And He is the radiance of His glory. You want to see the glory of God, the reputation of God, look to Jesus. Jesus is the outshining of God’s glorious radiance. He is also the exact representation of his nature. Jesus represents God in a perfect way, the exact representation of God’s nature. He is also the sustainer of creation. He upholds all things by the word of his power. Jesus didn’t just create the world, but he continues to keep it going. He keeps the planets from bumping into each other. He’s sustains his creation; He is also the redeemer of mankind. When he had made purification for sins, that’s what he did on the cross, he’s the redeemer of mankind. Finally, he sat down at the right hand of Majesty on High. In Chapter 7:25 the author of Hebrews tells us what he’s doing at the right hand of Majesty on High, he’s interceding for us. He’s praying for you and for me.
Jesus is better. He’s better than anything the Old Testament prophets offered. The Old Testament revelation was good and important but what Jesus offers is better. So, the writer is encouraging the readers to focus their attention on Jesus.
B. Superior to Angels, 1:4-2:18
1. Better because of
He goes on in Chapter 1:4 to show how Jesus is better than angels. Now, angels were highly regarded by first century Jewish people. They were thought to be the mediators of the law. We’re not exactly sure how they did that, but we find in Acts 7:53 and in Galatians 3:19, angels are associating with mediating the law at Mt. Sinai. They are understood in the Book of Daniel to be administrators of the nations. So, angels were important and are. But the author here sets forth the superiority of Jesus to angels and he does so by quoting the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible. He has a series of quotations to show that Jesus is better than angels. The writer doesn’t want to disparage angels in any way, but he wants to show that Jesus is better, for a number of reasons. You can fill in the blanks as we look at these reasons based on the Hebrew scriptures. He’s better first of all, because of the name he was given. Notice verses 4 and 5, how much better than angels as he inherited a more excellent name than they. To which of the angels did he ever say, “You are my son.” Was an angel ever called God’s son? No. Psalm 2:7 Jesus is referred to as God’s son, “I will be a Father to Him and He shall be a son to me.” 1 Sam. 7:14. He’s better because of the name, the name Son that he is given.
He’s also better because of the worship that he receives, verses 6 & 7, “let all the angels of God worship him” and of the angels he says, “who makes his angels winds and his ministers a flame of fire.” Angels don’t receive worship in scripture, angels offer worship. But, Jesus the son, receives worship. No one is ever told to worship an angel.
He’s better also because of the sovereignty he enjoys, verses 8 & 9 he says, “Your throne, O God,” it’s a quotation from Psalm 45:6-7 and it’s referring to Jesus. It’s a Messianic Psalm, his throne is forever and ever.
Then the work that he accomplished designates him as greater than angels, verses 10-12, “You oh Lord in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth and the heavens are the works of your hands. They will perish but you remain, and they will all become like a garment and like a mantle you’ll roll them up.” The creation that God made through Jesus has a history that is limited, but Jesus is eternal. There is no way that he will come to an end. He’s greater than his work, he’s greater because of the work that he accomplished.
Finally, Jesus is greater because of the triumph that he received. In verse 13, “But to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Jesus received a great triumph in his victory on the cross. No angel ever had such a triumph as Jesus did through his death and resurrection. Jesus is better than prophets. Jesus is better than angels. The writer’s encouraging the readers to recognize that and to move on and focus on Jesus.
2. 1st warning passage, 2:1-4
But now in Chapter 2 we come to the first of five warning passages. These are troubling because they seem to be so severe, and one wonders, how can such severe warnings be given to believers. Do they teach that a believer’s salvation can be lost? How can such severe warnings be addressed to us as believers? Well, these are troubling, and many different interpretations of the warning passages have been offered. The answer to the question as to how do we understand the warning passages has to be derived from the context of the Book itself. We need to look at the Book itself to discover who is it written to. So, we go to Chapter 3:1, “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling,” sounds to me like he is addressing believers. In Chapter 3;12, “Take care, brethren,” he’s referring to believers as brethren. Then in verse 14, “For we have become partakers of Christ,” that pretty much sounds to me like they’re Christians, partakers of Christ. That wouldn’t be a description of unbelievers.
So, as we look at the context of the Book, it is pretty clear to me that the Book is written to believers rather than unbelievers. Exactly what do these believers need to learn from these warning passages? The writer warns of the danger of drifting, drifting back to the traditions of Judaism instead of moving on ahead in Christ. Now the traditions of Judaism laid a foundation for what is revealed in the New Testament. And we can look back at those and we can see how they point to Jesus. But we are not to focus on those traditions of Judaism we’re to focus on Jesus. And that was the problem that these readers were failing to do, they were failing to focus on Jesus. They were enamored by the cross, they were enamored by the sacrifices, they were enamored by all the shadows of the Old Testament period. And the writer says those were good, but you need to move on. Someone has said the condition of our souls does not stay static. Either we are developing our love for God or sliding in to the thought and actions of the unbelieving world that surrounds us. I think that’s the danger that these readers encountered. They were sliding into the thoughts and the actions of the unbelieving world.
A Sea Captain asked what were the biggest seas that he ever sailed? He said, “Well, you know I’ve sailed seas that had 90-foot waves and he said it’s really not a problem if you don’t lose your power. But if you lose power and the ship starts to drift and drifts parallel to those oncoming waves the ship can be easily capsized. But as long as you have power, and are moving directly in to those waves, you are pretty safe. It might be uncomfortable for the passengers, but you can ride out heavy seas, even 90-foot waves if you don’t drift.” Now that’s the problem with these readers they were drifting.
So, what the author is saying to these readers in this first warning passage is that they cannot be saved from sin’s power and sin’s influence. Drifting from grace back into Jewish law and ceremonies. So, he encourages them to press on, press on in their walk and relationship with Christ. What he says here is that revelation through Christ is superior to any revelation mediated by angels. Disobedience to the earlier revelation was duly punished and so disobedience to the Christian message, by believers, will not go unpunished or unchastened. God will chasten believers to get them back on track. That’s what the first warning passage is about. One warning passage down, five to go.
C. Superior to Moses, 3:1-4:13
1. The superior person, 1-4
Jesus is better. He’s better than prophets, he’s better than angels and he’s better than Moses. And in the next section Chapters 3:1-4:13 we see that Jesus is better than Moses. Now Moses was a great prophet and leader in Israel. It was Moses who led the people out of Egypt and brought them to the border of the Promised Land. But as important as Moses was in Israel’s history and tradition, Jesus is better. While careful to avoid depreciating Moses in any way the writer of Hebrews presents Jesus as superior in his person and position. Jesus is superior to Moses. Let’s see how he develops that in Chapter 3. In Chapter 3 he contrasts the old economy with the new economy. The law that was given at Mt. Sinai with the law that was given through Jesus and the New Covenant he said, “There was glory at Mt. Sinai,” boy the Lord came down on that mountain, there was clouds, there was thunder and lightning, but he says there was even more glory in the New Covenant through Jesus.
2. The superior position, 5-6
He points out in verses 5 & 6 that Moses was faithful in God’s house as a servant. He was a servant in God’s house, but Jesus was faithful over God’s house as a son. Who has the higher position? A servant or a son? Obviously, Jesus as son of God has the higher position. So, let’s focus on Jesus rather than on Moses and the traditions associated with Moses.
3. 2nd warning passage, 3:7-19, 3:12,19
We come in Chapter 3 verses 7-19 to the second warning passage. Here we learn that unbelief is a serious matter. The unbelief of the Israelites in the wilderness cost them the rest that they anticipated in entering the Promised Land. What the writer of Hebrews is trying to say to these Christian readers is that they shouldn’t linger in Judaism and miss out on the blessing of the fore rest that they have in Jesus Christ. Don’t miss out on the blessing like faithless Israel did. The Israelites failed to enter into Canaan, because of their unbelief, verse 19. So, we see they were not able to enter because of unbelief. The writer is saying to his readers, that his readers are going to miss out on similar blessings if they don’t continue steadfast in the faith. Don’t miss out on the blessings that unbelieving Israel did. Can a believer lack faith in God and lack trust? Yes. We believe that Jesus died for our sins, we embrace him by faith but even a believer can act in unbelief and I think that’s the problem here. These believers were acting in unbelief. Instead of resting in the finished work of Jesus and his redemptive work on the cross, they were going back to the traditions of Judaism. Going back and trying to start things over again as it were. He is emphasizing here that Christ is better. Christ is better than prophets. Christ is better than angels. Christ is better than Moses.
D. Superior to Aaron, 4:14-7:28
1. The believer's great High Priest, 4:14-16
Now we come to the next section of the Book, Chapter 4:14 through the end of Chapter 7. Christ is better than Aaron. In Judaism the office of High priest was the highest religious office, and the priesthood was first held by Moses’ brother, Aaron. In this section we see that the writer of Hebrews wants to show his readers that Christianity has a High priest too. But the High priest of Christianity is in every way superior to the High priest of Judaism. In Chapter 4:14 he begins to show that we have a sympathetic High priest. We have a High priest who has been tempted even as we are tempted but he hasn’t sinned. He hasn’t missed the mark, 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” We have a sinless Savior. He’s gone through every degree of temptation, but he is sinless. And the High priest had to offer a sacrifice for his sins before entering into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. We have a high priest in Jesus who didn’t have any sins that he had to offer a sacrifice for when he gave his sacrifice on the cross.
2. The qualifications for High Priesthood, 5:1-10
In Chapter 5:1-10 we see the qualifications for high priest. Now could just any Israelite become a high priest? Well, in Chapter 5 we’re reminded that there were certain requirements to become the high priest of Israel. You couldn’t just say, “Well, I’d like to be the high priest today.” No, you had to be qualified. The high priest had to be taken from among his people and had to be appointed by God. Not just any Israelite could become high priests you had to be appointed by God. This was true of Aaron, he was taken from among his people, the Levites, and he was appointed by God. This is also true of Christ he is appointed by God, verses 5 and 6 and he is taken from among his own people, as taken from mankind. So, Jesus is the one who was taken, from mankind, and appointed by God.
3. 3rd Warning Passage, 5:11-6:20
We come now to the third warning passage and this warning passage is something of a digression from the focus on the priesthood of Jesus, his priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek. The writer has more to say about the priesthood of Jesus, but he can’t proceed he says because of the spiritual dullness of his readers. Notice what he says in 5:11, “concerning him,” that is concerning Jesus, “we have much more to say but it’s hard to explain since you’ve become dull of hearing.” He needs address this issue of their spiritual dullness before he can come back to the discussion of Jesus as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
Once again as we look at this warning passage we have to ask to whom are these warning given. The answer has to be found from the text. Are these readers people who are saved who lose their salvation? I don’t believe that’s a consistent view with scripture. I don’t believe that scripture supports the idea that a true believer can lose his or her salvation. We find numerous passages that indicate that salvation is a divine work and divine works cannot be undone even through human failure or sin. Others suggest these are professed believers who were never saved. But the text would indicate that they are in deed saved. Others suggest they are saved people who backslide from grace into Judaism and legalism and that seems to be more consistent in terms of the understanding of the letter from it’s context. But who are these saved people?
a. Who are these people? 3:1. 12, 14, 6:4-5
I remind you in 3:1 he calls them holy brethren partakers of the heavenly calling. In verse 12 he calls them brethren and then in 3:14 he refers to them as partakers of Christ. Again, the internal indicators of the Book indicate they are believers. But how about this warning? Some have said well this is a different kind of a warning passage, this is a warning that relates to unbelievers. But let’s look at the text, what does he say about these people? Well, he indicates that they are those who have been enlightened. He says in 4, “In the case of those who have once been enlightened.” Enlightened by Jesus and have tasted the heavenly gift, they’ve tasted. Not just tasted and spit it out, they have experienced something about Jesus. They’ve been made partakers of the Holy Spirit. Can you be an unsaved person and have the Holy Spirit? Be a partaker of the Holy Spirit? They’ve tasted the good word of God and the power of the age to come. They’ve experienced the scripture, the truth of the scripture and the miracles. It seems that these people are saved people who are in danger of losing their bearings and focusing on the Old Testament themes and promise rather than the New Testament fulfillment in the person of Christ. When we come to a passage like this it is important to follow our principles of interpretation and our principles of interpretation say that we need to look to the context to identify who’s being addressed. And if we don’t do that carefully we might just look at this warning passage and just come up with our own understanding rather than the intended understanding that was given by the original author. When you get confused about how to study a text you need to follow principles of interpretation that are well established, hermeneutics. It’s like a person who is flying an airplane at night.
My dad was a pilot during WWII and according to what he and other pilots have said, when you fly at night you have to fly by your instruments because it’s easy to confuse the sea with the sky. And many a pilot has failed to follow their instruments and they’ve flown their airplane right into the sea at night. So, we need to follow our instruments and in this particular case our instruments are our principle of hermeneutics. The context of the Book, the context of this passage all indicates that these people are believers. These people are in danger of backsliding from grace into legalism. They are retreating to the cross and trying to get, as it were, saved again gong back to the Old Testament traditions. This illustration may help you understand what’s going on with these readers. They’ve experienced conversion, they’ve been to the cross, but instead of pressing to maturity, point B, they’ve stagnated at point C.
Now they want to go back to conversion and those things had once experienced as Messianic Jews with a hope of the coming of the Messiah, enamored by all the Old Testament prophecies and rituals. And the writer is saying you can’t go back to A you need to press on to B. You’re at a point of stagnation. So, you can’t go back to A and get saved again, but you can move on to maturity. In 1975 I was ordained by Scofield Memorial Church. If I wrote Scofield Memorial Church in Dallas, Texas and said I’d like to be ordained, they would look at their records and say, “Carl, you can’t be ordained again, you were already ordained once. You simply need to press on in your ministry and your calling.” That’s what the writer of Hebrews is tying to tell these Christians.
b. What is impossible? 6:6
In order to understand what is impossible in this text we have to look at verse 6. He talks about these people who have become believers and then “fallen away” it’s impossible to renew them again to repentance and then the key word here, it’s translated “since” in the NASB, I want to retranslate, “since they crucified to themselves the son of God and put him to open shame.” To renew again unto repentance is always possible. It’s always possible to repent of our sins, to repent of our backsliding and to press on. But what is impossible in this text is to renew again unto repentance by, key word here, by recrucifying Christ and bringing him open shame. That’s what is impossible. And the key here is to understand a grammatical construction which, is a modal participle here and the modal participle should be understood as being rendered by recrucifying Christ not since but by recrucifying Christ. Repentance is always possible. But it’s impossible to go back to the cross and recrucify Christ. Instead, simply press on to maturity.
E. The order of Christ's Priesthood, 7
Well, having given this warning he precedes now to continue his discussion on Christ’s priesthood. Why couldn’t Jesus participate in the priesthood of Aaron? Well, the answer is obvious. Jesus was a descendant of Judah. He was a member of the Tribe of Judah. He was not a Levite. Because he was not a Levite he couldn’t be a high priest according to the Order of Aaron. So, his priesthood has to be different. It has to be a different priesthood; it has to be a priesthood that is completely different.
So, we are introduced in this text to Melchizedek, a priest of the Most High God. Now there are only two Old Testament passages that mention Melchizedek, one is Gen. 14 and the other is Psalm 110. As we look at these passages about Melchizedek we discover three important things. First of all, there is no record of his ancestry, he just appears on the pages of scripture. No record of his parentage. Secondly, there’s no record of his death. Third, he is greater than Abraham and thus greater than Abraham’s decedent Levi. Now the writer of Hebrews takes those things which are revealed in scripture, or not revealed as it were, about Melchizedek and he makes an analogy. He makes an analogy we believe that Melchizedek did have parents and did die but the writer of Hebrews is using the fact that the Old Testament doesn’t mention his parentage and doesn’t mention his death to make an analogy, and who how Jesus fits the priesthood of Melchizedek. Jesus is a priest of the order of Melchizedek and as such we find that Melchizedek prefigures Jesus in at least three ways. He prefigures Jesus as a king and a priest. Melchizedek, the Zedek speaks of his priestly and righteous ministry. He’s a priest. He’s a king of righteousness. He’s a king of peace. And he’s one who abides forever. There’s no account in the scriptures of his death. So, in that way Jesus fits the pattern of the priesthood of Melchizedek. On that basis Jesus’ priesthood is not the priesthood of Levi, but the priesthood of Melchizedek.
Having concluded that Jesus is a priest of the Order of Melchizedek he shows that this priesthood is superior to that of the priesthood of Aaron. In Chapter 7 he expounds this theme that Jesus’ priesthood is of a higher order. He points this out in verses 6 & 7 but the one who’s genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises.” Remember in the Old Testament Gen. 14 Melchizedek blessed Abraham. This indicates that Melchizedek has a higher position than Abraham who is the ancestor of Levi. If Melchizedek blessed Abraham he has a higher position than Abraham, or Abraham’s decedent. Plus the fact that Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek, which indicates that Melchizedek has a higher position. So, Jesus’ priesthood of the Order of Melchizedek is a higher order than the priesthood of Aaron. It’s also a more efficacious priesthood as we discover in 7:19, “for the law made nothing perfect and on the other hand there is the bringing in of a better hope through which we draw near to God.” It’s more efficacious, it’s more effective than Aaron’s priesthood. The law made nothing perfect, made nobody perfect but Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross does provide the basis for our sanctification and ultimately our perfection.
It’s more firmly established. The priesthood of Jesus is more firmly established, it’s established by oath. There was no oath associated with the priesthood of Aaron but there is an oath from Psalm 110:1 that is associated with the priesthood of Melchizedek, “the Lord has sworn he will not change his mind, you are a priest forever.” There’s an oath attached to the priesthood of Melchizedek.
It’s also a priesthood of a longer duration as we see in verse 24, but Jesus on the other hand because he continues forever holds his priesthood permanently. Every time a high priest died he had to be replaced. So, Aaron dies and was replaced by his son, and his son died and was replaced by Aaron’s grandson. And on and on it went. There was a whole series of high priests in the Old Testament because each one of them died. Well, Jesus’ priesthood is of a longer duration because although he died on the cross for our sins, he was resurrected, and he lives forever. His priestly position never has to be changed and he never has to be replaced. What does he do in this priesthood? Well, he ever lives to intercede for believers, verse 25. That’s good new for us. It tells us what Jesus is doing now having been raised and taking his seat at the right hand of God. He is praying for us, he is making intercession for us.
Lastly, in verse 28 we discover that the priesthood of Melchizedek and the priesthood that Jesus has is exactly suited to the sinners need, “For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak,” that’s what the Old Testament system did, “but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.” Jesus is exactly suited for the sinners need because he is perfect. No high priest was ever perfect, but Jesus of the Priesthood of Melchizedek is the perfect high priest.
What is the point that the writer is making here? The point is that Jesus’ priesthood is superior. He is perfectly and forever qualified as our high priest. Jesus is better than prophets. Jesus is better than angels. Jesus is better than Moses. Jesus is better than Aaron. And on that basis the writer seeks to encourage the readers to move on in Christian maturity and not linger back in the Old Testament traditions and thought.