Lesson 11: "He Became the Author of Eternal Salvation. . ." (Hebrews 5:9)
The Book of Hebrews. Welcome to lesson # 11. We would like to cover 13 verses in this lesson. The text for this lesson will begin in Heb. 4:14 (and go down through ch. 5, v.10). Please get your markers set. Let's read! Are you ready? We'll read the entire 13 verses. Starting in Heb. 4:14... here we go.
"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; called of God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek."
O.K. don't forget who this was addressed to, the Christians in and around Jerusalem in the AD 60's. Call to mind just a moment, the Israelites who crossed the Jordan River under the leadership of Joshua and went into the promised land more than 1400 years before (going back to the beginning of the book of Joshua). They possessed the land, land they had not cleared and vineyards they had not planted. After the time of Joshua they had no leader. In times of a national crisis, God would raise them up a judge. This happened several times in the book of Judges. However, they were not happy with that system. They wanted a king like the nations around them. In the AD 60's, Jesus had gone back to heaven some 30 years before. Some apostles were still living and the church in Jerusalem had elders (mentioned first in Acts 15:2). I sense the Christians in and around Jerusalem may have been a little like their ancestors hundreds of years before, they may have desired a more formal and more tangible leader, like the people around them. The Jews, of course, looked to their high priest, the chairman of the sanhedrin, who had evolved into a little tribal king. I'm reading between the lines, of course; but, it would appear the old system began to appeal to some Christians for this reason. Perhaps some could see a national crisis looming on the horizon. I speak of the rumors that precipitated into the war of AD 70. The Zealots, the national patriots of the Jews, were preaching hatred toward Rome. The eldership of the church was instituted by the apostles and these were the spiritual leaders authorized by the Holy Spirit. However, desiring a more tangible leader, and by the influence of those around them, some Christians may have began to indulge in a kind of high-priest-type-thinking.
Thus, I perceive the HEBREWS writer (here) may have been dealing with this mentality (possibly) trying to fortify their needs. Thus, he appeals to the word of God and shows God's word is .* more powerful than even a sword. More powerful than even the sharpest of swords, quick, piercing and a discerner of even the thoughts and intents of the heart. The high priest in Jerusalem and them around him had crucified Jesus, stoned Stephen and influenced Herod to kill James with the sword (Acts ch. 12). But, we do have a High Priest. The need they were seeking IS FULFILLED in t Jesus the Christ, our King, you see. This they were overlooking. He has gone back to heaven (v.14) >. and is sitting on the highest throne in the universe, on the right hand of God. And Jesus, our metaphorical High Priest, is a caring High Priest, concerned about us and He is touched with the feelings of our infirmities (v.15), i.e. our problems, our afflictions, ailments, weaknesses and inadequacies. Jesus understands; because, He "was in all points tempted like as we are" (v.15) and beyond that, He did not sin. The apostle Peter affirms in I-Pet. 2:22, "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." Now, that is in contrast to Aaron, and all the high priests that followed Aaron and THAT is in contrast to all men, including you and me. Jesus did not sin.
On one occasion in my career as a public school teacher, the teacher's union said strike! And those hirelings around me went at it. About three of us teachers in the High School where I was refused to join them in breaking the state law. I was forced to cross the picket-line daily for a about a month. On one occasion, one of the aggressive brutes in that force, with his little picket • sign in hand came up to me and said, "Why are you doing this?" He knew why; because, I had stated my position very clearly in the local newspaper. Before I could even begin to answer; he said: "Jesus broke the law!" I asked him: do you have a reference on that? That was the only word I spoke. He looked at me and then he looked at the Methodist preacher-school teacher standing beside him with his little picket sign in hand. The preacher said nothing, absolutely nothing. As I moved on, they grumblingly put their little picket signs back up high into the air. The next day, the principal of the high school, who evidently had been watching, asked me: what did those teachers say to you yesterday evening? I told him exactly what they said, that one of them had said, "Jesus broke the law." This principal, who himself claimed to be a Methodist lay-speaker, whatever that is; said: "Well, you know Jesus did gather grain on the sabbath day and didn't keep the law of the Jews." Now, why do I tell you this story? My friend, get it embedded deep into your craw, here and now. Jesus did not break the law. Jesus did no sin. No guile was found in his mouth. I tell you this story; because, this is the concept of most people (including those denominational leaders around us): THAT Jesus was just another man who went about some political and society changing project like the unions and the so-called lobbyist of our day. Nothing, could ever be farther from the facts. Jesus did pick grain as he walked through the grain fields in Palestine on the sabbath day, and Jesus ate with unwashed hands (Matt. 15:1-2-3); but, Jesus did not break the law. What is said there has to do with Jewish tradition. It had nothing to do with God's law or the law of the Roman state. What is said there had to do with religious traditions, just like our denominational friends enact the doctrines they like at their general conferences every year and revise their little creedbooks accordingly. These are doctrines and commandments of men...mere men...who have taken in hand to legislate for God, they think. They will tell you, it is their doctrine. In that very place (Matt. 15:9), Jesus said: "in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines [did you get that?] the commandments of men." That had nothing to do with breaking the law. To make such a statement, simply shows ignorance of the scriptures. Jesus did no sin. If Jesus had broken the law, Jesus would have sinned; because, John the apostle defined sins as a transgression of the law. That's what sin is (I-John 3:4). Jesus did not break the law. Not even once! Peter said, "no guile was found in his mouth." Peter is talking about the whole lifetime of Jesus, all 33 years. Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus was God in the flesh (John 1:14). Jesus is our example. Jesus to us is like a High Priest. Jesus was tempted, yes. Jesus was tempted in all points as we are (end v.15). Jesus knew what it was like to go without food. He did it for 40 day (Matt. 4:1-10). I've never gone 40 hours. Jesus knew what it was like to live in poverty in that little hillside town of Nazareth. Jesus knew what it .was like to be rejected of his very own people. Jesus knew what it was like to go through a mock trial and suffer capital punishment, when he was not guilty. Jesus knew what it was like to suffer the most cruel death possible. Jesus was tempted in all points (and ALL POINTS means ALL points) "like as we are." The HEBREWS writer says and the apostle Peter says, Jesus did no sin...not even one sin.
Then, the HEBREWS writer says: "Let us therefore." What does that mean? "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace..." Why? "That we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need" (end of v.16). Now, in the O.T. the high priest's office was hereditary, coming from O the tribe of Levi. But, a high priest was expected to have certain qualifications. They were to offer gifts and sacrifices (ch. 5, v.1). The high priest went into the holy of holies, i.e. into the little room of the tabernacle or temple in which the ark of the covenant was placed once each year. The high priest had to be appropriately dressed (Ex. ch. 28) and appropriately washed. In the presence of God, he sprinkled blood, as he was instructed to do for HIS sins and for the sins of the people...once each year (that's Lev. ch. 16 and as explained here in v.2). A high priest was to have compassion on the ignorant and "on them out of the way." Now, not just any one could do this, only the high priest called according to the hereditary pattern God instituted at Sinai. In a similar way Christ came through the lineage foretold and prophesied (in the O.T.), through the tribe of Judah and of the seed of David and as our writer quotes from David (end of v.5), "Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee" (a quote from Psalm 2:7). Now, Christ did not come of the tribe of Levi, i.e. Christ was not a high priest according to the hereditary pattern (given for priests in the O.T.). Thus, Jesus was not a literal high priest; but, in a figurative sense, Jesus IS our High Priest in the Christian system, not according to the O.T. pattern. Thus, David had expressed this thought in a prophetic way (back in Psalms 110:4), that Christ would be a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek...i.e. after a new figure, not according to the O.T. pattern of high priests, in other words; but, Christ would be after a new order. Don't try to put new wine into old bottles, remember? In Christ we have a complete new order. However, in figurative terms, i.e. shadow-type thinking, the writers, the inspired writers, thus explain these things to us. Now, that big word Melchizedek, used by David and used by the HEBREWS writer here (and the term will come up again more than once): was the name of a priest that blessed Abraham (back in Genesis 14:18). This Melchizedek was said to be the king of Salem, i.e. the same place which ultimately became Jerusalem. The very place to which this letter was written. Abraham gave this priest-king one tenth of all the spoils of one of the wars back there when Lot was abducted, i.e. Abraham paid tithes, it is said. That's in Gen. ch. 14, if you want to read that; but, you won't really learn much about this guy, named Melchizedek. He is only mentioned there AND in David (i.e. Psalm 110). The name occurs only twice (in the O.T.). However, since David used the term to describe this new order idea in Christ; the HEBREWS writer latches onto that term with which the Jews in and around Jerusalem were evidently familiar, of course, and which had already been used in this figurative sense by David, their hero. Christ, who had the appropriate qualifications (v.7-8-9), who "became the author of eternal salvation unto them that obey him" (end of v.9) is said to be a high priest for ever (v.6) "after the order of Melchizedek" (v.10).
O.K., now, don't let all this big terminology confuse you. It is simply the HEBREWS writer's way of saying Christ fulfilled their imagined need for a high priest. Christ was not a literal high priest under the O.T. order, i.e. under the Mosaic system; however, Christ serves in the same capacity in the Christian system that the high priests did under the old Mosaic system. The high priests back there (they had only one high priest at any one time); but, he stood between the people and God. Just as Jesus stands between Christians and God today, or as Paul said to Timothy, "there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I-Tim. 2:5). All that is said here (i.e. Heb. 4:14 down through 5:10, the text in this lesson), is simply said in furtherance of what has already been said, i.e. God hath spoken. In these last days, or in other words in the Christian age, God has spoken to us through his Son, Christ Jesus. Jesus was not just another of the old prophets. Jesus, the Christ, was/is superior to angels. Christ was God in the flesh. Christ brought a completely new system. Christ did not simply amend the Law of Moses as some try to say. Christ is the Captain of our salvation (Heb. 2:10). Christ was the Apostle of God (Heb. 3:1), i.e. Christ was the Appointed One. Christ was/is the High Priest of our profession. Christ is a High Priest for ever (Heb. 5:6), he is not just a man that lasts one generation and then is replaced by someone in the next generation. Jesus, the Christ, is the Author of eternal salvation (5:9). An author is one who creates and composes, i.e. one who begins something new. Thus, heaven, i.e. eternal salvation comes through Jesus, the Christ. You cannot earn this heavenly rest, called eternal salvation; Christ gives it to us (Eph. 2:8). He gives it "unto all them that obey him." Do you see that (at the end of v.9, here in Heb. ch.5)? This is consistent with what is said on the other side of the coin, back in II-Thess. 1:7, "The Lord Jesus shall... take vengeance on them that... obey NOT the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." The gospel can be obeyed, according to that verse. The gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Do you remember I-Cor. 15:1-2-3? In baptism, we die to sin (Rom. 6:11), We are "baptized unto his death" (Rom. 6:3). We are planted in baptism in the likeness of His burial (Rom. 6:4). And in baptism, we are raised from the water in the likeness of Christ's resurrection from the dead (Rom. 6:5). Thus, in baptism, we obey the gospel. This the Christians in and around Jerusalem, back in the AD 60's, had done. Their problem was similar to our problem too many times; we lose sight of our relationship to the Lord. We forget that Jesus is our High Priest. We do NOT "therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace...in time of need" (Heb. 4:16). To put it plainly, we go to sleep on the job, as Paul said in Eph. 5:14, "Awake thou that sleepiest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." If you want light, you must walk in the day, not in the night. So, have a good day.