NT Connect: Hebrews 5:1-10
Weekly Reading: Leviticus 8-10, 21-22
Christ Our Passover Lamb
Our readings in the Old Testament this week have been spread throughout the book of Leviticus in order to concentrate on the priesthood. Priests were the mediators – the go-betweens – for God and his people. They were set apart as representatives of their people before God who is holy. The stark contrast between the Lord’s holiness and human sinfulness comes to the fore in all these consecrations and regulations. Consider what happened when Nadab and Abihu failed to heed God’s law (Leviticus 10). The punishment was swift and severe.
Hebrews 5 tells us that Jesus is our great high priest, but unlike the Old Testament priests he was holy. He did not sin, and he so he did not need to offer sacrifices for himself (Hebrews 5:2-3). His holiness is just one of the many ways that Jesus is a greater priest, and it is worth taking the time to read Hebrews 4:14-10:18 to consider the full comparison made in this book. Christ’s work as a holy priest offering himself as a sinless sacrifice stands at the center of this work. While he was sinless, he paid the penalty for sin.
We easily fall into the trap of thinking that Jesus’ obedience and holiness were effortless, but such a life is far from the one recorded in the pages of Scripture. Consider what the author of Hebrews tells us, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence” (5:7). Jesus prayed with loud cries and with tears to God. These are not the prayers of one who found obedience easy. In fact, the next verse continues, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (5:8). Christ himself had to learn obedience. He learned to obey, and he did so through what he suffered.
Jesus Christ’s struggle for his own holiness is good news for us because “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus knows what it is to struggle to obey – even what it is to cry out to God for strength to obey. We can, as the author of Hebrews tells us, “With confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (4:16). Jesus is a merciful and gracious high priest who knows our weakness and desires and is able to help us.