One of our pastors said in response to Hebrews 5:1-10: "There is SO MUCH there!"
So, in light of this, I (Darin) just decided to do some devotional reflection as we prepare our hearts to hear the Word on Sunday.
1. God not only uses broken people, he makes people broken that he might use them (5:1a “chosen among men”).
Sure, one high priest was to represent the people before God in the Old Testament times to perform priestly duties. Yet, still, God uses the brokenness of this fallen world to draw, redeem and restore broken people. Perhaps this is why Adrian Rogers said: “Men throw broken things away, but God never uses anything until he first breaks it. You’ll never show me anybody who has been or will be mightily used of God who has not been broken. There is no blessedness without brokenness.”
2. Never forget – we are his ambassadors (5:1b - “to act on behalf of God”)
Again, true, the Old Testament high priestly functions are gone and now fulfilled fully in Christ.
But may we remember what Paul wrote in Second Corinthians 5:20, “As Christ's ambassadors, though God were making an appeal through us, we must beg men, on Christ's behalf, to be reconciled to God.”
Why is it so hard for us to be ambassadors for Christ the King? Because we'd rather live as mini-kings
God is unwilling for you to just be adopted into his kingdom of grace. All his children are called to be ambassadors for it as well. The Church universal is called not to legislate Utopia but to preach the eternal kingdom of heaven and live as its citizens and ambassadors. You and I are either ambassadors of a glorious Savior, or we're parading and promoting our own glory in the eyes of others.
3. Our lives should be a living sacrifice for God’s glory and kingdom (5:1c) - “to offer gifts and sacrifices”)
The Old Testament priest offered, per God’s commands to Moses, those gifts and sacrifices prescribed in the Law. To substitute something in its place was to mean certain death.
What about us? What can we offer to God as we serve him?
Robert Yarbrough has a great reminder for us:
“What is called for today is a growing core of Christians not who have martyr complexes but whose daily lives are lived in such winsome, habitual, and cheerful self-sacrifice that they can weather even adverse circumstances with God-glorifying wisdom and grace.”
4. How we treat others is a sign of how we truly love Christ (5:2)
You will treat the weaknesses and failures of others with grace when you humbly admit that you're more like them than unlike them. "He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty" (Job 6:14). How we treat others is revealing.
Bottom-line: “He told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt” (Luke 18:9). We might champion the doctrine of justification by faith alone, but what we *really* believe shows up in how we treat other sinners.
As you serve God, if you only treat others with love and respect when you think they’ve earned or deserved it, you haven’t yet let the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ shape and direct your relationships.
5. We desire that others be clean before the Lord, just as we are in Christ (5:3).
"You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins" (Leviticus 16:30).
Is there anything greater than to be clean again, clean even in the eyes of God? Astounding! To be clean again, and without denial or evasion!
We can’t save anyone. We can’t offer a sacrifice for anyone to be forgiven of their sins. Only Christ!
But – there is an evangelistic element here (very similar to Job – see Job 1:5-6). “Then who can be saved?” Jesus said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:26).
Are we willing to risk being misunderstood and maligned in order that the truth of the gospel might be told and men might be saved? Do we really want people to turn from their sins and be saved?
6. All who serve God do by his grace, strength, and Spirit alone (5:4).
An unimaginably horrible death sentence: to serve the Lord successfully by my own giftedness and ability, without the power of the Holy Spirit. Lord, deliver me from not needing you or experiencing you!
Certainly, there's varieties of gifts but the primary work of the Spirit is the exaltation of Christ. If our gift doesn't serve that work, it's garbage.
"This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zachariah 4:6)
This is for every Christian who bears the burden of longing to see the house of the Lord built for the glory of Christ. We may be called by God to serve here or there, but it is all by his grace, strength, and Spirit that we do these things—and for his glory!
7. Jesus came to serve and not be served (5:5).
We do not understand Jesus if we think he’s simply a good teacher, a good example, and a good man. Jesus’ singular purpose and mission in life was to die for sinners.
The lowly conditions of Jesus’ birth were a portrait of what his life would be like. He came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve" (Mk 10:45). First priority today: Jesus serving you. Then serve him.
8. Jesus’ qualifications and work as our Great High Priest are never-ending (5:6).
Even though the whole world seems to have changed, all of the most important realities in the universe have not changed. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever. God and his purposes and his will have not changed, he is forever a rock.
We’re saved by the grace of God alone because of the substitutionary work of Christ alone through faith alone uniting us to Christ—forever.
“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands” (Psalm 138:8).
9. The most important message in the world is that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures (5:7).
God did not create the world without reckoning how sin and death fit into his purposes. Christ crucified, risen, and reigning was the plan from eternity--the perfect price and portrayal of grace. (Revelation 13:8; 2 Timothy 1:9).
The need of the hour is for bold, biblical preaching that unashamedly proclaims Christ crucified in the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s why the offering of a better life now or eternal bliss later will draw even the most carnal men to the church. We must preach Christ crucified!
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures...” - 1 Corinthians 15:3
“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” - 1 Corinthians 2:2
10. Jesus is the only Son of God (5:8a).
Jesus believed that we cannot honor God without honoring Jesus as the only Son of God (John 5:22-23).
Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah of history, the Bread of life, the Light of the world, the door of the sheep, the Savior of sinners, the Head of the church, and the Lord of all.
Jesus Christ is the only WAY to God, the greatest TRUTH from God, and the very LIFE of God. Jesus is truly God, the Son of God!
Jesus was born not just to deliver what we all need, but because as Son of God, Son of Man, Savior he is exactly what we need, for now and for what is to come. What a God!
11. Even the perfect Savior isn’t exempt from suffering (5:8b).
Grace required Jesus to suffer for our salvation and grace will lead us through suffering for our transformation. Jesus was willing to suffer and die because he knew that he alone was able to do for us what we would never be able to do for ourselves.
Jesus Christ promises you two things: an eternal salvation in which to hope and a cross on which to die. So nothing I suffer will come close to Jesus' suffering for me. Woe to me for grumbling.
But remember: Christians following Jesus don't just suffer for him; we suffer with him (Romans 8:17). How that dignifies our sufferings! It is a privilege to believe in Jesus, and it is a privilege to suffer for Jesus (Phil 1:29). So there goes all self-pity.
12. You are called to perfectly obey, but don't be discouraged, Jesus perfectly obeyed on your behalf because God knew you wouldn't (5:9b).
It’s so good that our acceptance with God is not tied to our track record, but the rather to the perfect substitutionary track record of Jesus. Rest for your heart is not found in the faithfulness of your obedience, but in the perfect righteousness of Jesus.
Not that he moved from disobedience to obedience, but from untested innocence to obedience through suffering. Celebrate your freedom today from the burden of the law. What the law could not do for you, Jesus did for you by his perfect obedience and acceptable sacrifice!
13. If my salvation depended on me, I would be forever damned (5:9).
Let's be soberly realistic about our capacities to lose clarity about the gospel (Galatians 3:1). We deeply desire to save ourselves. The gospel is highly offensive, then, because it reveals my desperate need of God's grace. I can't save myself.
Simply put: we need a Savior because we are sinners and we cannot save ourselves. We either believe that Jesus is a Savior who saves us or an assistant who helps us save ourselves. God's grace doesn't help us save ourselves. Dead men don't need help, we need resurrection.
The most glorious blow our ego we will ever receive is to realize we cannot save ourselves. God's grace alone saves. What we cannot do to save ourselves, God did for us in Christ. Salvation is not by human achievement, but by divine accomplishment.
Thank the Lord!