Sabbath School Lesson for January 29-February 4, 2022

Overview of Lesson 6

Continuing our study with a look at Hebrews, chapters 5-7, we examine some of the characteristics of Jesus as our High Priest. We look at these questions:

  • What were the qualifications for a high priest? (Sunday)
  • What does “according to the order of Melchizedek” mean? (Monday)
  • How does Jesus’ priestly ministry differ from the Levitical priesthood? (Tuesday)
  • How does Christ’s eternal nature enhance His ability to be our High Priest? (Wednesday)
  • Why was it important for Jesus to be sinless, yet fully human? (Thursday)

Our separation from God is understandable when we realize that sin cannot exist in the presence of God. But since God is so loving and merciful, He has found a way to break through the cloud of misunderstanding that has grown out of our sinful behaviors. Through Jesus we are able to see God in the most favorable way–not as demanding and angry as Satan has portrayed Him.

By becoming our High Priest, Christ bridges the gap between our erring ways and the Creator’s holiness and perfection. Through Him, there is hope in mending the relationship that was torn apart with Adam and Eve’s unfaithful act in the Garden of Eden.

Memory Text: “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens.” Hebrews 7:26 NKJV

We can see from this description of Jesus’ sinlessness that He totally qualifies to represent us in the courts of heaven. Becoming a human being, even one without the natural tendency to sin, was in itself an act of extreme humility and love. His submission to the Father’s will gives us a perfect example of what it takes for us to become one with the Father. Humility and obedience are possible, because of the work of this divine High Priest.

Sunday: A Priest on Behalf of Human Beings

The first four verses of Hebrews 5 remind us what it meant to be a high priest in God’s earthly sanctuary. The high priest was someone who was appointed by God from among the people. Someone who had weaknesses himself and could therefore sympathize with those he served. When he offered sacrifices for sin, he must include his own sin. What an honor it was to minister in this capacity for the people and for God.

We learn in the next few verses of this chapter that Jesus was a somewhat different kind of High Priest. He was appointed by God, but He wasn’t from among the people. He was God’s own Son. In addition, He was sinless, without sin. So He didn’t need to offer sacrifices for His own sin, as the earthly priests were required to do.

Verses 7 and 8 reveal some interesting statements about Christ’s priestly ministry:

  • When it says, God was able to save Him from death, it obviously means the second death, the one experienced at the lake of fire after the millennium, as punishment of the wicked.
  • It says He learned obedience through the things He suffered. His pain and suffering showed Him directly the consequences of not obeying.
  • The things He endured on earth perfected Him, making Him the perfect author of our salvation (v. 9).

Bible Verses to Explore:

Hebrews 5:1-4

  • What caused the high priest to have compassion for others?
  • Why was it important that he be called and appointed by God?

Hebrews 5:5-9

  • What made Christ a different kind of high priest?
  • How does suffering teach us obedience?
  • What else can it teach us?

Monday: According to the Order of Melchizedek

Chapter 5 mentioned Jesus being our High Priest, “according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:6, 10). And Hebrews 7:1-3 reveals who this priestly king of Salem was. Genesis 14:18-20 contains the story of Melchizedek as someone to whom Abram paid tithe after he rescued Lot from captivity. Melchizedek was both the king of Salem and a priest of God.

Salem, the Hebrew word for “peace”, reminds us of Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), the Lord of peace (2 Thessalonians 3:16), the God of peace (Romans 16:20). The Levitical priests did not serve as kings, as did Melchizedek.

Hebrews 7:3 also mentioned an aspect of Melchizedek that was similar to Christ. Neither of them were of Levitical lineage. In other words, they were not of the tribe of Levi, as Aaron was.

Some have suggested that perhaps Melchizedek was an incarnation of Christ or a heavenly being of some kind. But the author of Hebrews repeatedly mentions only that Melchizedek’s priesthood resembled that of Christ, as other translations have expressed it. Therefore, it seems likely that he was just a type, or symbol, of Jesus’ priestly ministry, which was a combination of king and priest, without ties to the tribe of Levi.

Bible Verses to Explore:

Genesis 14:18-20

  • After bringing Abram bread and wine, as king of Salem, what did Melchizedek also do as priest?

Hebrews 5:6, 10 and 7:1-3

  • How did Abram recognize Melchizedek’s authority?
  • What is the purpose of the tithe, even now?

Tuesday: An Effective Priest

There are several ways Christ as High Priest is more effective than the Levitical priesthood. First of all, the earthly priests weren’t perfect. Therefore, they could not bestow perfection upon others as the sinless Messiah could. Neither were the Levitical priests eternal. They lived and died, just like the rest of us. Whereas, Jesus always was, is, and will be our High Priest throughout eternity.

The earthly priests and the animal sacrifices that were a large part of their ministry, however, were important, even though less effective than that of Christ. They were needed illustrations for us to understand God and the plan of salvation. They pointed forward to the Messiah and the great Sacrifice He would become for us. Therefore their function was temporary, though vital at the time.

The new covenant that Christ represented would bring a fuller revelation of God’s character and His plan to save us. His loving example of humility and obedience, and the death He suffered for all mankind, would make Him the most effective Priest of all.

Bible Verses to Explore:

Hebrews 7:11, 19 and 8:5

  • Why couldn’t perfection come through the Levitical priesthood or the law they taught?
  • What did the priesthood and the law do for them though, and how? (v. 19)

Hebrews 9:14

  • What two things made Christ’s sacrifice and priesthood so effective?

Wednesday: An Eternal Priest

One of the most impressive features of Christ as our High Priest was His eternal nature. Hebrews 7:16 says He comes to us through the “power of an endless life”. And in the next verse, it says He is “a priest forever”. This elevates Christ, making Him the “surety [or guarantee] of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22).

The better covenant, called a new covenant, was explained in chapter 8 by quoting from the book of Jeremiah (Hebrews 8:10-12). It involved putting God’s law in their hearts and minds. It’s one thing to know about the things of God, but true obedience only happens when the heart is engaged.

It matters what we think about God, but how we feel about Him is just as important. The life and sacrificial death of Jesus guarantees that our hearts and minds will be equally affected when we learn about God. His love was on full display while He was on earth, dealing with us on such a personal level. The covenant that Christ ministers to us is a loving, lasting testament that will carry us through to eternity.

Bible Verses to Explore:

Hebrews 7:16, 17

  • Why is it important for our High Priest to have “an endless life”? How does that affect your confidence in Him as your High Priest?

Hebrews 7:22 and 8:10-12

  • Why was Jesus able to bring us this new covenant more effectively that the earthly priests?

Thursday: A Sinless Priest

Our memory text this week, Hebrews 7:26, leaves no doubt that Jesus was without sin. The perfect Lamb of God was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners”.

Although He was fully human, He was not corrupted by sin, as we are. He was without fault. Despite all Satan’s attempts to swerve His loyalty to the Father, He overcame every temptation and lives to be our worthy High Priest.

His humanity allows Him to be our Example as well–One who can impart to us the power to live above all the evil that surrounds us. He showed us how to live God’s law by having it in our hearts. His Spirit is available to all who call on His name.

The fact that He “has become higher than the heavens” shows us that heaven is within reach for anyone who desires to have Jesus minister for them in the heavenly sanctuary. No earthly priest has ever been able to save us. Only God’s dear Son has the holiness needed to pay the price for our sin and serve as our High Priest. His sacrificial death on Calvary made it all possible.

Bible Verses to Explore:

Hebrews 7:26, 4:15, 9:14

  • What does Christ’s sinlessness do for us?

Leviticus 1:3, 10 and  John 1:29

  • How was Jesus without blemish?
  • Why is a lamb a good symbol for Christ?

Friday: Conclusion

This week’s lesson provides us with a feeling of closeness to Christ as never before. His work as our High Priest unites us in a way not otherwise possible, as Ellen G. White describes here:

“It was Satan’s purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen. In taking our nature, the Savior has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken.” The Desire of Ages, p. 25

What comfort there is in knowing about the exalted, hallowed position Jesus fills as our High Priest. No one could serve us better or minister more fully in every time of need, here on earth and throughout eternity. His sinlessness and eternal, divine Sonship with the Father make Him the perfect Advocate for us in the courts of heaven. We need this reassurance of His ability to make a difference in our lives, now and forevermore.

Next Week: Jesus, the Anchor of the Soul

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