Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

These verses begin a section that shows Christ is better than the Old Testament priests. Since Christ is a far superior High Priest, the writer is telling the Jews to hold onto Him instead of turning back to Judaism with its inferior high priest (v.14)

through the heavens (v.14) — through the visible heavens to “Heaven itself” (Hebrews 9:24)

The word “through” is the clue that opens up the truth here which shows that Messiah is better than Aaron. The latter as high priest in Israel, passed through the court of the tabernacle, through the Holy Place, into the Holy of Holies, which were all figures or types of realities. Messiah as High Priest of the New Testament passed through the heaven of the clouds, the heaven of the stars, into the heaven of heavens, the centralized abode of Deity. Since Messiah passed through the realities of which the tabernacle was only a type, and Aaron passed through the things that were the types, Messiah is better than Aaron.

But there is another way in which Messiah is seen to be better than Aaron. The events that took place when Messiah passed through the heavens, show that He is infinitely better than Aaron. Aaron could never have performed such a feat. The reference here is to our Lord’s Easter morning ascension from the resurrection tomb to heaven as High Priest having made atonement for sin at the Cross. In Israel, the atonement was not complete at the brazen altar. Not until the high priest had carried the atoning blood into the Holy of Holies, and had sprinkled it on the Mercy Seat, was the atonement complete. Likewise, our Lord’s atonement was not complete at the Cross. Not until He had entered heaven as the High Priest having made atonement for sin, was His atonement complete. He, glorified High Priest, in His body of flesh and bones but no blood, had to present Himself at the Mercy Seat in Glory in His bloodless body, the evidence that sin had been paid for. The writer says of Him, “By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (9:12). — Wuest, pages 91-92.

Jesus the Son of God (v.14) — the writer makes sure the Jews know exactly who the High Priest is

sympathize (v.15) = be affected similarly — pity toward one who is suffering what you have suffered — lit. “to suffer with”

infirmities (v.15) — weaknesses, moral and physical, that predispose us to give into temptation and, as a result, sin.

yet without sin (v.15) — Christ could not sin. It also carries the idea that His temptation came from an outside source with no part of Him leaning toward it. — lit. “apart from sin” — It didn’t result in sin.

Some people think the fact that Christ was tempted like we are means that He could have sinned but didn’t. This is ridiculous. He was fully God, and God cannot sin. He was also fully man, but it is possible for man to not sin—all believers will be sinless throughout eternity and yet still men. And it isn’t necessary to be able to fail a test for it to be a test.

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