Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hebrews: Chapter 4:14 - 16 - The introduction to our High Priest

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Interesting side note:  I did find  my ESV Bible (I'd left it in my office), so I have been using that as my primary text for this study.  And, as I've been reading, I have noticed how many times the word 'therefore' appears (as of 4:13, I have counted 8 'therefores', not including those that are part of an Old Testament quote).

But the passage that was assigned for this week, Heb 4: 14 - 16, in the ESV, begins 'Since then...'

And the discussion for these verses begins  with a look at the word 'therefore', which is how verse 14 starts in  the NIV.

So I'm not sure there's much point in counting the 'therefores', since it varies from translation to translation.  But the use of connecting words such as 'therefore' and 'since then' indicates the logical structure of Hebrews,  the building of one concept upon another.

And these three little verses are just such connectors,  connecting the argument for the superiority of Jesus to his superior priesthood.

We actually looked at the temptation of Christ in our Friends Club lesson last night, comparing the temptation He endured in the desert to the temptations that face us on a daily basis. It was one of those classes where the teacher (i.e., me) just didn't feel like the essence of the scripture was adequately communicated; a typical junior-highish night, so I was a bit amazed to see this discussed today.

My concept of that passage has been based on Matthew's account...which states that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for the purpose of being tempted.  I've supposed that he was in the wilderness all that time, waiting on the devil to come to him and try to deflect him from his purpose...and that the devil waited forty days, until Jesus was exceedingly weak and weary from hunger and near hydration (I think he found at least some water, but that's another post), and THEN the enemy came at him with his enticements. 

 But, because we looking at Luke's account last night,  today I happened to re-read that and  I noticed something a little differently than I had ever noticed before; the first two verses of Luke 4 tell us that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted by the devil. The verb tense here suggests that my suppositions are wrong.  It almost reads as if the enemy was tempting him the whole time; we just see the biggest guns that he saved for the last, when Jesus was at his weakest.

That would make sense.  Not that the enemy hit him hard, but that he hit him consistently, with annoying and distracting petty temptations with the intention of keeping him from his communion with the Father.  Then, when Jesus was worn in body AND mind AND spirit...THEN the enemy pulled out those temptations to satisfy his physical appetite and achieve the honor and the wealth without enduring the suffering that following the Father's will would cost him.

But...Jesus did not even try to fight the devil with his own strength.  He just applied the scripture...common, ordinary, well-known scripture to the situation at hand.  I almost wonder if he were using the scripture to strengthen his own resolve not to give in.  Luke records the temptations in a different order than Matthew, and Matthew includes Jesus' dismissal of Satan, but the two accounts both show that Jesus never called on any supernatural power to defeat the enemy...Scripture, applied to a specific situation, was enough to keep the enemy at bay.

Our Superior High Priest, having been weakened as a human, withstood the enemy as a human, using the same weapon that is available to the rest of us: the sword of the Spirit.  He knows what it is like to be tempted, and he knows how to use The Sword to avoid temptation's trap.

And, as this little passage in Hebrews reminds us, he is available to us to help us do the same.

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