During the winter Bible class quarter where I minister some of our adult classes will study the book of Hebrews on Sunday mornings (Dec. 1 thru Feb. 23). This study is entitled Hebrews: Keep Calm & Carry On. To aid lesson prep, I’m posting ten sets of twenty exercises/questions to research and consider from each major section of Hebrews (as broken down in David A. DeSilva’s work Perseverance in Gratitude). Today’s section is Hebrews 4:14-5:10 and is entitled “Jesus, Our Guarantor of God’s Favor.”
1. A simple contraction (“let’s”) or phrase (“let us”) is often repeated throughout Hebrews. As you read Hebrews, make a list of every instance of such where a word of encouragement immediately follows.
2. We’ve already seen the writer of Hebrews encourage his audience to maintain their grip on Christ (2.1; 3.6,14) and once more we see it again (4.14). How is it someone who has taken hold of Christ could ever let go?
3. What is “the confession” we’re called to hold onto in 4.14?
4. How can it be said that Jesus “was tempted in every way that we are”? (4.15b)
5. Christ can “sympathize” with us (4.15). The word means much more than having merely an emotional or psychological connection, but speaks to Christ “experiencing” what we experience. How does this awareness deepen the significance of the teaching of 4.14-16 for you?
6. What would it look like for a Christian to “draw near to the throne of favor with confidence” (4.16)? By this statement, what are they encouraged to be doing?
7. What’s the difference between “mercy” and “grace” (4.16)?
8. Working solely from 4.15-5.3, create a job description or ministry definition for a high priest.
9. Why do we need a high priest to intercede with God for us? Why can’t we approach God directly without an intermediary? What does it do for you to know that Jesus, as the perfect high priest, is your go-between with God?
10. Israel’s Levitical priests was “able to deal gently with the ignorant and those who are misled since” they were themselves “prone to weakness.” (5.2) What does the OT teach concerning unintentional sins and willful, deliberate sins?
11. All the Aaronic priests were sinners like the rest of humankind (5.3). In strong contrast, Jesus was/is without (4.15). Think back on the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and consider how many people, and how many times, he was accused, without foundation, of being a sinner. If the sinless One was greatly misunderstood, how much more might his sinful followers be misunderstood? How does actually work as encouragement to the early Christians?
12. Psalm 110 is the most frequently quoted Psalm in the New Testament and vs. 4 of this psalm is quoted here in Heb. 5.5-6. In fact, Ps. 110.4 forms the basis for Heb. 4.14-7.28. So, read and study Ps. 110. How does the original setting and message of Ps. 110 assist you in understanding Heb. 4.14-5.10?
13. In 5.1-4, the writer notes two qualifications a high priest had to meet: (1) they were “taken [selected] from the people” (5.1) and (2) “called by God” (5.4).
14. Do some reading on the Jewish high priesthood in the time of Jesus and the apostles. How is 5.4, among other things, a critical swipe at such?
15. When specifically do we know Jesus Christ “offered prayers and requests with loud cries and tears as his sacrifices to the one who was able to save him from death” and that “he was heard because of his godly devotion?” (5.7) That is, to what scene(s) in the Gospels do the words of 5.7 refer?
16. In what way did God answer Jesus’ prayers and save Jesus from death (5.7)? Should Jesus’ disciples expect more or better blessing than their Lord?
17. How is it that “although he was a Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered?” (5.8) That is, how is it that Jesus had to “learn” anything, given that he was the Son of God?
18. What is the connection between our eternal salvation by Jesus and our obedience to him. (5.9)
19. Read everything the Old Testament has to say about the priest named Melchizedek (Genesis 14).
20. The main point section of this section Hebrews (4.14-5.10) is that Jesus is a better high priest than the high priests of the priesthood of Aaron. As you read through Hebrews, make a list of all the matters in which Jesus and Christian faith is portrayed as superior to, better than, or greater than Jewish faith.