Hebrews 7:26b


Sermon preached on July 16, 2017 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

We once had a gentleman stay at our house who was a scientist who worked in the cranberry industry. I believe he was a chemist. We asked him about his work and he told us something surprising. He said that cranberry juice contains trace amounts of arsenic. Arsenic occurs naturally in the environment. It's in our drinking water. As water travels through soil and around rocks it picks up minute amounts of arsenic. The EPA limits trace amounts of arsenic in drinking water to 10 parts per billion. He said that cranberry juice was perfectly safe to drink. The way he described the amount of arsenic in cranberries was by comparing it to a roll of stamps. His job had something to do with measuring how much arsenic was in the cranberry juice that his company made. He said something to the effect that if you had a roll of stamps 1500 miles long it would the amount of arsenic would be equivalent to one stamp. But arsenic concentrations can vary. I read where some wells in the US were measured as containing arsenic at 3100 parts per billion. So he worked ensuring that the arsenic levels were as small as possible. But the point is that there are impurities, small amounts of arsenic in fruit juices. I read about one study where they tested people who drank fruit juices and those who didn't drink fruit juices and found that those who drank fruit juices had higher levels of arsenic in their bodies.

It's disconcerting to think that there is arsenic in things we drink but it is quite likely. Our drinking water is not pure.

In order to save us Jesus had to be pure. If he was tainted by sin, even it was measured in one part per billion, He would have been unable to save us. We needed a Savior who had no sin at all. Even if he had just a little sin He would have been disqualified from saving us. In a very real sense the law of God stands as a whole. As James 2:10 says,

"For whoever keeps the whole law
and yet stumbles at just one point
is guilty of breaking all of it."

If I break the commandment that relates to coveting, that means that I have failed in loving my neighbor as myself. I have broken the second table of the law. It also means that I have broken the first table of the law, because I'm supposed to love God with all my heart, all my soul and all my mind. God told me not to covet. So if I coveted something that was my neighbor's that means I have not loved God as I should. I have fallen completely, totally.

If our Savior had committed one sin, if He had failed on one point—He wouldn't have been able to save us. He would have fallen completely. One of the truths we Christians need to be convinced of is that Jesus Himself had no sin. He was not tainted by or compromised by sin in any way. The sacrifice He made on our behalf was perfect. We need to think of Jesus as He is, as absolutely pure, absolutely holy, absolutely without any fault. The One who came to save us was exactly the Savior we needed. He had no sin—therefore He was able to save us.

The first three descriptions in our text make that clear. Our text says of Jesus, (Hebrews 7:26)

"Such a high priest meets our need—
one who is holy, blameless, pure,
set apart from sinners,
exalted above the heavens."

Last week we looked at Jesus being holy. This week we're going to look at the terms blameless and pure.

Jesus was blameless and pure.

There was no defect in Jesus, not one. He was absolutely perfect—without any sin, completely without any defilement.

The first thing that shows us this is the words themselves. Both of them are compound words. They are both examples what is called the privative use of the letter alpha. The letter alpha placed in front of some words and combined with that word, the resulting word denotes the antithesis of the word, the exact opposite of it.

Blameless

Consider the first word. One commentator says that the Greek word used here that is translated 'blameless' literally means, 'without evil'. As a compound word, second part of it is the word 'kakos' which means evil. The first part of the word is the letter alpha, which negates the word, and so is its antithesis and signifies what is contrary to it. So Jesus is 'without evil'. It is not in Him. It is not part of Him. He is the antithesis of evil. He is the exact opposite of someone who is evil. He is righteous. He is pristine, pure, unsullied, untainted, unblemished, immaculate. Jesus is blameless, irreproachable, pure. He doesn't have any evil in Him. William L. Lane writes, (p.191-192)

"It signifies… that he was not touched by evil."



I mentioned last week that some commentators think that the first word mentioned here relates to Christ's holiness before God, that the second, blameless relates to Christ's sanctity in relation to his fellow men. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus had no sin. (2 Cor. 5:21, Heb. 4:15) In relation to others, Jesus had no greed, no selfishness. No, He came in love, to show us God and to bring us to God. He put Himself last. As Jesus said in Matthew 20:28,

"the Son of Man did not come
to be served, but to serve,
and to give his life
as a ransom for many."

His life was blameless. In Acts 10:38 Peter summarizes Jesus' life this way,

"God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power,
and how he went around doing good
and healing all who were
under the power of the devil,
because God was with him."

Jesus was perfect in dealing with His fellow men.

I know there are people who use some things from the Bible who question that. For example, Jesus told the Canaanite woman who asked Him to cast out the demon from her daughter, (Matthew 15:26)

"It is not right to take
the children's bread
and toss it to their dogs."

Some people criticize Jesus for that reply. But they should not. In the context His disciples were urging Him to send her away because she was annoying them. Jesus didn't do that. Instead He stated that He was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. They were the proper recipients of His mission. When the woman knelt before Him and asked for help, Jesus explained and said it would not be right to take the children's bread and give it to the dogs. There was no sin in Jesus' reply. Indeed, His reply brought out a great declaration of faith from her. And Jesus did heal her daughter.

It is true that some of Jesus' statements seem surprising to us—but that's because we're sinful. The Bible tells us that Jesus was perfect. If some of His statements don't seem right to us that's because there's something wrong with us.

It was certainly not wrong for the Creator of the universe, who created all things for His glory—to refer to rebellious sinners as wicked, as abominations, as prostitutes, as children of the devil, as dogs. Those term may offend modern sensibilities, but God was describing them as they were and one of the purposes of such language was to get people to see their sin and repent of it.

Jesus was far above any of us. His teaching is truly from God. His words were the words of life. His teaching was exemplary. His life was exemplary. When the soldiers (who were probably the same ones that abused Him all night) nailed Jesus to the cross, Jesus asked the Father to forgive them. When the rich young ruler boasted that he had kept all the commandments since he was a boy, Jesus, knowing that he lacked the will to follow Him, knowing that he loved his money to much to follow Him—(Mark 10:21)

"Jesus looked at him and loved him."

Who has ever been like Jesus? John 1:4–5 says of Jesus.

"In him was life,
and that life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, but
the darkness has not understood it."

In John 1:14, 16–17 we read of Jesus,

"The Word became flesh and
made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory,
the glory of the One and Only,
who came from the Father,
full of grace and truth…
From the fullness of his grace
we have all received
one blessing after another.
For the law was given through Moses;
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."

John goes on to say that Jesus is the light of the world, the bread of life, the living water, the door, the Good Shepherd, the resurrection and the Life, the way, the truth and the life, the true vine. What man was ever like Him? He was pure and blameless. Even Pilate declared his innocence. Jesus was such a gift from God. He was blameless in His dealings with men. Indeed, He did what no one else could do—He loved them and gave His life for whoever would believe.

Pure

The second word that is used of Jesus in our text is 'pure'. Jesus is 'undefiled'. Again, this is a compound word, just like the previous word. It's made up of the word that means, ("μιαίνω," BDAG, 650)

"to be ritually impure, stain, defile"



With the letter alpha added to the beginning of word, the resulting word denotes the antithesis of this. So it denotes someone that is undefiled. It is the opposite of being defiled. William L. Lane tells us that this word, (Hebrews 1–8, p. 192)

"denotes cultic purity…"



The Old Testament Levitical priests were required to be undefiled and without blemish. A priest could not be disfigured or have any physical deformity. Nor could they be defiled. Philip E. Hughes writes, (Hebrews, p. 273)

"the standards demanded of them were of a formal and external nature, involving, for example, the avoidance of contact with dead bodies and the absence in their own persons of physical deformity or mutilation (cf. Lev. 21:1ff, 16ff). Inwardly, however, they were stained with sin…"



In contrast to them, Jesus was pure outwardly and inwardly. He was the exact opposite of being defiled. Philip E. Hughes writes, (p. 273)

"this freedom from all defilement belonged to the integrity of his being."



This means that Jesus' offering of Himself was an acceptable sacrifice. He was pure, free from any stain or defect. William L. Lane tells us that in our text, (Hebrews 1–8, p. 192)

"the cultic imagery is used figuratively to express the qualification of this high priest to enter the presence of God."



As the apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:18–19,

"For you know that it was
not with perishable things
such as silver or gold that
you were redeemed from
the empty way of life handed down
to you from your forefathers,
but with the precious blood of Christ,
a lamb without blemish or defect."

Hebrews 9:14 also speaks of this.

"How much more, then,
will the blood of Christ,
who through the eternal Spirit
offered himself unblemished to God,
cleanse our consciences
from acts that lead to death,
so that we may serve the living God!"

Philip E. Hughes writes says of Jesus' work, (p. 273)

"Jesus our High Priest is unstained throughout. Through his complete obedience and his victorious conquest of every temptation he has become perfect forever… and as such he is 'the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him' (5:9), for by virtue of his unstained character he was qualified to offer up the sacrifice of himself on our behalf, as of 'a lamb without blemish or spot' (1 Peter 1:19), and therefore wholly acceptable to the Father. Had he been stained with any defilement he would have been incapacitated to achieve this great redemption on our behalf and the purpose of his coming would have been frustrated. How fitting, therefore, that he should have been completely without stain or blemish!"



Jesus was perfect, without stain, therefore He was able so save us.

The first lesson we should draw from this is

the righteousness that was needed to redeem us was nothing less than perfection.

One of the problems many human beings have is that we overestimate our goodness, our good works. Some people are quite comfortable as they approach the end of their lives because they think that they've been good enough. And they think they're going to be fine when they stand before the great judge. These people think that their failings would be in the 1 or 2 parts per billion.

In reality, it's the opposite. In Isaiah 64:6 the prophet wrote,

"All of us have become
like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts
are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind
our sins sweep us away."

Apart from Jesus, our good works, even our best works, are so tainted by sin that instead of putting us in good stead with God put us under His wrath. God's law demands a perfect, complete, pure obedience. Is Philippians 3, after Paul came to know the righteousness of Jesus, said of his own righteous acts, (Philippians 3:8)

"I consider them rubbish,
that I may gain Christ…"

John Calvin says,

"they were like dung, offensive to him, or were disesteemed like things that are thrown away in contempt."



One day we are all going to stand before the Great Judgment. Those that have a tainted righteousness, no matter how good they previously thought it was——at that moment they are going to see themselves as they really are. They are going to be like Isaiah when he saw God on His throne in Isaiah 6. Isaiah said, (Isaiah 6:5)

"Woe to me!
I am ruined!
For I am a man of unclean lips, and
I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have seen the King,
the LORD Almighty."

They are going to be like those we read of in Revelation 6:16–17,

"They called
to the mountains and the rocks,
'Fall on us and hide us
from the face of him
who sits on the throne and
from the wrath of the Lamb!
For the great day
of their wrath has come,
and who can stand?' "

The only way you're going to be able to stand on that day is by having the perfect righteousness of Jesus. Jesus exactly meets our needs. We need a perfect righteousness, holy, blameless and pure. Only Jesus can give you it.

If you haven't believed in Jesus yet, you need Him. Go to Him now. Trust in Him and receive the righteousness you need.

The second thing we should see from this is the amazing fact that

Jesus loves you as a sinner.

How incredible it is Jesus, who is pure, who is unstained by sin, who hates sin—loves you, a sinner. How can that be?

Think of it. In this world we see many examples of people rejecting others who are not like them, who are below them. We see rich people despising poor people and refusing to associate with them. We see pretty girls looking down on other girls who aren't as pretty as they are. We see intellectuals who form little clics and don't let people who aren't really smart in. We even have people who think that they're spiritually above other people and so they refuse to associate with them. They're more spiritual and so they look down on others who are, in their eyes, less spiritual than them. None of them should do it. But they do.

Jesus is holy, pure, undefiled. We are sinners—stained, polluted, defiled and vile. In ourselves we are odious, repugnant, abhorrent and repulsive to God. How could Jesus, the holy, blameless, pure One—love us? How could He take our sin, and have it laid on His back? When that happened in the Garden of Gethsemane He said, (Matthew 26:38)

"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow
to the point of death."

How horrible it must have been for Him. Our ruminations cannot begin do it justice.

How could He love us, befriend us, take our punishment? Wonder of wonders.

How much you should be devoted to Jesus. How serious you should be about your sanctification. How you should hate any sin, not only great infractions of the law, but even the least infraction. How you should strive to get all sin out of your life. How you should cling to the holy, blameless and pure One—the only One who can save you.