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THE HIGH PRIEST ALONE -
IN GETHSEMANE AND ON THE CROSS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, February 22, 2004

"But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people" (Hebrews 9:7).


We come back tonight to the Garden of Gethsemane. We have spent four Sunday nights there - far too many nights for most churches in the last days, since most have closed their services on Sunday nights.

"While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept"
    (Matthew 25:5).

Even many that haven't locked their doors on Sunday nights would probably not want to spend four evenings in a row on such a morbid subject. They tell us to choose "light" subjects for our sermons now. But the Bible is full of "heavy" subjects, and we must preach them, or we will not be able to say, with the Apostle Paul,

"I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God"
      (Acts 20:27).

Christ's entrance into the darkness of Gethsemane marks the beginning of His passion, His entry to the time of suffering for our sins. It is fitting, then, for us to remember that He entered Gethsemane as our High Priest. In the Old Testament, the high priest was told to enter the Holy of Holies, the innermost part of the tabernacle alone, once each year, on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Only the high priest could enter there, into the Holy of Holies, to offer a sacrifice for sins. The high priest had to go in alone. Our text refers to this.

"But into the second [the Holy of Holies] went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people" (Hebrews 9:7).

Thus the Garden of Gethsemane became the doorway to the Holy of Holies for our High Priest, Jesus. He had to go deep into the Garden and pray, and sweat Blood for us, alone.

It was alone the Saviour prayed
    In dark Gethsemane;
Alone He drained the bitter cup,
    And suffered there for me;
Alone, alone, he bore it all alone;
    He gave Himself to save His own;
He suffered, bled and died, Alone, alone.
    ("Alone" by Ben H. Price, 1914).

The loneliness of Christ teaches us three great lessons.

I. First, Christ began to fulfill the office of the High Priest, alone in Gethsemane.

Our text tells us that the high priest of Old Testament times went into the Holy of Holies to offer blood for the sins of the people "alone" (Hebrews 9:7). This is a clear type of Christ, as we are told in verses eleven and twelve. Please stand and read these verses aloud.

"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us"
      (Hebrews 9:11-12).

You may be seated.

The Old Testament high priest, entering the most holy place in the Tabernacle, was the type. Christ entering into suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, and going from there to His passion, including crucifixion the next day, and His resurrection and ascension, is the antitype.

Christ had to go alone, into a period of Blood-drenched prayer in Gethsemane, to fulfill the Old Testament instructions for the high priest on the Day of Atonement.

Please turn to Leviticus 16:17 for a description of the work of the high priest in Old Testament times. Read it out loud.

"And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out…" (Leviticus 16:17).

Christ did not need to make an atonement for Himself, for, unlike the Old Testament high priest, Jesus had no sin. He needed not

"as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins" (Hebrews 7:27).

Why? Because Jesus never sinned.

"For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens" (Hebrews 7:26).

The Old Testament high priest had to offer blood sacrifices "for himself, and for the errors of the people" (Hebrews 9:7). But Jesus was "an high priest of good things to come," and His Blood sacrifice was completely for others, for your sins and mine.

Like the high priest, He had to go alone into the Holy of Holies in the Garden of Gethsemane. But unlike the Old Testament high priest, His Blood, beginning with the Bloody sweat, was all shed for the sins of others.

There my God bore all my guilt;
   This through grace can be believed;
But the horrors which He felt
    Are too vast to be conceived.
None can penetrate through thee,
    Doleful, dark Gethsemane!
("Many Woes He Had Endured" by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

Spurgeon said,

In that sacrifice none could share, and in the after-entrance none could have a part at the time. Read Leviticus 16:17: "And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out…" Even in sympathy we cannot enter the inner shrine of his sacrifice; in their innermost depths they are unapproachable. Jesus treads the wine-press alone. Gethsemane - who can stand in the Garden, and view the bloody sweat, and hear the deep groanings of that mighty heart? Even the favoured three [Peter, James and John] are overcome with sorrow, and fall asleep.

Who can penetrate through thee,
Lonesome, dark Gethsemane?

But as for [the cross of] Calvary, where the darkness was denser still, till midday turned to midnight, as an emblem of what was going on; into that awful blackness we cannot [look]. "Thine unknown sufferings" still remains one of the best descriptive expressions concerning that which can never be described. All this, I say, was his own sole, personal grief for sins in which he had no personal share: this was his sacrifice of entrance (C. H. Spurgeon, "Our Lord's Entrance Within the Veil," Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Number 2,075, Pilgrim Publications, 1975 reprint, volume xxxv, pp. 148-149).

Christ typically fulfilled the office of the high priest by his entrance into the Garden of Gethsemane alone. No one could go with Him when the weight of mankind's sin was placed upon Him there - which He would bear to the Cross the next morning.

"But into the second went the high priest alone…"
    (Hebrews 9:7).

II. Second, Christ could not take any other human being with Him
as He entered into His suffering.

In the Old Testament, God was shown to be separated from sinful mankind by a veil. Spurgeon said,

A thick tapestry hung before the most holy place, and thus concealed the light which symbolized the presence of God. Within the inner sanctuary Jehovah dwelt apart, and none entered the sacred precincts save one man, and he but once a year (ibid., p. 143).

This was a type or symbol of the loneliness of Christ in His passion, suffering to pay the penalty for our sins.

From the moment the Disciples left him alone, while they slept, in the Garden of Gethsemane, until the time that He cried out, "It is finished" (John 19:30) on the Cross the next day, Christ was alone, forsaken by His human friends.

Judas was the first to leave Him.

"Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him" (Matthew 26:14-16).

Peter thought that he was a better man than that. He said,

"Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended" (Matthew 26:33).

Peter also said,

"Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death" (Luke 22:33).

Yet a short time later Peter ran away, when the Roman soldiers came to arrest Christ in Gethsemane.

"Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled" (Matthew 26:56).

The soldiers took Jesus to the high priest. The elders of the Sanhedrin said,

"He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands" (Matthew 26:66-67).

Peter was sitting outside the palace when this took place. A young girl pointed to him and said, "This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth" (Matthew 26:71). Peter cursed and said, "I know not the man" (Matthew 26:74).

Jesus was alone in Gethsemane. Jesus went alone through His trials, before the Sanhedrin, before King Herod, and before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Jesus went to the Cross alone. Then, on the Cross, God the Father left Him - and He was completely alone, forsaken by both God and man. From the Cross He cried out,

"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46).

This was a quotation from Psalm 22:1.

Why did Jesus say that?…He…in full measure, experienced separation from God. He experienced God's full wrath, God's full curse upon sinful man…During the time Jesus hung on the cross, God indeed did forsake Him. Our sin was laid on Jesus; He was made to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). But God cannot look upon sin; therefore, God withdrew His face from Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane, an angel had come to strengthen Jesus (Luke 22:43). But on the cross, there was no one to comfort and strengthen Him. This was the price that Jesus paid to redeem us, to deliver us from God's wrath. This is what it meant for Him to give His life as a ransom for many (The Applied New Testament Commentary, Kingsway Publications, 1997, p. 300).

Alone, alone, he bore it all alone;
   He gave Himself to save His own;
He suffered, bled and died, Alone, alone.
   ("Alone" by Ben H. Price, 1914).

"But into the second went the high priest alone…"
   (Hebrews 9:7).

III. Third, Christ ascended and took His Blood, alone,
into the Holy of Holies in Heaven.

Christ paid for our sins on the Cross. Then they buried His dead body in a tomb, which was sealed with a huge stone. But on the third day He arose physically from the dead.

"To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God"
    (Acts 1:3).

Then Christ ascended back to Heaven. The Disciples

"looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up" (Acts 1:10).

What did Jesus do after He went back up to Heaven? Our text gives us a strong clue. Please turn back to Hebrews 9:7. Let us stand and read this verse aloud.

"But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people" (Hebrews 9:7).

Now read verse twelve.

"Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Hebrews 9:12).

You may be seated.

Dr. John R. Rice said,

The high priest was a type of Christ, and the blood carried into the Most Holy Place by the high priest was a type of the blood of Christ. The Holy of Holies represents a sanctuary in Heaven where Jesus entered with His own blood to make atonement for the sins of the world (Dr. John R. Rice, The Gospel According to Matthew, Sword of the Lord, 1980, p. 479).

The Blood that Jesus shed on the Cross was translated into Heaven. And Christ took His Blood into the Holy of Holies in Heaven. Look at Hebrews 9:24. Read it out loud.

"For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9:24).

Now look at our text again, in Hebrews 9:7.

"But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood…" (Hebrews 9:7).

So the Scriptures reveal, through the clearest type and fulfillment given anywhere in the Bible, that our High Priest, Jesus, took His Blood into the Holy of Holies in Heaven…into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us!

Then, the Bible goes beyond this clear type and specifically tells us that Christ's Blood is one of the things in Mount Sion, another name for Heaven.

"But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God…And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling" (Hebrews 12:22, 24).

That settles the question. Christ's Blood is now in Heaven. The Bible says it is in Hebrews 12:24.

Throughout history great Christians have proclaimed this truth. The Scofield Study Bible says,

The high priest entering the holiest, typifies Christ entering "heaven
itself" with "His own blood" for us (note on Leviticus 16:5).

C. H. Spurgeon said,

Where the high priest could go only once a year we may now go at all times, for the blood is there, interceding for us perpetually (C. H. Spurgeon, "The Saviour's Precious Blood," Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Number 3,395).

Andrew Murray said,

The Spirit lived and worked in that blood, so that when it was shed it could not decay as a dead thing, but as a living reality, it could be taken up to heaven, to exercise its divine power from thence (Andrew Murray, The Blood of the Cross, 1935, p. 10).

Dr. J. Vernon McGee said,

His Blood is even now in heaven, and throughout endless ages it will be there to remind us of the awful price Christ paid to redeem us (Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1983, volume 5, p. 560).

The Blood of Christ, in the Holy of Holies in Heaven, can cleanse your sins from God's record. When you come to Christ, His Blood washes every sin you have ever committed out of God's books. That is why the Apostle Paul specifically told us that we are saved

"through faith in his blood" (Romans 3:25).

"But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood…" (Hebrews 9:7).

It was alone the Saviour prayed
   In dark Gethsemane;
Alone He drained the bitter cup,
   And suffered there for me;
Alone, alone, he bore it all alone;
   He gave Himself to save His own;
He suffered, bled and died, Alone, alone.

Will you come to Christ tonight, and be washed clean from all sin by His Blood? If you are willing to come to Christ, please step to the back of the room when we sing the last stanza of hymn number seven, "There is a Fountain Filled with Blood." Please do not go to the back of the room until the last stanza. Then we will go to my office where we will discuss your salvation.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Mark 14:32-42.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Alone" (by Ben H. Price, 1914).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE HIGH PRIEST ALONE -
IN GETHSEMANE AND ON THE CROSS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people" (Hebrews 9:7).

(Matthew 25:5; Acts 20:27)

I.   Christ began to fulfill the office of the High Priest, alone in
Gethsemane, Hebrews 9:11-12; Leviticus 16:17; 
Hebrews 7:27,26.

II.  Christ could not take any other human being with Him as He
entered into His suffering, John 19:30; Matthew 26:14-16;
Matthew 26:33; Luke 22:33; Matthew 26:56, 66-67,71,74;
Matthew 27:46.

III. Christ ascended and took His Blood, alone, into the Holy of
Holies in Heaven, Acts 1:3, 10; Hebrews 9:12, 24;
Hebrews 12:22, 24; Romans 3:25.