The Priest We Need
The Old Testament underlines again and again the weight of responsibility on high priests in Israel (see, for example, Exodus 29 and Leviticus 16). Being the high priest was not to be taken lightly. Only he could enter the Most Holy Place, the inner chamber of the Jewish temple. Only he could offer a blood sacrifice “for the unintentional sins of the people” (Hebrews 9:7). Although he was not without sin, he served as an advocate for his community before God.
But, as the writer of Hebrews shows us, there has been one Great High Priest—namely, Jesus—who did what no other priest could do and shouldered a responsibility the weight of which no other human could bear.
Jesus did not go through a curtain into the Most Holy Place in the Jerusalem temple. Instead, as God’s Son, He passed through the heavens, so that He now appears on our behalf before the Father’s throne. We need not lament His physical absence on earth, not only because He is present with us through the Holy Spirit but also because His absence means that even now He is directly speaking to God the Father on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25).
That is why in the New Testament, ministry is not set apart for an order of priests who make blood sacrifices. Those who are called by God and given both the privilege and responsibility of leading and teaching God’s people do not have to advocate before God for His people in the way Old Testament priests did. Because our Great High Priest has offered up the one great sacrifice for sins, there is no need for any other advocate. Indeed, His priesthood leaves room for no other offerings for sin, either in heaven or on earth. He alone could die for us and speak for us, and He alone has done it.
The very greatness of Christ’s priesthood lies in the fact that He has offered Himself for our sins once and for all. We need nothing more than to recognize that “he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever” (Hebrews 7:24). Jesus alone is able to save those of us who come to God on the basis of His merits. He always lives to intercede for His people. He is doing so, right at this very moment, for you. So you can live confident of access to the heavenly throne room whenever you pray, and access for your soul on the day you die. Today, all you need to do is hold fast to your confession of faith in the Great High Priest, who has done all that is needed.
23The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost2 those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
26For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
Get the Program, Devotional, and Bible Reading Plan delivered daily right to your inbox.