The most impressive and significant figure of Israel’s ancient worship was the high priest. Only a chosen few could serve in this prestigious position.
Jewish law required the high priest be a descendant of Aaron (Moses’ brother), a Levite from the tribe of Levi, whom God had set apart to serve as priests.
The office of high priest and the honor that goes along with it isn’t one that someone just takes. One must be set aside, called by God, just as God called Aaron, the brother of Moses.” Hebrews 5:4 (The Voice)
The law also required that the high priest be taken from among men. He must have been in all things human so that he could understand and have compassion on those for whom he ministered. Hebrews 5:2 explains,
The high priest should have compassion for those who are ignorant of the faith and those who fall out of the faith because he also has wrestled with human weakness.”
Jewish law allowed one priest each year, the high priest who served in the tabernacle, the privilege of coming into God’s presence as the people’s representative to ask forgiveness for their sins. On that day, the high priest offered a perfect lamb, a blood sacrifice, to cover his sins and the sins of God’s people.
Then Jesus came.
Because of God’s great love for us, God sent His Son, Jesus, to be the ultimate, perfect sacrificial Lamb. God’s gift eliminated the need for the high priest and his annual sacrifice. Jesus shed His blood once and for all so that all people could have the opportunity to enter into His presence anytime, anywhere.
By His sacrifice, Jesus satisfied the Jewish high priest requirements:
He was appointed by God.
Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’” Hebrews 5:5 (NIV)
Jesus was born into the heart of prophetic Scriptures . . . Scriptures that pointed to Him through the ages. The stories, the prophets, the words, the crucifixion, the resurrection all point to Jesus as the Messiah and our Great High Priest. Today, we have no need for saints, for a virgin, for angels or anything else to provide us access to God. We have an all access pass. That means anytime . . . anywhere . . . Jesus is accessible. He is our Advocate, our Intercessor. He is our Mediator.
Jesus also satisfied the Law’s requirement that the high priest be taken from among men. But He was not always a man. Jesus, although fully man, was also fully God.
[Jesus] Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:6-7 (NIV)
Jesus left His rightful place in heaven with His Father and poured every ounce of His holiness into Mary’s womb. There in the womb, God made Him in the likeness of a man. Yet He maintained His holiness. A true miracle!!
And as a man, He experienced the same trials and sufferings, troubles and heartaches, relationships and friendships we experience. You cannot learn suffering from a lecture or a teaching or reading it in a book. You must live it. You must experience it. The result of it etches itself into your heart forever. Jesus did this for us.
He was ridiculed, despised, rejected, betrayed, mocked, persecuted and beaten. He died a most painful and horrific death.
From the cross, sweet Jesus, in the depths of His agony, a Dallas pastor, Dr. Criswell writes,
“ . . . had the fullest and the awfulest view of the tragedy of humanity that the world could ever know. He sank into our wretchedness. He knew the depths of our miseries. And in it, He cried, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani: My God, my God, oh, why- oh, why, hast thou forsaken me?’”
Friends, our Jesus did this for us so He could meet us in our messes
in the grief
in the valley
in the doubt
in the pain
in the heartache
in the poverty
in the loneliness
in the sadness
in the hopelessness
in our selfishness
in our pride
in our sin.
And finally, Jesus, like the Old Testament high priests, offered a sacrifice on behalf of God’s people. But His sacrifice was different. It was unique. His sacrifice was personal.
He was the sacrifice.
In this way, God qualified Him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obeyed him.” Hebrews 5:9 (NLT)
Jesus learned the full meaning of the cost of obedience all the way to death. In His suffering and death, Jesus fulfilled that last requirement of the office of the High Priest. He sacrificed not just a blood sacrifice. He sacrificed himself and therefore became the PERFECT High Priest and the source of eternal salvation.
His sacrifice was once and for all. Old Testament high priests offered only temporary, momentary forgiveness. But Jesus offers eternal forgiveness.
Jesus is my Great High Priest. He is your Great High Priest. He is ABLE to save us from whatever it is that holds us captive. Your name is on His lips. Jesus speaks your name before God. He intercedes for you.
Let’s celebrate His Name today: The Great High Priest.
God, through the selfless gift of Jesus, opened the way, the ONLY way, for us to receive forgiveness, experience fellowship and enjoy intimate relationship with our Creator.
Copyright © 2021 by Katy McCown @ https://katymccown.com/2014/12/19/jesus-the-great-high-priest/ No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.