Friday, March 22, 2024

Jesus, the Great High Priest

In the Scriptures, Melchizedek and Aaron were two of the most renowned High Priest:

·       Melchizedek only appears briefly in Genesis 14, yet this priest earns a role in the hall of faith in the New Testament. Melchizedek was not born into the Levitical priesthood but was appointed by God.

·       Aaron, the High Priest, was the man appointed by God to oversee the Tabernacle in the wilderness, a position of sacred responsibility. God chose Aaron, brother of Moses, to be his first High Priest.”[1]

The Old Covenant priesthood foreshadowed the priesthood of the New Covenant and a comparative allusion to the High Priest role given to Jesus. Compelling provided this insight:

 “In the Jewish system, a priest mediated between the people and God. Aaron and his descendants were appointed priests, with the tribe of Levi serving as assistants in the Tabernacle (Numbers 3:5-10). Most importantly, it was the high priest who entered into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Only the high priest could enter and, before doing so, he was required to make a sacrifice for himself. In this way the high priest was cleansed and could then go on to offer the cleansing sacrifices for the people (Leviticus 16).”[2]

Then Jesus came into the scene with a specific purpose in mind and knew about these two individuals acting in the interest of God. Yet, He became the Great High Priest with a purpose, i.e., opened direct access and reconciled many to God. He then qualified Himself because of His sacrifice for our sins at the Cross of Calvary. The apostle Paul expounded it in the book of Romans:

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But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:8-11 ESV)

Most importantly, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, those who believed and sanctified in Him became part of the royal priesthood, “. . .and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:6 ESV)

Martin Luther shared this wonderful insight: “In his life Christ is an example showing us how to live; in his death he is a sacrifice satisfying for our sins; in his resurrection, a conqueror; in his ascension, a king; in his intercession, a high priest.”

Clearly, Melchizedek and Aaron fulfilled their roles as God intended for them. But God knew better when He removed the limitations of the human priesthood by sending Jesus, the Son of God, as the Great High Priest. Remember, in the Old Covenant, the high priest approached the throne of God, represented by the Mercy Seat, only once a year. But Jesus, our Great High Priest, approached the throne of God directly without any restrictions because, at His death, the Temple curtains ripped in two. Matthew recorded this great event:

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” (Matthew 27:50-53 ESV)

Jesus fulfilled the plan of God flawlessly. Thus, everyone who believes in Him can come boldly to the throne of God with confidence. Ray Pritchard summarized it excellently:

Because Jesus is our great high priest, we’ve got a friend in high places. We’ve got connections in heaven. We’ve got a friend at the throne of grace who delights to answer our prayers. Come boldly. Come often. Come to the throne of grace and pour out your heart to God. You will not be turned away.”

Let’s talk again!