Our High Priest, by Tim Ayers

The work and ministry of Jesus was typified in so many ways in the Old Testament. One of these was in the office of High Priest. Jesus Christ is the High Priest of Christianity (Hebrews 3:1; 4:14). The author of Hebrews brings this out clearly in the fifth and ninth chapters of that epistle. He shows that Jesus met the qualifications and fulfilled the duties of the High Priest, especially those duties unique to the day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).

In chapter five, the qualifications of the High Priest are listed. He must be chosen among men, able to sympathize with the people who come to him for help, appointed by God, not putting himself into the office (verses 1-4). The writer shows that Jesus met these qualifications exactly, since He was a man in the flesh, tempted as we are, and appointed by God. This refutes the docetic doctrine that Jesus did not come in literal flesh. If that were true, He could not sympathize with us in our temptations and weaknesses, and so He could not be our High Priest. But the truth is that Jesus was in the flesh, and was selected from among men (1 John 1:1-3). He suffered the same temptations as we, “yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). And He was appointed by God, because God raised Him from the dead and had Him sit at His right hand (Hebrews 1:3).

Then in chapter nine of Hebrews, the writer speaks of the duties of the High Priest. He mentions some of these in 5:1-3. He points out that Jesus fulfilled these duties. First, the priest has to offer for sins, which Jesus did when He offered His own precious blood when He entered heaven, the “true tabernacle” (Hebrews 8:2; 9:11). Then there are the duties of the day of Atonement, the only day the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place or Holy of Holies to offer the blood of the sacrifice before the ark of the covenant, which symbolized the presence of God. Jesus entered the “greater and more perfect tabernacle” (Hebrews 9:11) “once for all” (verse 12), and He offered His own blood for the sins of mankind.

The priesthood of Jesus Christ is better and superior to the Levitical one of the Old Testament Law of Moses. And that is why, as one writer stated, “No other priest is needed, and no real want of the human soul is left unmet.” “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).



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