Christ Our Model: The Model Priest

There are many places that most of us will never enter: Buckingham Palace, the Oval Office, or the Bank of England Gold Vault, just to name a few. Our only chance to enter highly secure places on earth would be to have an association with someone on the inside who could grant us access. God’s throne room is a place we should never be able to enter because of God’s holiness, yet it is a place that is open for us any time, anywhere we may be, for any need we might have. Certain access has been granted to us through our Great High Priest who has gone on before us and has opened the gates to permit redeemed sinners to receive mercy and find grace in time of need (Heb 4:14-16). The most important place in our lives should be the throne of God.

Secured High Priest

This all began with a promise from God in Psalm 110:4: “The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek'” (ESV). In Old Testament times, when a high priest died, another would replace him. Since the Lord Jesus Christ has overcome death, His priesthood is not transferable. God ensures Christ’s priesthood by His eternal truth and His unchallengeable nature. If they can change, the new priesthood can change. Otherwise it cannot.

Superior High Priest

The Jews depended on their high priest because he was the man who interceded for them before the Lord. During the time that Eli was priest, a devout Jew would have been extremely upset by the failure of Eli and his sinful sons. These high priests were human and were prone to failure. Jesus, our High Priest, is superior because He is not just a human high priest, He is the Son of God! He is sinless. He cannot fail. He will never disappoint.

He saves His people from their sins, not by the slaying of animals, but by the sacrifice of Himself at Calvary, where He poured out His own blood. His work involved a personal cross that he claimed as His own. In priestly character, He offered Himself as the sacrifice. No other priest could ever perform a superior work to that of our Great High Priest.

Then the moment came when He entered into the dwelling place of God in human form with eternal evidence of a sacrifice. His hands, feet, and side indicated that the veil of the temple (symbolizing His flesh) had been torn (Heb 10:19-22). God is eternally satisfied with the work of the High Priest.

His work on the cross has secured us forever. We will sin again, but the superior work of our Great High Priest has removed all of our sin (1John 1:7). Since all sin has been paid for with the blood of our Savior, we have been granted continual access. If we fail to obtain mercy and grace in time of need, it is not because of our Great High Priest, but because of our own lack of faith.

Suitable High Priest

A Jew listening to the book of Hebrews might challenge the qualifications of Jesus as High Priest because He was not of the tribe of Levi. Before Levi was born, there was a priest, Melchizedek, who blessed Abraham and took a tenth of Abraham’s war spoils. Melchizedek was the picture – our Lord Jesus is the reality. Melchizedek’s birth and death are not mentioned in the Scriptures and, in reality, our High Priest has neither beginning nor end. Melchizedek was the king that left his throne to do the work of a priest, and Jesus did the same when He stepped off His throne to complete the work which opened the way to the most holy place. Melchizedek’s name means peace, and Salem, the place where he ruled, means righteousness. Our Lord Jesus came offering peace instead of judgment, and His righteousness was seen in his words, actions, and sacrifice at the cross. Therefore, He is qualified to be our High Priest because He is after the order of Melchizedek.

Sympathetic High Priest

Jesus, our High Priest, is sympathetic because of His human identity. Since He voluntarily took part of flesh and blood, He knew what it was like to be thirsty, hungry, poor, weary, abandoned, misunderstood, and hated. Therefore, He sympathizes with our struggles and hardships. It is comforting to have the assurance of a Man at the right hand of God Who is acquainted with our infirmities (Heb 4:15).

He is also sympathetic because of His heavenly integrity. Although sin held no attraction for Him, He faced temptations. We face temptations of sin daily, but too often we do not rely on the Holy Spirit and so we sin. When we are faced with temptations, we can step up to the throne of God to gain strength from the One Who experienced temptations and yet did not sin.

Our Great High Priest actively helps those in need. In Hebrews 4:15 the phrase, “touched with the feeling,” is translated from one Greek word. The meaning is “knowing how we feel, coupled with a desire to help.” Our Lord has a caring heart that reaches out to help the hurting.

Hebrews 10:22-24 describes three results of this free access to God’s throne. First, it says, “Let us draw near.” What a wonder it is that we have an audience with the Sovereign of the universe. Second, in verse 23 it says, “Let us hold fast.” We never need to waiver; our future is secured. And third, in verse 24 it says, “Let us consider one another.” Nobody has rank and we are all redeemed through the work of our Great High Priest. Our faith should be unshakable because of the One who has erased our sins, established our entrance into the presence of God, and continually empathizes with us – Jesus, our Great High Priest.