I was tagged by Bryan at “Charis Shalom” to post five things I dig about Jesus. Besides the fact that I have never used the word “dig” in this context, I enjoyed thinking through this meme (it was groovy). In fact, I’ve decided to blog about each of my five things. The first thing that I dig is that Jesus is the Great High Priest.
I’ve grown to love the book of Hebrews. I love the way the author of Hebrews shows that the way of Jesus is far superior to the way of the law and ritual. In fact, Hebrews argues that Jesus is not only superior, but that the “former things” were mere shadows of the real things, which were initiated by Jesus himself.
One of the comparisons made by the author of Hebrews is between Jesus as High Priest and the priestly system that began with Aaron. The priest was responsible for offering bulls or goats as sacrifices, which were actually ineffective at removing sins. (Heb 9:13; 10:4) The priest was appointed to act as a mediator between God and man, but he had to offer sacrifices for himself and for his sins first, then he could enter the holy place in the tabernacle or temple. (Heb 5:1-3; 9:1-4) These ritualistic sacrifices had to be carried out continuously. (Heb 7:27) But, if these rituals were ineffective, then why did God command that they be carried out? Because they were a shadow (an imitation) of what was to come through Jesus Christ! (Heb 8:5; 10:1)
Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest, has now come. He has offered the perfect sacrifice (himself) once for all. (Heb 9:11-14) He does not need to offer this sacrifice continuously, because his death is sufficient. (Heb 7:27; 9:27-28) Now, Christ has entered into the very holy place – that is, into the presence of God himself. (Heb 9:24)
But, beyond what Christ did for us, Jesus as our Great High Priest continues to work on our behalf. Our Great High Priest does not die as other priests, but he lives forever! First, he mediates between us and God. (Heb 9:15; 12:22-24) Jesus intercedes on our behalf. (Heb 7:25) Finally, Jesus prepares the way for us to enter into the presence of God with him. (Heb 10:19-22)
Also, Jesus is not a high priest who is cold and distant. He is a high priest who came to us, who identifies with us, who suffered and was tempted as we are, and who is compassionate and sympathetic toward us! (Heb 4:15) This is the Great High Priest who ushers us into God’s presence, presenting our petitions when words fail us, mediating when we fail, lifting us when we fall, carrying us when we are too weak. This is the Great High Priest who will reign forever!
What does it mean for Jesus to be my Great High Priest? When someone tells me, “You can’t do that,” I just smile inside and remember the Great High Priest. When someone whispers, “God will not like you if you do that,” I nod and recognize that Jesus is mediating for me. When someone points out my sin and reminds me that I’m a loser, I remember that Jesus cleansed me of my sin and won on my behalf. When God seems distant because I have wandered far away from him, I remember that Jesus prepared a new and living way into the very presence of God, and He has given me permission to enter.
And, when I remember that I can’t do enough, and I can’t think enough, and I can’t say enough, and I can’t love enough, and I can’t serve enough… the Great High Priest reminds me that he did it all – once for all – and there’s nothing left for me to do, except to enter his rest – to abide with him.
This is the Great High Priest – the better priest who offered the better sacrifice in the better sanctuary to establish a better covenant over a better house. The shadows are no longer necessary because the light of the Son – our Great High Priest – has come and has conquered and is here.