When we think of Jesus, our thoughts usually gravitate to Christ our Savior or Jesus the Good Shepherd; we probably don’t meditate on Christ the High Priest very often. Why? Because we scarcely understand the magnificence of what it means to be a High Priest. Let us behold the glory of our Priest/King by looking at His Priesthood.
Because of length, I cannot address all of the facets of a high priest. So I will make this simple and yet eye-opening at the same time. I urge you however to make this a Bible study endeavor, for the riches contained in this truth are simply awe-inspiring. The Book of Hebrews sheds an abundance of insight into Christ as our High Priest; so I encourage you to study and meditate on Hebrews with a commentary along side, as Hebrews can be quite a book to absorb.
First, I want to address the role of the high priest in a general way. In the Old Testament, there was a system of communication. In order for God to speak to the people, He would use a prophet. The Lord spoke to the prophet and the prophet then spoke to the people or king or whatever the case would be. So if you can imagine a stage with God at the back of the stage, a prophet in front of Him and a crowd representing the people in the audience, we can simplify the relationship and visualize it in our mind’s eye. A prophet faces or stands before God, then turns around and faces the audience and speaks to the people of what God shared. The prophet stands between the people and God and is facing or speaking to the people after facing or speaking to God. The priest on the other hand, starts by facing or dwelling among the people, and then faces God. He now stands between the people and God and faces God as the people’s representative. The prophet represented God to the people; the priest represented the people to God.
The point is that the high priest was not only presenting but actually representing the people to God. If the high priest was pure, then God accepted the offering for the remission of sin and blessed the people; if the high priest was impure, then God rejected the offering and the people could expect an awful year! And in some cases, the high priest would be struck dead…that’s harsh. But the quality of the High Priest in ancient Jewish history was the key! The entire role and benchmark of the High Priest is found in the Book of Leviticus.
So again the model worked like this: God spoke to man through a prophet; man came to God through a high priest. The nation rests in faith when they have a good and upright priest, but there is a problem. What if the priest gets side-tracked, or what if the next priest in line to follow is a hell-raiser? And we know eventually that any human high priest would eventually die. So the blessing or curse of the nation rested in the quality of their high priest!
Let us now gaze at the beauty of Christ as our High Priest. He is not only eternal, but also perfect. Jesus as High Priest will never die, is perfect and free from sin, and is in love with His people! In the new covenant, when the Father looks at His people, He looks into the High Priest of His own Son. The people are represented by the ultimate High Priest; when the Father sees His Son, He sees YOU in His Son. This is an astounding and immense glimpse into grace! You are righteous because Jesus is your High Priest, and He is filled with righteousness. It is not what you do; it is what He has done. Submitting ourselves to Christ ensures our righteousness, and forever places us in a loving relationship with the Father. This, my friend, is part of the new covenant.
We must always remember to look toward Jesus instead of ourselves. We must take the emphasis and focus off of ourselves and place it unwaveringly on Christ. Only by beholding Him with unveiled faces, can we be changed glory to glory. Can we see the connection?
Why is Christ the perfect High Priest? Notice in the Old Testament, specifically the Book of Exodus, that Moses was NOT the high priest; Aaron was the high priest. But why? Moses was the leader, so why not make him the high priest? When the Israelites were in captivity, Moses was living in Pharaoh’s palace and later in a foreign land, but Aaron was among the people, suffered with the people, and lived with them day-to-day. So in God’s wisdom and design, only a person who can effectively relate and empathize with the people is destined to be a high priest. So it is with our High Priest! He lived and moved amongst us, breathed our air, touched our pain, and tasted death. We can see this in the life of Christ on earth recorded in the Gospels and it was foretold by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 53. What better high priest than One that has felt all of our pain and suffering and weakness? This is astounding and quite a picture of how brilliant the design.
Another ray of light in this sparkling diamond is the fact that Christ is seated at the Father’s right hand. Why is that significant? Does it really matter whether He is seated or standing? Glad you asked!
For Christ to be seated, the work would have to be finished. If there were more offerings or pleadings or more remission of sins necessary, the High Priest would have to keep the system in place. But alas, when Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished”, He really meant it. In the Old Testament, the priests would rotate shifts, as it were, to constantly keep the system going 24/7; they never “took a break”. The only way for Christ our High Priest to be seated is if the work is finished. And my blessed child of God, if you are in Christ, then all the work has already been done for you to approach God as a son or daughter of the Most High! The Father won’t judge you, because you have the ultimate High Priest. And He is there for eternity and is unchanging!
“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” John 5:22-23
May we dive deep into this eternal truth and drink the living waters that set people free, for freedom is the call. All who would be free, must know that Jesus Christ loves His people, will never leave them or give up on them, and is the High Priest that is worthy to be praised. The real kicker here is that we now have unfettered access to the Father because of Christ. Without Christ the High Priest, we would have to crucify Him over and over again to atone for our sins! But the work is done…because He did it all…
So we honor you Christ Jesus and find our rest in You and You alone. We thank you Father for Your incredible love for us that You sent Your only Son to us! We bless You Holy Spirit for dwelling amongst us and guiding us to Truth! Our High Priest has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. Thank you Father, thank you Jesus, and thank you Spirit. May we all stand in awe of Your unfailing love and brilliance!