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What is so great about Jesus? He is the perfect High Priest!

Because God is a holy God, and we are people filled with various sin, there is created an imbalance, an essential tension in our relationship with God. While he is loving and gracious, he is also just, so he desires to deal with sin properly, justly. 

In the time of the Old Testament, God had provided a way for his people to be reconciled to him even while sinners. God appointed priests, chosen from the tribe of Levi, and the house of Aaron. 

Their main function was to offer acceptable sacrifices—animal and vegetable offerings—as ceremonial and symbolic sacrifices for the sins of God’s people. They offered these both for individual and corporate sin, to make ritual atonement, a covering or forgiving of sins. For example, when a person sinned, he was told to bring a ram for a guilt offering: “And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the LORD for his sin that he has committed, and he shall be forgiven for the sin that he has committed” (Leviticus 19:21-22.) The problem of human sin in the presence of a holy God was resolved.

It is important to understand, however, that this function of the priest in the Old Testament was mostly symbolic and ceremonial, that the blood of bulls and goats could not actually take away the guilt of sins. How could they really? A human life, a human sin, has no real correlation to that of a pigeon or some bit of grain. 

No, the deeper purpose of the sacrificial system was to teach God’s people that they were sinners who required atonement for their sins in order to be reconciled with God. It was a just system, in that it required atonement for sin. It was also gracious, in that it did not require the person sinning to personally pay the price for their sins, but a sacrificial offering would bear the ceremonial price. But the entire system served to foreshadow the real atonement to come. The author of Hebrews explains:  

“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. . . . For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Hebrews 10:1-4

Christ came as the true and ultimate High Priest, to offer one perfect sacrifice by which anyone may have their sins forgiven and their relationship with a holy and just God, reconciled. 

“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God . . . . For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:11-14

By one perfect offering Christ as Priest and Sacrifice has won forgiveness for all who will turn to him in faith (John 3:16). He was the only perfect sacrifice, because being a man (Matt. 9:6), he could pay an actual human price, his life worth the life of a person, unlike the animal sacrifices. Because Christ was also divine, God himself (John 10:30), he could offer a single sacrifice of infinite worth that his death might atone for any and all. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Christ’s priesthood is excellent news for us! He is the perfect High Priest who understands our human struggles, trials, and temptations, so that he can be a sympathetic High Priest to us when we fail. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Christ as the perfect high priest sits forever at the right hand of God, interceding for us with the Father. “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

Whenever we are weak, failing, and feeling the weight of our guilt we can come to him for mercy and grace, for restoration to our relationship with God the Father. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). 

What is so great about Jesus? He is the perfect Priest, giving himself for our sin that we might be at peace with God the Father. He ever lives to pray for us and is ever ready to receive us at his Throne of Grace.