If we would have grown up in Jewish culture at the time of Jesus we would have understood the significance of calling Him our ‘High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; 4:14-15; 7:26; 9:7; 10:11-12, 19-22),’ but since we haven’t we miss the rich meaning behind this term. As ‘Christ’ (‘Messiah’) He is prophet, priest and king. The name “High Priest” specifically refers to the priestly role of Jesus.
To the Jews the priest was the go-between of God and man. He represented God to man and man to God. This is a perfect picture of Jesus. An understanding of the priesthood and tabernacle adds much to our understanding, but that is beyond the scope of this blog (see “The Tabernacle” by Jerry Schmoyer for more details).
When Jesus died one of the accompanying phenomenon in nature was the tearing of the veil in the temple, from top to bottom (Matthew 27:46-52). This was humanly impossible. The veil protected man from god’s presence because for a sinful human being to be in God’s holy presence brought instant death. However when Jesus paid for sin on the cross then the way between man and God was open, sin was paid for, and we can come into God’s presence any time we want in prayer or fellowship (Hebrews 10:19-22). Under the law only one man, the High Priest, carrying the blood of the innocent animal shed on Yom Kippur, could enter the Holy of Holies where God’s presence was, and that could be done only once a year (Hebrews 9:7). Because of the work of our High Priest we can come into His presence any time, any where. That is the significance of praying “in Jesus’ name.” His name, authority, allow entrance to any one any time!
‘High Priest’ is a name for Jesus that refers to this special privilege we have. As our High Priest Jesus represented us because He was human, but the innocent blood He presented to God to cover sin was His own shed on the cross. He didn’t bring a sacrifice, He was the sacrifice (Hebrews 10:11-12).
However the priesthood in Israel had limits. A man was a priest temporarily, only as long as he lived on earth. And a priest had to be from the tribe of Levi. So how could Jesus, who is from the tribe of Judah, still be our priest now? It is because He is also a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1, 17; Psalm 110:4). Melchizedek came to Abraham after his victory in securing Lot’s release (Genesis 14:17-20). He was a man just as Jesus also was (Hebrews 7:4; 1 Timothy 2:5). He was a king and a priest, as was Jesus (Genesis 14:18; Zechariah 6:12-13; Matthew 2:2). Melchizedek was the King of Righteousness, also picturing Jesus (Isaiah 11:5) and the King of Peace, also prefiguring Jesus (“Salem’ means ‘peace’ Isaiah 11:6-9; Psalm 76:2). These is no record of a beginning or end for Melchizedek, so the writer of Hebrews says that in that way, too, he is a picture of Jesus who is eternal (Hebrews 7:1). Therefore this priesthood is far superior to the Jewish priesthood for it encompasses more and continues even through today.
Thus we have a High Priest who paid the ultimate sacrifice for sin and, as our go-between with God, opened the way for us to enter His presence any time. He continues to do that for us today. He still represents God to us for His earthly life showed us what God is like. He still represents us to God for it is His sacrifice on the cross which continues even now to be the payment for sin so we can enter God’s presence now and for eternity.
Every time you pray think of this title for Jesus, ‘High Priest.’ Think of the significance of it and the privilege we have of talking to God any time any where.
Read Hebrews 2:17 and 4:14-15. What difference does it make to you personally that Jesus has gone through everything you go through and knows by experience what you face? How should this affect your prayers, your worship and your obedience?
BIBLE STUDY ASSIGNMENT
Understanding Scripture from the viewpoint of the writer and reader is important, as can be seen by the necessity of understanding the role of a High Priest in Jewish culture. Remembering what we have learned about that, asking questions and looking at the context of a passage, read John 17:18-26 and list all the specific requests Jesus makes concerning us in this prayer. There are many things He is praying about for us right for now. List as many as you can. Then glean what you can learn about praying for others from His example. What should you be praying about for others?
For more blogs and Bible articles go to http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. If you have questions or comments you can email Jerry at email@example.com.