~by Randy Bushey-Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess (Hebrews 4:14).
In ancient Israel, priests and Levites were responsible to carry out the formalities of worship.
For a period of 1500 years, they were led by the high priest.
The high priest had 2 primary functions as the leading religious minister in a highly religious culture:
1)he spoke to God for the people by way of offering sacrifices and engaging in intercessory prayer.
2)and, he spoke to the people for God in that he taught the Law of God, and also wore the Urim and Thummin, a unique breastplate by which the Lord conveyed His direction on important matters.
The role terminated when the Temple was destroyed along with the city of Jerusalem by the armies of Rome in 70 AD.
And in the entire history of formal Hebrew worship there were only 82 high priests.
However, there was but one Great High Priest.
Our Great High Priest is unlike any of the other 82. He is not only prominent, but preeminent; not only important, but unique; not only superior, but supreme; not only elevated, but transcendent.
He was the living Word of God, teaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to the people (My teaching is not my own. It comes from Him who sent Me – John 7:16) and teaching the way of salvation (For My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life – John 6:40).
He was the ultimate, final sacrifice as the Lamb of God.
And His intercessory role sustains His people: Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them (Hebrews 7:25).
Again, the writer to the Hebrews explains that different than every other high priest, this Great High Priest although tempted to extremes we can’t fully perceive, was morally perfect – and yet compassionately understood our human condition.
Takeaway: As we live out the Gospel, we know that the Holy Spirit is incrementally building the character of Christ into us. Our confidence in this process of sanctification — and progressive success in our ongoing struggle with that which disappoints the Lord — is enhanced, knowing that Jesus is our Great High Priest.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:15,16).
~graphic by Henry Schile, Wikikipedia Commons – US Library of Congress Prints