Jesus is the Greater Priest

Each of us carry a weigh of responsibility. Whether we are spouse, parent, student, or employee we have people around us or under us that can demand our care.

Up until 70 AD Israel had high priest who would bear the weight of responsibility of the entire nation of Israel and plead to God on their behalf for the forgiveness of their sins. What an enormous responsibility and yet he was just a mere man chosen among men to act on behalf of men (v.1).

“For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” – Hebrews 5:1-10

Interestingly, every high priest was weak and inadequate for the job and needed to seek forgiveness for his sins before he could ask for the forgiveness of the sins of the nation (vs.2-3). No priest was perfect or chosen for the job because he was somehow super spiritual. The honor of the high priest, including Aaron (the first Levitical priest), was not earned, but given by God (v.4).

Jesus was also given the title of high priest (v.5). Unlike other priests, He obeyed God in all things and was sent to earth to be the sacrifice for sin (vs.5, 7-8). A sacrifice that was once and for all. Jesus is unique among high priests in that he did not need to atone for his own sins because he is sinless (v.9). This makes Jesus the greater high priest; your great high priest.

 

Questions for Reflection:

  • What was the job of the priest? How was this a compassionate job?
  • How did the priest prepare for his job? Why did he need to deal with his own weakness?
  • How is Jesus more compassionate and prepared for the job?
  • How does Jesus’ suffering and sympathy help you to have confidence in God?
  • How does Jesus’ example encourage you to show compassion to another sinner?
  • Dig Deeper: Who was Melchizedek? (Gen. 14:17-20; Ps. 110:4) What does it mean that Jesus is in the order of Melchizedek? What does the relationship between Jesus and Melchizedek tell you about God’s orchestration of history?

 

Side Notes: Scholars don’t know much about Melchizedek. He is a symbolic picture of Jesus Christ. Long before Moses, Melchizedek was a Canaanite priest-king in a city that centuries later became Jerusalem and he was the head of an order of Jerusalem priests older than Moses’ brother Aaron.

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man is responsible to God

There are many different views about what God is like. He can be depicted as a nice old man upstairs or an ogre under the toll bridge. We often make God what we want Him to be like rather than who He really is. The God of the Bible is often different than the popular persona of Him. The way we—including many Christians—like to picture God is not the way God. What is God like to you? Here are some common views of God voiced by people today:

God is like a Grandpa. The grandpa-God is popular, forgiving, and a generous giver. Whenever we do something wrong he smiles and says, “It’s okay, I understand, don’t worry, I love you. Here’s some ice cream.” He is positive and reluctant to punish—sometimes forgetful. Grandpa God loves to spoil and send home his grandchildren satisfied.

God is like Santa Claus. Some think God is like a Cosmic Easter Bunny, Mr. Rogers, or jolly old St. Nick. “He sees you when your sleeping, He knows when your awake, He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.” He likes to give lots of gifts; blessings to all good kids and coal to the bad kids. All we have to do is ask and He will give us whatever we desire, like a genie in a bottle. The problem with the Santa Claus God is that the older we get the harder it is to believe that He is real.

God is like my Buddy. Some think God is like a casual friend. We go together like milk and cookies or macaroni and cheese. We text and Facebook each other often, but it is nothing more than casual and fun conversation. We like to call on Him when we need a friend because he is non-judgmental and low-maintenance. He will look out for us, but doesn’t interfere with our personal business.

God is like an Unfair Judge. Some think God is commonly known as the overbearing, always anger judge. He wears a long flowing judicial robe and carries a gavel waiting to inflict punishment and pain on sinners. He keeps a list of our tardies and demerits. This God is overly involved in our daily lives and world events. He is angry at sin and rightfully punishes the unfaithful. Feeling guilty?

Is God like some of these characteristics? God is loving, forgiving, and blessing. He is a friend. He is just and angry at sin. God is very different—compared to you and than most popular concepts of Him. As we read through the Bible we see that God is not like us. We have already discussed that I believe the Bible is absolutely true, which includes what that Bible says about God. He is set apart. He is in a class of His own. He is not untouchable or unattainable; rather He is distinct in His divine attributes. Here is what the Bible says God is like and humanity’s responsibility to Him:

Man is responsible to God because He is an indefatigable Creator

In the first verse of the first book of the Bible it declares, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” [Genesis 1:1] Everything exists [i.e. mountains, mammals, microorganisms, Milky Way] because God is—including you and me [cf. Genesis 1:26-27]. God spoke and it was. The Bible says that the creation itself sings of it Creator, “The heavens declare Your glory” [Psalm 19:1; cf. Romans 1:19-20].

God is a beautiful Creator. As the Creator of the universe and everything He does not get tired, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.” [Isaiah 40:28] It is true God rested the seventh day of creation not because He was tired, but as a model for His creation who is not omnipotent. As Creator, there is not a job God cannot handle, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.” [Jeremiah 32:17]. The affairs of seven billion people on this planet are not outside His job description either.

Now there are some people that argue, “So what if God made all that is and me? That doesn’t mean He is intimately involved in the affairs of His creation nor govern over it? Even if He is governing, He is not doing a very good job!” This is easily debunked when we look at the remainder of the Scripture that follows Genesis 1. From Genesis 2 through Revelation 22—even now—God is intimately involved in the lives of His people. God is alive and at work. Since He is my Creator and Originator, He owns me and expects me to obey.

Man is responsible to God because He is infinitely Holy

Not only is God a Creator—He is infinitely holy. In other words, God cannot sin. It is not that He doesn’t know the nature of sin; rather His holy character prevents Him from sinning. When getting a glimpse of God, Isaiah see angelic beings praising God saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” [6:3] God is holy, which means He is sinless. When Isaiah saw God for who He was [holy], he also saw himself for who he was [unholy].

Since God is sinless He cannot be prejudiced [Acts 10:34-35]. He cannot break a promise [Psalm 89:34]. Therefore, He does not know of a sin He cannot not forgive nor think of a better plan of salvation than His own [Exodus 34:6-7]. God is who He says He is—perfect and infinitely holy. Since God is holy, He expects holiness from His creation. There is no sin in His heaven. Those whose sin is not covered by the blood of Christ will not be in heaven either.

God is not a garbage man throwing out our sinful trash without a cost and delivering to the local dump never to be recovered again. Our sin does have a severe cost: death [Romans 3:23]. Sin must be judged. Yet in God’s grace He sent Jesus Christ to pay the ransom for my sin and He stands as my advocate before the throne. When I commit my life to Christ His blood declares me, “Not guilty!” He loves righteousness and justice.

In Summary, what is God like? He is not like us. He is Creator and Holy. He is perfect and without sin. Since God is my holy Creator I am responsible to Him. He owns me. I report to Him. He is the standard by which I live by and will be judged. If you want to know about what God is like look at Jesus [Read the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John]. Is this your God? Do you know Him?