Summary: Christ is the eternal High Priest of humanity.
Christ: His Sacrafice
Dickerson Road Baptist Church
Nashville, Tennessee. 37207
March 19, 2006 Sun a.m.
Paul declared there is “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (I Tim. 2:5-6). Part of the Old Testament economy was the ministry of the priest. He served in mediatorial fashion for Israel. Most important among the priestly family of Levi was the high priest, a descendent of Aaron. He had the responsibility to bear upon his shoulders and over his heart the sin and spiritual needs of the people of God before the mercy seat of God. He stood before God on behalf of the people. If God accepted him and his sacrifice, then the people were accepted before God. So intimately enveloping was the mediatorial relationship that the whole of the people of God were represented in the high priest. Their spiritual standing depended upon his success in the exercise of his office as high priest. Yet in reality, everything the high priest did had no lasting value. He was a foreshadowing of the great high priest, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our writer intentionally contrasts the high priests of ancient Israel with the high priestly ministry of Jesus Christ. As they were appointed, so was He—as eternal high priest. As they offered sacrifices, so did He—the sacrifice of his own life’s blood. As they were to deal fairly and gently with the people, so did He—for he sympathizes with our weaknesses and knows our temptations. But here the comparison stops. For the high priests of Israel needed a high priest themselves! They were sinners. They had no edge before God in spite of their noble office. While offering sacrifice for the sins of the people, they first had to offer sacrifice for their own sins (v. 3).
The existence of the office of high priest presupposes the existence of the sinfulness and helplessness of man. If man were not a sinner then he would have no need for a high priest to mediate the way to God for him. He could approach God in the nakedness of his humanity without fear of wrath or judgment. But such is not the case. “No creature is hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Every secret sin we harbor, every defiling habit we consider sanctified to ourselves, every rebellious thought and attitude, God sees—and with him we have a day of reckoning.
Such condition of every human heart pleads for God to provide the priestly mediator worthy in his own being and nature to open the way to God for us. Not that we assert this need for God on our own! For the bent of our natures is contrary to the ways and will of God. Every man does what is right in his own sight—not right in the sight of God. But in the richness of divine mercy and for the sake of his own glory, God has shown kindness to sinners by providing the one high priest who can fully identify with us in our weakness and at the same time satisfy all of the righteous requirements of God.
Christ’s high priestly work stands at the center of his redemptive activity. It is as a sinner recognizes that Jesus Christ is his very own high priest that he believes unto salvation. Martin Luther pointed out, “It is not enough for a Christian that Christ was instituted high priest to act on behalf of men, unless he also believes that he himself is one of these men for whom Christ was appointed high priest” [quoted by P. E. Hughes, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 175].