Summary: Jesus is our great high priest. In him we have a permanent salvation, which gives us eternal security. We also have a perfect sacrifice, complete with nothing needed for our salvation.
Jesus our High Priest
At the VA hospital where I work during the week, we always have a chaplain on call, ready to respond in case of emergency. Our student chaplains carry the phone most of the time, but sometimes I get the important task. It’s nice to have a chaplain ready to respond in a moment’s notice. There are others who do the same: doctors, fire fighters, police, CPS workers who come out in a storm and restore our power. We have phone counselors available 24/7 for anyone who feels at risk for hurting themselves: the Veterans Crisis Line. We have Emergency Room providers standing by, always on duty, ready to meet our need.
In our passage today, Hebrews 7, we discover another who is always on the job: Jesus our high priest. He is always working for our good in every situation. Let’s consider two major ways his 24/7 priesthood is crucial for us. First,
1. Jesus is my permanent high priest – my salvation is secure in him.
Listen again to Hebrews 7:23-25. "Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them."
The Greek word for “permanent” in verse 24 is only found once in the New Testament, right here in today’s scripture. It means inviolable, unbreakable, unchangeable. In a few chapters, the writer of Hebrews would say, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus brings stability to our lives. Everything else can change, but he won’t.
This would have been a good word back in the First Century, when a high priest died, or was simply removed from office by the Romans. The historian Josephus estimated that 83 different high priests served between Aaron and the fall of the Temple in AD 70. Turnover was the norm, with little consistency or security.
Because Jesus is our permanent high priest, verse 25 tells us he can “save completely” or “save forever” all who come to God through him. Some translations say, “to the uttermost.” Jesus’ salvation is complete, because his priesthood is permanent. Jesus saved you initially the moment you came to him (that’s justification), and he also saves you continually (that’s sanctification), making intercession for you before God the Father. That’s the picture here. And one day, he will save you perfectly in heaven (that’s glorification).
Right now, Jesus sits at God’s right hand, and he says, “Father, that child is yours. Father, that child needs you right now. Your child is facing overwhelming temptation. Your child is at her wits’ end. Your child is about to give up. Please come through for him, Father; he is yours.” Jesus is constantly at work preserving our salvation. Look at Romans 8:34:
Romans 8:34b Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
So what’s the take-away for us? Our salvation is secure in Christ’s hands. You don’t have to worry about falling out of God’s favor. Now, you should never put God to the test. You should never presume on his salvation to do your own thing. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this “cheap grace.” Paul said in Romans 6 never to use God’s love and forgiveness as an excuse to sin even more. But also, you don’t have to worry about God dropping you because you’ve made one too many mistakes. God never disowns his children. Once you’re a child of God, you’re always his child, and Christ Jesus is always at work saving you, making intercession for you before God the Father. Jesus is my permanent high priest. My salvation is secure in him. And,
2. Jesus is my perfect high priest – My salvation is complete in him.
Listen again to Hebrews 7:26-28: "Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever."
Jesus is unlike any other high priest in history. He is “holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” Jesus is the son of God, God in the flesh, the only human who was tempted in every way common to man yet never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). He is the pure white lamb without blemish (1 Peter 1:19), the perfect sacrifice, the only one who could take our place in judgment.