Summary: The Christian’s High Priest is better than the high priest under the Law of Moses because he is both God and Human so that we can draw near to the throne of Grace with confidence for help in time of need.
The Great High Priest
The theme of the book of Hebrews can be phrased in one word . . . BETTER. The book is one comparison after another of Christ and the things the Jews revered. For instance, in 1:4-7, Jesus is declared to be better than the angels. In 3:1-6, Jesus as a son is better than Moses the servant. And in 4:14-16, the priesthood of Jesus is better than the priesthood of Aaron. In this section, Jesus is presented as a great high priest in contrast to the priests who were descendants of Aaron.
I. Under the Law of Moses, the high priest:
A. Was taken from among men (Ex. 28:1) “Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests . . .”
B. Was appointed to act on behalf of men (Heb. 5:1). “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.”
C. As a human priest, he was to deal with the ignorant gently since he was also weak (Heb. 5:2). “He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.”
D. He was also appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins, his own as well as the people (5:3). “Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.”
II. This was the high priest of the Jews but OUR high priest is GREAT! Because:
A. He has passed through the heavens.
Jewish concept of heavens . . . atmosphere, stars, and the presence of God.
Eph. 4:10 . . . Christ ascended far above the heavens
II Cor. 12:2 . . . Paul says he went to the third heaven.
B. He is a high priest forever. Heb. 6:19-20. “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
C. He is at the right hand of God. Heb. 8:1-2. “Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.”
D. He is in the true holy place. Heb. 9:24. “For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”
The earthly high priest passed through the veil to enter the holy place, but our High Priest has entered in the true holy place, the very presence of God himself.
E. He is the Son of God. Heb. 1:1-4
1. Prophet of God.
2. Heir of all things.
3. Maker of all things
4. Radiance of God’s Glory.
5. He is the physical expression of God.
6. He is the sustainer of all things.
7. He is the purifier of sins.
So, we have a great high priest because he has passed through the heavens to the true holy place in presence of God to be our High Priest forever and because he is the son of God with all that implies.
III. But, he is also human (Jesus).
He can sympathize (suffer with) us and make propitiation (intercession) for us, because he was tempted (Heb. 2:17-18) “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Yet did not sin (II Cor. 5:21). “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
(Heb. 7:26-28) “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.