So the priest who is anointed and ordained to serve as priest in his father=s place shall make atonement: he shall thus put on the linen garments, the holy garments, 33 and make atonement for the holy sanctuary; and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, He shall also make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. (Leviticus 16:32-33).
You have heard the expression that Aclothes make the man.@ I suppose that there is some truth to this. Certain things come to mind when you see the uniform of a police officer or a soldier or a fire fighter. This was also true of the high priest.
Within the religion of the Jews, there was no more exalted position that could be held among men than that of high priest. And the most important task of the high priest took place on Yom Kippur C the Day of Atonement.
On this day, he would be arrayed in a white linen robe over which he wore a blue robe, a breastplate with 12 stones, and a golden frontlet. On this day, he would enter into the innermost part of the temple and make a sacrifice for the sins of the nation. On this day, he was the official representative of the people before their God.
We have already seen the message in the book of Hebrews that Jesus is better.
? He is better than the angels.
? He is better than Moses.
? He is better than Joshua.
? And He provides a better rest than was ever seen in the Promised Land.
Now we come to a new aspect with regards to the truth that Jesus is better. It is that Jesus is a better priest than Aaron.
THE CREDENTIALS OF THE PRIEST
For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; 2 he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness; 3 and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself. (Hebrews 5:1-3).
The writer closed the previous chapter with the statement that we have a high priest in the person of Jesus. The Jew would immediately object, AHold it right there! It takes certain rigid qualifications to be a priest. Not just anyone can take that title to himself.@
The writer anticipates this objection and so, he pauses to examine three particular aspects of the high priest. Then, in verses 6-10, he goes back over those same aspects in reverse order, applying them to Jesus. This type of reverse parallelism is known as a CHIASM. It can be charted like this:
The OLD office of High Priest (5:1).
The NEW office of High Priest (5:9-10).
Solidarity of the Priest with the People (5:2-3).
Solidarity of Christ with the People (5:7-8).
Humility of the High Priest (5:4).
Humility of Christ (5:5-6).
1. A Godly Calling.
For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God (5:1).
The main function of a priest was not to teach or preach. His main function was to act as a mediator between men and God.
Now, the fact that men need a mediator to approach God implies that there is something wrong with men. After all, man was originally created in the image of God.
What is the problem? Why can=t men approach God without the benefit of a mediator? It is because of sin. Sin places a barrier between men and God. And it takes the work of a mediator to overcome the barrier of sin.
2. A Ministry of Mediation.
Jesus is a MEDIATING priest. He has crossed the gap between God and man. He has provided a reconciliation so that the enmity which once separated God and man has been put away.
He is the people=s priest. If you ever want to know God, you need a priest. And the best priest I know is Jesus.
1. A Ministry of Gentleness.
He can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness (5:2).
Jesus is not only a mediating priest; He is also a GENTLE priest. The reason that He is gentle is because He knows what it is like to be vulnerable.
The best kind of comforter is one who has gone through the pain and anguish and who can empathize with you. He understands because He has been there.
Never let your hair be cut by a bald barber. He can=t identify with your needs. But Jesus has identified with you.