Inspiration – What an incredible priest we have in Jesus!

Rev. Terry Goerz,
Redeemer Lutheran Church.

The author of Hebrews provides some history concerning the Old Testament high priesthood.

“Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.” (Hebrews 5: 1-2)

Priestly service was part and parcel of the Lord’s design for the life of his Old Testament people. He specifically selected the sons of Aaron to provide this priestly service for His people. They served on behalf of their fellow Israelites, regularly offering gifts and sacrifices to God – both for the sins of the people and for their own sin.

Because the priesthood was reserved for those who were chosen by God, the author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus, too, was appointed to priestly service when He quoted the psalmist.

“You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6: 21b)

And we are told, “but He became a priest with an oath when God said to Him, ‘‘The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind: You are a priest forever.’’” (Hebrews 7: 2)

God appointed Jesus as our great High Priest so He can serve us and help us. Jesus is immensely qualified to do this because He is one of us – bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, a human man among men.

As one of us, Jesus knows our weaknesses and frailties. The author of Hebrews spells out the comfort we have in Jesus as our High Priest.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4: 15)

Jesus willingly accepted our human weaknesses to suffer temptation, hunger, fatigue, sadness, loneliness, rejection, and persecution. Because Jesus knows our every weakness, He deals gently with those under His care who are ignorant and wayward. That’s us, by the way – ignorant and wayward!

Unlike Jesus, we are not without sin. Temptations tangle us up. Sin clings closely to us along every step of the way. We have a habit of straying from our Lord’s plans and purposes. We deviate from His desires, always seeking to serve ourselves rather than those around us.

Because Jesus is our great High Priest, we have this comfort for ourselves. He deals gently with us. He knows our sins. He knows our ignorance. He knows our weaknesses. He knows our struggles and our sufferings.

And Jesus knows these things about us not merely as facts, knowledge, or data; He knows it all as if it was happening to Him. He feels for us and suffers with us precisely because he is a human being – like us in every way yet without sin.

Not only does our great High Priest know and feel our weakness, but He alone can do something about it. He alone will offer His life as a ransom for us all.

What a priest we have in Jesus!

Only this reverent priest, Jesus, has secured our salvation. What He suffered was on account of our sin. The pain he endured was a penalty meant for us. The death He died was the necessary ransom to redeem a world of sinful, wayward rebels. Because of His reverence – His perfect, prayerful obedience – His Father raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in glory, where Jesus continues to intercede for us as our great High Priest.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2: 5)

This Jesus stands between us and God when we sin, and He mediates on our behalf. His death on the cross became an all sufficient sacrifice for our sin. He offers to us the righteousness He earned by His sinless life as a free gift.

Now when God looks upon our sinful selves He sees not our sin but Jesus’ righteousness!

There’s one final surprise concerning the priestly work of Jesus. He invites us to share in His priestly work. We are also priests – priests of the perfect priest, called to present our bodies.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2: 9)

As God’s baptized and holy people, we have priestly prayers to offer – priestly service to render to those around us. As priests of the perfect Priest, we are perennial students in the school of prayer, following in the footsteps of our great High Priest.

When we seek to be served, we sin. When our prayers for others falter, we sin.

But our Lord’s perfect, priestly service counts for us. His obedience counts for us. He invites us to learn obedience as we follow Him. He promises to perfect our lives through His perfect forgiveness and love. He is, indeed, the source of eternal salvation!

What a priest we have in Jesus!

Blessings!

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