Desert Hills Bible Church | Christ As Priest

Christ As Priest

What does it mean that Jesus is our prophet, priest, and king? Like all theological questions, more is at stake than merely intellectual comprehension. The Gospel calls us to put our trust in Jesus for salvation. How, though, can we believe in Jesus if we do not know who He is or what He has done? We are therefore asking a critical question when we investigate the office of Christ as prophet, priest, and king, coming to the Scriptures so our faith in Him is not grounded on speculation, but on who He is and what He has done and is doing today.

Now we consider what it means that Jesus Christ functions as the Great High Priest, for His new covenant people. Scripture, especially the book of Hebrews, is really a tour de force on the priesthood of Jesus.

First, we need to understand the requirements of priesthood.

We should label the requirements of priesthood under two headings. First, there are the absolute requirements, which all true priests of God must always meet – Old Covenant priests and believers The second category of priestly requirements are covenantal requirements – old and new covenants.

Let’s start with the absolute requirements. The first requirement is priests must be human beings. Hebrews 2:17 says, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God.” Because of sin, people cannot come into God’s presence on their own. We need a mediator – a human person – who can represent us before God. The Son of God thus had to become flesh, so He could be our great High Priest and represent us before God.

We see here the importance of the incarnation. If the Son of God had not entered our world as a man, we could never have been saved. We would have no one to represent us before God, who would have only spoken words of judgment without the incarnation.

The second requirement is a priest must be appointed and called by God. Hebrews 5 brings this point out clearly. In Hebrews 5:1, we see that a priest represents men in God’s presence – but he does not do this on his own; rather he is appointed. Hebrews 5:5 makes it plain that Jesus meets this requirement. The Father appointed the Son to be our high priest.

The last absolute requirement of all priests is their faithfulness to God. Hebrews 3:1-2 says, “… consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed Him…” God appointed Jesus, who faithfully fulfilled His charge as high priest.

Now, what about old versus new covenant? There are four contrasts to see the superiority of Christ’s priesthood compared to the old covenant priests, demonstrating how believers are heirs of a much better covenant.

First, there is the contrast of physical versus powerful. The only requirement of priests under the old covenant was based on a genealogy. Christ, however, is not a high priest because of a physical requirement, but because of resurrection power.

The second contrast is temporary versus eternal. Under the Law, there were many priests because of death, but under the new covenant, there is one, eternal priest: Jesus Christ.

Another contrast is sinful versus holy. Under the old covenant, the high priest was sinful. Jesus is not like those priests. Jesus is a holy high priest, not a weak, sinful one.

Finally, we see the contrast of earthly versus heavenly. Jesus’ priesthood is not subject to the obsolete old covenant. His priesthood is vastly superior because it is heavenly, and He is not in a copy of the heavenly things, but in the very presence of the Father in heaven.

We see Jesus not only meets the absolute requirements of a priest, but He also surpasses all the old covenant requirements! He is the high priest of the new covenant.

Second, we need to understand the tasks of priesthood.

There are three tasks of priesthood – one of them is past, and two are present.

The first is the completed task. Jesus as our great high priest had to offer a sacrifice for sin.

Under the Law, the priests offered up the blood of bulls and goats for sin. However, these offerings, important as they were, never cleansed sin. All Old Testament priests and sacrifices pointed forward to the true, great high priest, Jesus Christ, who would also become the sacrifice.

We must understand the full weight of what Hebrews 2:17 teaches about Jesus’ self-sacrifice. As sinners, we stand under God’s judgment. When Jesus took God’s condemnation and died on the cross, He satisfied that justice for believers so we can receive God’s mercy and grace. What’s more, Christ secured salvation for His people. Jesus is the eternal guarantee that the new covenant promises will come to all who have faith in Him.

Then we see this certainty of salvation in Hebrews 9:12. Jesus’ death secured eternal redemption for His people. And, as Hebrews 10:14 reminds us, Christ’s sacrifice brought an eternal salvation to His holy people. That was His first task as priest, to secure our redemption, to obtain it, to guarantee it, under the terms of the new covenant.

The second task is to intercede for His people. Hebrews 7:25 says, “He always lives to make intercession for us.” Jesus stands in God’s presence as an eternal reminder that we are holy in Him through His death and resurrection. It goes beyond that, however, speaking of His prayers for us. Even in the resurrection state, Jesus still has a divine and human nature. He is the one human being who can stand before God on our behalf with prayers for our needs; and since He is God, He knows exactly what we need when we need it.

The final task is Jesus helps us when we are tempted to sin. Hebrews 2:18 states, “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” As our great high priest, Jesus comes to our aid when we need His help to overcome suffering, temptation, weakness, and all the other struggles of this fleshly life. Since Jesus overcame every temptation and was victorious over all suffering and struggling, He knows the path to victory. What a magnificent high priest!

Finally, we must consider the consequences of priesthood.

The truths about Christ’s priesthood are so profound that it infinitely affects everything we do. The writer of Hebrews ends his discussion of the priesthood of Jesus with exhortations and practical applications of this marvelous doctrine in chapter 10. Because Jesus is our great high priest, we can – and should – come to God in prayer and through His Word with confidence and full assurance of faith. We must manifest in our lives inward and outward cleansing. We must persevere in our hope. Therefore, we must encourage each other to obedience, to love and good deeds. And that means that we must be the church, prioritizing meeting regularly for worship, edification, praise, prayer, the Lord’s Supper, teaching and preaching, and fellowship.

Jesus is our great high priest. We need no other priest. We do not need a human, earthly priest to mediate God to us. We need our human, heavenly priest, the Son of God become flesh, now exalted to the right hand of God the Father, and we need Him alone.

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