LIVING WITH A CONFIDENT FAITH IN CHRIST
Our Compassionate High Priest
Jerry A Collins
OWhat is the function of the priesthood?
What are the qualifications of a priest?
How is Jesus priesthood different from Aaronís?
As you have heard before I have been reading the history of England for the past couple of years. Especially the 14-16th century monarchy. The reigns of King Henry the 8th, bloody Mary and Queen Elizabeth. The latest book is titled Henry 8th, The King and His Court. The inner circles of these ruling monarchs included the only people who had access to them. People who were appointed to that position, much like the cabinet is for our President, because they qualified by blood, inheritance, prowess, friendship, or politics. None of us would have had a chance to be in that circle. Just like we do not with the President. Access into Godís inner circle would be impossible for any human being too if it were not for one who has made access available. Only One person qualified to make it possible. That person is Jesus Christ. So the writer says we can come boldly to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need (4:16) because our Priest has met the qualifications and there are at least four of them.
1. THIS HIGH PRIEST MUST BE CHOSEN FROM AMONG MEN 1
This is necessary so that he can represent man before God. Man sinned and man had to pay the penalty of sin. So the high priest must be identified with those whom he represents. Angels could not qualify as priests. God appointed Aaron as the first High Priest of Israel (Ex 28). Each successive high priest had to be from the line of Aaron, from the tribe of Levi, as manís representative before God for his sin. It was the priest who offered to God the various sacrifices which the worshipers brought on behalf of their sins.
2. THIS HIGH PRIEST MUST BE COMPASSIONATE 2
This compassion grows out of his own experience because of what he has personally endured. This is the reason he can deal with empathy for the sacrificers. A good priest should be able to fulfill his obligations because he knew by personal experience the problems of his people. So he could invite their confidence and assist him in making a sincere offering from the heart as the animals blood was spilled.
3. THIS HIGH PRIEST OFFERS SACRIFICES TO GOD FOR HIMSELF & OTHERS FOR SIN 3
The priesthood of Aaron and the Levites included sacrificing day after day the blood of animals slain at the alter of sacrifice. The perpetual reminder that the sin of the people required the giving of life in order to maintain fellowship with God. Sins could never be taken away this way for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Heb 10:4). It only covered over that sin and had to be done again when the next one was committed. But even as the priest did this for everyone else, he also needed some provision made for his own
sins. Here lays the weakness of the priesthood of Aaron. The priest himself needed a priest. So God took this into account and established the Day of Atonement ritual where the high priest made atonement for himself before he did so for the people (Lev 16). This would remind the priests of their own sinfulness so they would continue to deal gently with the people in light of it. It always reminded them that they were part of the problem too. We like to forget we are sinners. Especially if we can compare ourselves to others who seems to be more of one. Exposure to the light means I am no more in darkness but the exposure over time keeps revealing more of the dirt that darkness had hidden from me.
4. THIS HIGH PRIEST MUST BE APPOINTED BY GOD 4
This is necessary so the priest can represent man to God. No man took upon himself the honor of serving as high priest. God chose his own high priest. On at least 3 occasions someone took it upon themselves to act as a high priest and suffered Godís judgment for it. Korah a levite but not of Aaron (Num 16), Saul, a benjamite (1 Sam 13), and Uzziah, king of Judah intruded into the temple to offer incense and became a leper (2 Chr 26). God allows no deviation from His commands. The
OT is filled with great detail on how things were to be done. So with greater detail came greater temptation to modify Godís instructions. A person could not succeed to this office merely on a whim but had to be qualified and God alone determined that. This Aaronic, levitical priesthood was only a picture of something greater that was needed. A perfect sacrifice and a perfect high priest was needed to replace all of this once and for all. A sacrifice and priest far superior to that in Israel. Jesus Christ meets each of these qualifications perfectly. 5-10 shows that Christ meets the qualifications of 1-4 but in reverse order.
1. CHRIST WAS APPOINTED BY GOD 5-6
2 passages from Psalms cited as proof that Christ holds His priesthood by divine appointment. Psa 2:7 Christ is acknowledge as His Son. No other priest has this qualification. Psa 110:4 Christ is established as a priest forever. His resurrection and His ascension qualify him as our High Priest in heaven. He is of the order of Melchezedek and not Aaron. His priesthood is superior to Aarons for He is a kingly or royal priests like Melchezedek was. The functions of the throne and the priesthood carefully distinguished in Israel, even allocated to differing tribes to avoid concentrated power in the Jewish State. But with Jesus, the Son of God, no need to fear abuse of power or lack compassion for our needs before God. Now He is our high priest and will come again as King of Kings filling duel roles perfectly.
2. BECAUSE HE SUFFERED HE CAN BE OUR HIGH PRIEST 7-8
He experienced this in the flesh. He prayed in general as well as when in need of protection or help in some overwhelming moments. In the garden he set aside his own will for His Fatherís when he asked to be delivered out of death to resurrection, to a new life. As a perfect man his prayer in full harmony with Godís will making the answer certain. So Christ learned obedience but he did not need to learn to be obedient. he learned all that obedience entails. The suffering was all associated with the cross.
3. AS HIGH PRIEST CHRIST OFFERED US SALVATION 9
He sacrificed himself. His work was perfect when it was completed by his suffering. His sacrifice is the source of our salvation. What the blood of bulls and goats could not do he was able to offer for all time one sacrifice for sins (Heb 10:12).
4. CHRIST APPOINTED HIGH PRIEST AFTER ORDER OF MEL 10
He is approachable and he can give us help for every need. This is the source of his office and before author relates Christ to him in Chp 7 he gives an extended thot from 5:11-6:20. (7:1-3 of Mel).
(PT) We are priests today meaning we sacrifice (body mouth service substance)