A Better High Priest

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Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience–concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 9:6-15)

A Better High Priest

The challenge for the Hebrew writer was convincing the early Christians not to return to the practices of Moses’ Law. It is difficult to imagine how hard the transition from the life of a devoted Jew to believing Jesus was the Son of God would be and accepting the Law of Moses as being abolished. Every part of the Jewish life was hinged upon the Law and many of the early Jewish Christians had suffered greatly because of their faith. The author is imploring his readers to be steadfast in their allegiance to the Christ by showing what a better law there is under Christ.

There were limitations with the Law of Moses as seen in the practice of the High Priest. The Tabernacle was the place of communion with the people of Israel as they served the Lord God. It was there His presence was seen and heard. Every day, priest would serve the Lord as they entered the Tabernacle to light the lampstand, serve the table of showbread and burn incense before the veil. Once a year, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to offer atonement for the sins of the people before the Ark of Covenant where the cherubim of glory overshadowed the mercy seat. The sacrifice of bulls and goats for the people were made and the High Priest took the blood into the Holy of Holies for himself and the people. Sacrifices were made daily and every year the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies. It was a never ending cycle. And then Jesus came and changed all of that.

Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ came a better promise with a greater High Priest. His sacrifice was not the blood of goats and calves but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place. At the death of Jesus, the veil in the Temple of Jerusalem tore from top to bottom signifying the ending of the covenant with the Jew and Gentile. Symbolically in one stroke the testimony of the grace of God was evidence to show redemption would come from the sacrifice of the Son of God upon the cross. The blood of Jesus would redeem man. Sinless and pure, the blood of Jesus gave eternal redemption to all who would come to the cross. The blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer sufficed as the Law of Moses ordained by God carried out this requirement for the Jews but how much more now for all men did the sacrifice of Jesus bring the Jew and Gentile together as one in the blood of Christ.

The High Priest changed often through the centuries. Every High Priest shared the same burden as the one before: they were all sinners. Each one had to offer blood sacrifice for their own sin. As Israel grew more corrupt, so did the High Priest. Jesus became the High Priest that offered His blood once for the redemption of man. His offering was without sin. Jesus died with no sin and yet He offered Himself as the redemption of man. As High Priest forever, Jesus made one sacrifice. The promise of the eternal inheritance is secure by the action of one man through one sacrifice in His blood alone and without sin. Jesus is the better High Priest because He is the only sacrifice that has been given without making offering for His own sin. His sacrifice was for the sins of all mankind. What great love Jesus had for you and me.

Aaron was a great man of God and he served as the first High Priest but he was not the greatest High Priest. There were other High Priest of the lineage of Aaron who were great men but they all sinned. Moses, David, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel and other Old Testament characters were great men of God as they served the Lord. They all had to make atonement for their own sins. Jesus became the High Priest without sin who offered His blood for the sins of every man and woman from Adam until the day He returns. What a great High Priest we have. He is the Mediator of the covenant we are a part of today that redeems us by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. In that blood is the promise of the eternal redemption. Thank you Christ for being MY High Priest.

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