Our Great High Priest
By the work of the Cross, believing sinners have been brought nigh to God (Eph. 2:13). And in this place of nearness they abide, in virtue of the once-offered and abidingly accepted sacrifice of the Son of God, under the virtue of which they continuously stand. They are abidingly cleansed, sanctified, and made competent to draw near to God, in virtue of the one offering of Jesus Christ, the value of which is unchangeable in the estimate of heaven. And He, who once was their Surety and Sacrifice on the Cross, is, as we are told in Hebrews 10:21, now a “High Priest over the house of God,” in an unchangeable priesthood, for all His people. So that we may, as we do truthfully sing—
By Him, our Sacrifice and Priest,
We enter through the veil.
To this office of the priesthood, the Lord Jesus was “called” by God in resurrection, and installed therein as glorified in heaven, the great antitype of Melchisedec, after whose order His priesthood stands. And He will have no successor. For His priesthood is intransmissible, it will never pass to another, as Aaron’s did. The priest under the Levitical order was to be one who was able to exercise forbearance toward the ignorant and erring, seeing he himself was compassed with infirmity. And thus was he qualified to sympathise with and succour those whom he represented.
In the Lord Jesus there is resemblance, yet dissimilarity, to this. For though we are told that He was “in all points tempted like as we are,” yet He was “apart from sin.” Sin had no place in Him. He “knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21), He “did no sin” (1 Pet. 2:22), and “in Him is no sin” (1 John 3:5). Yet this sinless Sufferer was truly and actually tempted; never by sin in Him, but much by Satan (Mt. 4:1), who used all his subtle arts and devices to lead Him away from subjection to God, and to rejection of His Word. But at every point in which He was assailed, He “resisted the devil,” and stood true to God. And thus He overcame. Now He appears “in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24) as our Representative and Great High Priest (Heb. 8:1).
It was to a redeemed and separated people, passing through the wilderness toward their Canaan home, compassed by enemies and liable to fail, that God gave to them Aaron to be their High Priest, to represent them continually before God, so that they were ever remembered. On the two onyx stones borne on his shoulders, upon which the names of the twelve tribes were graven in the order of their birth, all Israel stood in unity before God continuously. And on the twelve precious stones of varied colours, all set in gold, the twelve tribes were continually presented according to their places as ordered by God, on the breastplate bound to his heart, so that they were always in remembrance there. Amalek might fight, Balaam curse, and Moab resist their progress, but God had their cause ever before Him. So that no enemy could triumph, no weapon formed against them prosper (Isa. 54:11), unless they forsook God, turned their back upon His Word, and went after other gods. Then their downfall came.
The people of God passing through the world are compassed by their foes without, and with infirmities within, are liable to err and to sin. And it is to meet these conditions that “We have a Great High Priest, Jesus the Son of God” (Heb. 4:14). Having passed through the scene Himself, He is able to sympathise, for He can be “touched” with the feeling of our infirmities. In His sinless, perfect, unstained humanity He is perfectly able to sympathise, for He still bears the Name of “Jesus,” yet withal He is “the Son of God,” mighty to save, and strong to succour and to save evermore, all the way, all who are on the way to God, for He “ever liveth to make intercession” for His own (Heb. 7:25). And all the dignity of His Person and value of His work invest His priesthood. Let us prove the efficacy of this precious ministry all the days of our sojourn here. It is, or ought to be, the greatest comfort of the saints of God, while here in mortal flesh.
In the daily round of life, Christ is to be the constant Friend. In hours of weakness, and trial, His consolations fail not. And when human helpers flee or fail, He is always near, ever ready to be used, always at our service, to sympathise, and to save.
There’s no place where earthly sorrows
Are more felt than up in heaven,
And there’s none where earthly failings
Have so kindly judgment given.
Let our appeal then, in every hour of need, of weakness, and of testing, be direct to Him. He is and ever will be faithful to the God who appointed Him.
Article series: Our Glorious LordThe Risen Lord in Heaven and the Presence of the Spirit on Earth An Advocate with the Father