Understanding the High Priest

Hebrews 5

Friday, September 23, 2022

The Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament was responsible for bridging the gap between God and man. Their job was to make sacrifices for the people to turn away God’s wrath. People are by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Every person sins against God and is therefore guilty and worthy of his wrath, and therefore, death (Romans 3:23, 6:23). In order to turn away God’s wrath, blood must be spilled, since blood is what is owed. By sacrificing an animal to God, that debt is paid, and our just punishment is delayed. The priest’s role in this is as mediator. Normal people don’t need to (and in fact aren’t allowed to) offer their own sacrifices. The priests do it on their behalf. The priest takes your offering and presents it to God. For this to work, priests need to be blameless in their own right and that is why they also offer sacrifices for themselves. The most important sacrifice of the year is on the day of atonement when the high priest goes into the Holy of Holies, the location of God’s mercy seat. On this day they offer a sacrifice for all people and bring it directly to God’s feet by sprinkling the blood on the mercy seat. Only the high priest is authorized to enter this area. All others would surely die.

If Jesus is our High Priest, then he is the one who can approach God on our behalf. He is the one who can turn away God’s wrath. He is the one who has our interests at heart, having been tempted the same as us. However, Jesus is different from the priests who came before. He is not of the old order or Levitical priests; he is a priest of the order of Melchizedek. Jesus isn’t selected for his priestly service because of his heritage, but instead because of his obedience (Hebrews 5:8). He is a High Priest who we can trust, because we know that he was truly obedient to God and was without sin. He himself said that God would send legions of angels on his behalf (Matthew 26:53). If God will do that for his Son, then we can truly believe it when Jesus said, “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14).

What is it that you are hungering for? Do you long for a faith as strong as the apostles? Do you want to do the works that the disciples did in the book of Acts so that God can be glorified and more can be saved (Acts 3:6, 5:15, 6:8, 8:7, 9:34, 9:40, 14:3, 19:11-12)? Pray daily. Ask and you will receive (Matthew 7:7). You have a High Priest who understands you. You have a High Priest who can ask the Father, and the Father will listen.

-Nathaniel Johnson

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Pretend you are God writing a job description for a mediator between God and man. What qualifications does the role require? Any benefits to the job?
  2. Can God mediate for himself?
  3. What makes Jesus the perfect mediator?
  4. How have you personally benefited from Jesus in his role as mediator and high priest? What coming benefits are you looking forward to?

The Veil Torn

Mark 15

            God never does anything by accident, and what we read in Mark 15 is no exception. To me, one of the most incredible events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus is the temple veil being torn. This is what Mark 15:37-39 says about the event, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’”

            There is a great significance in the veil being torn. To understand how important this is, we first need to understand the temple layout. Moving from outside the temple in, the first thing upon entering is the outer court. This is where the altar was kept for offering sacrifices. After walking into the temple, is the holy place. This is where the showbread, incense altar and lamp stands would be. Only priests were allowed in this part of the temple. The next and most precious part of the temple is called the holy of holies. This was the innermost part of the temple and it was cut off from the rest of the temple by a giant veil. The veil would have been thirty feet long and thirty feet high. Talk about a big piece of cloth. The holy of holies was cut off from the rest of the temple because it was the place God dwelled. Only the high priest, once a year, was allowed to go into the holy of holies. This veil was the literal barrier keeping God separate from the tainted and sinful world. So when Jesus dies, why is this veil torn?

            The simple answer is this, when Jesus died he removed the barrier between God and man. God no longer needed to be separate from His people because Jesus covered that sin and washed it away. This means that those who put their faith in Jesus could now have access to the father like never before seen in history.  Look at what 1 Timothy 2:5 has to say, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”. We no longer have to bring sacrifices to the temple because Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice that paid for sin once and for all. We no longer need a high priest to enter the holy of holies for us because Jesus is now our high priest serving as a mediator between us and God. Thereby, giving us full access to the father. We no longer have to gaze from outside the temple wondering what it is like to be in the presence of God because now, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are being made into a spiritual temple where God resides in us. The church, which is us, is now where God dwells. Do you see now the significance of the veil being torn? It is a representation of one the biggest shifts in history. The veil being torn is a mile marker of a new age, the church age, where God is no longer is hidden in the holy of holies, but has poured His Spirit out upon the church.

            We now have the great pleasure of living a life of freedom and access because of what Jesus did that day. When the veil was torn, everything changed. The next time you’re in trouble, hurting or wanting to rejoice, remember that you have access to the Father. There is no veil separating you from God.

-Josiah Cain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Exodus 35-36 and Mark 15

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