Jesus, Our High Priest (How Jesus Serves Us)

Introduction: The question which we attend today is this, How does Jesus serve us? We might be inclined to most often think about (and preach about) how we are to serve Jesus. But in the gospel that is not the first consideration. The first and primary concern of God’s revelation is how God has (and does) serve us. That question is in view throughout the O.T. That might not be apparent to us in view of the many laws and commandments found in the O.T.

I. The Priesthood of Jesus is Prophesied. God had the scheme of human redemption in His mind from eternity. It was God’s eternal purpose to send His Son. Eph. 3:8-10 tells us that it was for ages hidden in the mind of God. Peter says Christ was “foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world” (1 Pet. 1:19, 20). Even in the last book of the Bible depicts Jesus as a “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8)

A. shadows, copies, figures, types… The Old Testament order of things was intended by God to foretell what was in His mind for New Testament times from eternity. There are several key words used in the Bible that indicates to us that the Old Testament system foretold the New Testament system of worship.

1. “Shadow“: Paul declares that “meat,” “drink,” “a feast day,” all of which were a part of the Old Testament system, “are a shadow of things to come” (Col. 2:16, 17). Heb. 10:1, 2 – the law had “a shadow of good things to come”. The term shadow depicts dimness and temporariness. But it also implies likeness. What we see in the law was a likeness of what was to come.

2. “Copy“: Heb 9:24For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself,

3 “Figure”: (used in the KJV; others use illustration, model) – a figure is primarily “a mark,” “print,” “impression,” It denotes a certain resemblance, preceding another to come, model, (from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia) The Hebrew writer states that the “first tabernacle… is a figure for the present time” (Heb. 9:8, 9).

4. “Type” – The word “Type,” is the most often used word. Heb. 8:4,5 – Those who served the law are said to have been serving that “which is a copy and shadow of heavenly things” The usage of the word type indicates or implies a likeness to be imprinted by the type, this likeness being called the antitype. Thus the Old Testament order typified the New Testament order. The Greek word (tupos) from which “type” is translated occurs 16 times in the New Testament. It is translated by several different English words. These words tell us that the Old Testament sacrificial system, as a type, figure or shadow was pointing forward (prophesying) to the plan that already existed in the mind of God.

            • Maurice Barnett writes, “Old Testament practices were copies, shadows, likenesses, that were patterned after New Testament events. Some people think that the New Testament was copied after the Old. But, they have it turned around. The Old was a copy of the New, contained in figurative representation” (92). This is powerful evidence of the inspiration of the Bible.
            • note: We must be careful about extremes here. Not everything we see is typical or a figure. Moses Stuart gives this bit of valuable advice: “Just so much of the O. T. is to be accounted typical as the N. T. affirms to be so, and no more.” God tells us what is to be viewed as a type.

5. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states… “They (i. e. Aaron and Melchizedek) were called and consecrated that they might be prophecies of Him who was to come and in whom all priesthood and intercession would find its ample fulfillment” (ISBE, p. 2440). “The priests of Israel were but dim shadows, obscure sketches and drafts of the one Great Priest of God, the Lord Jesus Christ” (ISBE, p. 2441). Jesus’ work, therefore, as a High Priest was prophesied, just as were his works as Savior, Redeemer, Advocate, Sacrifice, King and Prophet. The means by which his priesthood was predicted was by giving a type of his High Priesthood. Neither Aaron or Melchizadek could perfectly foretell (or typify) the High Priesthood of Jesus. It took both. Christ’s priesthood was like that of Melchizedek as to order, and like Aaron’s as to function.

II. Jesus and Aaron: The main point in the comparison between Aaron and Christ in the book of Hebrews is Jesus’ superiority over Aaron. He is God’s only True High Priest. Heb. 8:1-2Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. But as a shadow of Christ, Aaron was also like Christ. Aaron depicted how Jesus would function as our High Priest. I see at least 4 elements that apply to both Aaron and Jesus…

A. Appointment: Aaron did not appoint himself to the office of high priest. Neither was he chosen by the people. Notice some passages showing God’s choice of Aaron. God said, “And bring thou near unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons…. sanctify him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office” (Ex. 28:1-3). Heb 5:4And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.

1. Jesus was also divinely appointed to his work as High Priest. Paul says, “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, even Jesus; who was faithful to him that appointed him(Heb. 3:1, 2) Jesus himself repeatedly states that his work on earth was not of his own doing, but that it was the will of the Father. “For I am come down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).

B. Compassion: We noticed last week that priests and especially the High priest had to be holy in conduct and meet certain stringent qualifications (no physical blemish, marry only a virgin, remain ceremonially clean, etc). The Hebrew writer further states that the High Priest had to be one who is able to sympathize with the people, one “who can bear gently with the ignorant and erring, for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity” (Heb. 5:2) That he might meet this qualification, God chose him “from among men” (Heb. 5:1).

1. Again we see Jesus. Jesus’ incarnation in the flesh provided Him absolute fellowship with man. Jesus came to the earth and lived as a man. He was deity in the flesh, but He was as human as you and I. He was to be one able to sympathize with the people whom he was to represent. Hebrews 4:15 – “For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are” He lived among men that he might enter into the feelings of men. His exposure to human temptation and subsequent holiness qualified him to be our priest.

a. In this sense, Jesus is our brother, and the Hebrew writer affirms this… Heb 2:11For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, Heb 2:17-18Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

2. Unlike Aaron, Jesus remained pure, and did not have to make atonement for his own sin. He “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22). Paul emphasizes his sinlessness in these words: “For such a high priest became us, holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people” (Heb. 7:26, 27).

C. Representation: The high priest represented the people before God. Upon two onyx stones were to be engraved the names of the tribes of Israel, six names to be on each stone. These engraved stones were then to be placed upon Aaron’s shoulders that he might “bear their names before Jehovah upon his two shoulders for a memorial” (Ex. 28:9,12). The scripture also says that the High priest “is appointed for men in things pertaining to God” (Heb. 5:1). The high priest, then, acted in behalf of the people.

1. Jesus also, as High Priest, acts in behalf of the people. What He did was “for us“. The Messianic picture of Isaiah 53 makes this connection. “He hath borne our grieves, and carried our sorrows… he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:4, 5). The language depicts both the priest and the sacrificed he brings.

a. 1 John 2:1-2My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

2. Jesus not only represented man to God, He also represented God to man. In this sense He was, and is, a comprehensive Mediator. A mediator is one who stands between two parties, laying his hand on both, able to effect a resolution. Because the priests of old were limited by their humanity (only being familiar with the condition of man), they could only fulfill this role symbolically, not actually. This is why Paul told Timothy, “There is one mediator also between God and man, himself man, Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).Jesus is able to represent both sides: as man, understanding the needs of man, and as God, setting the terms and conditions of reconciliation.

D. Atonement: Paul says that high priests were appointed that they “may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin” (Heb. 5: 1; 8:3, 4). This is the common picture of the priest of the O.T. – standing by the altar with a sacrifice. to offer. A priest without a sacrifice would be ineffectual and useless.

1. Speaking of Jesus Heb. 8:5 states “It is necessary that this high priest also have somewhat to offer. Had Jesus left without offering the sacrifice for which he had come, sinful humanity would have remained in the same tragic condition that existed when Christ came. The prophetic picture of His work demanded that He provide an atoning sacrifice for the people.

2. But Jesus never officiated in the Temple in Jerusalem, and never will. In fact, the Hebrew writer makes it clear that Jesus could not have served as a priest under the law of Moses – He was from the wrong tribe, and Jesus was not a priest of the same order as Aaron.

3. But Jesus did not fail to serve us. As out great High Priest He offered the only sacrifice that could atone for sin – His own perfect life. Heb 9:11-151 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. 12 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. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 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? 15 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.

            • In a future lesson we will look more closely as the event of the Day of Atonement, as it reflected the work of Jesus as our High Priest.

E. Intercession– Although this is closely connected with mediation, intercession points directly to the impact of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. He intercedes for us with His blood. The difference between a mediator and an intercessor is that the intercessor takes the side of one party. Vine defines intercede, in part, as, “to make petition, especially to make intercession, plead with a person” (330).

        • Romans 8:3434 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
        • Hebrews 7:2525 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Commenting on this verse, Robert Milligan wrote, “The word intercede (eutunkano) is used here in a very comprehensive sense He is ever ready to plead for those who have been cleansed by His blood, ever ready to defend them against all the assaults of their enemies, and, in a word, ever ready to make all things work together for their good” (213).

Conclusion: How does Jesus serve us? He builds the bridge for us. He is the bridge.