The High Priestly Ministry of the Lord Jesus
Peter Scammell, Cwmbran
Every child of God has a part in the priestly ministry of the Lord Jesus, and this is comforting to know, especially when trials cross our paths in the normal course of life. It is good to realize we have a High Priest above who knows, cares and understands because He has been here, a Man amongst men. So now He is perfectly qualified to represent us before the face of God. The Lord Jesus is seen as better, greater and higher than angels, the prophets, the sacrifices, and as we shall see, the priesthood.
The necessity for priesthood – Heb. 2. 14-18
We learn from this section that the Son of God came into perfect manhood in order that He might go into death to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
This He did at Calvary and rose triumphantly from the dead. It was also necessary for Him to become like His brethren that He might be a faithful and merciful High Priest. While on earth, the Lord was not a priest. He was not of the priestly tribe of Levi, but of Judah. However, it is plain to see that the Saviour ever moved in priestly ways. It was upon His ascension that He embarked upon His High Priestly ministry in the sanctuary above.
he mighty work of redemption completed, He now possesses all the fitness to exercise His high priestly ministry for His people.
The activity of His priesthood – Heb. 4. 14-16
Here we are told what our Great High Priest has done and where He is now. He has passed into the heavens. The writer, by use of a double negative, emphasizes that we certainly do have a High Priest who is able to sympathize with His people. The Lord, while here, was tested and tried, and so is fully acquainted with the heartaches and disappointments that the people of God experience, but He was, of course, ‘sin apart’.
So, we can draw near to a throne where grace is dispensed, confident that our Great High Priest knows every sorrow, and sympathetically enables us to obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need.
The authority of His priesthood – Heb. 5. 1-6, 10
‘Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest’, Heb. 5. 5. His entry into this heavenly ministry was altogether of God. There is nothing of self-exaltation. His was a divine appointment, and was the result of divine satisfaction in the Son, which was long before prophesied in Psalm 110. The day will come when the Son will sit on the right hand of God with every enemy made His footstool, and to be a priest for ever; this thought should delight every believer.
The perpetuity of His priesthood – Heb. 5. 5, 6
Israel’s priests were many, and only death prevented them from continuing in this office. Our Great High Priest is now risen, ascended, glorified in heaven above, and lives in the power of an indissoluble life. He ever lives to make intercession for His people.
The superiority of His priesthood – Hebrews chapter 7
The Lord Jesus is of a different order of priesthood and presented as a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. Here, the writer demonstrates the superiority of this order by referring us back to Genesis chapter 14 where Abraham, returning from the slaughter of the kings, offers to Melchizedek a tenth part of the spoils of battle. So, the priest of the Most High God receives tithes from Abraham and blesses him. ‘The inferior is blessed by the superior’, Heb. 7. 7 ESV, and so the Melchizedek priesthood is demonstrated to be superior to the Levitical order.
The suitability of His priesthood – Heb. 7. 26
The writer points out that the High Priest of old had to offer sacrifices daily, firstly for himself and then for the sins of the people. By way of contrast, it is wonderful that our High Priest has no need to offer for His own sins because He is without sin.
The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus was a once-for-all sacrifice, never needing to be repeated. The promise is, ‘their sins and iniquities will I remember no more’, Heb. 10. 17.
The lovely characteristics He bears are most fitting for the ministry He undertakes on our behalf. He is holy as to relationship with God, harmless concerning His relationship with man and undefiled in relation to Himself, and now is exalted above the heavens.
The supremacy of His priesthood – Zech. 6. 13
We look forward to a day when the King-Priest shall sit upon His throne and ‘he shall bear the glory’, Zech. 6. 13. Every foe will be vanquished, and kings will fall before Him. There will be a universal acknowledgement of His supremacy, when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess His Lordship. Until then this gracious work continues, the Great High Priest has entered into heaven itself, and appears before the presence of God for us, Heb. 9. 24.