Christ: A Merciful High Priest
What is Jesus doing right now? What is one of His most important roles? How is He serving His brothers and sisters on earth?
Remember that Christ is the Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). One of the major themes of the book of Hebrews is to show how Christ carries out His sacred role as our High Priest—how He is "bringing many sons [and daughters] to glory" (Hebrews 2:10).
Many in Christendom rely on a false "grace" that is merely a license to sin—unaccompanied by true repentance, obedience and overcoming. Apparently many know little or nothing about Christ's present role as our merciful High Priest.
The primary scriptures
"Therefore in all things He had to be made like His brethren [the Word became flesh] that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God [the Father], to make propitiation [an atoning sacrifice] for the sins of the people" (verse 17).
Sin has seriously damaged the human race. "Sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4, KJV). Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and threatens our eternal reward. It is the implacable enemy of every human being and must be conquered. This is not easy and never has been.
But Christ knows what it is like to have human nature, to be tempted to sin, to be tempted to transgress God's spiritual law. "For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted" (Hebrews 2:18).
Christ did whatever was necessary to resist the pulls of the flesh and temptations to sin. He never underestimated them. He prayed and fasted, but mostly He continually relied on and looked to the Father for help.
By never once transgressing God's law, "He condemned sin in the flesh" (Romans 8:3). In contrast, sin has tainted us, and one of our major goals as Christians is to learn to overcome its entanglements. Yet we cannot do this apart from our Savior, who told us, ". . . Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
Notice Hebrews 4:14-16: "Seeing that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [‘profession,' KJV]. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
Christ is the author and captain of our salvation. "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession [with the Father] for them" (Hebrews 7:25). Christ sits at the Father's right hand "to appear in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9:24).
What to do when we sin
Christians are to strive against sin and learn to conquer it with Christ's help and intervention. But it takes a lifetime of overcoming, marked by more failures than we would care to admit to others. Psalm 130 asks, "If you, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?" (verse 3).
The apostle John encourages us enormously with these words: "But if we walk in the light as He [the Father] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin [nothing to overcome], we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins [to God], He is faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:7-9). A biblical proverb says that the righteous man falls seven times and seven times gets up again (Proverbs 24:16).
However, this wonderful truth is not a license for us to sin. John cautions us: "My children, I am writing this to you so that you should not commit sin. But if anybody does, we have in Jesus Christ one who is acceptable to God and will plead our cause with the Father [as our High Priest]" (1 John 2:1, REB).
Here John expresses the same basic truth as the book of Hebrews—a truth mostly lost to mainstream Christianity. One rarely hears of it in most pulpits. Many have no idea of what sin is. Some don't want to discuss sin because it makes people feel bad. Sadly, much of Christianity is mistakenly assumed to be only a celebration of what Christ has done for us—saved us from our sins without any need for us to overcome with God's help.
Paul reaffirms the wonderful truth that "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" (Romans 8:34). Both the Father and Son are actively involved in fulfilling Their purpose of bringing others into the divine family. It's your destiny. Will you repent and accept this marvelous calling? Or will you cling to historical misconceptions shown to be false in the light of God's Word? The choice is yours.
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