My Great High Priest!

I am not from a faith tradition that puts much stock in human “priests”… I’m of the faith tradition of the “Reformers” who look to Jesus as their “Great High Priest” and celebrate “the priesthood of all believers” (1 Peter 2:4-5)…

This morning in my Bible reading during my time of “coffee with the Lord” however, I came away with the feeling that perhaps I miss the “punch” a passage of Scripture had for Jewish Christians of the 1st century and perhaps the impact the passage I’m referring to has for faith traditions that retain the term “priests” for human clergy.  Yes… I’m admitting I probably miss something because of my theological orientation…

Priests Biblically and practically down through the ages have fulfilled the following functions:  They serve as “official” human intermediaries between God and humanity, they provide sacrificial services (whether liturgical or actual), they offer help gaining forgiveness of sin, and they serve the important role of “intercession” (not simply “prayer” but appeal on behalf of another to God).  But the role of human priests, at best, is incomplete and limited!  Imagine that now as you read the following from this passage written to 1st century Jewish Christians…

“For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.  He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.  Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.  And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God…  So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by Him who said to Him, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’… In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.  Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.  And being made perfect, HE BECAME THE SOURCE OF ETERNAL SALVATION TO ALL WHO OBEY HIM!” (Hebrews 5:1–9 ESV)

So I wrote this reflection in the margin of my Bible today… I am not limited to what a human priest can try to do!  He [the Lord Jesus Christ] is the One who can help me!  He came down from heaven – from God the Father!  He was appointed by Him to serve on our behalf!  As fully human, he experienced everything we do – and overcame it all without sin!  He conquered death and returned to heaven and sits at the Father’s right hand as our intercessor!  Oh praise God – I am not limited to a human priest, beset by sin – I have a Great High Priest, Jesus-the Christ – who offered Himself on my behalf as the complete and adequate sacrifice for sin, and now intercedes on my behalf before Almighty God!

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