Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Christ the Priest (Hebrews 7)

You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 7:17b).

In the Old Testament God appointed certain men to be mediators, to offer sacrifices, and to intercede for the people. These men were called priests. God established a priesthood through the line of Aaron for the nation of Israel. The Levitical priesthood foreshadowed Christ, who would be the final and perfect High Priest. To understand how Christ fulfilled this office, we must understand the nature and function of the priest.

First, a priest is a man appointed by God to act for other men in things pertaining to God (Heb. 5:1). Man does not have the right in himself to come into the presence of God, so he must be appointed by God to do so. After a priest has obtained this right by the appointment of God, he serves as a mediator between God and the people. Christ is our perfect Mediator because no man, except for the Lord Jesus, has the freedom to come into the presence of God. Christ does not come on His own behalf, but on the behalf of sinners who need someone to approach God on their account.

Second, a priest is appointed to offer sacrifices for sins. The Old Testament priests offered sacrifices continuously not only for the sins of the people but for their own sins. Because the sacrifices were not sufficient to take away sin, they needed to be repeated time and again. Christ did not offer a sacrifice like the Levitical priests did, but He offered Himself as the sacrifice—the only sacrifice that could atone for sin, that could appease the wrath of God and meet what justice demanded. Only He, as the perfect sacrificial Lamb, could bring redemption to sinners, remove their guilt and take away their sin, and satisfy the demands of God’s just law. The sacrifice Christ made does not need to be repeated because His sacrifice is sufficient and complete. He died once and for all.

Lastly, a priest intercedes for the people. This intercession is bound to the sacrifice. Once the priest offered the sacrifice, he interceded for the people on that basis. Christ’s intercessory work cannot be separated from His sacrificial work. Christ prays that His sacrifice be made effectual in the lives of those for whom He died. Because Christ’s prayers are heard by the Father, all those for whom Christ died will be saved.

The priesthood of all believers means Christians have free access to God. If you are a believer you can come into the presence of God through Christ. Think about how you regard this privilege. Do you exercise it through prayer and communion with God or do you rely on others to intercede for you instead of going to God yourself?