Introduction to the High Priest


Hebrews 5:10-18
10For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” 13And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” 14Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

We know that all of the Bible points directly at Jesus Christ – either in the future for the Old Testament believers, or as an accomplished event for the New Testament believers. As I ponder passages such as this one, I am always curious about what those Old Testament ancestors knew or envisioned about the coming Messiah. They were handed a sacrificial system by God Himself and practiced that system until the Temple was destroyed. But as they were slaughtering all of those sheep, oxen, and birds, did they ever in their wildest imaginations think that God would come and allow Himself to be killed in the same way? Did they understand that a final sacrifice would have to be made? I could be completely wrong, but I don’t think that they did. In these nine verses, we find a brilliant exposition of that process – the sacred and holy God becomes the sacrifice for the sins of us all. And in that sacrifice, He becomes the final and perfect High Priest.

As discussed earlier, we know that Hebrews was written to a Jewish-Christian audience. They were deeply familiar with that ancient sacrificial system for they had participated in it themselves. Now the speaker/reader of these words handed the audience the perfect explanation of how those Old Testament worship practices and the bloody death of Jesus Christ were tied together. They knew (as do we) that they were the descendants of Abraham and of the promises made to him by God in the divine covenant. Now, Jesus comes and fulfills that covenant and the work of our salvation is complete. It took a few thousand years for that to be resolved, but God followed through on His promise. Now we have a permanent High Priest who won the role by offering up the final sacrifice. That sacrifice flows through the Old Testament believers’ ritual practices as proscribed by God as a mirror of what was to come.

These verses are rich in history and importance, and as such, deserve our full attention. I encourage you to go back and read the passage again – slowly – allowing all that you know of the Old Testament practices to flow through your thoughts and give Jesus the praise He deserves for fulfilling our need for a Savior so perfectly.

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