Christ came as the perfect Priest. He was both the One who stood in the presence of God and the perfect sacrifice the Father accepted. To call His people to worship, Christ humbled Himself by taking the form of a man and was exalted to the highest place. To care for the spiritual lives of His people, He gave the Holy Spirit. To intercede for them, He took their sin upon Himself.
Each day this week we have looked at a role Old Testament priests played in the lives of God’s people—calling them to worship, caring for them spiritually, and interceding on their behalf. The priests played another role, too, one they likely had no idea they were playing. They were pointing ahead to the work the Messiah would one day do.
Every sacrifice the priests made, every burning of incense, every prayer, every song—all of it pointed to Jesus. They devoted their lives to this task without ever fully realizing it. They simply knew they were giving all of life to God’s service (just as Jesus would do). All that the priests did reflected dimly what Christ would one day do perfectly.
Jesus Christ was the perfect Priest. Like all priests, He was called to His mission and ministry by God. He knew why He had come, and He fulfilled His calling without lapse or failure. At every turn, Jesus called people to worship God, He cared for their spiritual well-being, and He embodied intercession. He taught. He comforted. He prayed. He protected. He related and connected and understood. He knew the ups and downs and pains of life, just as any priest would have. After all, Jesus was fully man.
But Jesus didn’t only offer intercession for sin. He was the mediator. He was both priest and sacrifice. Every priest before Him had to spill the blood of one animal after another, year after year, to atone for sins. But Jesus gave His own life and spilled His own blood to atone for sins once and for all time, for all who believe. He was the first and only truly unblemished sacrifice, the only one which perfectly satisfied God’s holy justice.
Christ’s sacrifice did not complete His priesthood. The cross was not His final act. Unlike every sacrifice before Him, and unlike any other priest, Christ conquered death rather than being conquered by it. And He lives forever to be the perfect Mediator between man and God. He is the means by which we can, without condemnation or fear, enter the presence of God and have access to Him in His holiness.
Jesus Christ is the High Priest that Israel waited for and the one every person needs for all time—the perfect High Priest and the perfect sacrifice.
Written by Barnabas Piper