Day 5

Our Great High Priest

from the Hebrews reading plan


Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 5:1-10, Psalm 110:1-7, Matthew 4:1-11


My wife loves medical dramas. She is captivated by the on-screen romances that inevitably spark up as singer-songwriters play in the background. More than anything, though, she loves it when one of the doctors or nurses has an epiphany about treating the patients. Her favorite characters are the ones whose years of experience and immeasurable skill qualify them to intervene at just the right moment to save a life; they are the ones who always seem to have insight that no one else has. I’m not too fond of these shows, but I understand why the expertise of these doctors compels my wife.

When it comes to my health, I want the best in the business listening to my heart, checking my reflexes, and deciding what treatment I require to get me back into shape. I want someone who’s seen it all over the course of a long, successful career. Additionally, I want someone who has experienced illness in their own lives. If they’ve suffered some of the same symptoms I’m experiencing, I feel confident they will treat me with greater care and a deeper sense of humanity. 

In the same way, if I need someone to stand with me in the presence of God, I want someone who knows what I’ve experienced as a man. The role of the priest in every religion is, broadly speaking, to offer knowledge of the divine to the devotee and to be an advocate for the adherent as they seek the favor of the deity. Judaism prescribes an exhaustive account of the proper steps required for the priest to serve as an acceptable intermediary between humanity and Yahweh. But, at the end of the day, the priests are only human beings whose connection to God is as tenuous as anyone else’s. They, too, require atonement; they too need divine mercy if they hope to experience communion with the living God. 

Ultimately, the priest’s role as interlocutor is limited by his own broken humanness. But God’s plan was not to leave His people forever bound to sinful, human priests in order to have an intimate and powerful encounter with the Lord. All along, God planned to install Jesus as the tested yet faultless, experienced yet unsullied high priest who has perfect command of what it means to be both fully human and fully God. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession” (Hebrews 4:14). 

We can rest knowing that Jesus is perfectly capable of understanding the depth of our needs and helping us. He is not an amateur caregiver haphazardly doling out remedies that may or may not do the trick; He is the consummate expert of human affairs, implementing comprehensive healing with laser-like precision to those who would call upon Him to lay His healing hands upon their hearts. 

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