Jesus is our Great High Priest, but what does that mean? What priestly positions are there, and how does His differ? How can His serving as our Great High Priest cause our faith to rise?
Join us as we discover how we can hold fast to faith through the knowledge of our Savior as our Great High Priest!
Jesus, Our Great High Priest!
Our Messiah—Jesus Christ—is not limited to one role. He is the Prince of Peace, our Bridegroom, our Friend, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, our Great High Priest. Nothing is impossible for God, our three-in-one—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! Our Mighty God!
One of these aspects of our Messiah is related to Heavenly and earthly positions of authority. Specifically the priestly and judicial spheres that bring justice and judgment to spiritual and physical realms.
The book of Hebrews, chapters four and five, verses 14-16 and 1-10, speaks eloquently of our Messiah’s position as our Great High Priest. But what does that role mean, and how does it relate to faith?
First, it is important to realize that the priesthood is tiered. There are priests, then there is the high priest, and with the coming of Jesus, one Great High Priest! There are even those who were of the priestly tribe of Levi, but, not being descents of Aaron, were only able to assist. Still, these Levites were uniquely called to serve God and His Temple as: gatekeepers, singers, musicians, teachers, guards, and others as assigned for temple service.
Prior to God choosing the line of Levi, and prior to the Tabernacle and Temples, the order of Melchizedek served the priestly roles; most notably during the life of Abram/Abraham. With the coming of Jesus, the Melchizedek priesthood was birthed anew… for Jesus is considered to be the Great High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek. And in Him, Jesus, our Great High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, we are called to be kings and priests.
“Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
—Hebrews 5:8-10 (NIV)
During periods when the priests and children of Israel followed God, these priestly roles were passed down through the tribe of Levi—specifically those descended from Aaron when it came to the priesthood—and kept in harmony with the instructions of God. However, when the priests and children of Israel began to stray, the instruction of God no longer held their hearts, let alone their actions. So much so that the priesthood and priestly duties were sometimes sold to the highest bidder, no matter if they were chosen of God or not!
This selling of the priestly order lit a fire under those we know as the Maccabees. Seeing the desecration of the Temple, the priesthood, and their faith, the Maccabees risked their lives to revolt and rededicate the Temple to God’s preordained plan in 167-160 BC. Yet, by the time Jesus came on the scene, the priesthood was already being sold again.
Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, or Yochanan the Immerser, was son to Zechariah and Elizabeth—both of whom were of the priestly lineage of Aaron. Not only that, and despite the corruption in obtaining the priestly position, Zechariah is believed to have been the one who would hold the position of high priest at God’s choosing. Because of this, John—given as a special gift from God to His aging high priest and wife—would have been the one who would next serve as high priest.
Yet, John’s position in the natural became the ‘property’ of another. But John, being called and anointed of God, continued to serve Him… preparing the way of our Messiah, and immersing Jesus into His call, even into His priesthood. But not an ordinary priesthood, for with the coming of Jesus came a new priestly position. One higher than all the rest. One that could never be sold. That of Great High Priest!
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”—Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV)
Since Jesus is our Great High Priest, having passed all tests and temptations on earth before ascending into Heaven, we are able to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence to receive God’s mercy and grace.
As Gentile Believers we may not typically understand priestly positions in the same way as our Jewish brothers and sisters, however this lack of understanding is no indication of the priesthood being unimportant. Rather, it serves as an opportunity for us to be taught by the Holy Spirit, to lean in to God’s Word, to have faith that does not rest in mere knowledge, but as Hebrews 11:1 puts it, “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hold Fast to Faith:
The role of Jesus as our Great High Priest is precious. A high priest not only serves as a spiritual plumb bob or guideline, they take the blood that bears the forgiveness of the people. They stand set apart, sanctified and specially chosen by God. Their purpose is to serve God and His Kingdom purpose. To walk the people on paths of righteousness…
The high priest is also the only one who traditionally could enter the Holy of Holies. That place where God’s presence resided. And yet, their positon or role as high priest was not enough to protect them in God’s presence. They needed to be cleansed. They needed to be in alignment. They needed the blood. And they needed to enter on the one day a year that God ordained…
Our Messiah tore the veil in two, so that all might have access to the presence of God. But, as was the case for the high priests, the Blood needs to be applied. Our hearts need to be cleansed. And we need to be in alignment. Not because, as it was when a high priest was not properly prepared, we will fall down dead. But because God’s protocols serve a purpose. Because God deserves all of the honor and all of the praise. He deserves the sacrifice of His Son Jesus not to serve as an afterthought, but instead as the pure and holy foundation for our faith. For our coming with confidence before the throne of God.
Our Great High Priest never faltered. He never gave in to temptation, though He was tempted in every way. He stands perpetually clean. He is aligned with His Father. And HE served as the Blood sacrifice. Through these things and more He became our Great High Priest. Nothing could ever buy His position. We can stand confidently, boldly, even that the Great High Priest prepares the way, leading us in the pathways of our God. We can hold fast to faith, the faith that He will do all that He has said, that He will provide grace and mercy to those who come before His throne. This knowledge alone ought to be enough to cause us to walk boldly in faith! But, through the abounding grace and mercy of our God, He breathes new faith into us continually; through His Holy Spirit, prayer, testimonies, praise, His love, grace, mercy, kindness, His Word, and a million other beautiful things…
When we feel faith waning, our God is ready to help. His Word speaks of faith 300 to 400 times over—and He provides reasons for us to hold fast to that faith in every verse! What is more, He listens to our prayers and answers them. He causes boldness and faith to arise when we come to Him in praise and worship…
When we place our cares upon Him, peace overtakes our fears. By turning to Him, trust enters in place of doubt. In forgiveness we discover the love of our Father. And our faith arises! In our Great High Priest we can hold fast to faith!
“Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith let it be to you.’”—Matthew 9:29