“. . . since then we have a great high priest . . .” Hebrews 4:14
Why does the priesthood of Jesus matter to us? It was easy enough for the Hebrew Christians, they were familiar with it since childhood. They saw the high priest continually, but we know nothing of priests, an altar, and a sacrifice. They had heard that the lives of the slain sheep and oxen were acceptable worship. We can’t bring ourselves to think that such an act could be of any use; our first response to hearing of the killing of animals would be to call PETA!
Our experience and context give us nothing to help understand the necessity. So, the question is, how are we, who have never had anything to do with such a priest as Aaron, or any of his successors, to get anything helpful out of this exhortation to hold fast in our confession of a great high priest? When, we have never experienced anything to do with a priest at all. We would be mistaken to dismiss this verse as irrelevant biblical history. We can’t reinstate the old forms of Jewish priesthood, but we can get an idea of the helpful truth which lies behind it.
The priesthood is the office and function of one who is set apart to act on behalf of others in their relationship with God. The real priest had to be honest, patient, and faithful in the little things, full of self-denial, and constantly attentive to the requests of people. This is the job description of Jesus. Jesus is the one who answers the questions no one on earth can answer, performs the service no one else on earth can perform. He helps us into God’s presence – we call Him, the great High Priest. All the wonder of God comes to us through the grace of our High Priest.
Think of the people who have helped you in your life – loving parents, skillful instructors, wise friends, other great men and women of character and integrity have passed through your life. They gave you eternal qualities, exposed abilities you didn’t know you had. They made you a better person, showed you how to live from the heart. Now, Jesus comes as the priest of the highest God, preparing the way for us to know the fullness of God the Father.
Sit quietly, ask Him to make the ministry of His priesthood real to you.