As we come to the Christmas season it is good for us to reflect on who Jesus is. One of the good ways to do this is to look at the offices that Jesus holds. I want to start by looking at the office of high priest.
Firstly, Jesus as high priest atones for our sins. Part of the job of the high priests in the Old Testament was to make sacrifices that would remove the sin of the people: ‘Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins’ (Hebrews 5:1). But Jesus as high priest is greater than any high priest in the Old Testament who offered inadequate animal sacrifices: ‘it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins’ (Hebrews 10:4). Instead Jesus offered a perfect sacrifice – himself: ‘But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself’ (Hebrews 9:26). So unlike the high priests of the Old Testament who had to continually offer sacrifices for the sins of the people, Jesus offered a completely sufficient sacrifice that dealt with the sins of his people once and for all.
Secondly, having Jesus as high priest and offering a perfect sacrifice for us means we are able to draw nearer to God than any Israelite in the Old Testament. Even after sacrifices were made for their sins, the Israelites still could not enter the inner room of the temple where God’s presence was. But because we have Jesus as our high priest we can go right up to God: ‘Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water’ (Hebrews 10:19-22). With Jesus as high priest we are clean and holy and therefore able to walk into the presence of the holy God.
But remember that Jesus is only the high priest of those who repent of their sins and believe in him. He does not offer himself for those who are content with their sin and not sorrowful for them with a godly sorrow. If you have never repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus you cannot draw near to the holy God in your sin tainted state. If this is you, do not miss the wonderful gift God is offering you in Jesus Christ – a high priest who offers a perfect sacrifice that cleanses you and allows you to be in the presence of God forever. Repent and believe today.