In Chapter 7 our author outlines the qualities of Christ's priesthood, a priest after the order of Melchizedek. In comparing Christ's priesthood with that of the Levitical priesthood, he makes the following points: i] God's confirming oath in Psalm 110:4 establishes Christ's unique priesthood, which priesthood serves as a guarantee of a greater covenant, v20-22; ii] The permanence of Christ's priesthood enables him to always intercede for his people, v23-25; iii] The perfection of Christ's priesthood means his priestly office can effectively serve our needs, v26-28.
v20. Our writer has observed that the appointment of Levitical priests is not confirmed by a divine promise, whereas Christ's priesthood is.
v21. Psalm 110:4 serves to support the claim that Christ's unique eternal priesthood was authorized directly by God.
v22. Accordingly (as a consequence of Jesus authorized priestly role), Jesus' unique priesthood serves to guarantee for us the promises of the new covenant, of life eternal, by grace through faith.
v23. Our writer argues the superiority of the priesthood of Christ on the basis of the permanency of this priesthood. He points out that the Levitical priesthood cannot fulfill the text "for ever" for they have all grown old and died.
v24. Unlike the Levites, Christ can fulfill the perpetual priesthood identified in the text "for ever." We no longer have to see the priesthood constantly handed to another imperfect mediator, since Christ lives forever at God's right hand.
v25. Therefore, Jesus is well able to save us and intercede on our behalf; Jesus is well able to function as our great high priest.
v26. Our author now argues for the perfection of Christ's priesthood. The new priesthood is better than the old because the new priest is Jesus. Jesus went the way of obedience, he was tested and did not rebel against the living God. Jesus stands as the Holy one of God, pure and blameless in glory.
v27. As the pure one, Jesus does not need to offer sacrifices for his own sin as did the high priest of old. Christ's perfection means he never needs to offer such a sacrifice. Jesus has offered only one sacrifice and this for others. His offered sacrifice was totally effective, a once and for all sacrifice of himself for the sins of the many. It was a sin offering for the people, Isa.53:10; a sin offering of his own life, Mk.10:45, 14:24.
v28. The high priest of old was affected by human frailty, but Christ is untainted by human failing. The new perpetual priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek, is established by Divine acclimation, given under oath, and thus, supersedes the imperfect Aaronic model.
In our passage for study, the writer to the Hebrews identifies three particular qualities of Christ's priestly ministry which make him a superior priest. The priestly role serves to facilitate an effective relationship between God and those who would know him, and Christ performs this role perfectly and permanently.
"He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself." This is a most profound truth and one that should give us great confidence. Jesus, in his priestly role, has offered the sacrifice of his perfect life for all those who believe. This sacrifice is completely effective in dealing with our sins. The imperfection of the Levitical priesthood rendered it ineffective in dealing with sin. The high priest first had to deal with his own sin and even then he could only deal with inadvertent sin. Intentional sin was beyond his priestly role. Yet Jesus, the perfect man, offers one sacrifice only, that of himself, for every sin of every person who puts their trust in him.
We must recognize that Jesus' high priestly sacrifice has secured for us an eternal right standing in the sight of God. There is nothing we can do, or will do, that can alter what Christ has done for us. The offence has been dealt with, yesterday, today and tomorrow, and so we can rest secure.
"He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." Again, this truth can only but give us great confidence. Not only is Jesus' sacrifice completely effective in securing our acceptance forever in the sight of God (as far as God is concerned I'm as white as snow), but Jesus remains totally and constantly involved in our life, shaping us into the perfect person God sees us to be. Our salvation is eternally complete, for not only in Christ are we regarded as perfect, but we are being made perfect. Jesus sees to this, speaking and acting on our behalf.
Christ always lives to intercede for us, so can we not rely on him to achieve in our lives all that he promises and commands? Our eternity is secure, for Christ does his work in us. In this we may be confident.
1. Why is a permanent priesthood such an advantage? v24.
2. What is the content of Christ's intercessory work? v25.
3. Why does Aaron, and the priests who follow him, offer sacrifices for themselves prior to offering for the people of God? v27
4. What was "the oath" which appointed Christ as our great high priest?
5. If Christ is our great high priest, what does this mean for us?