There have been and are still today those who function in the capacity of Priest. But for all those who have had and still claim to hold that role, Jesus is better. He is the true and better priest. But why? Why is Jesus the true and better priest?
Why is Jesus the True and Better Priest?
(1) Jesus is Perfect
In my last post, when we talked about the High Priests and the Day of Atonement, we learned that they not only had to offer a sacrifice for the people but they also had to offer a sacrifice for themselves. In fact, before they even entered the Holy of Holies to offer a sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, they had to go through a time of purification. But this was not true of Jesus. Look at what Hebrews 4:14-15 says about Him,
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb 4:14–15)
So not only is Jesus our High Priest who is able to sympathize with us, but we also learn that He is without sin. In other words, He is perfect, which is exactly what the writer of Hebrews goes on to say in chapter 7 verses 26 and 27.
“For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.” (Heb 7:26–27)
So Jesus is the true and better High Priest because He is perfect and doesn’t need a sacrifice offered on His behalf.
But Jesus’ perfection is not the only thing that makes Him the true and better High priest. In Hebrews 6:20, we learn second that Jesus is the true and better High Priest because:
(2) Jesus is an Eternal High Priest
He doesn’t die. Instead, He lives on as our Mediator forever. No earthly high priest is able to live forever. They eventually died and could no longer mediate for the people, but not Jesus. Jesus lives on forever as our Mediator. He doesn’t ever need to be replaced.He is an eternal High Priest.
(3) Jesus Has Unhindered Access to the Father
In Hebrews 8:1 we read:
“Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,” (Heb 8:1)
Whereas the High Priest in the Old Testament could only enter the presence of the Lord once a year for a limited time, Jesus is forever seated at the Father’s side, which gives Him unhindered access to mediate on our behalf.
While those are all convincing reasons for why Jesus is the true and better High Priest, we aren’t done yet. Next, we learn that Jesus is the true and better High Priest because:
(4) He Made a Once and for All Sacrifice for Our Sins
I am sure that your family, like mine, put up a Christmas tree this last year. If you put up a real Christmas tree, the tree you put up wasn’t the same one from last year. Despite our best efforts to keep them alive during the Christmas season, they eventually die and have to be thrown out. So every year, if we want a real Christmas tree, we have to buy and bring home a new one. But that tree, no matter how perfect we think it is, will die and have to be replaced next year as well.
You see, real Christmas trees only last so long. That’s exactly why my family puts up a fake Christmas tree. While it doesn’t look or smell as good as a real tree, and it’s something we have to store, haul out, and untangle every year, it is one less thing we have to spend money on at Christmas. You see, unlike their real counterparts, fake trees don’t die, they don’t have to be replaced every year. If you take good care of them, they’ll last forever. The tree we are using now is a hand-me-down. We got it from Jen’s parents. It has been abused a bit over the years, but it still works, for the most part.
Not to be sacrilegious or anything, but like a fake Christmas tree, the writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus’ sacrifice lasts forever. In Hebrews 9:24-26 he says,
“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb 9:24–26)
You see, Jesus offers a once and for all sacrifice that lasts forever. It doesn’t have to be repeated year in and year out like the sacrifice of the Old Testament High Priests’.
The sacrifice Jesus offered wasn’t some special bull or goat that only He could find. No, Jesus lastly is the true and better High Priest because:
(5) Jesus Offers Himself as a Sacrifice on Our Behalf
Jesus goes to the cross and it’s His blood that’s spilled instead of the blood of a bull or goat. Jesus was able to offer Himself as a sacrifice because He is perfect. He never sinned. He never rebelled against God. He was never God’s enemy who deserved God’s wrath. His relationship with the Father was never compromised or severed. He never needed a sacrifice offered on His behalf like the High Priests of old. So He was able to become the sacrifice for our sins.
It’s for all the above reasons, then, that Jesus is considered the true and better Priest.
Question for Reflection
- Do you believe Jesus is the only Priest, the only Mediator, we need?
Post adapted from my sermon Jesus as Priest