“He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has now been set apart from sinners, and he has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. He does not need to offer sacrifices every day like the other high priests. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he sacrificed himself on the cross.” – Vs 27-28 (NLT)
This is a confusing chapter. All the talk of priesthoods, laws, Melchizedek, commandments, and covenants can leave your head spinning. So what’s the point? It would seem to be to stress that Jesus brought a new way of doing things. Instead of life lived according to the strict and stifling requirements of the Law, administered by sinful men serving as priests from the tribe of Levi, we are offered a better way. We have a High Priest who was born into a different tribe and offers a totally different solution to the problem of sin. He is Jesus, our High Priest. He is “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens” (Vs 26). Unlike the Levitical priests, who had to offer up sacrifices every day to atone for their own sins and the sins of the people, Jesus offered one sacrifice – “once for all when He offered up Himself” (Vs 27). And He never had to offer a sacrifice for His own sins, because He was sinless.
God provided a new way. He provided His own Son because the Law, administered by sinful men, could never give the people what they desired: restored communion with God. No one could keep the Law, not even the men who were sworn to uphold it. The sacrificial Levitical system never accomplished what it set out to do. It couldn’t. It pointed to a future sacrificial system that would satisfy the justice of God and pay the debt for sin that was owed by mankind “once for all.” Through Jesus Christ, God made a way for us to have our sins forgiven permanently and perfectly. He made a way for us to have our relationship with Him restored, mercifully and justly. And it wasn’t left up to us to keep some set of rules or standards that were beyond our ability to obey. Jesus did that for us. He lived the life we could not live. He fulfilled the requirements we could not meet. He satisfied the righteous standard of God we never could have kept. And He “has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (Vs 22). The covenant that God made through Jesus is better than the old one because the old one was temporary and the new one is eternal. A better priest guarantees a better covenant. This is not to say the old covenant was bad, but only that it was imperfect and temporary. In Romans, Paul defends the Law when he says, “Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is evil? Of course not! The law is not sinful, but it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “Do not covet” (Romans 7:7).
The Law, the old covenant, was given to reveal my sin and my need for a Savior. The Law and any attempt by men to keep it only further proved our complete inadequacy to live up to the kind of standard God required. God knew that the Law could never save us. Why? Because we have a sinful nature that prevents us from obeying it. But if God had never given us the Law, we would have never realized just how sinful we really are. Without a holy standard of measurement, we would never have realized we don’t measure up. But God didn’t leave us in this sad state.
“The law of Moses could not save us, because of our sinful nature. But God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours, except that ours are sinful. God destroyed sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the requirement of the law would be fully accomplished for us who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4 – NLT)
He gave us His Son, a better High Priest. He gave us a way to become righteous that is completely outside of ourselves and not based on our own efforts. Or salvation is no longer based on us having to do something, but on what His Son has already done on our behalf.
Father, thank You for coming up with a better way. Because if You had not, we would have all been doomed to failure. We were without hope, lost in our sins, incapable of saving ourselves. But You graciously provided another way for us to be restored to a right relationship with You. You provided a way for us to stand in your presence as righteous and holy in Your sight, that was not based on our own efforts, but on the sinless sacrifice of Your Son and our great High Priest. I am literally forever grateful. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men