Names of Jesus: High Priest

“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. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

In the book of Hebrews, the author writes to Jewish Christians and therefore includes many references to the Old Testament and Hebrew history. One of these references, seen above, is to refer to Jesus as our “high priest”. Last week was the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, also called the Day of Atonement. This celebrates the day when, during the time when the Jews had a tabernacle or temple, the high priest went into the Holy of Holies to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people. The high priest was the only one who could enter into the Holy of Holies, which was the inner-
sanctum of the temple where the presence of God appeared. The high priest served as a representative for the nation in front of God.

Jesus is our true high priest, our representative in the presence of God who offers a sacrifice for our atonement. However, Jesus provides some significant improvements in his role as high priest, to put things lightly.

First, he does not just enter into a man-made Holy of Holies. He has “passed through the heavens” and represents us before the throne of God. Second, he does not just offer up a ram as a sacrifice, he offers himself. He is our atoning sacrifice. And finally, he is both God and man. He knows from experience what it is like to be tempted with sin, but he has never sinned.

Because Jesus is our high priest, we never have to be worried about our salvation. We can draw near to God without fear because our representative and our atonement is perfect and complete.