What was the job of the high priest in ancient Israel? Essentially he had two jobs. First he represented the people of Israel to the LORD. When the people had a concern or needed guidance they asked the high priest to consult the LORD on their behalf. The high priest stood between men and God. He stood before the LORD and represented the people. A prophet on the other hand represents the LORD to the people. The priest takes our message to the LORD and brings His answer back but a prophet brings us the message of the LORD and takes back our response.
The second job of the high priest was to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. It was his job to make the yearly sin offering for the people. He was the only one who could go into the holy of holies and stand before the Mercy Seat on the Arch of the Covenant. Before he could make the offering of sin on behalf of the people he had to first make and offering for his own sin. His own sin made him unworthy to offer the sacrifice for sin. So he had to have a sacrifice for himself and then for the people. He did all this in the temple in Jerusalem and before that in the Tabernacle both were pale reflections of the True Temple.
The Lord Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest. His job is similar to the original high priest but with some significant changes.
First our Great High Priest has gone through the heavens. As the Great High Priest his does not go to a temple or tabernacle made with human hands out of the stuff of this world. Instead He goes to the True Temple to perform his priestly duties.
Our Great High Priest also make and offering for sin. Jesus Christ offers himself as that offering for sin. He doesn’t need to offer a sacrifice for his own sin because he was sinless. He was tempted in all the ways the human high priest were. He was tempted in all the ways we are today. Yet he was and is without sin. In spite of the fact that He is sinless because he faced temptation like us He is able to sympathize with our struggle against temptation. With Jesus as our Great High Priest a door has been opened for all the people of God to approach the throne seeking grace and mercy. No long is it just the high priest who enters the throne asking for grace and mercy on our behalf. Now we walk in ourselves with confidence.
Finally like the human high priest our Great High Priest represents us to the LORD. In these last days the Son being our representative has given us direct access to the Father. The Son, Father and Holy Spirit are one. Access to one is access to them all.
Neither of these high priest claimed the job for themselves instead they were appointed or called by the LORD. They are high priest because the LORD wants them too. Jesus is our Great High Priest by the desire of the LORD.
Hold on tight to the faith we profess. Jesus is our Great High Priests goes to the True Heavenly Temple. He offers a sacrifice for our forgiveness alone because He is without sin. Our Great High Priest sympathizes with us as we struggle with sin, because he has been tempted in every way. As our representative before the LORD he has opened the door for us to approach the throne of the LORD with confidence seeking grace and mercy.