What is the significance of having Jesus as High Priest?

Having Jesus as our High Priest has far-reaching effects for our lives. Essential reading for all disciples!

What does it mean that Jesus is our High Priest? Hebrews 4, Hebrews 5

“For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.” Hebrews 5:1.

Jesus as High Priest: A Man with the power of an endless life

We need to differentiate between Jesus as an atonement for our sins and Jesus as High Priest or Mediator of a new covenant. The ungodly need Jesus as an atonement for sin, while those who have been saved need Him as a high priest and advocate.

In order to become an atonement and high priest, Jesus had to partake in the same flesh and blood as the children He came to save. (Hebrews 2:14.) “For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.” Hebrews 2:16. To save men, Jesus had to experience what it was like to be a man. Therefore it is also written, “… but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:7-8.

On earth, high priests were appointed according to the law of a fleshly commandment. Because they were mortal, there were many of them. But Jesus, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, had “the power of an endless life” within Him from birth. This life had never before been in the flesh. That is why Jesus came with the kingdom of heaven in Him. John the Baptist did not have this kingdom within, though he was the greatest born of women; so even the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

The first time the power of an endless life was manifested in flesh was when Jesus came to earth. (Hebrews 7:16.) In other words, it was manifested in the body of a man. As long as Jesus remained here on earth, He was the only one who had the kingdom of heaven dwelling within. That is why He could say that the kingdom of heaven is near. Through the help of “the power of an endless life,” Jesus took up a battle against the temptations that came from the flesh that He had voluntarily taken upon Himself. He always said no to the things that came from self and yes to all that was divine. He had within Himself the power required to accomplish this.

Nonetheless, most of the time it was a heavy and difficult battle, because it is written that with vehement cries and tears, He offered up prayers and supplications to Him who could save Him from death. In the days of His flesh He fought against all the demands that came from His human flesh, and He won such a thorough victory that even His flesh could rest in hope. His soul was not left in Hades; neither did His flesh see corruption. (Acts 2:25-31.) So Jesus is the only person that has won a complete victory over every demand from the flesh, over every temptation and over every sin. The power of an endless life made this possible.

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The Holy Spirit – the Helper – the power of eternal life

Jesus possessed the inheritance, and He wanted to pass it on to the children, but the testament only became valid after His death, since it was not in effect while He was alive. This is the reason that Jesus had to depart, so that the Helper, the Holy Spirit, could come. Then on the Day of Pentecost, He sent the Spirit so forcefully that He came as a rushing mighty wind and filled the whole house where the disciples were sitting. (Acts 2:2.)

This was the same Spirit that Jesus had in the days of His flesh, and He offered Himself in the power of this eternal Spirit. He went through tribulations and sufferings of every kind. (Hebrews 4:15.) Jesus had to take upon Himself flesh and blood and be tempted and tried as we are, so that He might be able to help us in our trials. The Scriptures testify in many places to this. (Hebrews 2:16-18; Philippians 2:16-18; Romans 8:3; Hebrews 10:5.)

In the days of His flesh here on earth, Jesus received His training to become High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek. The sufferings perfected Him. Jesus suffered, being tempted. Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires that come from his flesh. But Jesus overcame in the power of an eternal Spirit. Throughout His entire life, He suffered death in the flesh. He did this by presenting His body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. Now we are exhorted to do the same thing. (Romans 12:1.)

Jesus: A High Priest taken from among men

The author of the letter to the Hebrews writes that there was much to say which was hard to explain regarding Jesus’ training to become High Priest, because they had become dull of hearing. (Hebrews 5:11-14.) You will discover the deepest mysteries of Jesus’ high priestly education in the mystery of Christ “manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels” after the resurrection. For just as every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God (Hebrews 5:1), so it was necessary that our heavenly High Priest also be taken from among men. But if someone does not have the flesh and blood of a man, he is not a man. And if he cannot be tempted, he is not a man. But God be praised that we have a High Priest who was tried in every point—every kind of temptation—yet without sin. In other words, He conquered His own will and the temptations that came from His flesh so completely and perfectly that no sin or blemish was found in Him during the temptation. This cannot always be said about us in our temptations. That is why it is expressly mentioned when referring to Jesus.

The law appoints men with weaknesses to be priests, “… but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.” Thus the former commandment is annulled because of its weakness. (Hebrews 7:18, 28.)

When it was said, “Having been perfected,” clearly there was a time in the days of Jesus’ flesh when He was not yet perfected. That is why it is also written that it pleased God to make the Author of our salvation perfect through sufferings. (Hebrews 2:10.)

For the same reason, we are exhorted that if we indeed suffer with Him, we will also be glorified with Him. (Romans 8:17.) Sufferings are inevitable as we bring our life into line with the Word of God. When we practice godliness with contentment and choose to suffer in every temptation instead of sinning, then we suffer with Him. In these intense trials of our godliness, Jesus remains our faithful High Priest and Mediator.

More than atonement for sin

These blessed truths are extremely precious and valuable to those who believe in spite of the fact that there are people who do not understand them. Personally, these words of God concerning Jesus as High Priest and Mediator have been of incalculable use, comfort and blessing.

The fact is that Jesus can only begin to serve as High Priest when a death has taken place over sins committed under the old covenant. (Hebrews 9:15.) Only then can we taste the eternal inheritance that was promised to us. As long as we have not yet acknowledged that we have died with Christ, we cannot lay hold of His life. But His Word is Spirit and life.

The reason so few people know about Jesus as High Priest is because most people only want to have Him as an atonement for sin. People spend their lives needing and asking for forgiveness. However, in a life that is “crucified with Christ,” Jesus will be manifested as High Priest. Everything depends on the life we live, because life is the light of men.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.