Hebrews 7:24-25New International Version (NIV)
24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.
25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a priest as “one authorised to perform the sacred rites of a religion especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God.” Priests are mediators or go-betweens who present the needs of the people to God. In the Old Testament, the office of the priest was accomplished through the sons of Aaron, who were set apart to offer sacrifices for Israel’s sins. The basic requirements for being a priest are as follows:
- A priest must be chosen by God (Hebrews 5:4)
- A priest must be taken from among men and must be a man with compassion for others (Hebrews 5: 1-2).
- A priest must be consecrated unto God (Leviticus 21: 6 – 7).
Christ is the fulfilment of the Old Testament, for he sacrificed himself and brought his blood into the heavenly tabernacle to restore our relationship with God. The enduring immutability of Jesus’ priesthood is unquestionable although many fail to understand its scope, potency and its permanent relevance to us, as believers, as long as we are on this earth. Jesus’ work did not end with his earthly ministry. His resurrection and ascension marked the expansion of his priestly roles in our lives. This clearly distinguishes His priesthood from that of men.
Peculiarities of Christ’s Priesthood
Christ’s priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek and not after Aaron (Hebrews 7: 11-17). This order immediately offers four-fold advantages, as follows:
- Christ’s Priesthood Emanates from a Better Source or Foundation: The Aaronic (or Levitical) priesthood was imperfect but that of Melchizedek was perfect. The announcement of the coming One who would be a priest forever (Psalm 110:4) was written midway in the history of the Levitical priesthood, which could only mean that the existing system of priesthood was to give way to something new and better.
- Christ’s Priesthood offers a better script from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant: During the laws of Moses, the priestly function was restricted to the tribe of Levi (Deuteronomy 18:1), but Jesus came from the non-priestly tribe of Judah (Hebrews 7: 14-15). Christ’s priesthood and opened the door to the church’s priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).
- Christ Priesthood Offers a Better Sanctuary from the Earthly to the Heavenly: The Mosaic tabernacle, though superseded, still provided the instruction through its typical (symbolic) significance and was a reminder that returning to the old order was useless since it could not effectively deal with the issue of sin. The new Order or New Covenant, with its new priesthood, a new sanctuary and a new sacrifice, all introduced by Christ, is not an earthly tabernacle, but the new heavenly sanctuary of God’s presence (Hebrews 9).
- Christ Priesthood Offers a Better Sacrifice from Animal Blood to Christ’ Blood: The sacrifices prescribed by the Law prefigured Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. Thus, they were repeated year after year, the very repetition bearing testimony that the perfect, sin-removing sacrifice had not yet been offered for it was impossible for the blood of animals to take sins away (Hebrews 10).
Characteristics of Jesus’ Priesthood
- Royal priesthood (Hebrews 7:15).
- Authoritative priesthood (Hebrews 7: 5)
- Independent priesthood (Hebrews 7:14, 22-24)
- Everlasting priesthood (Hebrews 7: 24)
- An immutable changeless priesthood (Hebrews 13: 8).
- Holy priesthood unlike the Levitical priesthood (Exodus 32: 1-6, 21-25; 1 Samuel 2: 12-17, 8: 1-17).
- Perfecting priesthood (Hebrews 7: 19 & 25).
In answering the question; What does it mean that Jesus is our high priest? S. Michael Houdmann, in his book, “Questions about Jesus Christ: The 100 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Jesus Christ,” provides the answer in pages 2836 – 2837:
“When Jesus is called our high priest, it is with reference to both of these previous priesthoods. Like Melchizedek, Jesus is ordained as a priest apart from the Law given on Mount Sinai (Hebrews 5:6). Like the Levitical priests, Jesus offered a sacrifice to satisfy the Law of God when He offered Himself for our sins (Hebrews 7:26–27). Unlike the Levitical priests, who had to continually offer sacrifices, Jesus only had to offer His sacrifice once, gaining eternal redemption for all who come to God through Him (Hebrews 9:12). One other important point about Jesus’ priesthood: every priest is appointed from among men. Jesus, though God from eternity, became a man in order to suffer death and serve as our high priest (Hebrews 2:9). As a man, He was subject to all the weaknesses and temptations that we are so that He could personally relate to us in our struggles (Hebrews 4:15). Because Jesus is greater than any other priest, He is called our “great high priest” in Hebrews 4:14. Through Him, we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).”
Let Jesus take over that your case, for his ministry of priestly intercession and advocacy has not ended. What He offers, no human priest or native doctor can provide.