A Secured Inheritance
The priestly work of Jesus ensures that believers “receive the promised eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). The writer picks up the language of a last will and testament and applies it to the priestly work of Christ in the new covenant. When Jesus died, He redeemed God’s people from the legal condemnation of the old covenant and secured by that death the everlasting inheritance. In His death, we have life and an everlasting inheritance.
A Sympathetic Helper
One of the chief differences between the office of a prophet and a priest is that a prophet stands more intimately related to God as revealing Himself to man and a priest stands more intimately related to man as coming before God. Geerhardus Vos captured this well when he wrote, “A prophet . . . represents not man but God; therefore the nearer he stands to God the better he is qualified. A priest, on the other hand, represents man and his qualification is measured by his nearness to man.” Jesus is the great and final Prophet and Priest of God; however, in His work as the Great High Priest over the house of God, He is measured by His nearness to man. This is why the writer of Hebrews can say that “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” (Heb. 4:15). When we are being tempted, we go to Jesus, our great Priest, knowing that He will sympathize with us and will give us grace and mercy in time of need.
A Promised Preservation
While so much of the book of Hebrews calls professing believers to persevere in the faith, there is also a focus on the foundational truth that we will persevere because the living Christ is preserving us. Since Jesus is the risen, ascended, and reigning Priest over the house of God, we are confident that “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). At the right hand of the Father, Jesus is praying on behalf of His people. Theologians have called John 17 “the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus.” We take great comfort in knowing that Jesus, during His earthly ministry, prayed that the Father would keep us and bring us to glory. How much more comfort should be derived from the fact that He is doing that very thing now in the presence of His Father in glory? We have a perfect representative who has lived, died, and risen for us, and who ever pleads the merits of His finished work on behalf of His people. This is the same truth that the Apostle John latches onto when he writes, “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1–2, NKJV).
The entirety of the believer’s life can only be lived in light of the priesthood of Christ. As the Mediator of the new covenant, Jesus preeminently functions as the Great High Priest over the house of God. In the words of James Henley Thornwell, “Priesthood is the perfection of mediation,” and we have such a perfect Mediator in Jesus—who has, “by one offering . . . perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Heb. 10:14).
Editor’s Note: This post was first published on February 26, 2018.