A passage from Hebrews stood out to me recently:
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.
What stood out to me about these verses was the fact of how little I appreciate this part of Jesus’
ministry, but it was probably one of the most appreciated aspects of Jesus’ ministry for early Christians, especially Jewish Christians. No doubt the need for a priest to mediate between God and man was engrained in the mind of the early Jewish Christians through the requirement of the sacrificial system that the priest present a person’s offering before God in the proper manner. God Himself was the one that instituted this system in the Law, not man, so it was a requirement of God that there be a priest to mediate between Himself and humankind. The Law was not abolished by Jesus, but fulfilled (Matthew 5:17). This being the case then there is still a need for mediator between God and man, a role which every human priest fulfill imperfectly and insufficiently, but a role which Jesus fulfills perfectly and sufficiently.
I admit that I do not appreciate this aspect of Jesus’ ministry and often take it for granted, but I recognize that this should not be my attitude. The need for a mediator can be seen in God’s dealings with the first Exodus generation: He wiped out that entire generation (except for Joshua and Caleb), even Moses, because of their sin. The lesson to be learned from this is that we, like that first Exodus generation, are too sinful, rebellious, and stubborn, or in a word, Fallen, for us to deal directly with God. There must be a mediator between God and us, otherwise we will be destroyed.
God is holy. We are Fallen. These are two simple, foundational truths of the Christian faith that are very hard for us to truly know. Intellectual consent to these beliefs is one thing, but believing them so that they effect how we live your lives is quite another. If I can truly learn these two basic truths then I think I will come to appreciate Jesus’ ministry as high priest the way I should appreciate it.