Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, February 29, 2016
“For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:16–18).
Have you ever felt misunderstood? Have you ever experienced such high levels of difficulties in life and felt so hopeless that even if you could not get immediate relief from the troubles, you would have been satisfied if someone would simply identify with your struggle? Have you wished that, in a perfect situation, you would not be simply understood, but that someone could actually help you through your struggles? I have. I have good news today. Not only can God, through the Person and work of Jesus Christ identify with your struggles, He also can deliver you.
The ministry of Old Testament high priests is scarcely understood even among Christians. Our God went to great lengths to institute a remedial system of worship before Jesus was manifest in the flesh, so He could walk us through the depths of what it takes to transform us from hopeless sinners into victorious saints. And through the many rounds of sacrifices, ceremonies, holy furnishings in the sanctuary, and various offices His servants would occupy, God’s people slowly understood.
Perhaps the most important role one could fill during those times was that of high priest. This man especially selected from among the sons of Aaron would be set-aside for a holy purpose. He represented the people to God, and also represented God to the people. As a representative of the people to God, he would carry the symbols of their confessed sin into God’s presence for forgiveness and cleansing. All who would participate in the services and humbly accept God’s way of handling the sin problem would receive mercy and the power to do God’s will. They verily would learn how to love God as He deserved.
As a representative of God to the people, he would be especially sanctified to reflect God’s image and will. To them he represented their last hope of being heard by God so they could be delivered from the pain, presence, and penalty of their sins. He was God’s voice of reason and righteousness to return them to the Scriptures and take up the mantle of responsibility to manifest God’s love to the surrounding nations. But there was one huge problem: every high priest who has ever lived has also died. Every high priest who has ever lived (save one) has also needed to offer sacrifices for themselves as well as for the people. Every high priest who has ever lived has had to continue making sacrifices with no end in view. This severely limited the effectiveness of the high priest’s role. God condescended so their efforts would be acceptable if they did so by faith and according to all He commanded.
This is where Jesus comes in. All of the rites, ceremonies, sacrifices, and roles of those who ministered in the sanctuary system, represented Jesus Christ. And as our high priest in particular, Jesus, having become human and suffered the trials of the human predicament, yet emerging the sinless, immortal Victor, now ministers in heaven as our representative to the Father, having offered Himself once and for all as a sacrifice for our sins. Having been tempted, He is able to help those who are constantly tempted. Having been victorious, He is able to give the victory to those who would center their trust in Him. Not only that, as if that were not incredible enough, Jesus has been the best representative of God’s love to humanity. He is the original Ambassador of the heavenly kingdom so we could be empowered while learning what God is like. And now, through the ministry of God’s Holy Spirit, we all have access to the love, power, and ministry of God through Jesus Christ. We now can face the holy God of the universe without fear, because our great High Priest is faithful and merciful in all things pertaining to God.
Not only does God understand your plight, dear friends, but He also has made eternal provision for deliverance from that plight. One day soon, Jesus’s work as High Priest will be done, and all who have followed Him and accepted each step of His ministry by faith, will receive the victor’s reward—immortality. I am so thankful for Jesus today and I hope you are too.