(27.) On Christ the Priest

(27.) On Christ the Priest

(27.) On Christ the Priest.

The Hebrew Scriptures are very clear about their appointed leaders… they must be anointed. The roles of prophet, priest and king are these anointed ones, and they find their fulfillment in the Anointed One in the Gospels. This is another example of how Christianity is basically a Jewish religion. The Christian faith finds it roots in the Jewish faith. Jesus was a faithful Jew, and so much of the Jewish Bible finds its fulfillment in the Gospel story. The anointed ones in the Old Testament find their culmination in the Anointed One in the New Testament. Some examples: Elisha is anointed by Elijah to be a prophet; Aaron is anointed by Moses to be a priest; David is anointed by Samuel to be king. And Jesus is anointed by the Father to be Messiah at His baptism. Jesus became the Christ who holds all three offices together, prophet, priest and king, summed up in the one office of Messiah.

“… Jesus became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him, and was designated by God to be High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:9-10).

Christ the Priest. Jesus wasn’t merely a prophet, but The Prophet. And Jesus wasn’t merely a priest, but High Priest. In the Mosaic tradition, the priest was God’s representative to man and man’s mediator before God. The priest offered sacrifices to God for the people for forgiveness and to establish a connection with the Almighty God. The priest was to intercede for the people, to offer up prayers and thanksgivings. Animal blood ws sprinkled, incense was burned, bread was baked, the lamps were lit, all to build a bridge from man to God. In fact, that’s what the word priest means in Latin, “pontifex,” or “bridgebuilder”. The high priest was the only priest allowed to enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, where he offered the sacrifice and sprinkled the blood that cleansed the people once a year. One can see how this Old Testament system was full of powerful hints at the coming of the Messiah, the High Priest.

Melchizedek. This mysterious man was the king-priest who appeared out of nowhere to Abraham in Genesis 14:18-20. This scene in Genesis with Abraham is the first mention of a priest in the Hebrew Scriptures, well before the official priesthood of Aaron. He wasn’t mentioned again in the Bible until the psalm of David, Psalm 110:4, when Melchizedek is connected to the promised Messiah. “Yahweh has sworn an oath he will never retract. You are a priest forever of the order of Melchizedek.” With Abraham he was the king of Salem, later named Jerusalem, and Melchizedek means “king of righteousness.” He is considered to be a type of Christ, a foreshadowing of Jesus, because he has no earthly geneology and there is no mention of his death. Melchizedek was “a priest of the Most High God.” He directly points to Jesus and His eternal priesthood as High Priest. The writer of Hebrews puts it succinctly, that He was called by God to be the High Priest of the order of Melchizedek.

As our priest, Jesus is God’s representative to mankind, and is mankind’s mediator before God. In the OT system, the High Priest would be the only man who could enter the Holy of Holies to sprinkle a blood sacrifice on the Arc of the Covenant. Jesus is our worthy High Priest, because He offered Himself as the blood sacrifice to cleanse us from sin. Like the good priest that He is, He now “lives to make intercession for us” (Hebrews 7:24-26), and this is the perfect fulfillment of the priesthood that was so important in the Hebrew Scriptures. His one-time sacrifice on the Cross is sufficient, because He is the sinless sacrifice that will remain for all eternity. Our High Priest fulfilled the Day of Atonement on Calvary, and that sacrifice will remain forever.

“Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There He ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.” (Heb. 8:1). As has often been said… As High Priest, Jesus is both the offerer and the offering.