Lesson Six – Jesus Our High Priest

Jesus Our High Priest

Lesson Aim:  To show how Jesus fulfils our need for a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek and how he prepared Himself to function as our personal priest.


In Part Five, Lesson One, we studied the concept of a spiritual realm the Bible identifies as “in Christ.”  In the following lessons we learned how to enter this realm and how the doctrines of justification and sanctification work for faithful Christians.  These are spiritual realities God through Christ has arranged for mankind in the “last days” of time in order to “bring many sons to glory.”  Heb. 2:10; Eph. 1:10.  Since all of these things are perceived and activated by faith, and only by faith in the teachings of God’s word, the “in Christ” realm exists for faithful Christians only.  This realm is “put together” for true believers, or saints, as we understand and develop faith in each doctrine, blessing and the personalities who influence the environment.

An appropriate scripture to help us appreciate the church’s abode in the “in Christ” realm is found in chapter three, verse six, where the Hebrew writer said, “But Christ was faithful as a Son over His house whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and boast of our hope firm until the end.”  Christians “are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  I Pet. 2:5.  We have become partakers of Christ because we are His body (Rom. 12:4, 5).  In this lesson we will consider; First, our need for a priest; second, how Jesus is a priest according to the order of Melchizedek; third, His personal earthly training for this position and fourth, how He functions today “by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh.”  Heb. 10:20.  We will understand how Jesus Christ functions as high priest for Christians who enjoy the healthy mental environment of the sphere developed by faith in the foregoing doctrines.  It will be useful to read the Hebrew letter before we go farther into this lesson.  The letter was written because the churches had forgotten sonship; therefore, they would no longer accept tribulations as they once had suffered.  See Heb. 10: 32-39; 12:5-13.  They had not developed as teachers or even students; therefore, they had a spiritual growth problem (Heb. 5:11-6:2).


 “Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.” Heb. 8:6.  We are heavenly beings in that, “Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Heb. 9: 24.  We can come into the heavenly realm “in Christ” because “He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God.”  Heb. 10:12. Our Holy Father will not fellowship sinners; however, Jesus is an “all time” acceptable sacrifice to God, the Father, because He did the will of God first, and “by this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”   Heb. 10:10.  The doctrines of the new birth, justification and sanctification are all based on Jesus as high priest and Jesus as the sacrifice of atonement for Christians.

Because our God is a consuming fire we, as Christians must have a high priest who can offer a perfect sin offering on our behalf before we can have “confidence to enter the holy place.”  Heb. 10:19.  According to the Hebrew writer, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” without a high priest who has an offering for our sins (10:31).  Also, according to our previous lessons in Part Five, we must have faith and a repentant attitude about God’s kingdom and the priesthood of Jesus Christ to enter our Father’s presence.

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.  Heb. 12:28, 29

In the scriptures preceding the conclusion; “our God is a consuming fire,” the writer made a contrast of God’s appearance to the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai with the Christian’s relationship to God.  Please read Heb. 12:18-39.  They came to a frightful mountain, while we come to “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.”  What is the difference?  We have Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant and the sprinkled blood (Heb. 12:24).  Our faith and the proper attitude toward these things give us the confidence our Father has been appeased for the things that would cause Him to consume us.

Jesus said, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matt. 5:48.  This is the goal of faithful Christians.  We cannot attain His perfection no matter how hard we try but we will die with this as our aim (II Cor. 13:11).  Peter said, “But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.”  I Pet. 1:15.  We are to be perfect and holy but we are not, if our judgment would be based on our merit.  Will God lower His standard so He can fellowship us?  No!  He will not, but unless our sins and iniquities remain under the heading of wilful, we can have fellowship with Him, “For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.”  Heb. 7:26.

God does not want to consume mankind because we are His source for more sons for His kingdom.  After Moses had warned Israel, “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God,” he also said, “For the Lord your God is a compassionate God, He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.”  Deut. 4:24, 31.  God has made a new covenant with Christians and in His compassion He has given us the “in Christ” realm where Jesus serves as both as high priest and sin offering.

Now the main point in what has been said is this:  We have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary, and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.  For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices:  hence it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer.  Heb. 8:1-3

It is very important in Bible study to maintain continuity of the history of God’s people in relation to the purposes of God that generated these events.  We remember from our previous studies in Part Three, how Abraham had been called out of Chaldea so God could establish His kingdom in Canaan as a nation-family.  God was both their Father and king.  It was all to be established on the one element in mankind that is acceptable to God – man’s faith.  However, when God called Israel from Egypt He did not find faith and so He put His people under the Law He gave to Moses.  It was a law of physical requirements.  The priesthood of Jesus Christ is “according to the order of Melchizedek.”  7:17.

To arrive at some conclusions about the Melchizedek priesthood we can follow the principle that “when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.”  Heb. 7:12.  The Law of Moses was brought into force in connection with the Levitical priesthood.  What was the change made in the priesthood and the law at this time in the history of Israel?  To answer this we need to understand the priesthood preceding the Levitical priesthood period.  According to the story from Genesis, chapter fourteen, and information in Hebrews, chapter seven, the priesthood was the Melchizedek priesthood and the law was the law of life (I Cor. 9:21).  God maintained a limited fellowship with His people through the Melchizedek priesthood and the law of life (Gen. 26:4, 5; Rom. 5:13; I Cor. 6:12; 10:23).   

There has always been a law of life for mankind; that is, a description of the way our inner-man was created to function and grow – a description of our potential.  In other words God has always described the proper quality of life for mankind.  In Genesis 26:5 we read, “Because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charges, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.”  This statement was made before the Law of Moses was issued.  Jesus Christ’s priesthood is according to the Melchizedek priesthood and the law is what God wants to write on our hearts and minds.  Read Heb. 7:15-22; 8:6-12.  The word “life” in 7:16 is translated from the Greek word ZOE.  This is the same word translated life as in eternal life.  The aim of Jesus’ priesthood is to let us have fellowship with our Father by the Holy Spirit and at the same time conform to the image of His Son, Jesus (Rom. 8:29; II Cor. 6:16-18; 13:14).

Jesus did not appoint Himself as priest, but God said, “Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Heb. 5:6.  Jesus trained for His priesthood.  The physical world and a physical body was the only training area suitable for the training of a perfect high priest.  He wanted to understand what it meant to be tempted in a physical body.  “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”  Heb. 2:18.  Jesus was faithful to God who appointed Him to be a priest and He learned obedience by the things He suffered as the son of man (Heb. 3:2; 5:8).  Jesus can empathize with our weaknesses because He was tempted in all things (Heb. 4:15).  We know it was necessary for Jesus to share in flesh and blood and do God’s will in order to become the one-time perfect sin offering (Heb. 2:14; 10:4-10).  But we should also understand that while He was preparing Himself for man’s sin offering, He was also in training for His priesthood.

Jesus Christ is a very busy high priest at this time.  The high priest office is not a passive office; it is actively functioning because no one can approach God except we come through Jesus.  For all Christians are sinners, albeit sinners with faith.  What kind of cases does Jesus hear as high priest?  The Hebrew writer said, “assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the seed of Abraham.” Heb. 2:16.  Jesus is in the people business; however, He is not here to serve the self-righteous who will not confess and repent of their sins.  He aids Christians, especially, “those who are tempted.” Heb. 2:18.  He is our advocate (I John 2:1). 

Jesus “has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as he is also the mediator of a better covenant.”  Heb. 8:6.  What makes Jesus’ ministry more excellent is the quality of His priesthood and sacrifice.  He can empathize with our weaknesses before the throne of God (4:15).  He can explain our failures to our Father “that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”  Heb. 4:16.  “Hence, also He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”  Heb. 7:25.

Jesus’ priesthood will function until He returns so the law of life can direct the development of Christians into eternal sons of God.

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment; so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await for Him.  Heb. 9:27, 28

Questions for Discussion

  1. Who are the people Jesus serves as high priest?
  2. How can faithful sinners come into a heavenly realm?
  3. Why must we have a high priest?
  4. What is the difference in the way the children of Israel approached God at Mt. Sinai and the way Christians approach Him today?
  5. Why can Christians accept the scriptures that demand we be perfect and holy without fear?
  6. Why did God put His people under the type of law He gave Moses?
  7. What is the principle that will help us to draw a conclusion about the Melchizedek priesthood and the law that accompanied it?
  8. Identify the priesthood that accompanied the law of life.
  9. How did Jesus receive His training for His position of high priest?
  10. How does His training benefit Christians?
  11. Why might we conclude that Jesus is busy as high priest?
  12. What will be the purpose of Jesus’ next appearance to mankind?

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