In the 21st century the concept of “High Priest” is lost to most people. Even among Christians, few know the function of Christ our high priest. In Jesus’ time the office of high priest had been corrupted, and was little more than a political/religious appointment by the Romans. In fact, there was such a great turnover in the High Priest’s office that there were 27 high priests in the first hundred years CE. But as much as this role has been usurped, misappropriated, and maligned over the centuries it still has vital significance in God’s plan. There have been faithful high priests. And, the people of ancient Israel would have had a basic understanding of this important responsibility when it was established. Do you?
Paul understood the need for elders to lead and have the oversight of groups of brethren (presbyteros, elder, priest) These men were to shepherd God’s people, and in turn they were responsible to the “Chief Shepherd,” Jesus Christ. This role of leadership required responsible stewardship and an ability to guide and protect God’s “flock.” This role was akin to that of the priestly role within the nation of Israel. Jesus Christ the great Shepherd and the “High Priest,” or priest of priests,(archiereus, chief priest) fulfilled a special duty. But unlike the High Priest who interceded for the people once a year on the day of Atonement, Christ intercedes for his people daily.
Before God’s throne, and in the presence of the 24 elders, Christ appears as our High Priest. He alone is able to understand the human experience because he became flesh and blood. Jesus alone is able to reveal the Father to us, and reconcile us to Him, giving us the hope of eternal life. Why? Because he paid the penalty for our lawlessness and died in our stead. Because of this great act of compassion our High Priest has freed us from the fear of death. And he continues day-by-day as a merciful and faithful High Priest and guarantor of our covenant with the Father. He intercedes with love and compassion for all who worship God in spirit and truth. His mercy will not fail, for he is a High priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Do you know him?
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