3.4.7.2 Jesus Christ–the Priest

The foremost tasks of the priests in the old covenant included bringing sacrifices to God, instructing the people in the law, and ruling on difficult legal issues and all questions pertaining to ritual purity. The high priest's task was to bring his own sins, the sins of the priests, and the sins of the people before God. For this purpose he would enter the Most Holy Place once each year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Here he would act on behalf of the people, and serve as the link between God and the people of Israel.

With a view to the priesthood of the old covenant and the offerings sacrificed in the temple, the epistle to the Hebrews states: "[they] serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things" (Hebrews 8: 5). In light of the gospel, it becomes evident that the Old Testament priesthood was only provisional, "for the law made nothing perfect" (Hebrews 7: 19).

In the incarnation of the Son of God, a priesthood that exceeds all other priesthoods becomes manifest. Jesus Christ is not simply another high priest in the long line of Israel's high priests. Rather, in Jesus Christ there appears a High Priest upon whom the redemption of the world is founded: God Himself overcomes the abyss of sin and reconciles the world to Himself in Jesus Christ. No other priesthood can achieve this. Thus Jesus Christ is the eternal High Priest: "But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7: 24-25).

Unlike the high priests of the old covenant, Jesus Christ is not in need of reconciliation with God. He Himself is the Reconciler. He not only gives testimony of His encounter with God–in Him man and God are inseparably united.

God's loving care of the world is clearly revealed in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. In Him mankind has access to God's salvation.

The epistle to the Hebrews gives an account of Christ's high priestly ministry as the propitiation for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2: 17). In Jesus Christ, the eternal High Priest, the certainty of the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life are assured.

In Hebrews 3: 1 we read: "Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus." On the one hand, Jesus Christ surpasses the service of the Old Testament high priests because He is the true High Priest, and on the other hand He is also the prerequisite for the Apostles' activity in the new covenant. The content of apostolic ministry becomes clear in 2 Corinthians 5: 20: "We implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God."

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