We have seen how Christ is our sacrifice, but this was not the whole picture when we look at the activities going on in the sanctuary. It was not all about sacrifice and the forgiveness of sin. There was another major role that Jesus performs for us in the sanctuary, either the earthly model or in the heavenly one it was patterned after.
Something had to be done with those distasteful sins that were brought to the altar, and this is where the priest serves a vital function. The sacrifice enables us to receive justification, but we also need Christ, the High Priest, to cleanse us from those sins and provide our sanctification.
Memory Text: “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” Hebrews 8:1, 2 NASB
Peter and others preached about the inauguration of Jesus as high priest happening after His resurrection, when His great sacrifice was over. Acts 2:32-33 says, “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.” NKJV
Sunday: Our High Priest
Although many texts in Hebrews speak about Christ as High Priest, we discover in our lesson this week that various texts throughout the Bible support this teaching. Psalm 110:1 confirms that Christ is exalted “…at My right hand…” and verse 4 mentions it is “According to the order of Melchizedek.” (quoted in Hebrews 5:6)
In order to understand the antitype of this priestly role for Jesus, we must also look at the types to enhance our image of high priest. The two types mentioned in our lesson were Aaron and Melchizedek, earthly priests who foreshadowed Jesus’ ministry in the heavenly sanctuary.
Although only mentioned briefly in the Old Testament, our best description of Melchizedek is in Genesis 14:18-20, which tells how Abram brought him his tithes, and how this king of Salem blessed Abram. Salem means “peace”, so he was the King of Peace. And the name Melchizedek means “righteousness”, Christ being referred to as Our Righteousness. Melchizedek was the only type that was both priest and king. In addition, his family lineage is not given, which gives the appearance of having no beginning or end.
Aaron also gives us another dimension of Jesus as priest. Aaron was the high priest, with many other priests officiating also in the sanctuary. In the same sense, Jesus is our High Priest with His followers also performing priestly duties here on earth (I Peter 2:9) and in heaven (Revelation 20:6).
Discussion Question: Looking at the latter half of Hebrews 7, in what ways is Christ’s priestly role better than that of Aaron or Melchizedek?
Monday: Advocate and Intercessor
We are all familiar with Romans 8:35, “Who can separate us from the love of Christ?…” But the preceding verses are significant in that verses 31-34 speak of Christ as our intercessor and advocate, “…who is even now at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” NKJV
This is a courtroom scene where we do not need to be fearful. There is comfort in knowing that we have such a good defense lawyer, speaking in our behalf. The atmosphere here is joyful, not dreadful.
Discussion Questions: Does knowing that Jesus is our Advocate whenever we sin motivate us to sin more, or less? Read I John 2:1, 2 and also discuss what propitiation means? Dictionary meanings include appeasement, patronizing, conciliation, atonement. What meaning do you favor when speaking of Jesus being the “propitiation for our sins”?
I Timothy 2:5-6 tells us: “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” NKJV
Notice Paul’s reference to “the Man Christ Jesus”, which incorporates His unique status of being both human and divine.
He is also referred to as a mediator, which is someone who negotiates or acts as arbitrator in order to remove a disagreement or to reach a common goal in order to institute a contract or covenant.
Discussion Questions: What kind of disagreement has come between God and man that necessitates a mediator? Why is Jesus alone the link for fulfilling this role?
Wednesday: Great High Priest
Hebrews 2:17 says:
“Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” NKJV
The very next verse in this passage tells us how being “like His brethren” enabled Him to be our merciful and faithful High Priest. It says:
“For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” v. 18 NKJV
Another verse that upholds this notion of Jesus being tempted and why it was so important to His mediatorial work was Hebrews 4:15:
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” NKJV
Discussion Question: How was Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11) the same as ours? In what sense did He experience physical, mental, and spiritual tests during that time? Which of the specific temptations that Jesus endured fit the categories of physical, mental, and spiritual?
Thursday: The One Sacrifice
None would question that sin is too terrible to be solved merely by the death of animals. The only real solution for sin was the death of Jesus, who was equal with God (Philippians 2:6). Animal sacrifices pointed to the solution; they were not the solution themselves.
As Hebrews 10 points out, the animal sacrifices had to be repeated over and over, whereas Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross was sufficient for all time.
Discussion Questions: Matthew 27:51 verifies that the “veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom.” What does this indicate about the ending of the earthly sacrificial system and the beginning of Christ’s role as our High Priest? (Read passages in The Desire of Ages that speak of the meaning of the torn veil by looking at references to “veil” in the index in the back of this book.)
As our High Priest, Jesus “loves, forgives, justifies, helps, sanctifies, delivers from the power of sin, and vindicates against the accusations of Satan. What else could we need that He has not already taken care of?”
“Intercession is built on a sacrifice.” Can we “sacrifice something in our own lives to help people in need to be more comfortable”? (~quotations from the Teacher’s Helps)
Jesus prayed for Peter in Luke 22:32: “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned unto Me, strengthen your brethren.” NKJV
Next Week: The Pre-Advent Judgment