"Since our great High Priest, Christ Jesus, Bears the name above all names, Reigning Son of God, surpassing other titles, pow'rs and claims—Since to heav'n our Lord has passed, Let us hold our witness fast!
"Since we have a priest who suffered, Knowing weakness, tears, and pain, Who like us was tried and tempted, Unlike us, without a stain—Since He shared our lowly place, Let us boldly seek His grace."
Apart from biblical studies, we may not often think about high priests. We know about pastors and priests and the work they do, but not so much about high priests. If we don't know much about high priests, we may not know why we need one. In ancient Israel, the high priest was the mediator who represented the people before God. The high priest presented to God the sacrifices necessary to atone for his own sins and for the sins of the people. Without the sacrifices offered by the high priest, the people of Israel could not enter into God's presence.
Today we joyfully enter into the presence of God in worship and prayer. We address Him in prayer as "our Father," but we are privileged to approach Him in this way only because we have a High Priest who intercedes for us, a High Priest who bears the name above all names, the name of Jesus. Unlike the high priest of Israel, Jesus had no sins of His own for which to atone. He offered the sacrifice necessary to atone for our sins so that we might enter into the presence of God. He "offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins" (Hebrews 10:12b), a sacrifice that will never need to be repeated. Jesus did not enter an earthly tent or temple with the blood of goats or bulls as Israel's high priest did. Jesus Himself is both High Priest and Sacrifice. He was born among us as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29b). Jesus suffered and died on the cross. He rose from the dead and ascended in triumph, entering into the holy places of heaven "by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:12b).
Jesus our High Priest, like us, knew "weakness, tears, and pain." Like us He was "tried and tempted," but "without a stain" of sin. Jesus is not a remote and unapproachable figure. We have a High Priest who understands our weaknesses, who suffered, died, and rose to redeem us. Jesus has opened for us the way to the throne of grace where we will "receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16b).
WE PRAY: Jesus, my great High Priest, in You I have help in every time of need. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn "Since Our Great High Priest, Christ Jesus," which is number 529 in the Lutheran Service Book.
1. Why was the high priest important in Old Testament times?
2. What did Jesus do that makes Him our perfect High Priest today?
3. Have you ever mediated a reconciliation or agreement between two people? Care to share?
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