By Mike Willis
In the last editorial of Guardian of Truth, I sought to demonstrate that Jesus is Immanuel – God with us. We confined our study to the book of Hebrews in showing the teaching of that book concerning Jesus Christ. The study of Jesus is incomplete if all that we notice is who Jesus is. We must continue the study to see what Jesus has done and is doing for us.
Jesus Our Mediator
The book of Hebrews contains many statements which relate to the work of Jesus in our behalf. We want to consider what these passages say about Jesus’ work.
l. Jesus Our Sacrifice For Sin. The opening verses of Hebrews mention what later becomes one of the main themes of the book, namely that Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for sin. In listing things about Jesus, the author stated, “. . . when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:2). His sacrifice is different from that of the Levitical priests who made daily sacrifices for sin (10:11) in that it was a one time, never to be repeated, sacrifice for sin which was all-sufficient to cleanse from sin.
For such an high priest became us … who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself (Heb. 7:27).
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtain-ed eternal redemption for us (Heb. 9:11-12).
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself …. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many …. (Heb. 9:24-26, 28).
For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (Heb. 10:14).
We have Jesus, the perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice for sin. We do not have a mere body of facts to believe, a correct dogma; we have a loving Savior who gave Himself for our sins.
2. Jesus Our High Priest. In comparing Jesus’ work to that of the law of Moses, the divine type of Jesus’ work, the author repeatedly emphasizes that Jesus is our High Priest. He wrote, “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus . . .” (Heb. 3:1). We need to ponder the many truths revealed to us about Jesus as our High Priest.
A priest is appointed to serve “in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; far that he himself also is compass-ed with infirmity” (Heb. 5:1-2). Jesus serves as our High Priest, yet He is superior to the Levitical priests in the following respects: (a) He is an ever-living priest. The Levitical priests died (cf. Heb. 9:8), necessitating that they be periodically replaced. The succession of priests saw some good priests and some wicked priests (such as Amras and Caiaphas who plotted the murder of Jesus) hold that position. The change of priests resulted in some men serv-ing who were wicked. Our High Priest is an ever-living High Priest; “he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood” (Heb. 7:24; cf. 7:3, 1617, 2425). (b) He is a sinless Priest. The Levitical priests, like all other responsible persons, were sinners. “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people . . .” (Heb. 7:2627). (c) He serves in heaven. The Levitical priests did their ser-vice in a tabernacle made with hands. The tabernacle was divided into two parts, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. Only priests could enter the Holy Place and only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place, once a year. This was designed by God to indicate “that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing” (Heb. 9:8). Jesus serves as our High Priest, but He does not enter into an earthly tent; His work was done in the very presence of God Himself. “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24).
3. Jews The Captain Of Our Salvation. Jeans is describ-ed in Hebrews 2:10 as the “captain of the our salvation.” The word archegas means “the chief leader, prince; one that takes the lead in anything … and thus affords an ex-ample; the author.” “Jeans is so styled, as both He who has acquired salvation for the race, and He from whom it is derived to the, as being at once its First Cause and First Possessor . . . ., as One who, being placed Himself in the forefront of humanity, leads on His followers to the ap-pointed goal” (Franz Defitzsch, Commentary on the Epis-tle to the Hebrews, Vol. 1, p. 117).
4. Jesus Surety of a Better Testament. In Hebrews 7:22, Jesus is described as the surety of a better testament. The word egguos means “surety, guarantee. The word means a bond, bail, collateral, or some kind of guarantee that a promise will be fulfilled. The word was used in the papyri in legal and promissory documents meaning ‘a guarantor’ or ‘one who stands security.’ Jesus Himself is our security that there will be no annulment of this new and better covenant” (Fritz Rienecker, A Linquistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Vol. H, p. 342).
5. Jesus Victor Over Sin. Throughout the book of Hebrews, Jesus is pictured as the conqueror of death and sin. “When he had by himself purged our sins,” He “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:2). Jesus not only sacrificed Himself for sin, He was rais-ed from the dead (cf. Heb. 12:2; 13:20). He is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek was “king of Salem, priest of the most high God” (Heb. 7:1). His name “Melchizedek” means “king of righteousness” and he ruled over Salem (peace), making him a king of peace. Jesus, reigning after the order of Melchizedek, is a King of Righteousness and King of Peace (cf. Isa. 9:6 – Prince of Peace). “But this am, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool” (Heb. 10:13-14).
6. Jesus Mediator Of A New Covenant. Jesus is also described as “the mediator of a better covenant” (Heb. 8:6; 9:15). The prophets foretold this part of the Messiah’s work. Isaiah wrote, “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and given thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles” (42:6; cf. 49:8). The blood which Jesus shed was “the blood of the new testament” (Matt. 26:28). Even as the Old Covenant was sealed with blood (Ex. 24:3-8), this covenant was also sealed with blood. “For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you . . .” (Heb. 9:18-19). This testament was not made without the shedding of blood. Jesus served as our mediator and sealed the testament with His own blood.
7. Jesus Our Intercessor. Seated at the right hand of God, Jesus is presently making intercession for His saints. “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an un-changeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:24-25). When I am guilty of sin, I can confess it to the Lord and Jesus will make intercession for me. His work continues forever.
These statements about Jesus in the book of Hebrews emphasize to us His great work. He was not merely a good teacher or a moral reformer. He was the Mediator of the better covenant, the perfect Sacrifice for sin, the Victor over sin, the Captain of our salvation, our High Priest, and our Intercessor. He is indeed our all-sufficient Savior.
We now can have access to the throne of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us ever praise and adore His matchless name for the grace which He has given to us. (Continued next week)
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 15, pp. 450, 452-453
August 4, 1983