Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Warren Vanhetloo’s newsletter “Cogitation.”
Read Part 1.
Both as to person and to task, Jesus of Nazareth was superior to all the Old Testament prophets, to all angels, to the patriarch Abraham, to the law-giver Moses, and to Aaron and other high priests who served in the tabernacle and in Jerusalem. Jesus was by God’s appointment the supreme Apostle and High Priest of our profession (Heb 3:1). He was faithful and successful in His appointment. As the Son of God, born of a virgin and without sin, He was qualified to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He did not, as human priests do, need to offer payment for His Own sins. He performed His substitutionary work in the true heavenly temple, not in one on this earth.
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:14-16 KJV). His work is past; His help is now constantly available. His blood once shed accomplished redemption for us. His intercession never ceases.
Human high priests understood the condition and needs of people, for they too were sinners (5:1-3). High priests in Israel were not chosen by men but appointed by God (4). The Messiah too was appointed. He was not selected by men, nor did He attain the position (5). The same God who declared, “Thou art my Son,” also said, “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (5-6). Jesus, as the supreme task of His life on earth, was called of God to be a High Priest after the order of Melchisedec (10). His work was not another annual symbolic “covering” of sins of the previous year, as under Aaron, but a full removal of the sins of all mankind. He was the author of eternal salvation for all who believe on Him (9).
Although Jesus of Nazareth was the eternal Son of God, although He was born without sin, although He was appointed by God to serve as the true High Priest, yet it was important that, as a human substitute, He learned obedience by suffering (8). Living as a man, He experienced the need and the privilege of offering up prayers and supplications, even at times with strong crying and tears (7). In His need, He looked unto Him who was able to save Him, and He was heard in His faith-trust submission (7-8). Having a righteous life before the Father, fulfilling all righteousness, He submitted unto the death of the cross, to be the “author” of eternal salvation for all who obey Him (9).
This heavenly High Priest is able to have compassion on all, even the ignorant and wanderers, for He was tempted as a man in every way that any human can be tempted. He personally viewed the various needs among men (2). He was not immune Himself from suffering (7-8). His years spent on this earth as a man fully qualify Him to be the compassionate High Priest we need. He learned that God is able to deliver, if that is His will, as He also learned that God does not allow suffering because He cannot control circumstances, but because He has some greater purpose (9). God may or may not grant deliverance from temporal suffering; He has made full and final provision for our eternal salvation. We can trust Him unreservedly through time and for all eternity.
|Warren Vanhetloo has A.B., B.D., Th.M., Th.D., and D.D. degrees. He served three pastorates in Michigan, taught 20 years at Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN), taught 23 years at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary (Lansdale, PA), and is listed as adjunct faculty at Calvary. Retired, he lives in Holland, Michigan. At the urging of fellow faculty and former students, he sends an email newsletter called “Cogitations” to those who request it. You may send e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.