Jesus, the God/man. He came to bring a holy God and sinful man together, to restore us to fellowship and right relationship. Jesus satisfied the wrath of God by offering up His life on the cross. There’s no more sacrifice needed for sin. We don’t have to go through another person to get to God. We go directly to God, not on our own merit, but through Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest.
Now, His sacrifice on the cross is a finished work. It was a once and for all sacrifice. And you’ll read that phrase numerous times in the book of Hebrews. Once and for all. But Jesus work on our behalf as a priest is not over. He still serves as our Great High Priest today in heaven. He has an ongoing ministry….He intercedes for us…You may remember that the Old Testament priest wore a garment that was called an ephod. E-P-H-O-D. That ephod had an onyx stone on each shoulder on which were engraved the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Six names on one shoulder, six names on the other shoulder. Then they wore another garment that was called the breast piece of judgment. And on that piece of cloth were set twelve stones that were engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.
And the Scripture tells us about this in Exodus 28. It says: “[And] Aaron [who was the first high priest] shall bear their names [the names of the people] before the Lord on his two shoulders . . . [and] on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the Lord” (Ex. 28:12, 29).
Remember we said that was a role of the Old Testament priest to offer up prayers on behalf of the people. And in case they would ever forget, they had the names of those twelve tribes on their shoulders and on their hearts. As they went before the Lord, they would remember the people to the Lord. They would pray for the people. They’d make intercession before God on behalf of the people.
Hebrews tells us that as our Great High Priest, Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (see Heb 7:25) That’s what a priest does. He bears our names on His shoulders and on His heart. As He goes before the throne of God, He carries us to the Father. He prays for us.
I don’t need another human priest praying for me. Now we can pray for each other, and we do pray for each other. But as we do, we’re just entering into the high priestly ministry of Jesus. He is the one who makes perfect intercession for us. He knows what we need. He knows our failings. He knows how we’re tempted. He knows how we’re stumbling. He knows the home situation you are going back to today. He knows how to pray for you.
Oswald Sanders has said in his book on The Incomparable Christ, We could not live the Christian life for a day were it not that He lives to intercede for us. . . . There is no personal problem for which He has no solution, no enemy from whom He cannot rescue, no sin from which He cannot deliver—because He ever lives to make intercession for us.
And because He lives to intercede for us always, there’s not a single day or hour in our lives that we cannot endure and press on. As we pour out our needs to Him, our need for direction, our need for wisdom, our struggle with indwelling sin, our burden for prodigals and unsaved husbands and terminal illness and broken relationships. As we cry out to Jesus, He sympathizes, He understands, He gets us, and He makes intercession for us to the Father. He has been here. He is in the flesh. He knows. He’s walked this earth. He’s lived this life. He knows our needs, and He prays for us.
Robert Murray M'Cheyne said it this way: “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” Remember that.
So in Hebrews 8:1 it says: “Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven.” Jesus, our Great High Priest—He mediates between us and God. He approaches God on our behalf. He makes us right with God. He prays for us. He continually leads us into the presence of God by the virtue of His perfect sacrifice and His intercession on our behalf.
Knowing Jesus as our Great High Priest gives us a basis for confidence. We don’t have to just slink into the presence of God and worry that He might not like us that day or He might be mad at us because of something we did. We can go with confidence and assurance in the name of Jesus our Great High Priest because the price for that sin has been paid. He is the sacrifice and He is the priest.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (vv. 14–15).
Because He took on our humanity, because He was tempted, He sympathizes with us when we are weak and tempted. And because He never sinned, He is able to help us when we are tempted and when we need grace to go on—the grace of God. He is surely a “merciful and faithful high priest” (Heb. 2:17).
So verse 16 of Hebrews 4:
Therefore let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
—Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth