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Don Stewart :: How Is Jesus' Priesthood Better than That of the Earthly Priests?

Don Stewart

Jesus Christ is the High Priest for believers - He is the one who represents the people before God the Father. The New Testament says that His High Priestly ministry was superior to that of the priests of Israel. As the Son of God, Jesus performed everything better than the earthly priests. Jesus' priesthood is superior to that of the earthly priests in every way.

They Had To Offer A Sacrifice For Their Own Sin

One problem with the earthly priests was that they were sinful. They had to bring sin-offerings for the people as well as sin-offerings for themselves. On the holiest day of the year, the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, the high priest had into the Holy of Holies twice. The first time he went to present a sin offering for himself. He had to do this before he could be a representative of the people. The second time he went in was to present a sin offering for the people.

Jesus Christ Did Not Bring Any Sin Offering

In contrast to the earthly priests, Jesus Christ did not bring a sin offering. The Scriptures speak of Him in this manner:

For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever (Hebrews 7:26-28).

Jesus stands sinless before the Father. Because He withstood all temptation, He can effectively intercede to God on our behalf in a vastly superior fashion to those earthly priests who were as sinful as those they represented.

Jesus Sacrificed Himself

The sacrifice He made for sin was not that of an animal-He sacrificed Himself. The animals were brought to the altar as unwilling victims but Jesus went to the cross as a willing sacrifice.

Therefore my Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one takes it from command I have received from my Father (John 10:17).

There Are No More Sacrifices Necessary

Because Jesus was the perfect sacrifice the need for the offering of animals is now finished. Consequently there is no longer the need for the priests to offer sacrifices of this type. Jesus fulfilled this need by offering Himself once and for all. The earthly priests had to repeat the animal sacrifices time and time again, but Jesus' one offering of Himself ended that need. Furthermore, the Levitical priests stood when they discharged their duties, but the writer to the Hebrews says that after Jesus offered His single sacrifice for our sins He "sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3).

Jesus' one sacrifice was complete, ending all need for further sacrifice.

Jesus Is An Eternal Priest

Jesus' priesthood is far superior to the earthly priests in the fact that they all grew old and died while He lives eternally. The Old Testament priests, who were all mortal men, had to die and transfer their priesthood to the next generation. Jesus, the Eternal Priest, does not have to do this for He is forevermore alive and a permanent priest.

Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him, since he ever lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).

Jesus Is A Merciful And Faithful Priest

Jesus is a merciful and faithful priest.

For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:17).

Jesus Is A Sympathetic High Priest

Jesus is also a sympathetic priest.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Summary

Jesus' priesthood is superior to the earthly priests in the following ways. His duties are performed in heaven. They take place in a spiritual building not in an earthly sanctuary. An eternal, sinless, priest - not a sinful human priest, performs the duties. This sinless priest offered Himself as a once and-for-all sacrifice for sin, ending the need of the Levitical, earthly priesthood. Jesus was superior to the human priesthood in every way.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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