Our Perfect High Priest
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain [in heaven], where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20
Some people go to a priest because they have sinned. They confess their sin; he suggests an act of contrition (punishment) and offers absolution (forgiveness for the sin.) The only problem is that they will sin again and have to repeat the whole process.
In the Old Testament, God gave a similar system to Israel. The people sinned and went to a priest. He offered a sacrifice—an animal that died in their place—and they received forgiveness. When they sinned again, they returned to the priest. Once a year the high priest offered a sacrifice on behalf of the sins of all Israelites. But he too repeated the ritual every year. Sin was still a problem.
Long before Israel’s sacrificial system existed, Abraham met Melchizedek, an unusual priest. Though most people worshiped many gods at this time, he worshiped only one: the Most High God, as did Abraham (Genesis14:17-24). Melchizedek offered bread and wine to Abraham; Abraham honored Melchizedek by giving him a tithe of the goods he’d recovered in a recent battle.
The meaning of their brief encounter is explained in other Scriptures. For example, David prophesied that the coming Messiah would be “a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4).
Regarding Melchizedek, the writer of Hebrews notes: “Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever” (7:3). Under the Mosaic Law, priests had been appointed by ancestry—they all descended from Aaron. In contrast, Melchizedek, like Jesus Christ, was appointed by God. Therefore, both hold their priestly position forever.
Melchizedek’s name means “My king is righteousness.”* Of course he wasn’t perfectly righteous; he was human and sinned like everyone else. Jesus Christ, however, is perfectly righteous: “one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26b).
When we sin we come to Jesus, our perfect High Priest, because His sinless life and sacrificial death forever satisfied the standard of righteousness God established. Through His death on the cross, He removed our sins and gave us His righteousness. We are forever forgiven.
Have you brought your sins to Jesus Christ? Do you live in the freedom of His forgiveness?
Read Hebrews 7:1-28. How does Jesus Christ meet the qualifications needed for a high priest on the order of Melchizedek?
In 1 Peter 2:1-25 what role do believers play as a royal priesthood based on Christ’s death and resurrection? Have you ever seen yourself as a royal priest? What do you do in this role?
Who is described in Revelation 5 as “a kingdom and priests to our God” and where will they reign? Picture yourself among the people described and praise God with the words they used in verses 12 and 13.
Nancy J. Baker
*Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for Malkiy-Tsedeq (Strong’s 4442)”. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2013. 10 Feb 2013. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?