In Heaven He Stands
Jesus’ sacrificial work as our High Priest is a finished work, a once-and-for-all accomplishment with regard to sin. There is no need for repetition and no possibility of addition. But why is it, exactly, that He is able to “save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him”?
Because, first, Christ’s role as our Great High Priest is the solution to our rebellion. Deep down inside, each of us knows that we have rejected our dependence upon God, instead making a bid for independence. In trying to live our lives independently, we reveal that our stubborn hearts are curved into themselves. We pridefully think, “I don’t need an advocate. I don’t need anybody to do anything on my behalf. I can handle this myself.”
But despite the fact that we have rebelled against God, amazingly, He seeks us out and saves us. Jesus brings about reconciliation by dealing with our alienation from God, which is two-sided: we are alienated on our side by our sin and on God’s side by His wrath. Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins; He has satisfied God’s wrath by offering Himself as an unblemished sacrifice.
Second, Jesus saves “to the uttermost” because He has destroyed the leverage that the Evil One uses to fill us with fear. In Hebrews 2, the writer explains, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (v 14-15). Through His own death, Jesus has set us free from Satan’s grip, liberating us from what ought to be our greatest fear: death itself. When Satan seeks to accuse us before the Father, Jesus is, as it were, able to point out that his words are empty—that he has nothing to say against us. And Jesus’ priestly work still continues in His continual intercession on our behalf. In Jesus we have a Priest who sheds His grace on our lives day by day through His heavenly mediation. As Jesus enjoys being in His Father’s presence today, right now, He is not offering a sacrifice, but rather speaking as our advocate before the Father. We may picture Him standing by His Father, saying, That one is mine. I died for her. She is covered by my blood and is clothed in my righteousness.
So, “When Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of my guilt within / Upward I look and see Him there, who made an end of all my sin.” Therefore, “I know that while in heaven He stands, no power can bid me thence depart.” Jesus, your Priest forever, stands in His Father’s presence today, speaking of you and for you. There is nothing to fear.
23The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost2 those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
26For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
Jesus, High Priest of a Better Covenant
1Now 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, 2a minister in the holy places, in the true tent1 that the Lord set up, not man. 3For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 6But as it is, Christ2 has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.
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