This passage draws our attention to the priestly work of Jesus. It begins by declaring him as the great high priest, and comparing him with the high priests that we see in the Old Testament. Like them, he was appointed to the role by the Lord to represent men before him. Like them, he can sympathise with the weaknesses of the people, as he has suffered and been tempted and is like us in every way apart from sin. Unlike the high priests of the old covenant though, there was no need to make sacrifice for his own sins in addition to those of the people.
We are also introduced to the idea that Jesus is a priest of the order of Melchizedek. This is developed in chapter 7 (feel free to touch on it) and shows that Jesus is a greater priest than those of the Aaronic order. He predated them and was paid tribute by their ancestor. This priestly order describes his as the king of peace and the king of righteousness, and speaks of his eternity.
As high priest, we are told that Jesus has passed through the heavens. His work is more than simply passing through the curtain in the earthly tabernacle, but it is the thing that act pointed towards. He was made perfect through his suffering to become the source of salvation for all who obey him. His sacrifice made the way for us to enter with him into the true heavenly place.
As a result of this, there are two clear implications for us. The first (v14) comes back to a repeated theme of the letter; let us hold fast to our confession. Secondly (v16), there is the invitation to confidently draw near to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace in times of need. We are not simply asked to keep going through difficult circumstances on our own, but our great high priest is ever ready to help us in the hardships.
Some Key Points:
- Jesus is the great high priest who can represent us before God.
- He is better than the Old Testament high priests. He has no need to make sacrifice for his own sins, and he is of the order of Melchizedek.
- He has entered the heavens and become a source of eternal salvation.
- Hold Fast to Our Confession – Jesus is the real deal and has passed through the heavens. Let us not be tempted to downplay or minimise the significance of the salvation we have in him.
- Draw Near With Confidence – We have been given access and invited to draw near to the throne of grace. Let us not take this lightly, but be confident in the way we approach God and in making our requests known.