Hebrews 7:23-28 – 23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He 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. 28 For 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.
Hebrews and the discussion of Melchizedek can get a little obscure for some believers. But a look at this section of Scripture can give us some beautiful reasons to thank God that we know Jesus and are under the New Covenant.
Thinking of Jesus as our great high priest, we see two things that help us understand just how great a Savior he truly is. Jesus is sinless and permanent.
Unlike every priest who ever lived before or after the time of Jesus, our Savior is sinless. Jesus never needed to approach his Father with the blood of any sacrifice. Jesus is always welcome in the presence of the Father, because Jesus, the Son, has never been guilty of sin. In the Old Testament, every priest had to be ceremonially clean. Every priest also had to be atoned for by a sacrifice before ever approaching the holiest of places. But Jesus is always perfectly righteous, perfectly clean.
A major point in the letter to the Hebrews is that Jesus is qualitatively superior to all Old Testament priests. Yes, the priests accomplished something in their ministry. They carried out sacrifices that pointed to the one actual sacrifice that could take away sins. The good ones directed the people of God toward his holiness, toward repenting of sin, toward humble submission to the law. But none of those priests was holy enough to approach God on their own. Neither was any of them able to permanently remove the punishment men deserve for sinning against God.
Jesus is also permanent. Every high priest in the Old Testament eventually died. These men were sinners; and the wages of sin is death. No priest, not even a good one, could forever speak to the Father on behalf of a sinner. That is, none could do so until Jesus.
The author of Hebrews says to us that Jesus is able to save “to the uttermost” all who have come to him in faith and repentance. Jesus is not limited, as were the priests, to only being able to go to God for people for a limited time. Jesus, who died and rose from the grave, lives eternally to perfectly plead our case before God. Jesus is able to point to his perfect, infinitely valuable, truly finished work in the cross and empty tomb as an argument for our eternal salvation. Jesus has never been compromised. Jesus is not weakened. Jesus did not do a symbolic work that might lead to salvation for people. Jesus saved a people for himself to the glory of God.
Let us love that we live under the New Covenant. The Old was not a bad covenant. It pointed to the salvation to come. It showed us the character of God. It showed us our need for a sacrifice and a Savior. But praise God that we are not living on a treadmill of sin, sacrifice, repeat. No, in Christ, our sin is defeated once and for all. Yes, we still fail. But now we approach the one who has already sacrificed himself for our sin and who pleads that perfect sacrifice over us forever.
Praise Jesus, our sinless high priest. Praise Jesus, our permanent intercessor.