Friday, October 19, 2012

Jesus Christ: The Supreme High Priest

Numbers 16:47-48 Then Aaron took it as Moses had spoken, and ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. 48He took his stand between the dead and the living, so that the plague was checked.

Hebrews 5:4-5 And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was. 5So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,“YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”;

Comparing Aaron (the Old Testament High Priest) and Jesus Christ 
Throughout the book of Hebrews we are treated to comparisons between Old Testament people and events to that of Jesus Christ.  One of those Old Testament figures that Hebrews uses to picture the person and work of Jesus Christ is Aaron.  Whenever a person, event or situation is used to illustrate Christ or a doctrine in the New Testament - we call that manner of illustration "typology".  A "type" or "typology" refers to a foreshadowing, a pattern, a form.  The person or doctrine that is being pointed to is what Bible teachers call "an anti-type". 

We see then in the above two scripture passages, Aaron, Israel's first high priest,  as a "type", and Christ, the eternal high priest, as the "anti-type".  Aaron's life, ministry and characteristics have points of commonality that point to the fuller and rich life, ministry and characteristics of Jesus Christ.  Aaron is the shadow, Christ is the substance.  With that said lets look at how the book of Hebrews uses Aaron to illustrate Jesus Christ, the Supreme High Priest.

1. Hebrews 1:3 refers to Jesus Christ having "provided purification for sins"

2. Hebrews 3:1 calls Christ the "High Priest of our confession"

3. Hebrews 4:14 calls Jesus the "High Priest who has passed through the heavens

How Jesus Christ is shown Supreme compared to Aaron and Melchizedek
These first three references use the title "High Priest" to describe Jesus Christ in His office as the believer's repesentative before God the Father.  This title of course would had reminded the Jewish readers of the high priestly office of Israel.  Of all the High Priests in Israel's history - none were considered greater than Aaron.  However as you go further into Hebrews, you will discover that the author will use the mysterious figure Melchizedek (who is perhaps none other than Jesus Himself) to illustrate a superior priesthood to that of Aaron's, with Jesus then revealed to be greatest!  

4. Hebrews 5:1-4 refers to Jesus as being "the appointed high priest", a desgination shared by Aaron in Hebrews 5:4.  With Hebrews 5:4 being the clearest statement of Aaron being "a type" of Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest, the book of Hebrews also uses another figure, Melchizedek, to reveal how Christ is superior to Aaron. Melchizedek was a priest that ministered to Abraham in Genesis 14, some 600 years before Aaron.  With Aaron as the main figure of comparison, and Melchizedek the secondary figure, the writer of Hebrews weaves for us a rich tapestry of how Jesus Christ is the Eternal High Priest.

5. Hebrews 6:20 tells us that Jesus is "high priest forever"

6. Hebrews 7:5, 11-22 we see Christ's eternal priesthood being unlimited by death, whereby Aaron's priesthood changed from one generation to the next due to death.   

7. In Hebrews 7:23-28 we see Christ the high priest who "is able to save to the uttermost".  As the comparison between Christ and Aaron proceeds (with Melechizedek as background comparison), the differences between both starts to exceed their similarities.

8. Hebrews 8:1-6 reveals how both Aaron and Christ represent not merely two priesthoods, but two completely different covenants - Old (Aaron) and New (Christ).  The point of Hebrews 8 is to show how Aaron's priesthood was temporary, whereas Christ's priesthood is a permanant priest hood.

9. Hebrews 9 and 10 finishes out the typology of Aaron and Christ by noting that Jesus alone could ascend and enter into heaven on behalf of the saints.  Israel's priesthood (the Levitical priesthood, led by Aaron) was limited to service in the earthly tabernacle of the Old Testament, bring into that sanctuary the blood of sheep and goats.  However Christ was able to enter the heavenly sanctuary with His own blood, cleansing the consciences of those who by grace through faith believed on Him.  Neither the Aaronic priesthood nor the Old Covenant system could cleanse the conscience of the worshipper. (Hebrews 9:14)

Jesus Christ, the Supreme High Priest
In all nearly 30 verses in Hebrews provides the powerful analogies between Aaron and Jesus.  Through it all we learn that Jesus Christ is the believer's Supreme High Priest, ever able to mediate between God and man.  Jesus Christ is the Eternal High Priest who passed through the Heavens, having sat down at the Father's right hand after providing purification for sins. (Hebrews 1-3)  He is the
Eternal High Priest, able to save to the uttermost, forever being the source of salvation to all who believe, world without end. (Hebrews 4-10)