Part two of our Easter 2021 series, "Prophet, Priest, and King."
He paid for our guilt in a way that no human effort ever could / He never fails or dies
1. What was the role of Old Testament priests in making atonement for the sins of God’s people?
2. How did Jesus fulfil both the role of the atoning sacrifice and the priest who offered the sacrifice?
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 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. -Hebrews 7:26-27
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. -Hebrews 9:11-14
3. In what way was Jesus giving His life on the cross the perfect, complete, and final sacrifice for all time?
4. Under the old covenant priestly system, the atonement sacrifices served to continually remind the people of their guilt for sins. How does it bless you to know that through faith in the finished work of Jesus, the guilt and shame of every sin- past, present, and future- is already forgiven?
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. -Hebrews 10:11-14
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us. -Psalm 103:12
“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins…” -Isaiah 43:25
5. How should that truth inform how we live? What does it mean to walk in this freedom in a manner worthy of the gospel?
He understands us, helps us, brings us near
6. What was the role of the Old Testament priests in entering the presence of God on behalf of the people?
Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness… These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. -Hebrews 9:1; 9:6-10
7. How did Jesus fulfil the role of the perfect high priest, entering the presence of God and leading us there with Him?
8. Why is it significant that Jesus intercedes to the Father as both God and as man - as one who can hear the prayers and needs of all people everywhere, while also understanding and identifying personally with the trials, struggles, and temptations we face?
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. -Hebrews 6:19-20
9. Under the old covenant, followers of God needed a priest to stand between them and God at the temple. They couldn’t enter into the first room or the inner room (the “holy of holies”) where only the high priest could enter once a year. We have the incredible privilege of open access to God through the sacrificial death of Jesus “the Great High Priest” - what is the response of your heart to such a privilege?
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. -Hebrews 10:19-22
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. -Matthew 27:50-51
10. Day to day, how can we make much of this great gift we have been given in Christ? What does it mean to be in the presence of the Lord?
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. -Hebrews 4:16
He intercedes for us
11. What was the role of Old Testament priests in making intercession for God’s people?
12. How does Jesus fulfil this role of intercession?
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. -Hebrews 7:25
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. -Romans 8:34
“It is a consoling thought that Christ is praying for us, even when we are negligent in our prayer life; that He is presenting to the Father those spiritual needs which were not present to our minds and which we often neglect to include in our prayers; and that He prays for our protection against the dangers of which we are not even conscious, and against the enemies which threaten us, though we do not notice it. He is praying that our faith may not cease, and that we may come out victoriously in the end.” -Louis Berkhof
13. How does it encourage your heart and strengthen your faith to know that Jesus Himself is in the presence of the Father making specific requests and petitions to Him on your behalf?
“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” -Robert Murray M’Cheyne
Thank you, Jesus that while I owed my life for my sin, you, knowing every evil, selfish, rebellious thought and action of my heart and hands- past, present and future- gave your life in my place. That the guilt for all my sin, for all time, would be wiped clean. That I would walk in freedom all the days of my life and have no fear in death. My heart cannot comprehend such grace.
Thank you, Jesus that not only have you bought my forgiveness and freedom, but have opened the way to walk in the presence and power of the God of heaven. That I need no earthly priest to pass along my words, to filter my petitions, to mediate my confessions. That at every moment wherever I may be, my Father in heaven is listening to the cries of my heart and urging me to bring every care before Him. That I need only knock, and the door will be answered. Thank you, Jesus that because of you, I never have to walk this life alone, that your Spirit lives in me and your hand guides me.
Thank you, Jesus that you are constantly praying to the Father on my behalf, in His perfect will and in the complete power of the Holy Spirit. That you are bringing to the Father needs that I don’t even know I have, sin and weakness I am ignorant of, protection from physical and spiritual warfare of which I am not even aware.
I’m sorry for the countless times I have tried to steal your glory and have made your grace toward me cheap, choosing immediate gratification over eternal joy. I’m sorry for the moments, days, weeks when I am so distracted, preoccupied, ungrateful that I fail to acknowledge you in all that I do. When I fail to appreciate the magnitude of the invitation to approach you personally as a loving Father. When I carry the weight of guilt for sins that you died to forgive. When I carry burdens, anxieties, shame that you have called me to bring before you in prayer, taking your yoke instead.
Lord Jesus, bring me into step with your will, empower me to become in practice who you have already made me to be in position through your life and sacrifice. Help me to see each new day as a gift, as an opportunity to live out the roles and opportunities you have given me in the power and fellowship of your presence. To live in the confidence and freedom of knowing I am forgiven, and the courage of knowing you are interceding for me. Grant us fresh conviction to heed your call to maturity in our discipleship to you, our Great High Priest. Glory to your name.