“Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:23 – 25)
The writer of the book of Hebrews (scholars are not sure it was Paul) wrote to persuade his audience that Jesus was worthy of the role of Messiah. In this section he makes his argument that Jesus Christ the Messiah makes a better high priest than the priests who served the Jewish people down through time. The writer of the book of Hebrews carefully lays out an argument as to why Jesus was better. The first point made is that there is little continuity in the line and lineage of high priests. Yes, they may have been in one line from stemming back to Levi but the skills and abilities of those in the line of Levi varied greatly.
“For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.” (Verses 26 – 28)
While there was variation in commitment and skill, each of the high priests had the same fault – they were sinners. And in order to offer a sacrifice to sanctify the congregation, the high priests had to first sanctify themselves – over and over again.
Quite honestly beloved reader, in our modern times, it is a superfluous argument. Firstly, we no longer make sacrifices, or at least not ones that are burnt on an altar. Yes, we offer up ourselves and our personal human agenda in order to accept the calling Christianity and the life it requires. But the concept of a “high priest” is one we do not necessarily ascribe to.
It may be true that Catholicism does hold on to that hierarchy; however, the flaws in that system are quite evident. In fact . . . . as I think about it, there is a line of commonality between Judaism and Catholicism in that regard. Which is quite ironic since the Roman Catholic faith and the Jewish faith many times are at odds. Set aside for a moment that the Roman Catholic church is based on the believe in Jesus Christ and the Lord God. In both faith traditions there is one person who heads up the circle of faith – the Pope/the High Priest. Then there are levels of priests/Levites & Jewish leaders. All of these people (okay, let’s admit the reality, they are all men) are sinners and before they can atone for the sins of their congregations, they need to appease for their own sins. Protestant and other non-Catholic faith traditions (I am thinking of my own faith system, Anabaptist) do not have such leadership . . . per se.
Maybe I was too quick to disavow the whole “high priest” concept for our modern times. But my point still stands – we do not rest our salvation and sanctity on the shoulders of another human being. How ever we make our way up the chain of faith, the Lord God Jesus Christ is on the upper most level. And to the Divine we submit our pleas for confession, forgiveness, salvation, and restoration (to name just a few of the supplications to the Lord God).
I feel like I have traveled a good bit from where this passage had is starting point and the bulk of its content. The point that was being made was that Jesus Christ is best suited to absolve our sins and to be the means of forgiveness and appeasement. And that no matter what attributes and characteristics that our religious leaders (and other types of leaders) might have, they fall far short of being the means of redemption. Maybe that is a good thing to remember in our modern day. Selah!