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Hebrews 7:26-28

06.16.2011

This week’s passage, which wraps up the ‘Jesus > old priests’ section of Hebrews, explains how it is that Jesus is able to intercede for us where the old priests were not, building on the idea from last week.  Essentially, He can do so because His sacrifice is superior to that of the Levitical priests.  Why?  Three reasons:

First, Jesus is holy in ways that the priests were not.  Holy, remember, means set apart, and Jesus is set apart from the sinful mass of humanity by His blameless and pure nature.  The priests were ritually set apart, through legal designation and through sacrificial offerings for their own sins; but this is at best a predictive shadow of Jesus’ holiness.  The priests were not actually holy any more than the Google Earth picture of my house is really where I live.  Rather, their ‘holiness’ is a signifier of the holiness embodied in and required by the act of intercession in the same way that the Google Earth picture signifies to me where my house is in relation to my neighbors, major streets, and other local landmarks.  It’s a sign that indicates a reality, but it is not that reality itself.

Secondly, Jesus’ sinless nature means that His sacrifice can more ‘efficiently’ be made for our sins without having to cover His own.  This is not true of the priests, whose sinfulness meant that they had to sacrifice for themselves before they could intercede for the people.

Thirdly, the priests must sacrifice over and over again.  The lesser priests did it daily, and the high priests did it yearly on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  Their sacrifices were thus stop-gaps, spiritual bubble gum and baling wire to allow the people to continue with their lives without the crushing weight of shame and guilt from sin.  Jesus’ sacrifice, on the other hand, was once for all time.  The burden of sin is removed because the sin is removed, all the sin ever committed from the beginning until the end of time.  As we saw last week, that one act of perfect and all-powerful sacrifice puts Jesus at the right hand of God, where His eternal presence is the bearing out of His intercession on our behalf.

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