“So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come… With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever…For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them.” (Hebrews 9:11-14, NLT).
In the ancient Jewish religious order God’s presence was represented as residing in the Most Holy Place in the temple behind two sets of curtains. Only a high priest could enter into this Most Holy Place once a year and then never without a blood sacrifice, which he offered to make atonement for his sin and the sins of the people (see 9:6-7).
The temple was a representation of God’s reality (vs. 23-24) and so the One, Jesus the Messiah, sent from heaven was highly qualified–He was supremely qualified–to make atonement once and for all for all people’s sin.
Jesus is the perfect High Priest because He is fully human and fully God. So, He understands our weaknesses and our human inclination toward sin because He encountered all of the same testings and temptations we do.
But, what’s even more amazing about this whole proposition is that not only did Jesus function as high priest in mediating this atonement, but He also made himself the very sacrifice that the high priest offers for the atonement of sin. So Jesus is both priest and sacrifice. “But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand…For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.” (10:12-14).
How did Jesus accomplish this extraordinary feat? He has impeccable qualifications–He is fully God and fully human!
And, as the ultimate sacrifice for our sin, Jesus completely purifies us from our past, present, and future sin. And, as high priest, Jesus mediates our access to the presence of God so we are empowered to become perfect and holy like He is.
“He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins” (I John 2:2, NLT).