We need Jesus because even human “holy men” can’t save us eternally.
23 The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.
This passage highlights our need for Jesus Christ as our salvation. Human priests are subject to death; they couldn’t keep sacrificing and interceding on our behalf forever because eventually their bodies gave out and they died. Jesus, however, was not subject to death and lives forever. Furthermore, I think it is important for us to take special note of what we read in verse 27. While priests and pastors have an intimate connection with God and a specialized purpose for our spiritual growth, they are still human and fallible like the rest of us. They need intercession just like we do. While this doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful in teaching and guiding us, we must not rely upon them for salvation because they can’t save us! A pastor or priests job is to lead the way to Christ, not be Christ.
What we are reading today (and foreseeably into the near future through Hebrews) is a logical explanation based on Judaic custom, of why we need Christ in our lives. God didn’t send Jesus to do what He did because He was bored with Himself and wanted to “mix things up,” there was a very intentional purpose and very good reason why it happened the way it did. It’s because we need Christ. It is interesting that I am in the midst of studying this in the Advent season. As we learn to wait on God every day of our lives, we can understand a little more what it was like for the Jews to wait on Christ for centuries. Yet, some refused to acknowledge Him for who He is. Can you imagine waiting for something that long? The Jews had a culture of passing down information from generation to generation and memorizing it and practicing it so that when the day came for Jesus to arrive, they would all know. How unwise are we? (Using the definition of wisdom that implies we put to use the knowledge we have).
Jewish tradition and culture laid the groundwork for why we need Jesus in our lives. I heard once that after Jesus ascended into heaven and “The Way” began to pick up momentum, the Jewish authorities assembled what we now call the Old Testament to preserve Judaism and protect it from Christianity. What they missed, however, was that the Old Testament is the foundation upon which we understand the sovereignty of God and the frailty of man. They became so focused on the Law and tradition that they completely missed what it was telling them. The Jews worked so hard to establish their relationship with God but they continued to miss it, because it wasn’t fully available to them until Jesus showed up. He pointed out how they were missing the mark but they had grown weary of waiting on God and instead focused on making themselves gods. We continue to do this today as we have grown impatient in our instant gratification culture and refuse to acknowledge that all good things come to those who wait.
I read a blog this morning that talks about truly waiting on God in His Word. It is of a series of posts focused on Advent and what it means to wait on God, read His Word for what it really says, and actually put effort into your relationship with God. Check it out if you dare: First Wednesday of Advent. As we dig deeper into God’s word and seek the truth of our spiritual depravity, we will learn how much we need God in our lives. We will understand how much we are fit for a king: not that we are worthy on our own, but that we need King Jesus in our lives.