Our Great High Priest
A Devotional Communion Service
Study Guide, January 5, 2020
Pastor Clay Olsen
As we continue our offerings of worship to our great God and the observance of the Lord’s Supper together, there are so many wondrous things we find in the Scriptures that cause us to worship our great Savior more and more. One of those wonders is an identity that we find in 1 Tim 2:5-6- “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” NASU
A question we could ask others concerning their salvation is not only who their Savior is, but also who their Mediator is…as in – “Who is your Mediator?” Everyone needs a ‘Mediator’. Many people do not realize or ever think about the fact that no one on earth can come directly to God on their own merits. That privilege was lost in the fall of mankind in sin. That, of course, is why we all needed a Mediator. We all needed a Savior. But still, even many who have received Christ Jesus as their Savior don’t think about the fact that the only reason they now have open access to God is because Jesus is still their Mediator, or as we would more commonly refer to it – Jesus is our High Priest, our Great High Priest, who as Heb 7:23-25 reveals, is still our Mediator, or our High Priest. Notice: “The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 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.” NASU
Even when we pray, we pray in Jesus’ Name, meaning, in Jesus’ Merits. We have the privilege of prayer because we are with Jesus and Jesus is with us. It’s like Jesus says to the Father, “He or she is with Me”. A group called NewSong wrote a song about that called ‘This One’s With Me’ where it has Jesus saying: “Father, this one’s with me, Part of the family, One of the reasons I died on Calvary. Father, welcome him inI paid the price for him, Father, oh Father, this one’s with me.” What a great comfort.
Jesus is the One who brought us to God as our Mediator and Savior, and Jesus is the One that still brings us to God as our High Priest in His special intercessory ministry on our behalf, cleansing us from our daily confessed sin in order to have deeper fellowship with God with whom we have an eternal relationship. Again, this is all because of Jesus. Our union with Jesus as our Savior is what gives us union with God as our Father. You see, even though Jesus brought to an end the temporary Old Testament procedure where the people came to God through an offering of a priest on their behalf, Jesus is our eternal high priest, who intercedes for us based upon His offering for our sin once for all. Notice how Heb 7:26-28 explains that: “For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 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. 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.” NASU
Jesus is our Mediator, Savior, and Great High Priest forever. By His sacrifice He ransomed us from the penalty of our sins, and by His intercession He removes from us the power and the presence of our sins as we come to God confessing and forsaking our sins. We were once for all time converted by our Great Savior and we are day by day cleansed by our Great High Priest who forever lives to make intercession for us.
Actually, that’s another wonder that the Apostle wanted us to understand about Jesus, as he connects Jesus to a unique figure whom we know of as ‘Melchizedek’. Take a look: Heb 6:18-20- “So God has given both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.” NLT
For one thing, how soul assuring to hear God say to us in His word: “…it is impossible for God to lie”? That is one impossibility that calls for rejoicing every day: It is impossible for God to lie! That means that we can count on every promise God has made in His word to us about His gift of salvation to us, and His love and concern for us, and His daily care and consolation for us, because God cannot lie to us. That is an impossibility.
But then we see that God wants us to know about this person with that very peculiar name, Melchizedek. Who was he and why is it important for us to know about him? Well, let’s first partake of the Bread portion of the Lord’s Supper together and then we’ll explore. But while we prepare, this would be a good time for each of us to dwell on the wonder of Jesus as being our Mediator…our Savior, and our great High Priest. And a time to thank Him for the daily blessings we receive because He is all of these and more to us.
In one of the Messianic Psalms we often read in our Congregational readings it has this amazing revelation about the Messiah, about Jesus: Ps 110:1- “The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” And there the Psalmist reveals the position of the Messiah, the God-Man, as King over all. And then he goes on to reveal another identity of the Messiah as also a priest forever, a priest over all. 4- “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” NASU
This is one of the most intriguing people you will find in the Scriptures. He is the first priest mentioned in the Bible. His name means ‘King of Righteousness’ and also means ‘King of Peace’. So this would also be the first reference of ‘peace’ in the Bible. Here’s the summary statement about him from
Heb 7:1-3- “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.” NASU
You may recall that Salem was a name previously given to Jerusalem. And Salem was occupied by Jebusites in the land of Canaan. The point being, this pagan region was hardly a place you would find a priest who was identified as being King of righteousness and King of peace. Nor would you expect this priest to come out of this Canaanite city and then do and say what he did and said. Gen 14:18-20- “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” NASU Again, what a remarkable encounter that Abraham has with this person, such that Abraham offers a tithe of all that he gains in the battle from rescuing Lot and the people.
Of course, Melchizedek is often described as a type of Christ, since the Apostle uses his unique priesthood to help explain to the Hebrew believers that Christ’s priesthood was also unique and superseded the temporary Aaronic priesthood. Remember; part of the New Covenant was that the temporary system of bringing sacrifices to the temple and priests was had been fulfilled. Jesus was both the final High Priest and the final sacrifice for removing the penalty of sin by offering Himself. Jesus was both High Priest and sacrificial offering. Plus, the temporary order of the Aaronic priesthood also ceased when Jesus became the last high priest after this unique order of Melchizedek, which would remain in effect ‘forever’.
Now then, here’s where it gets even more intriguing. And we put this in terms of what is Scripturally possible, but we need to wait until we’re finally home to let God fill in what He chose to not fully reveal to us at this point. And what we are getting at here is that in the Old Testament there are several times when Christ appeared to people long before He took on human form in the body of Jesus. Remember Abraham later met with the Lord in human form before the judgment of Sodom. And Jacob wrestled with a man, who told him he had just wrestled with God. Also, Samson’s parents, as well as Gideon witnessed an appearance of the Angel of the Lord, or a Theophany, which is an appearance of Christ on Earth before His incarnation.
Therefore, when we come to the identity of Melchizedek, the Scriptures state unique things about him that also fit with the possibility that Abraham, too, witnessed this coming aspect of the Messiah as being our great High Priest in the form of a Theophany. In Hebrews the Apostle went on to say this about Melchizedek: Heb 7:3- “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.” NASU Now that’s a very strange description of a person, even if it was meant to be symbolic of Christ. As Dr. Henry Morris pointed out in his commentary on Genesis: Melchizedek appears on the scene suddenly, and then disappears again as suddenly. There is no genealogy listed, no record of his parents or children, no record of birth or death (as is such with other priests in the Scriptures). Instead the Holy Spirit records for us that Melchizedek was made like unto the Son of God and that he remains a priest forever.1
Fascinating possibility. And although neither alters Bible doctrine on our salvation or Jesus high priestly ministry or anything else, we point it out because over and over the Scriptures do call for us to look for the wondrous ways God has come to us to demonstrate how much He wants to personally interact with us, and to go deeper with us in our relationship with Him. And how God, like the way God we know that God likes to put His puzzle pieces together for us, that when Jesus sits with His disciples, He introduces this memorial of the Lord’s Supper by offering bread and wine, like a High Priest would do. Again, we wait for the full revelation on this, but for the disciples, as those who knew the Torah, you wonder if their minds went back to the first time the Torah introduces a priest offering priestly service. And the first thing this priest does is this: “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.” What we know is that this offering of bread and wine once represented the provisions for their daily lives as given by this unique Priest. And now, as High Priest, Jesus offers this bread and wine and reveals to them, and us, that it represented the very provisions for their eternal lives, since it represented the offering of Jesus own life for them and for us.
Again, whether Melchizedek was a type or a Theophany, it is all so wonderous, and our God is so marvelous, that it all calls for our worship, and it calls for our service to our Savior, who loves us more than we can comprehend, and our Great High Priest who intercedes for us forever, because…as Jesus says to the Father: “This one’s with me.”
- Dr. Henry Morris, The Genesis Record, pp. 318-321