Jesus: a high priest forever



Joshua 20:6: And he shall remain in that city until he has stood before the congregation for judgment, until the death of him who is high priest at the time. Then the manslayer may return to his own town and his own home, to the town from which he fled.'”

A main difference between Jesus, the ultimate high priest, and the ones of the old covenant is that while with the latter, there is the constant change due to death of the person who occupies the position, Jesus lives forever.

The issue mentioned in the focus verse is about someone who commits manslaughter in Israel (Joshua 20:1-6). He has a way to escape from the avenger of blood, who is the next of kin of the man that was killed. The person who killed another without premeditation (that is what manslaughter means) had to run into some cities designated as cities of refuge, until the death of the high priest at the time. When he does that, he is protected from the necessary judgement of death from the hand the avenger of blood (Deuteronomy 19).

What does that have to do with you and me? When Jesus Christ died on the cross, you were indirectly responsible for his death. How? It was because the sins he bore on the cross, as the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, included yours. And God is the avenger of Jesus’ blood since He is his next of kin. They shared equality in the Godhead (Philippians 2:5-11).

Jesus took on himself the wrath of God in our place. With the sin of man that he bore on the cross, he became the magnet for the wrath of God in the judgement of death. We read: cursed is everyone who hangs on the tree (Galatians 3:13-14). He bore the curse of the law and the curse of death against the disobedience of Adam, when he hung on the tree.

Because the one hanging on the cross was God, He has the capacity to carry the sins of the whole world from the sin of Adam to the last sin that will be committed on this earth before this age is wrapped up.

Being God, He is able to bear the whole wrath of God, and be able to resurrect after bearing the judgement of death. This is because the sins of men are finite, they originated in time, but Jesus the sacrificial Lamb does not have His origin in time. He is eternal (Micah 5:2).

If not, the sins of man would have swallowed him up, because when it comes to time, there was no one of higher significance than the first man, Adam. If Jesus originated in time, he would not have been higher than Adam, and if he bore Adam’s sin, it would have been a weight too much for Him to bear (John 1:1-5). Jesus said that of those born of a woman; there is none greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11). But note: Adam was not born of a woman. Also note that if Jesus did not atone for the sin for Adam, then the effect will continue without end and the judgement of God on those who have the traits of the nature of sin from Adam (all of us) would have still subsist.

Now to the city of refuge; what does it have to do with you and me? The one who needs to go to the city of refuge is the one who killed a man without premeditation. And since we were responsible (indirectly) for the death of Jesus; because he bore our sins, we need our own place of refuge, since we were indirectly (without meaning to [manslaughter?]) responsible for his death.

Since what we did (though we were not born then) was kill someone who was “eternal” and that has an eternal consequence, a timeless consequence. We needed a different kind of high priest, an eternal one. As long as that high priest is alive and we have sought refuge in a city of refuge through believing in Jesus, we are protected from the consequences of “killing” Jesus. The devil cannot run to the city of refuge because Jesus is not his high priest. Jesus can only be the high priest for humans, being human himself (Hebrews 5:1-9). He became man so as to represent us before God. He had to be God, to have the capacity to thoroughly deal with the issue of sin.

That is why we have to regard the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross; we have to believe in his sacrifice so that you can under the cover of God’s mercy in Christ, the city of refuge. That is the only eternal sin now: not believing in the son of God, so that they may have life (John 5:40, 6:47), having the judgement of death passed from them; to be spared of the consequences of “killing” Jesus.

You have “killed” him and there is no escaping the fire of hell unless you run to him because he is both the city of refuge and the high priest. (The devil is irreversibly hell-bound because he had a hand in killing God, but there is no remedy for him).

We run to Jesus who is both our High priest and our city of refuge. We needed an eternal High Priest because we sinned against an eternal Jesus. Now in Him we have security. That is why Jesus, our high priest, we are told, ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:23-28).

His blood has a living quality to it, rendering us perpetually clean before God (Hebrews 9:14, 1John 1:7), it renders us perpetually safe from the wrath of God. It renders us perpetually on the path of change into the very image of God, the image of His purity and righteousness.

His death marked a time of change for him, therefore the blood which he shed at his death stands for change, and our continuous experience of his blood puts us on a path of continuous change.

The writer to the Hebrews noted that we have come to the blood of sprinkling (Hebrews 12:22-24), the blood of Jesus, which speaks better things than the blood of Abel. That means the blood does not just have an historic relevance to your salvation, it is continuing in its work.

The blood of Jesus is a living quality that can be invoked to release the life of Jesus in the here and now. And apart from that obvious application of the blood, once you are a Christian, you are under the cover of the blood and the judgement of death is not your portion while the very life of the lamb, Jesus, becomes your life.

Jesus said that unless the people eat his flesh and drink his blood they would have no life in themselves (John 6:53). That correlates with what happened during the first Passover night for the children of Israel in the land of Egypt. They ate the lambs; they took in the “innocence” of the lambs.

Through “eating” his flesh and “drinking” his blood, by believing, we take in the life of Jesus and we become new beings, with new abilities (e.g. ability to relate with God) we take in his blood and we are cleansed on the inside.

Where before we were slaves to sin, we get into a life of freedom; where before we were poor, we become rich, were before we are confined and immobilised, now we begin a walk with God. All these things were the experience of the children of Israel after they ate the Passover lambs in the land of Egypt.



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