Today we see just why Jesus is called our High Priest. He didn’t appoint Himself to this position, God did. And He is able to identify with our struggles because He also went through those struggles Himself.
When God first set the nation of Israel up with rules and regulations He inaugurated the priesthood. The first priest and high priest was Aaron; Moses’ brother. Aaron didn’t seek out this position, God told Moses who to choose. Aaron had been serving beside Moses as they spoke to Pharaoh. They stood together, Moses and Aaron, and proclaimed each of the coming judgements on Egypt.
Aaron and his sons were called by God to serve in the new position of priesthood once the Israelites had crossed into the wilderness. I’m really not sure why God chose this group/family for this purpose. When Jacob blesses his sons right before his death he made some strong proclamations against them. Of Levi he said, “Simeon and Levi are brothers—their swords are weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel” (Genesis 49:5-7). Yet now the tribe of Levi is to serve forever as the spiritual advisors for the whole nation. They would not receive a “portion of the promise land” but would be supported by the offerings their brothers’ tribes brought to the Lord.
Moses and Aaron were both of the tribe of Levi. Did God choose this family because of these two men? Aaron, our first high priest was also responsible for the first cast idol for the nation of Israel; the golden calf. One could wonder at God’s choice of such a man but He only had men to work with and ALL have sinned and fall short.
I find it interesting in the story of the golden calf how, when questioned about the calf, Aaron says it came out of the fire. He neglected to say how he “fashioned it” with his own hands.
One of the commentaries I was reading answered a question of “Why wasn’t Aaron punished for making the golden calf?” If you will look closely at the story in Exodus 32 you will see that he did receive a much worse punishment than death. Pay close attention to verses 27 and 28. Having to do this task would be something that would stay with them the rest of their lives. He would carry the weight of his sin of giving in to the people for the rest of his life. Yes, he received forgiveness from his sin but he still carried the consequences of it for the rest of his life.
When Jesus was “appointed” as our High Priest the Jewish priesthood still existed. It was corrupt and feared Him for they recognized Him as the one with true authority. They saw their own downfall at His command. They did EVERYTHING they could to hold onto their place of power; including killing their Opponent.
Jesus was destined to be our High Priest from before creation, as time has no constraints to God. But Jesus didn’t fill that role until after His sacrifice on the cross. He received His position by appointment from God and He did something that NO OTHER high priest could claim to have done. He lived a sinless life. He had EVERY opportunity to sin but chose not to. Every other high priest had to make atonement for his own sins before making them for the people. Jesus didn’t/doesn’t. Jesus is completely clean and can bring our requests before the Father without fear for Himself. He can also identify with our weaknesses that brought us to the sin He is asking for mercy from because He faced those temptations too. I love that He knows what I face and how I fail, yet He loves me anyway.
The last thing I want to touch on in our reading today is verse 7. “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.”
You will probably be prompted to remember Jesus’ most fervent prayers from this description. Those He offered in the Garden of Gethsemane. I’m certain this wasn’t the only time He cried out in prayer but it is the most poignant time we read about. In the garden He poured out His heart to the Father in hopes of avoiding the cross. But God said “no.” If God said “no” to His own Son’s prayer why would we think He always has to say “yes” to ours? He knows the future and exactly what is necessary. Trying to force God to do it your way won’t work. Instead, we need to do what Jesus did. He was obedient even unto death and He prayed “Not my will but Yours be done.” That is a prayer God can always get behind!
So to those who try to say if you are sick you lack faith in your prayers, I call you out. Jesus had MORE than enough faith and He still didn’t get the answer He wanted in His prayer.
I don’t know why this jumped out at me today but I’m glad it did. I needed it and I’m sure some others will too.
Father God, thank You for my High Priest. Thank You for showing me Your heart today. Thank You Jesus for willingly standing in the gap. I would have no way to approach God without You. Thank You Jesus for Your willingness to do whatever the Father required; including suffering an agonizing death and separation from God. I imagine that last part hurt more than the rest of it all put together.
Thank You Father for pointing out verse seven to me and its implications. You DO know what is necessary and BEST. I trust You to make the right decisions for my life and for those I love (as well as the rest of the world). I will continue to pour out my heart to You but will also accept YOUR answers, whatever they may be. Not my will but Yours be done. Oh that’s a bold statement for this headstrong child of Yours! But it is true too. Please help me be ok with that more and more each day.