Jesus Christ, Our Great High Priest
Not only is Jesus Christ a righteous King to reign over us, but He is also our Great High Priest to reconcile us to God. In this brief clip, R.C. Sproul considers how the exalted priesthood of Jesus is displayed in the book of Hebrews.
In the Old Testament, the priesthood was called the Aaronic priesthood or the Levitical priesthood in that Aaron was the first high priest, and he was from the tribe of Levi. And so, in order to serve in the priesthood, one had to be from the tribe of Levi, and that’s why it’s called the Levitical priesthood. And yet, here in the book of Hebrews, Christ is exalted as the long-promised King of the kingdom of God who would come from the tribe of Judah. And now here He is being celebrated as the Great High Priest. Well, if the kingly line comes from Judah and the priestly line comes from Levi, how can Christ fulfill both of these ideals? Because He can’t be from both tribes, and we know that He’s from the tribe of Judah, as He is the Son of David. Well, that’s why we have this lengthy discussion in Hebrews about the priesthood of Melchizedek. And the author tells us that Christ was a priest, not of the Aaronic Priesthood, and not of the Levitical priesthood, but of the line of Melchizedek, of which we hear almost nothing in the Old Testament, and then develops the case that the priesthood of Melchizedek is not an inferior priesthood to that of Aaron or to the Levites, but is indeed a superior priesthood. And to prove that point, the author of Hebrews goes back to the Old Testament and speaks to the incident when Abraham meets this mysterious character, Melchizedek, whose name means “King of Righteousness,” and who is described as the King of Salem, or the “King of Peace.” And in that encounter, Abraham pays a tithe to Melchizedek, and Melchizedek blesses Abraham. And in Jewish tradition, it is the inferior who pays the tithes to the superior, and it is the superior who gives the blessing to the inferior. And so, since in that transaction Melchizedek is seen as superior to Abraham, and since Levi is a descendent of Abraham, it follows Q.E.D. that Melchizedek is superior to Levi. And so, what we have here is the One who is superior to the prophets, the One who is superior to the angels, the One who is superior to Moses, the One who is superior in glory and in function to the high priesthood of Aaron—is Christ Himself, who brings all these things together.