Jesus is the guarantor of a better, more perfect covenant (Heb. 7:22). The old covenant, though good in a temporary sense, was imperfect because its priesthood could never bring perfection to the people (v. 11). Moreover, the Levitical priesthood could make no one perfect because no Levite lived forever (vv. 23–24).
The many priests of the old covenant made the full experience of salvation under their economy impossible. Their deaths made it known that they were sinners, just like the people they were charged with representing. They were never able to offer a sacrifice completely free of their own evil motives and desires, no matter how good they were or how hard they tried. They could not save anyone because they needed to be saved themselves. God accepted their sacrifices only because they pointed to the time when the perfect mediator would come.
When Christ came all this changed. He is free from sin and therefore can hold the office of priest forever. Being very God of very God, He is the power of salvation itself. “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (v. 25).
John Owen points out that saving us to the uttermost means that Christ “will not bring about part of our salvation and leave what remains to ourselves and to others. . . . Whatever belongs to our entire, complete salvation, he is able to effect it.” Christ does not leave us to ourselves but brings about our whole salvation, from its beginning at regeneration to its culmination in our glorification.
Verse 25 also tells us that it is Christ’s intercession that renders our complete salvation possible. Christ forever pleads with the Father to sanctify us and to have mercy on us. The priests of old did this only imperfectly because they always died before Israel could be perfected. Sometimes there was no Levitical priest to perform the prescribed work of intercession under the old covenant (for example, during the exile). However, Christ forever intercedes for us. When we fail, He asks the Father for mercy on us. He pleads our case with the Father and secures the grace we need to be more and more conformed to His image. And the Father, out of love for us and for His Son, always answers these prayers offered on behalf of His elect.
Without the intercession of Christ we have no hope. But if Christ intercedes for you, you can be assured that He will complete your salvation. Hebrews 7:25 tells us that Christ only intercedes for those who draw near to God through Him. Make it a daily habit to draw near to God through Christ in repentance, confession, thanksgiving, and praise.