Scripture: Hebrews 4.15
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Reflection: A High Priest Like No Other
By Jon Polk
According to the sacrificial system in Israel, the high priest, the chief religious official of Judaism, was the only one who could offer sacrifices for the sins of the people and for other priests and even for himself.
On the Day of Atonement (the annual Jewish festival of Yom Kippur), the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies and offer sacrifices for the penance of the people of Israel. Only the high priest could enter this sacred inner sanctuary of the temple and he could do so only once a year, on this holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
However, there is one who is called our great high priest, whose power and authority supersedes that of the high priests of old.
Jesus, our great high priest, walked among us as a human being, therefore, he is able to identify and sympathize with us. He drew near to us in order to understand us. As a human being living alongside his creation, Jesus was tempted like us, faced trials like us, and endured suffering like us. Jesus participated fully in the human experience with one important exception, Jesus did not sin.
Jesus, the Son of God, while similar to us in his humanity, is also significantly different from us in his divinity. Although he faced temptations common to all people, he did not give in to sin. This critical distinction elevates Jesus above any earthly high priest.
As our great high priest who is without sin, Jesus mediates payment for our sins through the sacrifice of his own life. Through his death, resurrection and ascension back into heaven, we can receive God’s mercy and grace.
As a fellow human, Jesus is able to identify with us. As the divine Son of God, Jesus is able to save us.
Israel’s high priest was allowed access to the presence of God in the Holy of Holies only once a year. Our great high priest Jesus has provided each of us with access to God’s throne of grace in any time of need. May we live our lives in faithfulness and gratitude for the great high priest who redeems.
Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous stumble. — Psalm 55.2
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.