Today is Good Friday — the Friday before Easter where we remember Jesus, the Christ’s crucifixion on behalf of our sins. If I had to guess, our readers already know and understand the significance of Christ’s death, especially as it pertains to our salvation. After all, our Christian holidays really emphasize this truth, right?
Easter celebrates Christ’s atonement and resurrection for our sins. Christmas celebrates the First Advent while preparing us for the Second Advent. The emphasis of these holidays usually dwells on Christ coming in the flesh for our sins. What I fear however, is one of Christ’s most important attributes, His humanity, receives neglect due to specific holiday emphasis and apologetic debates. This does make sense. Rarely, in today’s age, do we have to defend His humanity to cults and unbelievers. Also, beyond Him being a sacrifice for my sins, is there a practical reason to understand His humanity? What does his humanity, practical living, and Good Friday have in common? Simple, Christ’s High Priestly ministry provides lasting hope for our perseverance.
Hebrews is unique for so many reasons, one being, no where else in the NT (or OT) is Christ’s High Priestly ministry explained to such degree. There are two main functions pertaining to His Priesthood. First, He offers himself as a sacrifice for sins. He is both the offerer and the lamb. “For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself” (Heb 7:26-27; see also Hebrews 9:1-10:20).
Second, because of His life in the flesh, he is able to aid believers. Have you ever thought about this? Christ’s human nature has more significance than purely shedding blood. “He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Heb 2:17-18).
Christ had to experience humanity in every way we do. “He had to be made like His brethren in all things.” (We should note here “all” means “all / every way”). He was flesh and blood, had emotions, grew tired and hungry, sweated, had stress, grew in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52), and even had friends turn on him. He was tempted with sin. Was he tempted with the same sins I’m tempted to commit? YES! He “has been tempted in all things as we are” (Heb 4:15). So, Christ was tempted with homosexuality? Surprisingly, “all” means “all or every” here too, so yes. Wait, he was tempted to be inebriated? Yes (shhh, Jesus drank wine, real wine with alcohol in it too). He was tempted to be impatient? selfish? lazy? angry for selfish reasons? unbelief? Yes, yes, yes, yes, AND yes. All means all. BUT some of you know what is coming because there is one difference: Christ did not sin, “He was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Christ lived his life blameless, holy, and above reproach.
Why did Christ have to be tempted in everything as we are? “So that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people . . . [and] He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” Because Christ knows humanity He is merciful and faithful. He understands our plight, situations, and looks upon us with mercy. Christ sympathizes with our life and situations. He sympathizes with the mother of three kids frustrated by their disobedience while dad is away at work. He sympathizes with the spouse whose spouse is lousy. He looks upon our temptation and acts merciful. Merciful means, He shows sympathy and acts. How often? Every time. Every time? Yes! He is a “faithful high priest.” Faithful means he does not abrogate responsibility or neglect us. He doesn’t take a day off as our High Priest. He faithfully executes His duty.
So, He intercedes on behalf of believers. He “makes propitiation.” What does this mean? Simply put, He intercedes. Often this word communicates “takes upon God’s wrath on our behalf.” But in this context it does not make sense. “Make propitiation” is a present aspect infinitive, meaning habitual, daily, or ongoing. Christ habitually makes propitiation. Christ’s death only need occur once and it is sufficient for all times to take away my sins (see 10:10-20). So does Christ have to keep interceding before an angry God? No, for I am at peace with the Father. The text also says, “come to the aid of those who are tempted.” To be tempted does not result in God’s wrath. So the better understanding, in this text, is to see Christ interceding for believers on their behalf habitually to help us with temptation and sin.
Christ knows what it’s like to suffer in temptation and He comes to our aid. Christ, the High Priest cares about our holiness. He preserves believers to the end. He makes sure believers will repent, grow, learn, and be sanctified. As our High Priest He is always near to us. He always intercedes. Christ never neglects His children, forgets them, or gets too focused on the football game.
I remember a time in my life where if I didn’t have a certain feeling, I thought Christ was not near to me. Thinking about this text made me realize Christ is always with me because I am His child. It relieved me from pursuing a feeling. Instead I draw near to Him in times of need (4:14; 16). It also comforts me to know He cares more for my holiness than I do, ministers to me, remains close, and always leads me to worship Him.
Therefore, in short, Christ’s High Priest ministry is Easter and preserving believers until the Second Advent (Christmas). Now, is this just pie in the sky theology? Is there anything practical about this doctrine for my life? Does Christ’s life in the flesh make a difference to me everyday? It should. I pray this Good Friday, we look to the cross, remember why Christ died, but also understand how important his life in the flesh is to my daily life in Him.