How is Christ a priest?


He died for our sins and prays to God for us.

During his life, Jesus did the job of a prophet. He spoke God's words to the people. But he didn’t only do the job of a prophet – he also did the work of a priest! So what exactly did priests do?

Back when God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, he also gave Moses instructions for building a special tent. It was called the Tabernacle or “Tent of Meeting.” It was made of beautiful materials and filled with special golden objects. But what really made it special was the promise God made about it. In Exodus 25:22, God promised, “There I will meet with you.

Later, a special building was constructed to replace the Tabernacle tent. This building was called the temple. It was a golden masterpiece even more spectacular than the Tabernacle! But like the Tent of Meeting that came before it, the temple’s greatest treasure was the presence of God!

The people who worked in the Tabernacle, and later in the temple, were called priests. Only a priest was allowed to enter and do work inside these special places. Priests had to be born into a special family. They had to wear special clothing. And they worked in the Tabernacle and the temple doing special things. They would light special candles, burn special incense, and even set out special loaves of bread! But the most special thing they did was offer all sorts of different sacrifices for the sins of their people.

Because the price of sin is death, God commanded his sinful people to bring a sacrifice to his temple. A person would take an innocent animal, like a lamb, and kill it outside of the Tabernacle or temple. Then they would give its body to the priest. Leviticus 4:35 describes some of the special things the priests did with the dead lamb: “Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar… the priest shall burn it on the altar... In this way the priest will make atonement for them for the sin they have committed, and they will be forgiven.

God’s people were not allowed to offer sacrifices for themselves. Only a priest was allowed to do this. These men stood in the middle between the sinful people of Israel and their sinless God. They brought the body and blood of an innocent animal as a sacrifice to God and prayed for him to forgive their sins.

Each and every animal sacrifice was a serious reminder of the deadly consequences of sin. And because the people kept sinning, priests had to keep burning sacrifices day after day. But there was something the priests and their people didn’t completely understand at the time: these sacrifices were designed by God to point forward to a much greater sacrifice – the sacrifice of Jesus!

One time, Jesus went to meet a man named John. As he saw Jesus walking his way, John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Did John think Jesus was a fuzzy little lamb? Of course not! With these words, John was sharing a secret about Jesus’ mission. Like innocent lambs were sacrificed by priests for the sins of the people, innocent and sinless Jesus would also one day be sacrificed for sin. But unlike those lambs, who were sacrificed for a single sinner, Jesus the Lamb of God would be sacrificed for the sins of the whole world!

Priests like Aaron, Samuel, and Ezra sacrificed countless animals for the sins of their people, day after day. But Jesus the priest offered up himself as a sacrifice! If he wanted to, Jesus had the power to call down an army of angels and wipe out the soldiers sent to arrest him. But instead, he let himself be tied up, beaten, whipped, and, eventually, nailed to a cross. And because he was the Son of God and not some little lamb, the sinless blood He shed as he died that day was enough to pay for all of our sins, now and forever!

But the Lamb of God didn’t stay dead after his sacrifice – Jesus came back to life! Unlike the priests who came before him, men like Aaron and Samuel and Ezra, Jesus is a priest who lives forever. And because of that, Romans 8:34 tells us, “Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding (praying) for us.” Jesus is forever standing in the middle between his sinful people and our sinless God. And with such a great Priest praying for our forgiveness, sinners like us can be certain our salvation is a sure thing!


+ How was Jesus a better priest than those that came before him?

+ Why was Jesus’ sacrifice better than the lambs the priests offered?


Ps. 110:4; 1 Tim. 2:5-6; Heb. 4:14-16; 7:24-25; 1 John 2:1-2

© 2023 Andrew Doane. All rights reserved.