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The Rev. William Klock: “Our Great High Priest” (Isaiah 1:10-20; Heb. 9:11-15)

March 29, 2009

This past week the Rev. William Klock of Living Word REC in British Columbia gave us another excellent sermon, Our Great High Priest.  Fr. Bill uses scripture passages from Isaiah 1 and Hebrews 9 in this message, and I think he really helps us see how much greater – indeed, infinitely greater – is the work of Jesus compared to the sacrifices of the Aaronic priesthood:

If the sacrifice of an unwilling animal could take away the ceremonial uncleanness of the people, how much more is done for us by the sacrifice of the Son of God?  In the Old Testament the High Priest would sprinkle the people with water mixed with the ashes of a heifer to ritually cleanse them.  But this only cleansed them on an external level.  The sacrifice of Christ purifies us spiritually.  In Christ the blood of the incarnate Word is offered.  He was without blemish.  The unblemished sacrificial animals of the Old Testament pointed to him.  He is the only man who has ever lived and not been defiled by sin.  It was his blood, not the blood of an animal, that was offered, as verse 14 says, “through the eternal Spirit.”  This is the final contrast with the old animal sacrifices.  The author of Hebrews uses this phrase “eternal Spirit” to contrast with the old sacrifices of flesh.  The animals offered in the Tabernacle were dumb brutes with little value.  Christ on the other hand was God himself, he was eternal, and embodies spiritual perfection.  There’s no comparison of value between the two.  Christ’s sacrifice is infinitely better than any other.  So if an animal sacrifice could provide ritual, external purification, how much more can Christ’s sacrifice purify us inwardly?  I think this shows us just how defiled we really are by our sins.  Too many of the Jews never looked beyond the animal sacrifices to see what they pointed to.  It was like they could buy off God with one of their animals.  “Okay God, I sinned, now here’s your sacrifice.”  Maybe it hurt a little in the pocketbook, but it wasn’t any big deal.  But when we see that only God himself could become the perfect sacrifice for our sins it should drive home the point that our sins really are a big deal.  It also drives home just how much God wants us to be reconciled to him that he would die in our place so that we can be brought back to spiritual life and health and into fellowship with him.

Indeed, as Hebrews also tells us,

23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, 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. (ESV)

Jesus lives forever to make intercession for us, hence another reason His priesthood is superior to the Old Testament priesthood.  Truly, He is our Great High Priest!

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