Great High Priest

A model of the Jerusalem Temple

40 Names of Jesus in 40 days of Lent — Day 11

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:14-15 ESBUK

The temple in Jerusalem is among the most beautiful abattoirs ever built.

If that start sentence surprises you then you are probably reading modern worship into what the Bible says. From the Tabernacle in the desert through Solomon’s Temple to Herod’s Temple in Jesus’ time the temple was not like a modern cathedral, its function was a place where animals were sacrificed, and the function of priests was to offer the sacrifices, unlike the modern day priests who take services. Chief priests were never meant to be leaders of the people, they were intermediaries, offering sacrifices to take away sins, standing between humans and God, passing through the temple curtain into the holy of holies once a year on the Day of Atonement.

Jesus passed not through the curtain but through the heavens. His sacrifice of himself is once and for all time, it does not need repeating. The audience of the book of Hebrews is mentioned as going through hardship and suffering many times, this has to be taken into account when looking for meaning in the text, it is written for people suffering. Jesus knows about suffering, not just the cross; his earliest years were as a refugee and he lived in a land occupied by the Romans, a regieme noted for their brutality and not for love, peace and understanding.

That Jesus is an intercessor who understands being human is something that is often taught in places where life is relitively easy, and I’d agree that that interpretation is valid despite the context being one of a letter written to a church where life was difficult. For this post instead of using the context of Jesus praying for us as individuals I want to take a different line. Jesus understands the feelings of refugees and those living in a country which is invaded. Pray for Ukraine and it’s people, Jesus undrstands.

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