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Jesus the Better High Priest

In this article we shall look at the present heavenly and High Priestly ministry of Jesus. Just what is Jesus doing now - since the ascension and before His return in glory? Jesus is our eternal and abiding High Priest who has passed through the heavenly realms, who is merciful to sinners, and yet will have all His enemies made as a 'footstool for His feet".

The book of Acts begins with Jesus ascending into heaven and the angels telling the disciples that He would return one day - just the way He went - that is, in bodily form , and to Jerusalem. A few days later Pentecost exploded and the early church was born in tongues of fire. The "Church Age", that time between Pentecost and the Return - had begun. So just what is Jesus doing now? Acts, Hebrews and Ephesians give us some clues.

Jesus Is At The Right Hand of the Father

There are at least 20 references to this fact in Scripture: Matthew 22:44, 26:64, Mark 12:36, 14:62, 16:19, Luke 20:42, 22;69, Acts 2:25, 2:33-34, 5:31, 7:55-56, Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 1:3, 1;13, 8:1, 10:12, 12:2, Rev 5:7. Some of these are parallel passages so we will just look at the main twelve passages below.

(Matthew 22:44 NASB) 'THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT THINE ENEMIES BENEATH THY FEET"'?

(Matthew 26:64 NASB) Jesus said^ to him, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN."

(Mark 16:19 NASB) So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.

(Luke 22:69 NASB) "But from now on THE SON OF MAN WILL BE SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND of the power OF GOD."

(Acts 2:25 NASB) "For David says of Him, 'I WAS ALWAYS BEHOLDING THE LORD IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, THAT I MAY NOT BE SHAKEN.

(Acts 2:33-34 NASB) "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. {34} "For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: 'THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,

(Acts 5:31 NASB) "He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

(Acts 7:55-56 NASB) But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; {56} and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."

(Romans 8:34 NASB) who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

Ephesians 1:20 NASB) which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,

(Colossians 3:1 NASB) If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

(Hebrews 1:3 NASB) And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high;

(Hebrews 1:13 NASB) But to which of the angels has He ever said, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE THINE ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR THY FEET"?

(Hebrews 8:1 NASB) Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,

(Hebrews 10:12 NASB) but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,

(Hebrews 12:2 NASB) fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

(Revelation 5:7 NASB) And He (Jesus) came, and He took it (the judgment scroll) out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

What do theses verses tell us about the ministry of Jesus? Firstly they say that Jesus is in a position of vast authority, but being at the right hand of the Father Jesus is the Prime Minister of the Universe- Acts calls Him a Prince (Acts 5:31). Those that despised Him when He was on earth would have to reckon with the power He would wield after His ascension and especially at His return. Jesus reply to His critics was " hereafter you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN." Hebrews goes further and says that from this position of authority Jesus upholds the Universe by the "word of His power". His commands, His utterances, His "words of power" uphold all the created order! (Hebrews 1:3)

This cosmic and powerful Christ is not just the "tyrant of the Universe" but uses His high position for the benefit of those who love Him. He has "made purification for sins" and "intercedes" for us as our representative at God's right hand. (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 1:3). From His high position in the heavenly realms He pours out the Holy Spirit upon those who believe (Acts 2:33,34) and grants repentance and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:31) At the right hand of the Father He is a faithful and merciful High Priest who we can come to for grace and help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:10-16)

However He will also dispense justice and make His enemies a footstool for his feet and it is at the right hand of the Father that he receives and opens the scroll of judgment and brings into action the close of the age. (Matthew 22:24, Hebrews 1:13, Revelation 5:7)

Jesus Is Conquering The Nations

The nations will either be conquered either by evangelism or by the "sword of his mouth". His enemies will either repent and we will"make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:18-20) or they will be "ruled with a rod of iron" .

(Revelation 12:5 NASB) And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

(Revelation 19:15 NASB) And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.

Astonishingly it seems that faithful Christians will also rule over the rebellious nations as Christ's representatives:

(Revelation 2:26-28 NASB) 'And he who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS; {27} AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father; {28} and I will give him the morning star.

So we see that Jesus has ascended to a position of vast authority and is on a program to conquer the world. The church Age is about that conquest and the preferred method of conquest is the peaceful proclamation of the gospel. When that is no longer of any avail, force will be used! (Matthew 24:14 NASB) "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.

Jesus Is Baptizing With The Holy Spirit

(Acts 2:33 NASB) "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.

(Matthew 3:11 NASB) "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Since Pentecost Jesus has been pouring out the Holy Spirit in revival, in personal renewal and refreshing and in peace and love in the believers' heart (Romans 5:1-5). Jesus has received the promise of the Spirit from the Father and "gives the Spirit without measure" to those who ask Him.

(Luke 11:13 NASB) "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"

(John 3:34 NASB) "For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.

The Holy Spirit is given to three groups of people (which are really one):

hose that thirst for the waters of life - (Revelation 21:6 NASB) And He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.
Those that believe - (John 7:39 NASB) But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Those who obey - (Acts 5:32 NASB) "And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him."

Jesus is Building His Church And Preparing His Bride

(Matthew 16:18 NASB) "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.

(Ephesians 5:25-27 NASB) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; {26} that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, {27} that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.

Not only is Jesus conquering the nations through missionary evangelism He is making something of those converts - a glorious church, holy and blameless, without spot or wrinkle. God has a program of perfection for is Church and it will be implemented! Jesus said he will build His church on the faithful declarations of imperfect men such as Peter and He will! He prepared His Church chiefly through "the washing of water with the word" - we are cleansed as we study and obey the Scriptures. Jesus is purifying, sanctifying and cleansing a church so that it will be a wonderful bride and bring honor to Him on the wedding day!

Jesus Sympathizes With The Frailties And Weaknesses Of The Saints, Interceded For Them And Represents Them Before God As A Faithful High Priest

he book of Hebrews has many references to this sacrificial and sympathetic high priestly role of Jesus ( Hebrews 2:17, 3:1, 4:14-15, 5:5, 5:10, 6:20, 7:26, 8:1-8, 9:11,25; 13:11-12) and Romans 8 says that Jesus intercedes for us from His position at the right hand of the Father (Romans 8:34). This intercession is based on a deep understanding of human nature because Jesus was tempted in all points as we are but was yet without sin, (Hebrews 4:15) so He can be a merciful High Priest who is conscious of human frailty. (Click here for an article on this)

Jesus is a high priest of a special and eternal order - the order of Melchizedek, the prototype of all priests and one who is eternal. (Hebrews chapters 6 and 7). Instead of belonging to a human priesthood that perishes and becomes obsolete like the priesthood based on Levi, the priesthood based on Melchizedek is perpetual and heavenly and belongs to the tabernacle that is in heaven (Hebrews 9:11). Thus it is is a better and more potent priesthood with a deeper intercession before God- one that can completely remove sins (which the Aaronic priesthood could never do). The supremacy of this priesthood is outlined in the following verses:

(Hebrews 6:20 NASB) where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
(Hebrews 7:26 NASB) For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;
(Hebrews 8:1 NASB) Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,

The main point of the the book of Hebrews is that Jesus, having passed through the heavenly realms and the plurality of spiritual "layers" is now in the highest place anyone can be before God - at God's very right hand. Therefore His priestly ministry is far more effective than that of any Jewish High Priest and therefore Christianity is a better system than Judaism because a resurrected and triumphant Christ, the very Son of God, to whom God has said "THOU ART MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN THEE"; - is the High Priest and main intercessor.

Thus Jesus being a High Priest at God's right hand makes Christianity the supreme world religion - better than Judaism, which in turn was better than Gentile religions. We have a Better High Priest and there lies our hope and confidence.

(Hebrews 4:14-16 NASB) 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 cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. {16} Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

Prayer
Lord Jesus, You are at the right hand of the Father interceding for me that I may become holy and blameless and spotless. You understand all my weaknesses and give me grace and help in time of need. Lord purify my heart and its desires, take all wicked ways from me and put a right spirit within me that I may walk in Your ways. Pour out Your Holy Spirit upon me and fill me with Your life. Allow me o drink from the water of life and to know what it is to have the Holy Spirit without measure and be fully filled with God's love. Glorify Yourself in me I pray Amen.