Though Jesus has ascended back to the Father, his ministry to us continues. The door to God that the Son opened for us, through his death, he now keeps open in his role as our High Priest. “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19-22).
To its original Hebrew readers this passage carried far more meaning than it naturally does for us. “Holy places,” “curtain,” “great priest,” “house of God,” “draw near,” “sprinkled clean,” and “washed with pure water” all make reference to Old Testament physical practices that foreshadowed New Testament spiritual realities. In this complex, layered passage we see reference to Jesus as Savior (“the blood of Jesus”) but also as our “great priest
over the house of God.”
Making a sacrificial offering. In ancient Israel the holy place was the exclusive, innermost room of the Temple in Jerusalem. It was open only to the high priest, only once per year, and only on the condition that he enter with the blood of an acceptable offering. As the ultimate High Priest, Jesus would later enter the true holy place in heaven, just once, to offer himself as the sinless sacrifice for his people (Hebrews 9:24-26; 10:1-14). By bringing his own blood to the throne of God, Jesus satisfied God’s holy standard and bore away God’s wrath against our sin (Romans 3:25). He achieved all of this “through his flesh,” that is, by his humanity, the “curtain” torn apart to gain our access to God (Matthew 27:51).
Interceding. In addition to offering sacrifice while in the holy place, the high priest of ancient Israel would also pray for the people, interceding on their behalf before God. Again, this was ultimately a foreshadowing of Jesus. As our “great priest over the house of God,” Jesus Christ is the eternal, living intercessor for God’s household, the church, and is uniquely qualified for this role as the only one who has lived both in flesh as man and in heaven as God.
[Excerpted from my latest book, Brass Heavens: Reasons for Unanswered Prayer]