“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:4-7)
The Israelites relied on a high priest to reconcile themselves to God on the Day of Atonement. This was an annual event. It always required a blood sacrifice for the cleansing of sin. Only the high priest could go behind the curtain on this special day. Once God’s people had their sins forgiven, God could dwell in peace with them. When the high priest died, another high priest was appointed to take his place.
Did you know that when Jesus died on the cross, He became the perfect, blameless sacrificial lamb led to the slaughter? “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4) His death on the cross meant the people no longer needed a sacrifice for forgiveness of sin! Jesus’ death and resurrection meant all of mankind’s sins have been forgiven once and for all for those that believe in Him.
When Jesus died, the veil that separated man from God was torn in two. “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Mark 15:37-38) This symbolized that mankind now had direct access to the throne of God. We can pray to Jesus who intercedes on our behalf in heaven. “Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34) It is comforting to know that our prayers are heard and addressed in heaven. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry. (Psalm 34:15) It is awesome to think that all we have to be willing to do is say a prayer and it will be heard day or night, 24/7. The throne of heaven is always accessible to us. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) God encourages us to petition Him. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15) Unlike false Gods, our God is alive and real and desires for us to communicate with Him and to develop a relationship with Him!
Did you know that just as the Israelites had a high priest, Jesus is our high priest? Below are a few scriptures that describe our heavenly high priest.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:13-15)
“Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” (Hebrews 7:23-28)
“Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. (Hebrews 8:1-2)
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.” (Hebrews 3:1-3)
From these scriptures we learn that Jesus, our great high priest, can empathize with us because He was once human and experienced life as we do. He is the Son of God, so He is perfect and holy, without weaknesses or faults. He dwells in heaven and sits at the right hand of God. His priesthood is forever! He can meet our needs. We should fix our thoughts on Him.
These scriptures give us an excellent picture of our Jesus in heaven. Heaven is not just a place we look forward to going to in our next life; the throne of God is approachable and can be entered into today through prayer. I look forward to the day I can say thank you to Jesus for His sacrifice on the cross and for erasing my sins so I can spend eternity with Him in Heaven! In the meantime, I will pray to Jesus knowing He hears my prays and intercedes on my behalf. As Christians, we are so blessed by all God has done for us and makes available to us! In our next part in this series, will find out more about what it means to be heirs to the glories of heaven. What an exciting moment it will be when we see firsthand what awaits us!
Pray this Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for sending your one and only son, Jesus, to die for my sins and to be the pure, holy, blameless and perfect sacrifice on behalf of all mankind. I am so grateful that Jesus humbled Himself and became a man, so He can relate to me in whatever I am going through in my life when I pray. Please help me to remember I have a great high priest who hears my prayers and intercedes for me in heaven. May I be diligent to take all of my needs and the concerns of others before the Almighty throne of God. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.