Wednesday, 5 December 2018
For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; Hebrews 7:26
The author just stated that Christ “is also able to save to the uttermost.” He then explained that with the words, “since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Now, he reveals the qualities that Christ possesses which make His saving of us to the uttermost possible. Understanding this, he begins with, “For such a High Priest was fitting for us.”
The implication is that anything less than what he will describe would render Christ unqualified to mediate for us. But because He possesses these qualities, He is wholly suited to the role of such a Mediator. The first quality is that He is “holy.”
The word used is not the same word used in verse 3:1 when speaking of the holy brethren to whom the epistle is written. Rather, it is a rare adjective which signifies something sanctioned by a higher (divine) law, and thus that which deserves godly respect. He is unaffected by the sin which weighs down Adam’s fallen race. There is no imperfection in our great High Priest and so His cross is completely able to remove our sin-debt once and for all.
The next word used is translated as “harmless.” It is a word used only here and in Romans 16:18. It signifies someone who is innocent even down to their very intentions. There is no desire at all to hurt or cause harm or grief in such a person. In Christ, there is no malice of thought. He doesn’t look at those who come to Him based on their past misdeeds, but on their acceptance of His accomplished work. Stated another way, His judgment concerning our salvation is not based on any negative thing we have done, but is based solely on the positive work that He has accomplished.
After this, He is described as “undefiled.” The word signifies “unstained,” and thus free from contamination. He is completely undefiled in thought, word, and deed. Because He is, His cleansing touch is able to purify us as well. When we call on Him in faith, He gives us His righteousness leading to holiness. At some glorious point in the future, we shall stand in the presence of God unaffected any longer by sin and its consequences.
He is also “separate from sinners.” It is debated if these words are connected to the previous word (undefiled), or to the following words (and has become higher than the heavens). Christ did, in fact, live among sinners as the gospels record, but He never participated in their sin. He remained wholly undefiled in His being. At the same time, He is now completely separated from us in this life. We are still in the fallen world, but He has gone into the heavens (which the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary represented) to minister for us. Because of this, it is probable that this is not specifically connected to either thought, but is a stand-alone thought which transitions between the two. He was separate, and He remains so now in another type of separation. Jesus is completely set apart from all defilement. This includes separation from those who have failed to call on Him. We cannot expect an eternal salvation for believers if we don’t expect eternal separation from unbelievers. God has given us the choice to choose life; to choose Jesus. If we neglect so great a salvation, only eternal condemnation can result.
The verse then ends with, “and has become higher than the heavens.” The thought is similar to that of Ephesians 4:10 –
“He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.”
The idea here is that His exaltation is higher than anything we can visibly see, and above any heaven we could ascend to. Thus, He sits at the right hand of God. In this, He can intercede directly to God on our behalf. The majesty of the heavens is nothing in comparison to the greatness of Jesus. We think of heaven as the ultimate prize, but the heavens were created along with the earth. The creation cannot equal the splendid majesty of the Creator, and heaven cannot match the glory of the Lord
In each of these, one can see the type which was given in the high priest of Israel as he mediated on the Day of Atonement. Christ is the Anti-type which corresponds to him, but in an infinitely more perfect way. What Israel’s high priest did under a law which could not save, Christ does through a covenant which can save to the uttermost.
Life application: If this verse doesn’t make you want to jump up and shout, you may need to get off the Xanax. When we come to Jesus we come to the very throne and glory of God. Think on who Jesus really is, and think on what He has really done. And then, go forth in praise of the splendor of His majesty!
Heavenly Father, help us never to set our eyes on any lesser prize than the ultimate glory – that of our precious, exalted, and magnificent Lord Jesus! Your word, again and again, admonishes us to fix our eyes, our thoughts, our hopes, and our hearts on Him. Give us the burning desire to do so. It is in His splendiferously wonderful name we pray! Amen.