Category Archives: Jesus Christ Questions

Questions about Jesus Christ: When Jesus Was Nailed to the Cross Did the Nails Go through His Hands or His Wrists?

The question of where the nails were placed goes to the question of whether Jesus was crucified on a cross, pole, or stake. Some scientists have suggested that if He was crucified on a cross, as tradition states, the hands would not have been strong enough to hold His weight. Therefore, they suggest that the nails were actually in His wrists, which are considered stronger and more capable of holding His weight. Others have posited that the hands would have been strong enough, considering that His feet were also nailed and would have supported some of His weight. There is also some historical evidence that sometimes a cross would have sort of a seat to help support the crucified person’s weight.

While historical scholars are uncertain of the nail placement in Jesus’ crucifixion, or anyone else’s for that matter, the Bible simply says that Jesus had wounds in His hands (John 20:25–27). The Greek word translated “hands” is cheir, which means literally “hands.” There is no Greek word for “wrists” in the New Testament, even though some versions translate Acts 12:7 to say that the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. But the Greek word in this verse is also cheir.

It’s possible that the nails may have been angled to enter through the hand and exit through the wrist, but it’s just as likely that the nails were driven straight through the hand somewhere near the base of the thumb. Experiments have shown that both ways do work and either way could have been used in the crucifixion of Jesus.

Spiritually, the wounds of Christ hold infinite significance to us and are a part of His glory, but their exact location is a minor issue. We know that there are five wounds—the hands, the side, and the feet. Although we don’t know exactly where on the hands or the side or the feet, we do know that by His wounds, we are healed (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24). The wounds on His body brought about spiritual healing from sin to all who would ever believe in Him.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: What Is the Purpose of Jesus Interceding for Us in Heaven?

Speaking of Jesus, the writer to the Hebrews says, “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). This verse (and others like it) tells us that although Christ’s work to secure the salvation of the elect was completed on the cross, as evidenced by His cry “It is finished!” (John 19:30), His care for His redeemed children will never be finished.

Jesus did not go to heaven after His earthly ministry and ‘take a break’ from His role as eternal Shepherd to His people. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10 emphasis added). If when humble, despised, dying, and dead, He had the power to accomplish so great a work as reconciling us to God, how much more may we expect that He will be able to keep us now that He is a living, exalted, and triumphant Redeemer, raised to life and interceding on our behalf before the throne (Romans 8:34). Clearly Jesus is still very active on our behalf in heaven.

After Jesus ascended to heaven and was seated at the right hand of God the Father (Acts 1:9; Colossians 3:1), He returned to the glory He had before His incarnation (John 17:5) to carry on His role of King of kings and Lord of lords—His eternal role as the second Person of the triune God. While this old earth continues to be “won” for Christ, Jesus is the Advocate for Christians, meaning He is our great Defender. This is the intercessory role He currently fulfills for those who are His (1 John 2:1). Jesus is always pleading our case before the Father, like a defense lawyer on our behalf.

Jesus is interceding for us while Satan (whose name means “accuser”) is doing that very thing, accusing us, pointing out our sins and frailties before God, just as he did with Job (Job 1:6–12). But the accusations fall upon deaf ears in heaven, because Jesus’ work on the cross completely paid our sin debt in full; therefore, God always sees in His children the perfect righteousness of Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross, His righteousness (perfect holiness) was imputed to us, while our sin was imputed to Him at His death. This is the great exchange Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 5:21. That took away forever our sinful state before God, so God can accept us as blameless before Him.

Finally, it is important to understand that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. No one else—not Mary, not any previous Christian saints, not angels—has the power to intercede for us before the throne of the Almighty. Christ alone mediates and intercedes between God and man. “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: What Does It Mean that Jesus Saves?

“Jesus saves” is a popular slogan on bumper stickers, signs at athletic events, and even banners being pulled across the sky by small airplanes. Sadly, few who see the phrase “Jesus saves” truly and fully understand what it means. There is a tremendous amount of power and truth packed into those two words.

Jesus saves, but who is Jesus?
Most people understand that Jesus was a man who lived in Israel approximately 2000 years ago. Virtually every religion in the world views Jesus as a good teacher and/or a prophet. And while those things are most definitely true of Jesus, they do not capture who Jesus truly is, nor do they explain how or why Jesus saves. Jesus is God in human form (John 1:1, 14). Jesus is God, come to Earth, as a true human being (1 John 4:2). God became a human being in the person of Jesus in order to save us. That brings up the next question: why do we need to be saved?

Jesus saves, but why do we need to be saved?
The Bible declares that every human being who has ever lived has sinned (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23). To sin is to do something, whether in thought, word, or deed, that contradicts God’s perfect and holy character. Because of our sin, we all deserve judgment from God (John 3:18, 36). God is perfectly just, so He cannot allow sin and evil to go unpunished. Since God is infinite and eternal, and since all sin is ultimately against God (Psalm 51:4), only an infinite and eternal punishment is sufficient. Eternal death is the only just punishment for sin. That is why we need to be saved.

Jesus saves, but how does He save?
Because we have sinned against an infinite God, either a finite person (us) must pay for our sins for an infinite amount of time, or an infinite Person (Jesus) must pay for our sins one time. There is no other option. Jesus saves us by dying in our place. In the person of Jesus Christ, God sacrificed Himself on our behalf, paying the infinite and eternal penalty only He could pay (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:2). Jesus took the punishment that we deserve in order to save us from a horrible eternal destiny, the just consequence of our sin. Because of His great love for us, Jesus laid down His life (John 15:13), paying the penalty that we had earned, but could not pay. Jesus was then resurrected, demonstrating that His death was indeed sufficient to pay the penalty for our sins (1 Corinthians 15).

Jesus saves, but who does He save?
Jesus saves all who will receive His gift of salvation. Jesus saves all those who fully trust in His sacrifice alone as the payment for sin (John 3:16; Acts 16:31). While Jesus’ sacrifice was perfectly sufficient to pay for the sins of all humanity, Jesus only saves those who personally receive His most precious of gifts (John 1:12).

If you now understand what it means that Jesus saves, and you want to trust in Him as your personal Savior, make sure you understand and believe the following, and as an act of faith, communicate the following to God. “God, I know that I am a sinner, and I know that because of my sin I deserve to be eternally separated from you. Even though I do not deserve it, thank you for loving me and providing the sacrifice for my sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus died for my sins and I trust in Him alone to save me. From this point forward, help me to live my life for you instead of for sin. Help me to live the rest of my life in gratitude for the wonderful salvation you have provided. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me!”[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: Is Jesus a Zombie?

There are some attackers/haters of Christianity that are making the claim that Jesus is a zombie. Now, these people do not actually believe in zombies, nor do they believe that Jesus came back from the dead. All they are trying to do is demean Christians and make Christian beliefs about the resurrection look absurd. The usual definition of a “zombie” is a dead person’s body becoming reanimated (alive again), while continuing the process of decay. Some portrayals of zombies involve the dead body being possessed and utilized by a demon. Other portrayals of zombies have the person’s soul actually returning to its body and causing it to become “alive” again, while still dead, i.e., undead.

How does the idea of a zombie compare to Christian beliefs about Jesus’ resurrection? Other than the idea of coming back to life, there are no similarities. When Jesus was resurrected, His physical body was perfected and glorified. Jesus lives today in His resurrection body which does not decay, does not appear dead, and is forever immune from death, injury, and sickness. Jesus’ resurrection body will be perfect for all of eternity, just as all those who receive Jesus as Savior will be granted perfect resurrection bodies after death. No, Jesus is not a zombie. Jesus was resurrected, not just reanimated. In no sense is Jesus still dead. He is perfectly and eternally alive.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: What Is the Love of Christ?

The phrase “love of Christ,” as opposed to “love for Christ, refers to the love that He has toward mankind. His love can be briefly stated as His willingness to act in our best interest, especially in meeting our greatest need, even though it cost Him everything and even though we were the least worthy of such love.

Though Christ Jesus, being God in nature, existed from the beginning of time with God the Father (John 1:1) and the Holy Spirit, He willingly left His throne (John 1:1–14) to become a man, that He might pay the penalty for our sin so that we would not have to pay for it for all eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11–15). Because mankind’s sin has been paid for by our sinless Savior Jesus Christ, God who is just and holy can now forgive our sins when we accept Christ Jesus’ payment as our own (Romans 3:21–26). Thus, Christ’s love is shown in His leaving His home in heaven, where He was worshipped and honored as He deserved, to come to earth as a man where He would be mocked, betrayed, beaten, and crucified on a cross to pay the penalty for our sin, rising again from the dead on the third day. He considered our need of a Savior from our sin and its penalty as more important than His own comfort and life (Philippians 2:3–8).

Sometimes people may give their lives willingly for ones they deem as worthy—a friend, a relative, other “good” people—but Christ’s love goes beyond that. Christ’s love extends to those most unworthy of it. He willingly took the punishment of those who tortured Him, hated Him, rebelled against Him, and cared nothing about Him, those who were most undeserving of His love (Romans 5:6–8). He gave the most He could give for those who deserved it the least! Sacrifice, then, is the essence of godly love, called agape love. This is God-like love, not man-like love (Matthew 5:43–48).

This love which He demonstrated toward us on the cross is just the beginning. When we place our trust in Him as our Savior, He makes us God’s children, co-heirs with Him! He comes to dwell within us through His Holy Spirit, promising that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5–6). Thus, we have a loving companion for life. And no matter what we go through, He is there, and His love is ever available to us (Romans 8:35). But as He rightfully reigns as a benevolent King in heaven, we need to give Him the position He deserves in our lives as well, that of Master and not merely companion. It is only then that we will experience life as He intended and live in the fullness of His love (John 10:10b).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: Where does the Old Testament predict the coming of Christ?

There are many Old Testament prophecies about Jesus Christ. Some interpreters place the number of Messianic prophecies in the hundreds. The following are those that are considered the clearest and most important.

Regarding Jesus’ birth—Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 9:6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Concerning Jesus’ ministry and death—Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Psalm 22:16–18: “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”

Likely the clearest prophecy about Jesus is the entire 53rd chapter of Isaiah. Isaiah 53:3–7 is especially unmistakable: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his 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 her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

The “seventy sevens” prophecy in Daniel chapter 9 predicted the precise date that Jesus, the Messiah, would be “cut off.” Isaiah 50:6 accurately describes the beating that Jesus endured. Zechariah 12:10 predicts the “piercing” of the Messiah, which occurred after Jesus died on the cross. Many more examples could be provided, but these will suffice. The Old Testament most definitely prophesies the coming of Jesus as the Messiah.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: What was the meaning and importance of the transfiguration?

About a week after Jesus plainly told His disciples that He would suffer, be killed, and be raised to life (Luke 9:22), He took Peter, James and John up a mountain to pray. While praying, His personal appearance was changed into a glorified form, and His clothing became dazzling white. Moses and Elijah appeared and talked with Jesus about His death that would soon take place. Peter, not knowing what he was saying and being very fearful, offered to put up three shelters for them. This is undoubtedly a reference to the booths that were used to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, when the Israelites dwelt in booths for 7 days (Lev. 23:34–42). Peter was expressing a wish to stay in that place. When a cloud enveloped them, a voice said, “This is My Son, whom I have chosen, whom I love; listen to Him!” The cloud lifted, Moses and Elijah had disappeared, and Jesus was alone with His disciples who were still very much afraid. Jesus warned them not to tell anyone what they had seen until after His resurrection. The three accounts of this event are found in Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, and Luke 9:28–36.

Undoubtedly, the purpose of the transfiguration of Christ into at least a part of His heavenly glory was so that the “inner circle” of His disciples could gain a greater understanding of who Jesus was. Christ underwent a dramatic change in appearance in order that the disciples could behold Him in His glory. The disciples, who had only known Him in His human body, now had a greater realization of the deity of Christ, though they could not fully comprehend it. That gave them the reassurance they needed after hearing the shocking news of His coming death.

Symbolically, the appearance of Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the Prophets. But God’s voice from heaven—“Listen to Him!”—clearly showed that the Law and the Prophets must give way to Jesus. The One who is the new and living way is replacing the old—He is the fulfillment of the Law and the countless prophecies in the Old Testament. Also, in His glorified form they saw a preview of His coming glorification and enthronement as King of kings and Lord of lords.

The disciples never forgot what happened that day on the mountain and no doubt this was intended. John wrote in his gospel, “We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only” (John 1:14). Peter also wrote of it, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with Him on the sacred mountain” (2 Peter 1:16–18). Those who witnessed the transfiguration bore witness to it to the other disciples and to countless millions down through the centuries.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: What is the meaning and importance of the ascension of Jesus Christ?

After Jesus rose from the dead, He “presented Himself alive” (Acts 1:3) to the women near the tomb (Matthew 28:9–10), to His disciples (Luke 24:36–43), and to more than 500 others (1 Corinthians 15:6). In the days following His resurrection, Jesus taught His disciples about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).

Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus and His disciples went to Mount Olivet, near Jerusalem. There, Jesus promised His followers that they would soon receive the Holy Spirit, and He instructed them to remain in Jerusalem until the Spirit had come. Then Jesus blessed them, and as He gave the blessing, He began to ascend into heaven. The account of Jesus’ ascension is found in Luke 24:50–51 and Acts 1:9–11.

It is plain from Scripture that Jesus’ ascension was a literal, bodily return to heaven. He rose from the ground gradually and visibly, observed by many intent onlookers. As the disciples strained to catch a last glimpse of Jesus, a cloud hid Him from their view, and two angels appeared and promised Christ’s return “in just the same way that you have watched Him go” (Acts 1:11).

The Ascension of Jesus Christ is meaningful for several reasons:

1) It signaled the end of His earthly ministry. God the Father had lovingly sent His Son into the world at Bethlehem, and now the Son was returning to the Father. The period of human limitation was at an end.

2) It signified success in His earthly work. All that He had come to do, He had accomplished.

3) It marked the return of His heavenly glory. Jesus’ glory had been veiled during His sojourn on earth, with one brief exception at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–9).

4) It symbolized His exaltation by the Father (Ephesians 1:20–23). The One with whom the Father is well pleased (Matthew 17:5) was received up in honor and given a name above all names (Philippians 2:9).

5) It allowed Him to prepare a place for us (John 14:2).

6) It indicated the beginning of His new work as High Priest (Hebrews 4:14–16) and Mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 9:15).

7) It set the pattern for His return. When Jesus comes to set up the Kingdom, He will return just as He left-literally, bodily, and visibly in the clouds (Acts 1:11; Daniel 7:13–14; Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7).

Currently, the Lord Jesus is in heaven. The Scriptures frequently picture Him at the right hand of the Father-a position of honor and authority (Psalm 110:1; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 8:1). Christ is the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18), the giver of spiritual gifts (Ephesians 4:7–8), and the One who fills all in all (Ephesians 4:9–10).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: Who was responsible for Christ’s death?

The answer to this question has many facets. First, there is no doubt the religious leaders of Israel were responsible for Jesus’ death. Matthew 26:3–4 tells us that “the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, assembled together to the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas. And they consulted so that they might take Jesus by guile and kill Him.” The Jewish leaders demanded of the Romans that Jesus be put to death (Matthew 27:22–25). They couldn’t continue to allow Him to work signs and wonders because it threatened their position and place in the religious society they dominated (John 11:47–50), so “they plotted to put Him to death” (John 11:53).

The Romans were the ones who actually crucified Him (Matthew 27:27–37). Crucifixion was a Roman method of execution, authorized and carried out by the Romans under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who sentenced Jesus. Roman soldiers drove the nails into His hands and feet, Roman troops erected the cross and a Roman solider pierced His side (Matthew 27:27–35).

The people of Israel were also complicit in the death of Jesus. They were the ones who shouted, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” as He stood on trial before Pilate (Luke 23:21). They also cried for the thief Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus (Matthew 27:21). Peter confirmed this in Acts 2:22–23 when he told the men of Israel “you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified and put to death” Jesus of Nazareth. In fact the murder of Jesus was a conspiracy involving Rome, Herod, the Jewish leaders and the people of Israel, a diverse group of people who never worked together on anything before or since, but who came together this one time to plot and carry out the unthinkable—the murder of the son of God.

Ultimately, and perhaps somewhat amazingly, it was God Himself who put Jesus to death. This was the greatest act of divine justice ever carried out, done in “the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23) and for the highest purpose. Jesus’ death on the cross secured the salvation of countless millions and provided the only way God could forgive sin without compromising His holiness and perfect righteousness. Christ’s death was God’s perfect plan for the eternal redemption of His own. Far from being a victory for Satan, as some have suggested, or an unnecessary tragedy, it was the most gracious act of God’s goodness and mercy, the ultimate expression of the Father’s love for sinners. God put Jesus to death for our sin so that we could live in sinless righteousness before Him, a righteousness only possible because of the cross. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

So we who have come to Christ in faith are guilty of His blood, shed on the cross for us. He died to pay the penalty for our sins (Romans 5:8; 6:23). In the movie “The Passion of the Christ,” the director, Mel Gibson, was the one whose hands you see actually driving the nails through Christ’s hands. He did it that way to remind himself, and everyone else, that it was our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: What trials did Jesus face before His crucifixion?

The night of Jesus’ arrest, He was brought before Annas, Caiaphas, and an assembly of religious leaders called the Sanhedrin (John 18:19–24; Matthew 26:57). After this He was taken before Pilate, the Roman Governor (John 18:23), sent off to Herod (Luke 23:7), and returned to Pilate (Luke 23:11–12), who finally sentenced Him to death.

There were six parts to Jesus’ trial: three stages in a religious court and three stages before a Roman court. Jesus was tried before Annas, the former high priest; Caiaphas, the current high priest; and the Sanhedrin. He was charged in these “ecclesiastical” trials with blasphemy, claiming to be the Son of God, the Messiah.

The trials before Jewish authorities, the religious trials, showed the degree to which the Jewish leaders hated Him because they carelessly disregarded many of their own laws. There were several illegalities involved in these trials from the perspective of Jewish law: (1) No trial was to be held during feast time. (2) Each member of the court was to vote individually to convict or acquit, but Jesus was convicted by acclamation. (3) If the death penalty was given, a night must pass before the sentence was carried out; however, only a few hours passed before Jesus was placed on the Cross. (4) The Jews had no authority to execute anyone. (5) No trial was to be held at night, but this trial was held before dawn. (6) The accused was to be given counsel or representation, but Jesus had none. (7) The accused was not to be asked self-incriminating questions, but Jesus was asked if He was the Christ.

The trials before the Roman authorities started with Pilate (John 18:23) after Jesus was beaten. The charges brought against Him were very different from the charges in His religious trials. He was charged with inciting people to riot, forbidding the people to pay their taxes, and claiming to be King. Pilate found no reason to kill Jesus so he sent Him to Herod (Luke 23:7). Herod had Jesus ridiculed, but wanting to avoid the political liability, sent Jesus back to Pilate (Luke 23:11–12). This was the last trial as Pilate tried to appease the animosity of the Jews by having Jesus scourged. The Roman scourge is a terrible whipping of 39 lashes. In a final effort to have Jesus released, Pilate offered the prisoner Barabbas to be crucified and Jesus released, but to no avail. The crowds called for Barabbas to be released and Jesus to be crucified. Pilate granted their demand and surrendered Jesus to their will (Luke 23:25). The trials of Jesus represent the ultimate mockery of justice. Jesus, the most innocent man in the history of the world, was found guilty of crimes and sentenced to death by crucifixion.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: What does it mean that Jesus is our High Priest?

High Priest is only one of the many titles applied to Jesus: Messiah, Savior, Son of God, Son of Man, Friend of Sinners, etc. Each one focuses on a particular aspect of who He is and what that means for us. In the book of Hebrews, Jesus is called a High Priest (Hebrews 2:17, 4:14). The word “priest” carries a couple of primary meanings. First, it means one who mediates in religious services. It also means one who is holy or set apart to perform those services.

The first place we find the word used in the Bible is in Genesis 14. Abraham, the friend of God, entered into battle to rescue his nephew Lot, who had been captured by the army of Elam. On his return, Abraham was met by Melchizedek, King of Salem and priest of the Most High God. This man, whose name means the “king of righteousness,” blessed Abraham and the Most High God who gave victory to Abraham. In return for this blessing, Abraham gave a tithe (10 percent) of all the spoils of war to Melchizedek. By this act, Abraham acknowledged Melchizedek’s high position as the priest of God.

Years later, Abraham’s great-grandson Levi was singled out by God to be the father of the priestly tribe. When the Law was given on Mount Sinai, the Levites were identified as the servants of the Tabernacle, with the family of Aaron becoming the priests. The priests were responsible for making intercession to God for the people by offering the many sacrifices that the law required. Among the priests, one was selected as the High Priest, and he entered into the Most Holy Place once a year on the Day of Atonement to place the blood of the sacrifice on the Ark of the Covenant (Hebrews 9:7). By these daily and yearly sacrifices, the sins of the people were temporarily covered until the Messiah came to take away their sins.

When Jesus is called our High Priest, it is with reference to both of these previous priesthoods. Like Melchizedek, He is ordained as a priest apart from the Law given on Mount Sinai (Hebrews 5:6). Like the Levitical priests, Jesus offered a sacrifice to satisfy the Law of God when He offered Himself for our sins (Hebrews 7:26–27). Unlike the Levitical priests, who had to continually offer sacrifices, Jesus only had to offer His sacrifice once, gaining eternal redemption for all who come to God through Him (Hebrews 9:12).

One other important point about Jesus’ priesthood—every priest is appointed from among men. Jesus, though God from eternity, became a man in order to suffer death and serve as our High Priest (Hebrews 2:9). As a man, He was subject to all the weaknesses and temptations that we are, so that He could personally relate to us in our struggles (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus is greater than any other priest, so He is called our “Great High Priest” in Hebrews 4:14, and that gives us the boldness to come “unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 KJV).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.