So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you” Hebrews 5:5
In the Old Testament, only the high priest could enter the holy of hollies, and only once a year. On the Day of Atonement (or “Yom Kippur”), the high priest, following very specific instructions, went in and made a sacrifice offering on behalf of all the people. He stepped into the tabernacle beyond the curtain and approached the mercy seat, sprinkling sacrificial blood over it. Blood was shed for forgiveness of sins. Fitting that it was shed over the ark of the covenant, the place where the law was kept. The law that no one could ever keep.
This was a day to acknowledge the sins of the people and make a sacrifice to be temporarily reconciled to God. It was temporary because it has to be repeated every single year.
Much was required to approach a holy God. It was not to be taken lightly. The priest was to bring two young goats and a bull. At God’s direction, one goat would be sacrificed with the bull, and the other one set free.
The blood from the sacrificed goat and bull was sprinkled on God’s mercy seat; on the Ark of the Covenant. The priest then put his hands on the other goat and confessed the sins of the nation, transferring them onto the goat. The goat was brought deep into the wilderness and released with the sins of the people.
Two goats – payment for sin and removal of sin. Bloodshed and freedom. It was a shadow of the sacrifice Jesus came to offer. Hebrews shows Jesus as the great high priest…both sacrificer and sacrifice. Not only did Jesus come to die on the cross to shed blood in payment for our sins, but He also transferred His righteousness to us. He took our punishment AND set us free. Free from guilt and condemnation. Free to approach a holy God. One sacrifice for all time. Only Jesus…the great high priest and spotless lamb.
Question: How was Jesus both the sacrifice and the offering priest?