When we were growing up, my sweet mama was emphatic about making sure her brood ate healthy food. She used olive oil long before it was considered cool; she asked the butcher for the leanest cuts of meat; she refused to stock our pantry with chips, cookies, or Cokes like the rest of my friends’ moms did; and she tried to instill in us the belief that fast food is from the Devil (an idea that evaporated from my mind like a dew-drop on a hot summer’s day the minute I left for college).
For a few years, she even gave up her beloved iced tea after reading about the dangers of caffeine in one of her health food journals and decided that diluted apple juice with fresh lemon would taste exactly like the sweet tea she’d become famous for (at least at our family reunions).
The rest of our little clan on Valencia Street—Dad Angel, Theresa, John Price, and me—begged her to stop serving watered-down cider at dinner and to resume brewing the yummy tea we were accustomed to, but she refused. She was steadfast in her belief that we would eventually grow to accept weak apple juice with a wedge of citrus hovering feebly on the side of the glass as a substitute for tea. But we never did. We just learned to sip sparingly, like suburban camels. To this day the smell of apple juice makes me a little nauseated.
The priesthood was the dominant theme in Israel’s history after God established it through Aaron. While prophets’ messages could be difficult to decipher and kings could be defeated, the priesthood had consistently been the Israelites’ connection, albeit wobbly, to their Creator. It was the only tangible go-between they had through which to approach God. They brought worship and sacrificial offerings to the temple—a bag of wheat, a jar of olive oil, a lamb or a cow—and the priests prepared those gifts according to ceremonial law, then officially presented the offering to Yahweh. Some priests were prone to taking a bite first.
But the Levitical system was innately flawed— s poor a substitute as watered-down apple juice, if I may—because it was innately human.
People aren’t adequate stand-ins for the Son of God. Jesus Christ is the only priest capable of fulfilling the redemption God promised His people:
“And because his obedience was perfect, he was able to give eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:9 NCV).
I’d love to see the faces of those precious first-century Christians when their pastor explained that Jesus was both their perfect High Priest and the perfect sacrifice. I bet it blew their mental hard drive. I mean, what student dares to dream of a professor taking the final exam the student thought she’d have to suffer through? Especially when the student was destined to fail?
God didn’t lower the standard of moral perfection so we could justify ourselves with mediocre behavior; instead, He chose to meet the standard for us through Jesus. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
The article is an excerpt of the Bible study Hebrews: The Nearness of King Jesus Week 3: An Unparalleled Priesthood.