Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 6 2013 - Hebrews 7:15-28 – The guarantor of a better covenant

"Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant" (Hebrews 7:22). The old covenant had all manner of weaknesses. The one highlighted in today's passage was the weakness of its priests. They were sinners just like the people they served: they had to offer sacrifices for their own sins as well as for the sins of the people. Furthermore, they were mortal; they were soon carried away by death and other priests had to take their place. The old covenant resolved nothing; it never brought anything to a conclusion.

Jesus is a great high priest of a very different sort – "a high priest [who] truly meets our need" (7:26). He "is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners" (7:26). And yet, we might add, he was set apart for sinners. "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" (7:27). Now he is "exalted above the heavens" (7:26) where he "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" (7:24-25).

In Jesus we have "a better hope ... by which we draw near to God" (7:19). This better hope rests in a better sacrifice – a perfect and final sacrifice for sin. This better hope rests in a better mediator – a great high priest who always lives to intercede for us. He is the "guarantor of a better covenant"; the promises that God has given us in Jesus are underwritten and guaranteed by him. Their fulfilment is not dependent upon us; were it so, we would be without hope. Their fulfilment is entirely dependent upon him, and he will not and cannot fail. This is the unshakable ground of our "better hope".

What does this mean for us on a day-to-day basis? It means that when we fall into sin and disobedience, as we often do, we need to run to him and not run away from him. His once-for-all sacrifice is sufficient to cover all our sins. There is healing and forgiveness with him.

But this should not make us complacent; it’s not as if we can go on sinning confident that “God will forgive; that’s his job” (a response reportedly given to a priest by Heinriche Heine on his deathbed). Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest of a better covenant. It is better because it actually changes things rather than providing endless rituals – including those of confession and absolution. “He is able to save completely those who come to God through him”. He is able not only to forgive our sins, he is able to save us from them; he is able to give us the power to live a new life – the life of obedience that characterised him. He will save completely in that last day when we are transformed perfectly into his likeness. By his risen presence he is able now to give grace and help in our time of need.

Jesus is our Great High Priest, the perfect and final mediator between humankind and God. He lives in the presence of God to intercede for us. He lives with us and in us by his Spirit to help us follow him.

Living Saviour, thank you that there is no limit to your love and forgiveness; I can never get beyond the reach of your grace and mercy. Thank you also that you have begun a work in me to make me like you. I know my weakness Lord, but I am convinced also the sufficiency of your presence and power. When I face temptation this day, even the temptation to sin in the confidence that you will forgive, help me to turn to you and depend upon your power that I may live to please you this day rather than grieving and wounding you.

Peter Misselbrook