Jesus the Priest –

2nd Sunday of Advent

By Rev. Dr. Brent Russett – Asbury Free Methodist

December 10, 2023 – Hebrews 7

            Advent is a time when we anticipate, like the people of old, Jesus’ coming. Our desire is that he would come in a way where we would receive him deeper into our lives.

            So, the question is, “How does he come to us?” This advent, we are looking at the three roles he plays in our lives: Prophet, Priest, and King. Last week, we looked at Jesus the prophet. Jesus was indeed God’s messenger. He told us what we need to know right now: the good news that he has come to give us life. He also told us about what is going to happen in the future. He told us about how he is going to come back again and how he is going to take us to be with him in heaven.

            This morning, I want to look at Jesus the priest. We may be somewhat disadvantaged at Asbury when it comes to understanding the role of a priest because we are in a tradition that emphasizes pastors.

            While some Free Methodist Ministers may wear a priestly collar, I choose not to. I choose to be a pastor. The word “pastor” means shepherd. Jesus, of course, is the great shepherd. My job as a shepherd is to point you towards spiritual food. A shepherd leads into green pastures and beside still waters and walks with you through dark valleys. Sometimes, my job is to provide healing for the spiritually wounded or diseased. I think most of you get the role of a pastor. I chose to be a pastor because it puts me amongst the community.

            The role of a priest is different. A priest talks to God on behalf of the people and talks to the people on behalf of God. You may remember the Old Testament priests who made sacrifices on behalf of the people of God. He was sacrificing on behalf of the people. They would also lead people to God.

            A priestly role tends to set one apart in the community. The priest is an important part of a community, but they are different in kind. If I were to wear a priest’s collar, I would be saying, I am different than you. I would prefer to say I am a fellow traveller on this spiritual journey that we are on.

            Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that taking on the role of a priest is bad or wrong. It is just a matter of emphasis. I often talk to God on your behalf, and I talk to you on God’s behalf. There are times when I need take on a priestly role to declare to people – your sins are forgiven. I make that proclamation not on the basis of my role as a priest – but on the basis of the promises of God.

            If you know Christian history, you will know that there have been times when the role of a priest has been abused. There is a difference between talking to God on behalf of people and talking to people on behalf of God and being a mediator between God and people.

            Some people thought their priestly role was such that they could cut certain people off from God. Sometimes in history, this was used as a political tool. Of course, that was never God’s intention.

1 Timothy 2:5 (NIV)

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,

            While we can bring each other to God in prayer, there is only one who can stand between the Father and us. Jesus.


            Now, I am not here to talk to you about priests versus pastors. I highlight these roles so that you can understand what it means for Jesus to come to you as a priest. Jesus wants to come into your life, talking to God on your behalf and talking to you on God’s behalf.

            Here is the reason we need a priest. We are sinful. We have broken God’s laws. The poison of sin has sunk deep into our hearts. We need someone who will talk to God on our behalf and talk to us on God’s behalf.

            But Jesus is no ordinary priest. Hebrews 7 describes Jesus in this role. Now, I need to warn you that this is an intricate piece of scripture – that would take hours to unpack fully. I am not even sure that I could unpack it fully. The Book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians. They were people who had a real grasp on what you and I know as the Old Testament. They understood the temple rituals. They understood the role of the Old Testament priest. The book of Hebrews assumes the reader has all of that knowledge, which most of us don’t.

            With that disclaimer, let me start by giving you some background to Hebrews 7 by telling you the story in Genesis 14.


The news came to Abraham, who would later become the father of the Jewish people, that his nephew Lot had been captured along with many others, when the city that Lot was living in was attacked and defeated. The King who had captured him was extremely powerful, but Abraham and his men chased this King down. With the help of God, he conquered the King and rescued Lot and the others who were captured with him.  

            Now Melchizedek was King of Salem (the town that would later become Jerusalem). He was also a priest of the Most High God. Now, we don’t know a lot about Melchizedek. We know that he didn’t come from a line of priests. Which was unusual in the Old Testament. Usually, priests were born into a priestly family. What we do know is that God made him a priest. He was a great priest. Some would say the greatest priest that ever lived.

Hebrews 7:1–4 (NLT)

This Melchizedek was King of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him. Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek means “king of justice,” and King of Salem means “king of peace.” There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors—no beginning or end to his life. He remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God.

Consider then how great this Melchizedek was. Even Abraham, the great patriarch of Israel, recognized this by giving him a tenth of what he had taken in battle.

            The Bible gives this great picture of this amazing priest, to whom the greatest man in Jewish history paid homage. He paid a tithe of what he had captured to this priest. And God has appointed him priest forever.

            Now, let me take you down to verse 15. The writer of Hebrews is now talking about Jesus.

Hebrews 7:15–19 (NLT)

15 This change has been made very clear since a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has appeared. 16 Jesus became a priest, not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. 17 And the psalmist pointed this out when he prophesied,

“You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

18 Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. 19 For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

            Jesus became a priest in the order of Melchizedek. It is through him that we draw near to God.

            When it is Jesus speaking to God on your behalf and when he speaks to us on God’s behalf – those changes everything. Look at verse 24

Hebrews 7:24–26 (NLT)

24 But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. 25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.

26 He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honour in heaven.

            Did you catch that if you come to God through Jesus that, Jesus lives and intercedes with God on your behalf? Did you know Jesus is talking to the Father with you in mind?

1 John 2:1–2 (NLT)

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

            When you sin, Jesus pleads your case before the Father. Jesus is interceding for you. This verse reminds us that not only is Jesus the priest. He is also the sacrifice. He gave himself to atone for, to pay for, our sins. We need a priest because we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

            Let me remind you of one more thing before I put it all together with how this matters to you.

Hebrews 4:14–16 (NLT)

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

            Jesus gets you. He understands your weaknesses, your sorrow, your cares, and your concerns. He gets you.

            So, why is so important that Jesus is our high priest. Why is it important that he speaks to God on our behalf, and he speaks to us on God’s behalf?


            When I was a pastor up in Northern Ontario, I used to go do pastoral visits in a lot of houses that were built in the late 1800s. In many of these old houses, as you walked in the front door, there was a very formal room just off the front hallway called the parlour.

            Now, this tradition had passed by the time I arrived, but the people would tell me that traditionally, the parlour was the place where the minister was entertained when he visited.

            He was shown the best of everything. Kids weren’t allowed to play in this room. Things were just right. But that is about as far as he got in the house.

            Sometimes, I think we allow Jesus to come to the parlour of our life and no further. Jesus wants to move through your life. He wants to bless what he can. He wants to intercede where needed. He wants to remove what doesn’t belong. He is the only one that can do it.

            Jesus, in his priestly role, came to bring you to God and bring God to you. He came to bring all of you to God. God wants to fill your life with is presence, not just the front parlour. He came to save you from death and give you life. He came to save you from spiritual disease and give you spiritual health. He came to save you from sin and give you his righteousness.

            Imagine Jesus the priest being able to move past the front parlour of your life into all of your life. Imagine your heart having different rooms in it.

            So, he walks into your living room. Under the coffee table of your heart, he smells something dying in you. It is the unhealthy stress that is killing part of your heart. The one who is your priest, who has the power of life, pleads with the Father on your behalf and says – Father, we have a problem in this part of Sam’s or Jane’s heart. Father, I am interceding for them. Come make a difference here. He takes your heart to the Father.

            He says, “Father, you see where my friend is dying. Don’t let that part of their heart die. Infuse them with life. War against the stress that is causing death.

            Jesus is pleading for you. He is interceding for you. He is talking to the Father on your behalf. As we read in 1 John. We have one who speaks to the Father on our behalf.

I don’t know how to state this strongly enough. But Jesus knows you personally, intimately – He knows you by name – and he stands before the Father, pleading your cause, stating your case, being your advocate. More than that, he is on your side. He loves you. He likes you. He is cheering you on.

            What do you think God’s response will be to his son, the High Priest, who has plead your case before him?

            God is going to act.

God may show you a truth if it is a truth that you need to hear. He may bring conviction that leads to repentance if that is what needs to happen. He may bring encouragement and strength so that you can endure if that is what you need. As you let Jesus the priest into different areas of your life, he is going to plead to God on your behalf. That will bring God’s resources to bear on the things in your life that are bringing you death.

            The problem comes when we don’t let him past the parlour. We want him in our lives, but we don’t want him in all of our lives.

            Here is the thing about Jesus. He is a gentleman. He will not force himself into places where he is unwanted.

            It is often the places that we don’t want him to go that causes us the most issues. Often, the back rooms of life cause us to be less alive than we want to be. Few people get to see those rooms, but the smell has a way of wafting into the rest of the house.

            What if we were to let Jesus do what he wants to do in those rooms. What if we were to let him intercede for us in those rooms?

            He might just speak truth, or conviction, or hope, or healing. It is his way. He wants to set you free.

            He wants to bring those parts of your life to God, and he wants to bring God into those parts of your life. He is already speaking to the Father on your behalf – will you invite him into those rooms so he can bring those rooms to God. Forgiveness, healing, and hope are yours if you will allow Jesus to do that.

He wants to bring the Word of God, the Spirit of God, the Truth of God, and the Life of God to bear on your life.

            That is what we celebrate at Christmas time. We celebrate that Jesus came to show us who God is. When we see the compassion of Jesus on the hurting and the destitute, we see God’s compassion. We also see God’s heart when he walks away from the proud and the religious posers.  

            Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger. If he was willing to be born there, I think he can handle the smelly parts of our lives.

            Hear the words of Jesus.

Revelation 3:20 (NIV)

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

            Advent is a time when we look forward to the coming of Jesus. When he comes to you, when he knocks on your door, let him in. He says if you will let me in, I will eat with you. That means that he will have true fellowship with us.

            When he knocks, will you let him into your whole life. That is the way to true life.