I must understand the main thing about the main thing. The author of Hebrews lays it out for me. Jesus is our High Priest. Jesus is the real deal. Jesus is not some kind of metaphor for reality. Jesus is High Priest. The tabernacle in Jerusalem was the metaphor of the real one in heaven. Jesus has made the actual and permanent sacrifice for me. That is reality.
Now the main point of what is being said is this: We have this kind of high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle that was set up by the Lord and not man. | Hebrews 8:1-2
The author of Hebrews shows the superiority of Messiah, and then says, “Since He is superior, the covenant He ministers must be a superior covenant.” The conclusion is logical. A superior priest could never minister on the basis of an inferior covenant. To change the illustration, the most gifted lawyer can do very little if the will he is probating is inadequate. It is unthinkable that our Master, the Messiah Jesus, would minister on the basis of an inferior “last will and testament.”
“This is the sum” simply means, “This is the main point and the climax of my discussion.” He then presented several “summary arguments” to prove that our Lord is indeed a superior High Priest.
- His moral adequacy. “We have such an High Priest”. This statement refers us back to Hebrews 7:22–28. “For such an high priest became us [was suited to us]” (Heb. 7:26). The fact that Jesus is morally perfect and yet identified with us in our needs and temptations makes Him superior to any other priest, past or present. Those of his readers who wanted to go back into the Old Testament priesthood would have to leave this suitable High Priest.
- His finished work. Today our Messiah is seated because His work is completed. There were no chairs in the Old Testament tabernacle because the work of the priests was never finished. Each repeated sacrifice was only a reminder that none of the sacrifices ever provided a finished salvation. The blood of animals did not wash away sin or cleanse the guilty conscience; it only covered sin until that day when Jesus died to take away the sin of the world.
- His enthronement. Jesus the Messiah is not just “seated.” It is where He is seated that adds glory to His person and His work. He is seated on the throne in heaven at the right hand of the Father. This great truth was introduced early in this epistle, and it will be mentioned again. This enthronement was the fulfillment of the Father’s promise to the Son: “Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies your footstool” (Ps. 110:1). Not only did the high priest of Israel never sit down in the tabernacle, but he never sat down on a throne. Only a priest “after the order of Melchizedek” could be enthroned, for Melchizedek was both king and priest.
- His supreme exaltation. He is “in the heavens.” Jesus the Messiah, in His ascension and exaltation, “passed through the heavens”. He is now exalted as high as anyone could be. The fact that He ministers in a heavenly sanctuary is important to the argument presented in this chapter.
As we review these four “summary arguments,” we can see how logical it is that our Master Jesus ministers on the basis of a superior covenant. Can you conceive of a high priest who is perfect morally, ministering on the basis of a covenant that could not change human hearts? Could a priest who has finished his work minister from a covenant that could finish nothing? Can we conceive of a king-priest in the highest heaven being limited by an Old Covenant that made nothing perfect?
The conclusion seems reasonable: the presence of a superior High Priest in heaven demands a superior covenant if He is to minister effectively to God’s people.
- Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (Heb 8:1–13). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
- Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 303–304). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.