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The Suitable Son

In Hebrews 7:26-28, the writer makes a series of summary remarks concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in his redemptive role as the High Priest for believers. Our text reads:

For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.”

The scripture is meticulous in drawing a sharp theological distinction between the priesthood that sprang from Levi and the priesthood of Jesus Christ. The Levitical priesthood was after order of Aaron (7:11). The priesthood of the Lord Jesus is after the order of Melchisedec. Since Jesus sprang from Judah (7:14), it was necessary to link his priesthood to a different priestly order (taxonomic classification). Melchisedec, the priest of Salem, to whom Abraham paid tithes, fit the bill. 

Our text tells us Jesus is such a priest. He became us. Such is τοιοῦτος (toioutos), “such as this, of this sort or kind.” The verb became is the imperfect of πρέπω (prepō), “to be suitable, proper, to stand out, be conspicuous.” The imperfect tense, representing an ongoing activity in the past, is clearly a reference to the three-year ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. In his walk with the Father and interactions with men, he displayed all the characteristics sinners would need to represent them before God. He was entirely suitable for the task. In that regard, he was and is the suitable Son. 

There are two fundamental tasks for the priesthood—intercession (7:25) and mediation (8:6). Intercession is the present tense of ἐντυγχάνω (entygchanō), “to light upon, meet with a person for the purpose of conversation, consultation or supplication.” In his role as High Priest, Jesus meets with the Father continually on our behalf for the purpose of pleading our cause, interceding on our behalf. For this reason, he is able to save to the uttermost those for whom he pleads. Uttermost is παντελής (pantelēs), “all-complete, perfect unto completeness.” Jesus is able to “complete all” that pertains to us in the matter of salvation. To use a marathon metaphor, Jesus our High Priest is able to get us his people ALL the way to the FINISH line! 

Mediator is μεσίτης (mesitēs), “a go-between, one who intervenes between two for the purpose of brokering a peace, forming a compact or ratifying a covenant; an arbitrator.” In the context, Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant (8:6), a new testament (9:15), a new covenant (12:24). He's the MAN Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). As mediator and intercessor, Jesus is a suitable man, the essential man to represent men before the Father. Unlike Moses, who was a third-party mediator between God and Israel, Jesus is both God and Man, eliminating the need for a third party. When a man comes to Christ Jesus seeking mediation, he finds both God and Mediator in ONE Person. Thus Paul could write: “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one” (Galatians 3:20). 

The writer uses three words, two phrases to explain why the Son is suitable to serve as High Priest, Intercessor and Mediator. Jesus is holy (benign, undefiled by sin), harmless (without guile or fraud; trustworthy), undefiled (free from defilement, unsoiled, pure). Jesus is separate from sinners. The phrase is the translation of χωρίζω (chōrizō) in predicate nominative form, perfect passive tense. It means “to divide, put asunder.” It is sometimes translated “depart” in contexts signifying separation from a geographical location. Literal translation: “An high having been separated from sinners with the result he remains separated.” 

Who are these sinners? At first blush, you might understand this to be a reference to mankind in general. You'd be technically correct. But the context points to a more specific group. The sinners from whom Jesus has been separated are the Levitical priests, who were required to offer up sacrifice first for THEIR OWN SINS (7:28). But because Jesus was holy, harmless and undefiled, he was a suitable sacrifice to offer up himself for OUR SINS as well as for the SINNERS that constitute the Levitical priesthood. 

Jesus is made higher than the heavens. By virtue of his sinless life, vicarious death, triumphant resurrection and ascension up into the third heaven, he was made higher than the heavens. God highly exalted him with a name above every name (Philippians 2:9). In ALL things, he has the preeminence (Colossians 1:18). As the member of the Godhead, he's the object of this acclamation: “Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven” (Psalm 148:13).

The phrase "higher than the heavens" brings to my mind the image of a fifty-story high rise with a penthouse on the top floor. Penthouses are usually occupied by (1) the owner of the building, (2) someone with a controlling interest in the property, or (3) someone with sufficient resources to purchase the penthouse or pay the exorbitant rent. If you can imagine that fifty-story high rise representing the earth, the heavens and all that in them is, Jesus lives in the penthouse, upholding all things by the word of his power!

Jesus of Nazareth became us. As the God-Man, he is suitable to serve as our High Priest, our Intercessor and our Mediator. He demonstrated his suitability during thirty-three years of traversing Judaea as the Second Adam, the Last Adam, with his holiness, harmlessness, purity, separation from sinners and preeminence perfectly intact. He is, in every way a sanctified mind can imagine, the suitable Son.


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