/ Andrew Kerr

Our Merciful High Priest


One of the most wonderful statements in the whole of the Bible is made in the second chapter of the Book of Hebrews, 2:17.

Therefore, He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of His people.


Having laid out the case for the supremacy of Christ over angelic mediation of the Mosaic Law at Sinai, and proved His case by a plethora of Psalter texts, the writer proceeds to urge the church (which, it appears, is at risk of imperceptible drift-off) with a whole other set of reasons, that related to Jesus as the supremely faithful priest who has worked salvation for God's flock.

Linguistic Faithfulness

Whether we explain this statement by reference to the Greek word group (which has to do with trust or trustworthiness), or by drawing on the Hebrew vocabulary behind it (which relates to fidelity to the Covenant or reliable, loyal or dependable, based as it is on the word group from which we get AMEN), Jesus Christ, as the High Priest of the Church, was reliable before God and can be relied upon.

Liturgical Faithfulness

There were some disreputable priests that served at Israel’s sanctuary: flames of wrath incinerated Nadab and Abihu when the ignored the regulations and offered up strange fire; if Eli was weak and late in disciplining wayward sons, Hophni and Phinehas were struck down for immoral sanctuary sins; Aaron, of course, not only lied about the manufacture of a golden calf at Mount Sinai, but set it up as a syncretistic object of worship, having spinelessly caved in to the popular Israelite vote; in comparison to all these the Son of God was supremely and superlatively faithful as a servant over God’s House, and never lost his temper like Moses who smote the Rock in anger twice.

He was faithful to Atone

Wrath was due to the church for the weight of adamic guilt and the breach of divine Law: He became the one who bore the sentence and condemnation we deserved, and exhausted the curse that was justly due to us, thus turning aside all the heat of the consuming fire of Yahweh’s holiness - His death, as an atoning sacrifice, is like a massive heat shield that deflects incandescent indignation from us. This was not atonement for one sin or annual crime or national guilt, but a once-for-all time, and once-for-all His own, eternal sacrifice of infinite worth to be applied efficaciously and individually for the salvation of His sheep. By predestination and design, for His Church, there is covering, cleansing and conformity to Christ through His flame-extinguishing death.

He was faithful to the Law

Never for a moment did his unspotted, perfect, obedience, hesitate or halt: from the heart, for the entirety of His life, His will and mind were aligned and allied sinlessly to God. Both tablets of the LORD, were harmoniously and persistently observed, even when facing the most extreme and difficult circumstances – from birth to death, our beloved High Priest was the delightful Son who served the pleasure, and received approval, of God His Heavenly Father.

He was faithful to the Church

The Eternal Son, whose Godhead was full and eternally complete, in order to suffer as a substitute in our place, presenting the offering of Himself, by addition, took our humanity into unmixed, unconfused, union with His divinity - as flesh and blood God-Man, the Mediator of the Elect, freely, gladly and painfully, our Saviour gave Himself in love for us, descending from heavenly heights to the torment of Hell's infernal depths. No mind can grasp the true extent of His faithful love, as High Priest, for God’s flock.

He was faithful to His Task

As the Only Mediator of the Elect of God, He was commissioned by the LORD in the divine counsel of the Triune God, with becoming an adamite, in its weakened, post-fall state (albeit without any wrinkle, spot, or stain of sin), subject to tiredness, sleep, hunger, thirst, grief, and possibility of death. After a ministry of three years, when grace flowed from his lips, and love streamed from his heart, though innocent of any crime against church, state, God or man, He was maliciously accused, spitefully charged, and barbarically put to death after spitting, punching, mocking and scourging. Only a few hours earlier, his natural frailty made Him tremble as He peered into the cup of punishment, to which he gave a bold, resolute, assent, before, in sovereign grace, handing Himself over to his betrayers, accusers and captors. If He requires us to remain faithful unto death, it was because He remained steadfast in his course first – none of us will ever die in the manner or for the cause that He did: He bore the curse so we might be blessed. His faithfulness is measured, in its endurance and exhaustion of the penalty of the Cross. “Humbled for a season, to receive a name, from the lips of sinners unto whom he came, faithfully he bore it spotless to the last, brought it back victorious when from death he passed.”

He was faithful to His Oath

As the Son of God, He was commissioned by the Father, as the Great High Priest of the Church, or, as we noted, appointed representative of the Redeemed. Reckoning these lost sheep as needy rebel sinners, who could not save themselves, and who were liable to the accursed death for Covenant breach, in the Council of Redemption He solemnly undertook, in His to-be-servantly form, to act as surety for us. With the saints His promised reward for successful completion of the work, the Father sent, then gave, His Only Begotten Son, over to death for us, to sign, seal and deliver Covenant benefits to us. Jesus never swayed in His commitment to the Church – this oath has come to light in the Covenant of Grace, and all its blood bought blessings are now available to, and dispensed abroad in God’s House in amazing, sovereign, grace.

He is faithful to His Sheep

Along the road of life, many people will cross our path and fail, betray or disappoint. The Bible specifically warns the Church about putting our trust in military or political might – if faith is placed in horse strength or presidential trustworthiness, sooner of later we will be let down badly, and tempted to cynicism or bitterness. It is impossible that Christ should ever fail the church or be guilty of any momentary lapse of trust. He is true, reliable, dependable and trustworthy – His own heart was true to all His commitments, fastidious in adherence to all His vows, and of every statement he every made or spoke it can be fairly stated “no truer word was ever said!” This, of course, should come as no surprise, for His humanity is the exact representation of the character of God, now made known in human flesh. In Jesus Christ we find this attribute of faithfulness in all its fullness. So if we depend on Him, He will never let us down, but will prove true to all His promises which He had made as Man and God.

...So rest all your hope, confidence, and trust in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the utterly reliable and fully dependable High Priest of the Church.

Does Jesus promise rest for souls, forgiveness of your sins, protection of your life, strength and grace to help whatever the encountered temptation or test? Not only is Christ the Son of God, as High Priest of the Church, worthy of your trust and confidence, but He is, at all times, whatever mercy we need, to be prayerfully sought, that you might endure and overcome through faith. If you are tempted to give up attending church, or simply, slowly, neglectfully, imperceptibly, or even wearily or gloomily, let your anchor loose from Christ, there is pardon and forgiveness, mercy and grace, along with stern warning, to steady the ship and have Him redirect your course.

Andrew Kerr

Andrew Kerr

Pastor of Ridgefield Park NJ (NYC Metro Area) - Husband of Hazel, Dad to Rebekah, Paul & Andrew, Father-in-Law to Matt, Loves Skiing, Dog Walking. Passionate for Old Testament - in Deep Need of Grace

Read More