This series was first published in January 2019. -ed.
What is Jesus doing right now? After all, His creation is complete (John 1:1–3) and His atoning work is finished (Hebrews 10:12–14). So what occupies Him in the present? While exiled on the island of Patmos, the apostle John received a powerful reminder of the Lord’s ongoing priestly work.
John describes Christ’s appearance in Revelation 1:13, saying He was “clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.” The robe John describes could indicate majesty or official rank—certainly, Christ is the preeminent One in the church. Earlier in his introductory salutations, John did identify Christ as “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5).
But the language John uses to describe the robe and particularly the golden sash is directly tied to the garments worn by Israel’s high priest (see Leviticus 16:4). What John sees is a depiction of Christ in His role as the Great High Priest, interceding on behalf of His church.
Jesus always lives to make intercession for us. The security of our salvation is Jesus’ perpetual intercession for us—He is “able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). We can no more keep ourselves saved than we can save ourselves in the first place. But just as Jesus has power to save us, He has power to keep us. Constantly, eternally, perpetually Jesus Christ intercedes for us before His Father. Whenever we sin He says to the Father, “Put that on My account. My sacrifice has already paid for it.” Through Jesus Christ, we are able to “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24). In His Son we are now blameless in the Father’s sight. When we are glorified we will be blameless in His presence.
The writer of Hebrews repeatedly extolls Christ’s work as our Great High Priest,
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11–12)
He is “a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, [able] to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17). As our High Priest, Christ is unparalleled in His capacity to sympathize with our weakness (Hebrews 4:15), and “He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
In Romans 8, Paul extolls the blessings of Christ’s priestly work:
Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. (Romans 8:33–34)
He goes on to explain that our relationship with God is impervious to assault—that because of Christ’s intercessory work, nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38–39).
Again, this is a tremendous comfort for believers—our Savior lives, and He is perpetually working in His church, interceding on our behalf and sympathetically moving for His glory and our good.
(Adapted from Christ’s Call to Reform the Church and The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Hebrews)