During the lives of Jesus and the first Christians, Israelís chief priest came from the group called the Sadducees (Acts 5:17). The Sadducees were a group of priests who had some strange beliefs (Acts 23:8). Although most people in Israel did not agree with those beliefs, they still respected the chief priest (Acts 23:1-5). He had authority over everything that happened in Godís house, called the temple. Although people respected his authority, they still argued with his beliefs (Acts 23:9).
Those chief priests carried out the ceremonies properly. But they did not rule Godís house well. They even opened a market inside the templeís outer walls. It was this market that Jesus stopped on two occasions (John 2:13-16; Mark 11:15-17).
Some of the leaders asked Jesus whether he had authority to do such things (Mark 11:28). Really, they thought that he did not have authority. Only the chief priest had authority over the house of God.
But many people in Israel saw the wrong things that the chief priest was doing. And, like Joseph from Arimathea, they were eager for God to establish his rule (Luke 23:50-51). Ezekiel had described a temple where priests were genuinely loyal to God (Ezekiel 44:15-16). Only a priest who was truly great would have authority there.
The Ďgreat priestí whom the author of Hebrews refers to is, of course, Jesus (Hebrews 4:14). It is Jesus who has authority over Godís house now. And the real house of God is not a building, but Godís people (Hebrews 3:6).
So Jesus rules Godís people now. He rules in a way that is completely loyal to God the Father (Hebrews 3:1-2). And as our great priest, he makes it possible for us to approach God with confidence.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.