For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;…
The second great argument for Christ's superiority to Aaron. The reason for the introduction of this argument here is probably that the writer is still thinking of Psalm 110. The psalm speaks of Christ exalted to the highest heavenly position, and as a Priest for ever. Of both these points the echo rings out here in vers. 26 and 28. Here is sharply drawn the picture of our Lord's personal perfection in a few carefully moderate words (for it is a delicate subject), and the conclusion is apparent. (Note on word "daily" in ver. 27. The high priest did not "daily" offer sin offerings; the morning and evening sacrifices were not offered by the high priest, nor were they sacrifices for sin but in a secondary sense, as they were burnt offerings. The great expiatory sacrifice offered by the high priest was on the Day of Atonement. The word "daily" here must mean day after day; one day of atonement after another.)
I. THE PERSONAL PERFECTION OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. "Holy, harmless," etc. - so many aspects of the sinlessness of Jesus. The Hebrew probably saw here what was true of the high priest symbolically, spoken of Jesus literally. The one had inscribed on his forehead "Holiness unto the Lord," which he had in symbol; the other was "the Holy One of God." The one was harmless (literally, "without evil"), for he could not offer for others till his own sin was expiated, but that was only an imputed sinlessness; the other had no sins to offer for. The one was "undefiled," obliged to be ceremonially clean; the other was in himself "without blemish and without spot." The one was "separate from sinners," excluded for seven days before the Day of Atonement even from his own family, but this was only physical; the other was able to say," I am not of the world."
1. The personal perfection of Jesus as seen in his manifested purity. "Holy," etc., represents his purity from different standpoints. "Holy," as regards his relation to God; "harmless," his relation to man; "undefiled," his relation to himself; "separate," etc., the sum of the whole. In every direction Jesus was without sin. And so much was apparent to the men of his day. His enemies, his relatives, his disciples, all bear witness to this. He could ask of all, "Which of you convinceth me of sin?"
2. The perfection of Jesus is seen in his personal consciousness of sinlessness. "Who needeth not," etc. Christ offered no sacrifice for himself. He always distinguished between himself and sinners. "If ye [not 'we'], being evil;" "I do always those things which," etc.; "I have glorified thee on the earth;" "Why hast thou forsaken me?" Christ knew he was holy, and that proves that he was; for confessedly he was, at least, the best of men, and the holier a man becomes the more sensible he is of failure.
3. The perfection of Jesus is seen in the Father's endorsement of it. "He was made higher than the heavens." Consider that in connection with Christ's claim to be sinless. His resurrection and ascension and enthronement are the highest pledge of the perfection he asserted for himself.
II. THIS PERSONAL PERFECTION WAS NECESSARY TO CONSTITUTE A PERFECT HIGH PRIEST. "Such a High Priest became us." Our needs are beyond the help of any one less.
1. The first function of the high priest was to offer sacrifice. Then observe how Christ's holiness perfects him as a Sacrifice. He could not have atoned for others if he had sins of his own; but the offering of the Holy One had an inestimable worth. That, at least, vindicates the Law, and pays the sinner's debt, however great.
2. The next function of the high priest was intercession. Then observe how Christ's holiness perfects him as an Intercessor. We can trust in no mediator till we know he is on good terms with the king. Because Christ is the Holy One of God, he has perpetual access to the Father; his will and the Father's are the same, and the Father delights in granting his request. Jesus can never be refused.
3. The third function of the high priest was to instruct. Then observe how Christ's holiness perfects him as a Teacher. It is in his holiness we learn what most of all we need to know - God's will about us. We look at Jesus, and there it is. Moreover, looking at him produces the same holiness in us, for looking we become like.
III. THUS PERFECTED, CHRIST IS DECLARED BY THE DIVINE OATH TO BE HIGH PRIEST FOREVER. "The word of the oath," etc. Notice how many perfect things are set forth here.
1. A perfect Sacrifice for sin. "By one offering he hath for ever," etc.
2. A perfect High Priest to impart the benefits of that Sacrifice. Our tendency is to dwell on Christ's earthly life, or on his death; but the Epistles dwell most on his present life. And that is the view of our Lord he desires us to keep most prominent: "I am he that liveth," etc.; "Therefore he is able to save," etc.
3. A perfect promise that Christ will do all this. "Will," for all who will let him, for all "who come unto God by him," i.e. for all who take him to be their High Priest. God pledges his oath for that. How needlessly men are lost! They are not called to risk their soul on a trifle! - C. N.
Parallel VersesKJV: For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;