“For every high priest taken from among men is appointed in matters pertaining to God for the people, to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.” (Hebrews 5:1)
As we recall back in the end of chapter 4, the author of Hebrews proclaims Jesus as our great high priest who is able to sympathize with us. Why is he able to sympathize with us? Jesus became fully man (while still remaining fully God) and walked in our footsteps, yet without sin.
In the Old Testament, the high priest was the top religious leader for the Israelites. He was the only one authorized or appointed by God to make sacrifices and perform all the duties on the Day of Atonement. The purpose of the Day of Atonement was to cleanse away the sins of the people of Israel including the high priest himself (Lev. 16:1-34). However, the rites and rituals of the Day of Atonement had to be performed on an annual basis.
Like the high priests of old, Jesus offered a sacrifice of atonement. However, what made his sacrifice different is that instead of offering an animal without blemish, Jesus made himself the sacrifice. In a sense, Jesus’ crucifixion was the ultimate Day of Atonement. Since Jesus lived a perfect life without sin, his blood that was shed on the cross covers all our sins: past, present, and future. Although he is fully God, Jesus willingly became a servant and humbled himself (Phil. 2:6-8). Jesus paid the debt we owed, suffered for us, and died the death we deserved.
Let us remember that through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can have eternal salvation from our sins (5:9) and that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).