Jesus is our high priest. He is perfect because: (1) He is a man who can represent us before God; (2) He is God and so He can bring us into God’s presence; and (3) He is merciful and faithful.
There is one more thing in this verse: “to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).
This word “propitiation” means “to turn aside God’s wrath.” So this word tells us some important things:
- Our sin is not just being a bit naughty, it is (as the author RC Sproul puts it) “cosmic treason.” It is rebellion against God, our good, perfect and loving creator. Since God is holy and righteous, a God of justice, our sin has to be punished.
- God, in His great love for us, has not punished us, but has provided a way for His justice to be satisfied. He has not sent an angel or provided some unwilling person to die for us, He has come Himself in Christ to rescue us.
- Propitiation doesn’t just mean the covering of sin (although it is true that our sins are covered by the righteousness of Christ), it means that sin has been removed, that God’s justice has been totally satisfied, that there is no more payment to be made for sin. Sin is GONE in the sight of God.
So, your sins are GONE. Your great high priest as removed them by satisfying the justice of God.
People have tried to come up with various pictures to illustrate this, but it is so amazing and so much greater than any love we see in the world. I think the closest way (and it is not perfect) is this:
Imagine you are guilty of a terrible crime of rebelling against a king – the best and most compassionate king in the history of the world. Because your crime is so serious, the king is also the judge. He sees the evidence, which cannot be rejected, and declares you guilty. There is only one sentence – death. And then, the king gets down from the throne and walks to the place of execution and dies in your place. He has taken the punishment that you should have. Justice is satisfied and you are free.
The modern hymn says, “And on the cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God is satisfied.”
It is done and you are free. Praise His name.