Jesus the interceding High Priest: A fresh look at Hebrews 7:25
According to the book of Hebrews, the locus of Jesus’ intercession is found in his role as a high priest. Yet neither the Levitical high priest nor Melchizedek, the prototype after which Jesus’ priestly function is modelled, interceded in a strict sense of the word. In a context where prayer is seen as an activity that pertains to the purview of the weak or needy, how then does one conceive of Jesus’ intercession as portrayed in Hebrews 7:25? In addition, does it not seem rather incongruous that Jesus at the height (right hand) of power should still be found to be interceding? It raises some theological questions as to the subordinate role of the exalted Christ. This stands in sharp relief to other passages in the New Testament that have used the same background text, Psalm 110, to advance the motif of a triumphant Jesus. The contention of this article is that in addition to Psalm 110 that is explicitly cited and alluded to in the letter to the Hebrews, the servant’s song in Isaiah 52:13–53:12 stands behind the high priest motif in Hebrews. The explication of the twin role of Jesus as an intercessor and as an ‘atoner’ for the sins of the people coheres in the servant’s song. The article submits that Jesus’ intercession is indeed a continuation of his vicarious interposition whereby he takes the weakness of the people upon himself and stands in their stead.