What The High Priest Says
"And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’" Deuteronomy 20:2-4
No longer do we as believers have a system of high priests to offer sacrifices and mediate between us and God - we have the great high priest Jesus Christ, who is also, incredibly, the perfect sinless sacrifice which atoned for our sins (Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:24-28). But like the priest in Deuteronomy 20, Jesus Christ speaks to his people today. Here are some of the things that he says to us:
Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3) Salvation isn't passed down from parents, it doesn't come with church membership, and isn't automatic because you're a good citizen. A change of heart is required. Our hearts must turn to and trust in Christ alone.
In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33) How comforting to know that our great high priest has overcome, and if we are born of God (see above), then we will overcome as well (1 John 5:4)
I am the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25-26) Notice that Jesus doesn't say "I have resurrection to give you." He says, I am the resurrection. So, if we have Christ, we will certainly have resurrection! Death will not have a permanent hold on us.
This is my body, broken for you . . . this is my blood, poured out for you. (Matthew 26:26-28) As our great eternal high priest, Jesus Christ did not make a sacrifice of anyone or anything else. He himself became the sacrifice to rescue us from the guilt and punishment our sins deserve.
Today you will be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43) Here we see that not only can deathbed confessions be completely genuine, but also that no works are required to gain heaven. That man on the cross next to Christ had no opportunity to do any good works. The reason? Good works do not save. Salvation is by faith alone.
It is finished. (John 19:30 ) This was not a pronouncement of death, it was an announcement of accomplishment. He didn’t say, I AM FINISHED. He said IT IS FINISHED. His sacrificial work was over and perfectly done. The innocent one endured wrath reserved for me so that I could know grace.
Every detail of what was needed for you or me to be reconciled to God and gain forgiveness was completed – his perfect obedience on our behalf and his suffering for sin.
Let's let these words of Christ, our high priest, be our courage as we face some of our strongest enemies in life: temptations, our own sin, fear of death and lack of assurance. Never forget that our God is the one who "goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory."