The writer of Hebrews makes it perfectly clear that the priesthood of Jesus was different, radically different, from the priesthood of Levi. According to law, He could never have served in the Levitical priesthood because of His lineage. Hebrews 7:14 says, “For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.” No priests were to come from Judah, only Kings! Yet the intercessory ministry of Jesus replaces that role and established a permanent one which was not alien to the writings of the Old Testament. In fact, His ministry fulfills the role established previously by Melchizedek. Hebrews 7:15-17 says, “This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.  For it is witnessed of him, ‘You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.’”

Jesus priesthood is different in many ways but first of all, His is eternal. There are no time restrictions of any kind. He is once and for all established as the one and only priest who can make sure atonement for our sins with God and give us access to His heavenly presence for all eternity.  Also, His priesthood doesn’t separate us from God, but opens the way to God. The Levitical priesthood separated people from God. They stood at the door as doorkeepers who would deny access to all except those born of the correct line. Only the Levitical priests could come into the presence of God. But Jesus rent the curtain that separated the people from their God. Jesus defrocked the door keepers who kept sinners away. Jesus opened that way and made it possible for all of us through faith in Him to enter into God’s presence knowing we’re accepted as His children. In John 14:6, Jesus said, referring to His eternal role as Priest, “no one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus is not a door keeper but a door greeter! I like the way Richards explains the situation established by Jesus’ new and permanent priesthood. He writes, “Because of Jesus, the door to God is always open, and so we always have hope. The old doorkeepers, the Aaronic priests, are gone. Their struggle to keep open the crack that the Old Testament opened in relationship to God is ended. Jesus has come, and He has not only thrown open the door, but He stands in it to welcome us personally when we turn to Him.”[1]

[1] Larry Richards and Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 1003.