In the religious life of the Jew, no man received greater esteem than the high priest. Under his supervision were the priests who were commissioned to take charge of routine tasks. The high priest, man’s representative before God, entered the Most Holy Place once a year on the Day of Atonement and sprinkled blood for the remission of sin. Aaron was the first high priest to enter into the presence of God behind the curtain in the ancient tabernacle.
However, Jesus is superior to Aaron because Jesus “has gone through the heavens.” That is, he entered into the very presence of God, where the high priests merely entered the symbolical presence in the tabernacle or temple once a year. In his glorified human nature, Jesus has entered the presence of God. Fully acquainted with human weaknesses and temptations, he intercedes in our behalf when we approach the throne of God in prayer.
The author of Hebrews depicts Jesus in his role of high priest, fulfilling the responsibilities of the high priesthood of Aaron and assuming the priesthood in the order of Melchizedek. As a priest in the order of Melchizedek, Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice for sin. This fulfilled the requirements of the Old Testament sacrificial system.
God appointed Jesus as high priest not when Jesus entered heaven, but prior to his coming to earth. According to Psalm 110:4 (“You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek”; italics added), Jesus’ priesthood is eternal. He was already priest before he began his earthly life.