The Epistle to the Hebrews is an epistle that features contrasts; in every chapter and in numerous verses, the author compares Christ with angels, Moses, Aaron, or the Levitical priesthood. In this particular section, he shows the unsurpassable excellence of the high-priestly work of Christ. A high priest was appointed to represent the people before God, but the actual time he spent in God’s presence was minimal; it occurred only once a year on the Day of Atonement. Our great high priest entered heaven once and stays forever in the presence of God as our mediator, advocate, intercessor, and guarantor.
Moreover, the high priest had to present animal blood before God in the Most Holy Place. His own blood would have been unworthy because he himself was a sinner. But even animal blood had only a limited effect, for the high priest had to appear before God every year again with additional blood. The writer of Hebrews somewhat later observes, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (10:4). The sacrifice of Christ’s blood, however, has lasting effect. It terminates the ruling power of sin in the mind of man (Rom. 8:2). Christ’s blood cleanses the church, so that he is able to present it “without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish … holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:27). And the blood of Christ wipes the record clean: a sinner forgiven by God stands before him as if he had never sinned at all.
Last, the Levitical high priest, after performing his duties in the inner sanctuary, reappeared to the people he had represented before God. But when Jesus returns from the heavenly sanctuary, he comes to restore his people by granting them the gift of salvation. When Christ comes again, “he will appear as the perfecter of salvation” for all those who put their trust in him and await his return.
Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953-2001). Vol. 15: New Testament commentary : Exposition of Hebrews. Accompanying biblical text is author’s translation. New Testament Commentary (266). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.