JESUS CHRIST is the MEDIATOR of a ‘BETTER’ COVENANT: “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” (Heb. 8:1-2, 6)
After delving at length on the qualifications and appointment of Jesus as the ultimate High Priest (2:17—3:1; 4:14—7:28), the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews now starts to describe His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, even the true tabernacle. The atoning work of Jesus is so superior to the ministry of the Jewish priests that He has replaced the old system by His eternal and perfect priesthood. The ministry of Jesus Christ as our High Priest involves a specific kind of service that includes a covenant, a sanctuary, and a sacrifice and is superior to Aaron’s because Jesus officiates in a better sanctuary (vv. 1–5) through a better covenant (vv. 7–13).
We have such a High Priest in Jesus Christ who is the ultimate fulfillment of the Old Testament tabernacle, priesthood, offerings, ceremonies and even the temple of God in Jerusalem. As our High Priest, Jesus is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. We should recall that there were no chairs in the Jewish tabernacle or temple because the work of the Jewish High Priest was never finished. However, Jesus finished the work of redemption on the cross of Calvary (John 19:30) and thereafter sat down on the throne in heaven (10:11–14). We not only have a High Priest who has taken His seat at God the Father’s right hand, but we have One who now ministers as a High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary. No other high priest ever sat down in recognition of a finished work, and none ever held such a place of honor and power!
As High Priest and King, Jesus occupies the place of supreme power as He serves the people in the sanctuary of heaven. This is the true tabernacle, of which the earthly tabernacle of Moses in the wilderness was a mere copy or representation. The sanctuary refers to the heavenly reality represented by the Most Holy Place (9:2, 8, 24; 10:19; 13:11), which is the very presence of Almighty God. Our High Priest Jesus serves there and desires to bring us there one day in the future (10:19).
Thousands of years of Jewish history were built on God’s covenant with Israel, but Christ now offers a superior covenant rooted in better promises (v. 6). The covenant is better (1:4) because it really works (7:19), and is superior to the old covenant as it is based on promises that offer us something better than ritual cleansing (vv. 10–12). Also, the priestly ministry of Jesus Christ is more excellent than the ministry of the Aaronic priests because He can really bring people to God. Jesus offered His own blood to put away sins and opened the way for us to enter into the very presence of God!
A mediator is a legal intermediary who represents two parties and through whose work a new relationship is established. Moses is described as the mediator of the covenant of law (see Gal. 3:19, 20) that promised blessing for obedience but threatened death for disobedience. It required righteousness but did not give the ability to produce it.
However, Jesus is the Mediator of a better covenant because it is founded on better promises. The New Covenant that Jesus mediated is an unconditional covenant of grace, which imputes righteousness where there is none and teaches us to live righteously through empowerment, and rewards us when we obey Him. As Mediator, Jesus stood between God and humanity to bridge the gap of estrangement by offering Himself as an eternal atoning sacrifice for sin (9:14, 15; 12:24): “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Tim. 2:5-6)