"For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” ( Hebrews 2:17 )
It is not trivial that Jesus entered into humanity as a man. Nor is it something He did lightly. Philippians 2:7 says that He emptied Himself of all divine privileges, born under the kingdom of darkness as a slave. He did this to give us a helping hand. He saw we were powerless to help ourselves because sin and its effect had completely destroyed us. For this reason he became a man, being made like us in every way to destroy the power that held us captive and in bondage to Satan's kingdom.
In doing this He accomplished two things, first He was able to empathize with us which is very important when you hold the title of High Priest and secondly He was able to make atonement for our sins.
In the Old Testament, the high priest made atonement for the people. He could empathize with them because he too was a man and sinned. In fact he first had to make a sacrifice for himself and then for the people ( Leviticus 9:7, Hebrews 5:3 ). This would go on year after year to serve as an annual reminder of sin. The blood of these animals would cover the person looking forward to the time of Christ.
When Christ came, His blood didn't cover us, it washed us clean. There is a huge difference. As our High Priest He was able to completely cleanse us from the effects of sin and free us from its grasp. In fact He did something completely amazing, He became sin in our stead so that we could become righteous and stand before God completely justified ( II Corinthians 5:21 ).
If this wasn't enough Jesus is able to identify with us because He too participated in the human experience. He was tested and tried while he was on earth yet was never defeated by sin. "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. ( Hebrews 4:14-15 ). This is marvelous news for us because the writer goes on to say, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" ( Hebrews 4:16 ).
Jesus' role as our high priest is to make intercession for us and give us access to God. Since he both cleanses and empathizes with us we know that we can approach God with confidence. What we will find is mercy and grace no matter what the circumstances are. Jesus makes this possible. And since He has risen from the dead, conquering death, we know that this promise is secure. "But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself" ( Hebrews 7:24-27 ).
This is why Jesus came as a man. It was essential that He be made like us in every way so that he could become a merciful and faithful High Priest in all things related to God.
Tomorrow we look at Hebrews 2:18: Jesus is Able to Help Those Who Are Tempted