Podcast Episode

The High Priest Showdown

Why were the Levitical priests always getting mad at Jesus? Jesus identified himself as another of God’s anointed priests—except he came in his own authority. In this episode, Tim and Jon discuss how Jesus fulfills Moses’ prophet-priest role and the priest-king role we saw in David.

Episode 5
Mar 29, 2021
Play Episode
Show Notes


Mark also tells us that Elijah, along with Moses, appeared and they were talking with Jesus. Elijah and Moses were both on Mount Sinai, and both met God in a cloud and fire. … Moses and Elijah encountered God as fire on the mountain, but now Jesus is the one radiating with light and power. And he’s the one they are seeing and talking with.


  • In Isaiah, the anointed one (called the servant) is pictured as a king, a prophet, and a priest at various points, with the image of God fully realized in him. Jesus identifies himself as this servant.
  • Jesus is different from any other priest who operates in authority delegated from God. Jesus pronounces divine forgiveness in his own authority as the Son of Man who will enter the heavenly temple on behalf of Israel.
  • Jesus more than fulfills the prophet-priest role we glimpse in Elijah and Moses and the priest-king role we saw in David. Jesus is the one Elijah and Moses met on the mountain and the priest-king that David called Lord.

The Servant Who Sprinkles the Nations

In part one (0:00-12:00), Tim and Jon recap the earlier episodes in our series on the royal priesthood by tracing this biblical theme from Genesis 1 all the way to the prophet Isaiah.

In Isaiah 52:13-15, this anointed one (called the servant) is pictured as a king, a prophet, and a priest at various points, with the image of God fully realized in him.

The servant will “sprinkle” nations—a direct reference to his priestly role since priests would sprinkle water and blood to atone for sins. From context, we know the servant will be beaten and abused and it is from the mangling of his body that others get sprinkled with blood.

Who Is This Servant?

In part two (12:00-21:30), the team discusses the description of the servant in Isaiah 61, a passage that was important to Jesus and one he read in the temple (Luke 4).

Isaiah 61:1-7
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the afflicted.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and freedom to prisoners.
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
and the day of vengeance of our God.
To comfort all who mourn,
to grant those who mourn in Zion,
giving them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins,
they will raise up the former devastations.
And they will repair the ruined cities,
the desolations of many generations.
Strangers will stand and pasture your flocks,
and foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers.
But you will be called the priests of the Lord.
You will be spoken of as ministers of our God.
You will eat the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
Instead of your shame you will have a double portion,
and instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion.
Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land. Everlasting joy will be theirs.

The servant acts as priest on behalf of a people who will begin to take on his character traits. He is the anointed priest and these people become a group of priests anointed to speak with and for God.

Isaiah sees this servant as the one who will lead his people back to Eden, and Jesus identifies himself as the Isaiah 61 servant. In fact, many of the ways Jesus describes himself are straight from the priestly themes in Isaiah.

The Priest Who Comes in His Own Authority

In part three (21:30-34:00), Tim and Jon discuss Jesus’ baptism, an event that marked him as the royal priestly Messiah.

When Jesus is baptized, the heavens open, a cloud appears, a voice comes from the skies, and God’s presence comes down in the physical form of a bird (Mark 1:9-11). This is a Mount Sinai-type moment.

God references three key Hebrew Bible texts when he says, “You are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased.” First, “you are my son” is a reference to the seed of David from Psalm 2:7. “The beloved one” refers to what God calls Isaac in Genesis 22:2. And finally, “in you I am pleased” comes from the first servant poem in Isaiah 42:1.

Jesus’ baptism connects him to the royal priesthood. As the Spirit comes upon him, he is also revealed to be the anointed one of God who is going to ascend Mount Zion (Moriah) to surrender his life as a sacrifice for the sins of his people (like the servant of Isaiah 42).

Jesus immediately begins to fulfill his role as priest for his people. Tim points out an important example of this in Mark 2:5-12, when a group of men lower their paralyzed friend through the roof of a house to get him to Jesus.

Jesus forgives the man’s sins, echoing the pronouncement made by the priests in the Jerusalem temple. However, Jesus’ response makes clear that he is different from any other priest. Priests operate in delegated authority from God. Jesus is pronouncing divine forgiveness in his own authority.

The One Moses, Elijah, and David Anticipated

In part four (34:00-45:30), the team explores Mark 9, where Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain and is transfigured in divine glory.

Mark 9:1-9
And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God come with power.” Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; and his garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three tabernacles, one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to answer, for they became terrified. Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him!” All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, he gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead.

The six days, the high mountain, the cloud of divine glory, the priestly garments, Jesus’ shining appearance—all of this is meant to remind us of Moses. But Jesus is far more than just a “new Elijah” or a “new Moses.” Jesus is the one Elijah and Moses met on the mountain! And Jesus is the incarnation of the divine glory who, as the Son of God, is going to give up his life as an act of obedience to the loving Father on behalf of humanity.

Later, in Mark 12:35-37, Jesus quotes Psalm 110, pointing out that the Messiah is both a descendant of David and David’s Lord.

“Is Jesus here repudiating the Davidic origins of Messiah, as some have suggested? This seems unlikely, since elsewhere he doesn’t repudiate the title Son of David, but he may well have repudiated certain popular early Jewish notions about the Davidic Messiah, for instance, that he would simply be a normal, though God-empowered, human being like David himself. It is best to say that Jesus is repudiating the adequacy, not the accuracy, of assessing the Messiah by means of his Davidic descent. The point is that in Jesus’ view the Messiah is more than, not other than, Son of David.” —Ben Witherington III, The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, p. 333

Jesus the Anointed on Trial Before Jerusalem’s Anointed

In part five (45:30-end), Tim and Jon conclude discussion by looking at a climactic event in the life of Jesus, the anointed one of God: his trial before the high priest, the anointed spiritual leader of Jerusalem.

One of the accusations leveled against Jesus was that he had threatened to destroy the temple (Mark 14:56-59). But the temple Jesus refers to is far more than a physical temple. Jesus is looking forward to the temple that is the house or household of God—a family.

Jesus is later arrested and questioned. He refuses to respond to his accusers, so the high priest confronts him directly.

Mark 14:61-62
But [Jesus] kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning him, and saying to him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

In this statement, Jesus references Psalm 110 again, as well as Daniel 7. He identifies himself as the Son of Man with authority to enter the heavenly temple on behalf of Israel. He is charged with blasphemy, a sin worthy of death, for the same reason of claiming divine authority to forgive sins.

“All along Jesus has been hinting at his own identity as the royal-priestly Son of Man, in flat contradiction to the high priest’s own tenure. [Mark’s account] is a tale of two competing priestly powers … and now in Mark 14 Jesus finally comes into direct confrontation with Caiaphas, declaring his doom in unmistakable scriptural terms. … Daniel 7 and Psalm 110 share more than a few themes: subjugation of God’s enemies, divine rule, judgment … and priesthood. Daniel’s Son of Man is a priestly figure, and an exalted sacerdotal office is clearly in view in Psalm 110 with the mention of Melchizedek. In short, both texts present visions of a priestly figure who is in conflict with God’s enemies yet proves to be ultimately victorious. … For Mark, Jesus is the royal-priestly Son of Man and the Melchizedekian Davidide who will one day displace and judge Caiaphas.” —Nicholas Perrin, Jesus the Priest, pp. 276-77

Additional Resources

Show Music

  • “Defender (Instrumental)” by TENTS
  • Chillhop Essentials Spring 2021 EP

Show produced by Dan Gummel. Show notes by Lindsey Ponder.

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Scripture References
Isaiah 61:1
Genesis 14:17-18
Genesis 22:2
1 Samuel 16:13
Isaiah 1:29
Isaiah 2:2
Isaiah 52:13-15
Leviticus 16:14
Isaiah 61:3-6
Psalms 2:7
Isaiah 42:1
Mark 2:5
Mark 2:6-7
Mark 2:8-12
Daniel 7:13
Mark 9:1-3
Mark 9:4
Mark 9:5-8
Deuteronomy 18:15
Mark 9:9
Mark 12:35-37
Psalms 110:1
Mark 14:57-58
2 Samuel 7:12-13
Daniel 2:34
Mark 14:61-62
Matthew 26:64
Matthew 26:65

10 Episodes

Episode 10
Why Melchizedek Matters
Of all the people in the Hebrew Bible, why is Melchizedek so crucial for understanding Jesus? In this episode, join Tim, Jon, and special guest Dr. Josh Mathews as they take a deep dive into the Hebrew Bible, the book of Hebrews, and the life of the mysterious priest-king Melchizedek in relationship to the ultimate priest-king, Jesus.
1hr 3m • May 3, 2021
Episode 9
Jesus, Melchizedek, and the Priestly Line
Jesus is our priest, our atoning sacrifice—and our brother? In this episode, join Tim, Jon, and special guest the Rev. Amy Peeler, Ph.D., as they discuss the book of Hebrews and how the many characteristics of God found in this epistle set him apart as wholly other and also form our identities as his followers.
1hr 2m • Apr 26, 2021
Episode 8
Mark of the Priest or Mark of the Beast?
Thanks to our audience for all your incredible questions! In this week’s episode, we tackle questions like: How could God break his covenant with the tribe of Levi? What’s the connection between the forehead markings of priests and followers of the beast? And why did offering his own sacrifice cost Saul his kingship? Listen in to hear the team answer your questions.
47m • Apr 19, 2021
Episode 7
We Are the Royal Priesthood
After Jesus’ disciples receive the Holy Spirit, they become God’s temple and the physical embodiment of Jesus on Earth. This has huge implications for our understanding of what it means to be the church today and live in unity. Dive into this discussion with Tim and Jon as they unpack what it means for followers of Jesus to be the royal priesthood, now and in eternity.
51m • Apr 12, 2021
Episode 6
The Priest of Heaven and Earth
What does it mean for Jesus to be humanity’s cosmic priest? It means he intercedes on behalf of humanity and so much more! Through Jesus, God has forever included humanity into his own self. In this episode, join Tim and Jon as they discuss Jesus’ ascension and the eternal union of Heaven and Earth.
1hr 2m • Apr 5, 2021
Episode 5
The High Priest Showdown
Why were the Levitical priests always getting mad at Jesus? Jesus identified himself as another of God’s anointed priests—except he came in his own authority. In this episode, Tim and Jon discuss how Jesus fulfills Moses’ prophet-priest role and the priest-king role we saw in David.
57m • Mar 29, 2021
Episode 4
David, the Leaping Priest-King
What will God do with the continually failing Levitical priesthood? God announces that he will elect his own faithful priest from a household that can be counted on. In this episode, join Tim and Jon as they follow the royal priesthood all the way to David, anointed priest-king of Jerusalem, fulfillment of Melchizedek’s role, and foreshadowing of the coming priest-king Jesus.
1hr 1m • Mar 22, 2021
Episode 3
Doomed to Fail?
The origins of Israel’s royal priesthood are anything but glamorous. From Moses rejecting God five times to Aaron creating an idol while God is instructing Moses about priests, the Levitical priesthood seems doomed from the start. In this episode, discover just how important the failed priesthood is to the story of the Bible.
49m • Mar 15, 2021
Episode 2
Who Was Melchizedek?
What do Abraham, Melchizedek, and David all have in common? They’re part of the unfolding theme of the royal priesthood in the Bible. In this week’s episode, join Tim and Jon as they explore how this theme is part of humanity’s quest to get back to the blessings of Eden.
44m • Mar 8, 2021
Episode 1
Priests of Eden
In the story of the Bible, all the main players are prophets, priests, or kings. While it might seem foreign to us today, those three roles are intimately connected to what it means to be people created in the image of God. Join Tim and Jon for the first episode of a new series on the royal priesthood!
1hr 2m • Mar 1, 2021
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