March 26, 2010

Joshua the High Priest

Zechariah 3:1-10

“See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”
Zechariah 3:4


In the Bible, clothing is often a symbol of either sin or holiness. Joshua the high priest wears filthy clothes, a clear indication of his guilt. But when God forgives a person, the dirty garments of sin are replaced by clean robes of holiness.

This is what happens to Joshua in this vision. It’s also why the book of Revelation portrays the multitude of believers wearing white robes. They all “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14).

That Lamb, of course, is Jesus. It’s interesting that “Joshua” is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek name “Jesus.” In Zechariah’s vision, Joshua is the high priest who receives forgiveness, but in the New Testament Jesusisthehighpriestwhogivesit.In the OldTestament, high priests made atonement for sin by shedding the blood of animals. But as we read in Hebrews 9:11-12, “when Christ came as high priest … he did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves … he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood.”

When Jesus was crucified, he was both priest and sacrifice. He was the ultimate “Joshua” dressed in the filthy clothes of our sin. He took our guilt on himself, and his righteousness became ours. God removed our sin so that we could be “clothed … with Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

Lord, today we are reminded of how offensive sin is to you. Forgive us, we pray. Help us to put on Christ and to clothe ourselves in his holiness. We pray in his name. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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