Souvenir From Jesus
Now the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they had approached the presence of the LORD and died. The LORD said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. Aaron shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and the linen undergarments shall be next to his body, and he shall be girded with the linen sash and attired with the linen turban (these are holy garments). Then he shall bathe his body in water and put them on”... “Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting and take off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there. He shall bathe his body with water in a holy place and put on his clothes, and come forth and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people.” (Leviticus 16:1-4,23-24 NASBS)
Once a year, the High Priest will enter the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement with a bull and a ram for the sin and burnt offering. The High Priest would be dressed in white linen garments when he went into the Holy of Holies. He would bathe his body in water and put them on. After that, he would come into the tent of meeting and take off the linen garments which he had worn into the holy place and leave them there. Leviticus 16:6 says, “Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house.”
We can see the resemblance in Jesus’ resurrection.
So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. (John 20:3-7 NASBS)
When Jesus resurrected, he left his linen wrappings lying in the tomb and the face-cloth that had been on His head, was rolled up in a place by itself. Did Jesus leave the linen behind to remind us that He is our High Priest, and that He had atoned for all our sins? These minor details are evidence of Jesus as our High Priest, and were not unnoticed by Peter and John. They may have been mere fisherman, but they understood the parallels when they saw how the linen cloth was left behind.
The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:23-25 ESV)
The role of the High Priest was to seek atonement for our sins on our behalf. Jesus was both the High Priest and the sacrifice. The writer of the Book of Hebrews concluded that Jesus, who has resurrected, is our permanent High Priest because death has failed to prevent him from continuing to seek atonement on our behalf. While Aaron and his sons who succeeded him later as High Priests could only enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement to atone for the sins for Israel, Jesus went to the heavenly Holy of Holies, once and for all, and atoned for our sins.
Think of God as the most incredible and loving dad. Jesus is in office every day, not once a year, atoning for our sins. The linen was left behind to remind us that God made Jesus to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).
While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. (Matthew 28:11-15 ESV)
The chief priests bribed the guards to spread the rumour that the disciples had come by night and stolen the body. Perhaps it was their ignorance of the resurrection that blinded them and caused them to cover it with a lie.
It is left to us to decide for ourselves the many similarities between Jesus and the High Priest. It shows us how amazing and profound the Bible is, and proves it can only be the work of God. The purpose of the sacrifices and offerings during the Day of Atonement was to teach us the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice. Without the Old Covenant, we will not comprehend what it takes for God to atone for our sins, to make us holy, so we can be with Him, who is holy. The blood of innocent animals was sacrificed for their sins, but ours is the blood of Jesus.
Adam chose sin and departed from God’s presence. But God chooses to cleanse us, to reunite us to His presence. The annual ritual by the high priest is no longer necessary as it is being performed continuously by Jesus now, for all of us who belong to his house. Does it make sense to us that our sins are forgiven daily? If we choose to believe and remain in his house, and repent from our sins, the atonement made by Christ continues. Let Jesus’ worn linen be a souvenir to remind us that God loves us.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit.