Our Lord Jesus has many names and titles, each related to the work he has or will perform. In Hebrews 3:1, the Apostle Paul calls him the “High Priest of our profession.” Why is he given this title, and what does “of our profession” mean?
To understand this, we will need to look at the time when the nation of Israel was in the wilderness and God had instructed them to build a Tabernacle. For the Tabernacle service, Aaron was selected by God as high priest, and his sons as underpriests (Exod. 28:1; 30:30). The high priest was ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin, and was to bring the people to perfection (Heb. 5:1; 7:11). Aaron was a picture of Jesus who offered himself as a ransom for Adam during his First Advent and, thus, atoned for man’s sin (1 Tim. 2:5,6; 1 John 2:1,2).
During his First Advent, our Lord also learned obedience by the things which he suffered, and “being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an High Priest after the order of Melchizedek [a royal or kingly priest] (Heb. 5:8-10). Melchizedek, the priest and king who blessed Abraham, was a picture of the resurrected Jesus who, as a spiritual high priest, brings life first to his followers during the Gospel Age and then at his Second Advent to the rest of mankind through his earthly kingdom (Gen. 14:18-20; Heb. 7:1-3,11,12,15-17,20-28).
Hebrews 10:20 tells us that our Lord Jesus, as our high priest, opened up a new and living way for us to follow, giving us the opportunity to become his footstep followers, which is what “our profession” means. Our Lord devoted his entire being to fulfill his Heavenly Father’s will. He presented his earthly life in sacrifice at Jordan, represented by the slain bullock in the Tabernacle picture (Lev. 16:3,6). This is what we must do, as we are admonished in Romans 6:11: “Likewise reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive [as New Creatures] unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
During the Gospel Age, Jesus serves as both our High Priest and Advocate, so that through him we may be accepted by God. He cleanses us from all sin with his blood and justifies our sacrifice that it might be acceptable to God (1 John 1:7,9). He covers our imperfections with a robe of righteousness (Isa. 61:10). If we are faithful in following Jesus, then we become part of Jesus’ Melchizedek priesthood. We will become spiritual underpriests who will reign with him for a thousand years and help bless all mankind in his earthly kingdom—”Ye are a . . . royal priesthood, . . . that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (Rev. 20:6; 1 Peter 2:9,10).