"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."
When I first started reading the Bible, Matthew 5:48 was a verse that baffled me. "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." In the same way Leviticus 19:2 caused me great discomfort. "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy." My question was "How?" How could I be perfect and holy? I knew myself well enough to understand the impossibility!
Hebrews has been instrumental in my understanding of how Jesus can demand my perfection. Hebrews uses the word perfect more than any book in the Bible. We shouldn't be surprised since the author goes to great lengths to prove everything about Jesus is superior, better, and much more excellent than anything to which He is compared. He is superior to angels, Moses, and the Levitical priesthood. He provides a better hope, covenant, promise, sacrifice, possession, and life. Jesus' blood even speaks a better word than Abel’s.
Chapter seven explains why Jesus' priesthood is better. Perfection was unattainable under the Levitical priesthood. The priest must offer daily sacrifices for themselves and the people's sin, but Jesus needed only to offer Himself once (Hebrews 7:27). They were able to enter the Holy of Holies once a year, but He comes into the place behind the curtain as a priest forever (Hebrews 6:19). Due to their death, because of sin, there was no continuity in the Levitical priesthood. But as a priest from the order of Melchizedek, Jesus holds His priesthood permanently.
Additionally, it is impossible for the Law, which came through the priests, to provide perfection. Therefore, a change in the priesthood required a change in the Law. This change produces a "better hope" and "better covenant" through which we draw near to God. Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through the better hope and covenant.
The Greek word for uttermost is panteles. In verse 19, "(for the law made nothing perfect)," the word perfect in Greek is teleioo. As you can tell, it is the same word tele with a prefix for uttermost and a suffix for perfect. The meaning of the two words is very similar. Uttermost means forever, completely, perfectly, and absolutely. Perfect means to finish, to succeed by making genuine. So, what the law could not successfully do in verse 19, Jesus accomplished forever, perfectly. Romans 8:29-30 describes uttermost like this, "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined...and those whom he predestined he also called...he also justified...he also glorified."
This better hope and covenant is for those who draw near to God through Jesus. They can do that because He always lives to make intercession for them. Jesus eternally lives and speaks to God on our behalf. My favorite example of Jesus interceding is in Luke 22:31-34, when Jesus told Peter he would deny Him three times; he also said, "But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." Can you imagine Your Lord and Savior speaking to your Father in such a manner for you?
Jesus Christ, the Son who has been made perfect forever, as my High Priest, I desire to draw near to my God and Father through You alone. Thank You for offering Yourself as the all-sufficient sacrifice which can make perfect those who draw near.