The original readers of this letter were Jewish believers. They had been raised in the Jewish faith, keeping the commandments and requirements of the Law of Moses. When they heard the gospel, they became convinced that Jesus Christ was their long-awaited Messiah — the saving King of Israel. But pressure from the Jewish community and confusing doctrines of false teachers was undermining their belief in Jesus. So this section addresses the superiority of Jesus and proves from the Old Testament Scriptures that He came to enact a new covenant that both fulfilled and replaced the one they had known formerly. (Note: a covenant is an arrangement that fixes or settles something, like a contractual agreement.)
As the great high priest, Jesus is seated in heaven with His Father. From that position of supreme authority, He “mediates” a new covenant (v.6). To mediate is to bring two parties together, in this case Holy God and sinful man. Only Jesus, the Son of God who became the Son of Man, is capable and worthy of that position as mediator. The new covenant He established when He died on the cross is “more excellent than the old” (v.6). In what ways?
First, it is based on a more excellent sacrifice. Under the old covenant, thousands of bulls and goats had to be slaughtered every year by the priests to atone for their own sins and the sins of the people. Under the new covenant, Jesus, the great high priest, actually became the sacrifice for sin — and His sacrifice never has to be made again. It is eternally effective! Second, the new covenant is based on grace, unlike the old covenant in which people had to keep the rules and regulations of the Law in order to be acceptable to God. Third, the new covenant is better in that it does not just include the Jews, but people from every nation of the world — whoever believes in Jesus.
When Jesus came, He fulfilled every requirement of the Law on our behalf. He completed the old covenant and replaced it with the new one. As a result, we can come to Him as lost sinners and be forever saved by His grace. That is a reason to praise our great high priest and to tell everyone that “Jesus saves”!