Hebrews underscores that Jesus was not of the tribe of Judah, not that kind of priest. He was a priest of a different order, Melchizedek.
Some opine that since he was described in Hebrews as not being a priest on earth and that since his priesthood is heavenly, he had no priestly function prior to his ascension. One simple quotation from the very book of Hebrews will suffice to put that denial to silence,
“As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it!
Then he sat down beside God.” Hebrews 10.12 [Message].
If that is rejected on textual grounds
let it be said that the literal meaning comes out in translation.
That is the intent of the original, even though the KJV, etc.
fails to translate that intent or role of the priest. One question remains in light of such an object. Exodus and Leviticus tell us that there must be a priest to offer every sacrifice. Who was the priest here? It can only be Christ, even if a literalistic translation is preferred. “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” This man…offered one sacrifice.” Who was that man (that priest)? Christ Jesus. What was the one sacrifice? Himself. Christ is both Priest and Sacrifice and then Priest again. We might even speak of the Twofold Priesthood of Christ, Earthly and Heavenly.
“I hold that Jesus was a priest from the very moment of his incarnation. His very being was always a priestly offering to the Father that became more explicit on the Cross, resurrection and sitting at the Father’s right hand. I would argue that Jesus was always priest, prophet, and king. He didn’t become them through what he did, but his deeds made who and what he was more explicit. Rahner hits it on the head for me: Jesus in this very being is sacrifice, priest, and offering. Cardinal de Bérulle that became of Christ, we have not only a God adored but also a God adoring.”
IN WHAT TO MY MIND IS ONE OF THE MOST PROFOUND STATEMENTS EVER WRITTEN ABOUT JESUS CHRIST, RAHNER PENNED: “THE MAN JESUS EXISTS IN A UNITY OF WILLS WITH THE FATHER THAT PERMEATES HIS WHOLE REALITY TOTALLY AND FROM THE OUTSET, IN AN OBEDIENCE FROM OUT OF WHICH HE ORIENTS HIS WHOLE HUMAN REALITY.
HE IS SOMEONE WHO CONTINUALLY ACCEPTS HIMSELF FROM THE FATHER AND WHO IN ALL OF THE DIMENSIONS OF HIS EXISTENCE IS ALWAYS GIVING HIMSELF OVER TO THE FATHER TOTALLY. IN THIS SURRENDER HE IS ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH DUE TO GOD WHAT WE ARE NOT ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH. HE IS SOMEONE WHOSE BASIC CONSTITUTION AS THE ORIGINAL UNITY OF BEING AND CONSCIOUSNESS IS TO HAVE HIS ORIGINS IN GOD RADICALLY AND COMPLETELY, AND TO BE GIVEN OVER TO GOD RADICALLY AND COMPLETELY.”
from e-mail (unidentified)