Recent study of the priesthood in Second Temple life and thought invites a reconsideration of Jesus’ self-understanding. The appeal to Psalm 110 and Daniel 7.13 indicates that Jesus thought that, although not of priestly lineage, nevertheless he would ultimately be the nation's king and priest after the order of Melchizedek. Mark 1–6 contains a programmatic statement of Jesus’ claim to a high priestly identity as the ‘holy one of God’ (1.24), with a high priestly contagious holiness (1.40-45; 5.25-34; 5.35-43), freedom to forgive sins (2.1-12) and the embodiment of divine presence in a Galilean cornfield (2.23-28). As true high priest he makes divine presence ‘draw near’ to God's people (1.15), where before they had to ‘draw near’ to the Jerusalem temple. The hypothesis that Jesus thought he was Israel's long-awaited eschatological high priest resolves otherwise intractable problems in historical Jesus scholarship. This is Part 1 of a two-part essay.