Hebrews 5:1-10 – Jesus our Melchizedek!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 12, 2012 AM
There is a horrendous misunderstanding which borders on heresy in Christianity today. It is self-centeredness where worship is wrapped around the individual, commitment is based on our contentment, and our Savior and Lord is reduced to effeminate individual. Much of the church today fails to teach or comprehend just who Jesus is and what he has done for sinful man. Instead, we try to make the gospel relevant to the day and thereby Jesus into a means of living life for the moment. Ungodly sin is excused and Jesus made into our immoral image. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The author of Hebrews set forth two key truths: 1) the exalted position of Jesus who is uniquely God’s King-Son and 2) the salvation-inheritance of those who trust him by faith. Included in these themes are solemn warnings not to neglect the inheritance that Jesus’ relationship makes possible. The Son’s kingship has been at the center of all this discussion. Hebrews has made it clear that the King-Son is also a High Priest. The importance of this reality has already been briefly pointed out. Now, however, we discover what it means for Jesus our Melchizedek!
We like things simple and fast. We listen to books rather then read them, we text or tweet rather than phone or speak, and we want it our way or no way. Sadly this has infected our theology as well. We would rather have someone teach us how to be spiritual than to actually be spiritual. We want to experience Jesus rather than know Jesus. However here in Hebrews we discover that Jesus is not only the King-Son he is also the High Priest. What’s the big deal? Well…
I. Jesus, our Melchizedek, is far better than any human priest is! (Vv. 1-4)
“Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was.” (Hebrews 5:1-4 NIV)
1. To be the high priest of Israel was a tremendous honor. Out of all your peers, you were selected because of your devotion, righteousness, and knowledge of God. How sad therefore that by the time of Christ, the high priest was selected by nepotism, meaning through family relationship. Still, all were “selected from among men” by men. However, these men represented their fellow man before God and they were to empathize with their fellow humans when they offered “gifts and sacrifices for sins.” They were to “deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray” from their relationship with God. Each one was to do this remembering that “he himself is subject to weakness.” I find it interesting that Peter reminds believers to “live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear” (1 Peter 1:17 NIV) and that we “are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV) Christians are to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than [ourselves].” (Philippians 2:3 NIV) In fact, as the priest walked into the holiest of holies he was to remember in all humility why he was there and that he was no better than those he represented. Hebrews relates that, “This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.” The priest was never to forget, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 NIV) Hebrews remarks that, “No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was.” The high priest was divinely appointed and could not simply be one because he desired that honor. Just as Aaron was, this High Priest must also be called by God. What the writer is tacitly telling us is the fact that as humble and gentle as a man-picked priest was, Jesus, our Melchizedek, is far better than any human priest is!
EXAMPLE: The nation was shocked when there were accusations concerning priests who had sexually abused children in their congregations. Recently the first conviction of a high-level Roman Catholic official in the nationwide priest sexual abuse scandal, a monsignor in the Philadelphia Archdiocese was recently found guilty of child endangerment for covering up allegations of abuse of children. Evangelical pastors have not been free from the taint of ungodly behavior either. Each year we sadly read of those who get involved in extramarital affairs or who abuse others as well. As horrible as this is we must never forget that while these men hold their positions as pastors or priests, they are sinful men! Therefore, how truly wonderful for us to realize that our salvation is not dependent upon any mere man but rather on Jesus, our Melchizedek, who is far better than any human priest is!
There were those during Jesus’ day and immediately following who actually thought that the coming Messiah would be two people, an earthly king and a high priest, who would serve God. The writer of Hebrews is putting this final teaching to rest in showing that Jesus completely fulfills both positions simultaneously. The reason is simple…
II. Jesus, our Melchizedek, is chosen by God! (Vv. 5-10)
“So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’ And he says in another place, ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.’ During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:5-10 NIV)
1. Immediately the author tells us, “So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest.” Just as a human picked priest should never decide on his own to be high priest, Jesus did not either. Hebrews is speaking of Jesus’ earthly existence. In fact there is a huge difference in that God chose Jesus! Jesus is not only the Son of God and his heir, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”, but Jesus is also the perfect priest! He is “a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” In quoting both Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:4 Hebrews is tying together both Messianic concepts of priest and king! This is how Jesus “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (v. 1:3) Jesus made greater offerings during his life on earth than any man-picked priest could ever do because “he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” Never forget that Jesus-God willingly became human and thereby submitted himself. Jesus’ death on the cross became the cry that God heard for mankind’s sins! Here is the mystery, here is the wonder of it all, here is the one thing that should make all human beings catch their collective breath, namely that “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him!” Jesus’ obedience was his death and resurrection and he has become our ultimate sacrifice, something no earthly manmade high priest could ever do! It is not simply empathy we receive from Jesus, we receive mercy! This is because Jesus “was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” The writer of Hebrews is not teaching Jesus is subordinate to God the Father as some heresies teach, rather Jesus as God chose to come and minister the way he did for a reason. He did it to be our Messiah. To be both our heavenly king and our high priest forever! Jesus, our Melchizedek, is chosen by God!
EXAMPLE: The film Miracle tells the true story of the 1980 US Olympic ice hockey team as it marches to an improbable gold medal. At the outset of the story, coach Herb Brooks is shown selecting the players for his team. When he gives assistant coach Craig Patrick a list of names he has chosen, Craig says in surprise, “You’re missing some of the best players.” Brooks responds, “I’m not looking for the best players, Craig—just the right ones.” Brooks knew that individual talent would take the team only so far. A willingness to fit into his style of selfless play would be far more important than talent. Clearly, team success, not individual glory, was the priority. The biblical call to service as a high priest has a similar emphasis. God chose before the creation of the world to come in the form of a man to become our perfect High Priest. Jesus, our Melchizedek, is chosen by God!
Jesus, our Melchizedek, is far better than any human priest is! Jesus, our Melchizedek, is chosen by God!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.