Each of us carry a weigh of responsibility. Whether we are spouse, parent, student, or employee we have people around us or under us that can demand our care.
Up until 70 AD Israel had high priest who would bear the weight of responsibility of the entire nation of Israel and plead to God on their behalf for the forgiveness of their sins. What an enormous responsibility and yet he was just a mere man chosen among men to act on behalf of men (v.1).
“For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” – Hebrews 5:1-10
Interestingly, every high priest was weak and inadequate for the job and needed to seek forgiveness for his sins before he could ask for the forgiveness of the sins of the nation (vs.2-3). No priest was perfect or chosen for the job because he was somehow super spiritual. The honor of the high priest, including Aaron (the first Levitical priest), was not earned, but given by God (v.4).
Jesus was also given the title of high priest (v.5). Unlike other priests, He obeyed God in all things and was sent to earth to be the sacrifice for sin (vs.5, 7-8). A sacrifice that was once and for all. Jesus is unique among high priests in that he did not need to atone for his own sins because he is sinless (v.9). This makes Jesus the greater high priest; your great high priest.
Questions for Reflection:
- What was the job of the priest? How was this a compassionate job?
- How did the priest prepare for his job? Why did he need to deal with his own weakness?
- How is Jesus more compassionate and prepared for the job?
- How does Jesus’ suffering and sympathy help you to have confidence in God?
- How does Jesus’ example encourage you to show compassion to another sinner?
- Dig Deeper: Who was Melchizedek? (Gen. 14:17-20; Ps. 110:4) What does it mean that Jesus is in the order of Melchizedek? What does the relationship between Jesus and Melchizedek tell you about God’s orchestration of history?
Side Notes: Scholars don’t know much about Melchizedek. He is a symbolic picture of Jesus Christ. Long before Moses, Melchizedek was a Canaanite priest-king in a city that centuries later became Jerusalem and he was the head of an order of Jerusalem priests older than Moses’ brother Aaron.