Our Eternal High Priest
5So 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”; 6as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” 7In 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. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
Yesterday, we examined the role of godly men in the priesthood (or serving as pastors, as we would call it today.) Now the writer of Hebrews makes a comparison between those men and the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. These are important distinctions because Jesus’ sinless death on the cross paid for our sins whereas the priests serving the church today and even back into the Old Testament could not accomplish that work for they themselves are also sinful.
We learn in these verses that Jesus did not claim the office of high priest for Himself in his own right. Rather, God himself glorified Him by placing Him in that office. Two passages from the Psalms are fulfilled in our understanding of Jesus the ultimate High Priest.
I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.
The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Now the writer illuminates five differences between Jesus and other high priests.
- He is without sin
- He was not a son of Aaron, but the Son of God
- He was not appointed by another man, but by God Himself as the Christ
- He did not go through the rite of ordination, but is High Priest by God’s decree
- He is a Priest in eternity in order of Melchizedek
Being a Priest in order of Melchizedek is a huge concept in this book and will be examined and explained in greater detail in later chapters. For us now, we are encouraged by the information that Jesus is indeed our High Priest and He Himself made the final sacrifice of His own life for our forgiveness. Because of that sacrifice, we are no longer made slaves to sin, but instead live as the redeemed people of God. And Jesus will remain our High Priest for the rest of eternity and as such stands in the presence of the Father, interceding on our behalf.