“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek” ~ Hebrews 5:7-10.
As I consider our next portion of this subject, verses 7-10 above seem to proof-text Christ’s priesthood. In order to discern what I mean and get a picture of His High Priestly role, we need to compare it with verses 1-4, which outline the qualifications for those called to the role of high priest.
“For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness; and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself. And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was” ~ Hebrews 5:1-4.
Comparing these things with our first verses, here is what I find”
“For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins…” (vs. 1-4): compares with “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. …” (vs. 7-10).
Jesus came in flesh to fulfill the priestly role of being “taken from among men” as one “appointed on behalf of men” to intercede in “things pertaining to God.” He fulfilled this role in many ways, beginning with prayers and supplications, not only for the people God sent Him to minister to on His behalf, but for Himself.
We are told in Holy Writ that He often went away by Himself for time with the Father, preparing Himself for the days and challenges ahead. And as He went to the cross, He wept before the Father with such anxiety of heart that He sweat blood with thought of the cross in His path, crying out, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” He sets the example for us when we face a CROSS-road. Jesus went through life as example to us, and He went to the cross on our behalf, fulfilling His High Priestly role. (See Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46)
Next, in verse 1-4, we read that the high priest taken from among men is so appointed because “…he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness….” Of Jesus in verse 7-10 we are told, “…Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. …”
The High Priest must be able to relate with the struggle that is common to every person. They need to be able to deal with people with the degree of grace and understanding that comes from personal experience of the struggle our flesh brings to the equation. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard people say, “You can’t understand unless you have lived it.” Experience allows us right of passage to minister to the need of others. Therefore The Christ having experience of life as a person of flesh is a vital part of the requirement for His Priesthood.
I am struck by this statement concerning Christ, “…Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. …” Although He was God incarnate by the Father – Son relationship He had that is difficult for us to fully fathom, He “learned obedience” through suffering. That tells me He knew suffering. His deity as God did not protect him from hurting when He stubbed His toe, getting angry when He saw injustice, or sweating blood at the thought of His cross. His flesh was fully flesh, and He felt it. He learned through experience what it was like to be in these flesh-shells. To meet the requirement He had to learn by experience what it was like to deal with the flesh and remain true to the God-Head. Because of that experience, He has the ability to give compassion with understanding of our struggle.
Our role is somewhat reversed from His. He came as God and learned of the flesh and how to deal with the flesh while remaining in God despite the flesh. We come as fleshly beings and, once we receive the Christ and His Spirit that unites us with the Father, we learn how to know and understand this Immortal and remain in Him despite our flesh. Because Jesus chose to come and live in a flesh body, He understands our “despite the flesh” struggle, thus His Priestly role continues as He ever lives to intercede, standing in the gap before the Father on our behalf (Romans 8:33-34).
“…and because of it (his understanding of our struggle and his call to stand on our behalf) he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself. …” (vs. 1-4 – parenthesis added by author, reminder of previous thoughts added). “…And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation…” (vs. 7-10).
Jesus filled this role like no other in that He not only offered up a sacrifice, but He became the sacrifice, paying the price required for life with God on behalf of all flesh.
I never thought of it before now, but that would include covering the weakness He experienced in His own flesh. Though He lived in victory over His fleshly struggle, being perfect in all His ways, He still lived fully in human flesh. He kept the Levitical Law perfectly: That would include going with His sacrifice in hand on holy days throughout His life among us, thus He offered up sacrifice for Himself in keeping with the Law. Despite His deity, when called “good,” He replied, “No one is good but God alone” (Mark 10:18), so He apparently considered His own fleshly existence to be as frail and faulty as anyone else’s because of the weakness and struggle that flesh presents to living. So His sacrifice of His own flesh at Calvary could well fulfill the call of the high priest to offer up sacrifice “as for the people, so also for himself”.
“…And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was” ~ Hebrews 5:1-4.
It just dawned on me, as I read here that Jesus was called to His priesthood just as Aaron was that God sent Aaron across the wilderness to meet up with Moses before he was placed as a priest over Israel (Exodus 4). Jesus, too, started His earthly ministry after 40 days of prayer and fasting in the wilderness. Just an interesting thought.
Our pastor instructed recently that the purpose of the 40 day fast is for one to come fully into the authority they have from God. Jesus had great power because He trusted Himself to God and trusted God to give full authority to His fleshly existence so that He could fulfill His call as Christ.
The High Priest must live in purity and work out of His full authority in God. In the second order of priesthood started by Aaron, a high priest entering the Holy of Holies, having any impurity in his life, fell dead instantly. But if he fulfilled the call of purification, he went in with full authority to do so in safety, fully empowered to fulfill his priestly role. Jesus fulfilled His High Priestly role by entering fully into His purification and authority in God, just as Aaron did.
All these things in play, God says of Jesus, “… ‘YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU’; just as He says also in another passage, ‘YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK’” ~ Hebrews 5:5-6.
Jesus is our High Priest. We need no other. He ever lives to intercede on our behalf, calling and empowering us to live fully for God with whole heart, and through Him we receive our purification from sin, being set free from its death and set free from constantly having to make blood sacrifice for sin.
Wow. There it is! I kept feeling that there was something more to this “order of Melchizedek” than I was seeing or being helped to see by commentaries read. Here it is!
Melchizedek was of the first order of priests. In that role we are not told of any sacrifice for sin being made or required. Then enters Aaron at the call of God: Through Aaron and the Levitical priesthood God sets up the second order of priests, in which blood sacrifice was required for the covering of sin and other issues given the people through Levitical Law. This order of the priesthood was set up by God for the purpose of providing a holy people out of which the Christ would come, the Holy Seed of God.
It was also set up for the people to have an intermediary between themselves and God. If you recall in the account of Israel’s experience in Exodus, the people feared God in an unholy way, being afraid of His presence and power, so much so that they feared relationship with Him. So they told Moses to talk to God on their behalf, refusing the personal intimacy God had for them to possess. I believe this is why God made arrangements for a priesthood to stand in the gap and intercede for the people: the second order being intermediary. (See Exodus 20:18-21; 34:29-35; 2 Corinthians 3)
In comes Christ, who fulfilled the role of High Priest perfectly, setting the example of godliness and calling all around Him to wholehearted, personal intimacy in their relationship with God as Father. Through His holy life and sacrifice, the full payment for sin is made, and we are back to the order of priesthood that no longer has need of the ritualistic cleansing of the second order. Jesus keeps us safe and covers us by His own blood sacrifice so we can enter into the very presence of God without fear: back to the first order of personal intimacy with God.
Beloved, through Christ we are of the first order of priests, the order of Melchizedek – set free to have personal relationship with Father-God! That is our topic of discussion for Part 3 of our focus on The Priestly Order.