Updated 1 Jun 2019
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The writer continues the theme of revealing to us, the significance and uniqueness of Christ as our High Priest. The role of a priest is considered in this chapter along with the significance of Jesus learning obedience in preparation for the cross. Jesus' connection with the priestly order of Melchizedek is explained to those who read the letter and there is much emphasis on the need for believers to mature and develop.
The Role of the Priest
A priest was appointed on behalf of the people. He interceded for the people. He offered gifts and sacrifices on their behalf. He was able to support and strengthen people in their worship of God, understanding the challenges that they faced in life. However, because he was also a man and a sinner, he did not just serve on behalf of others but he also needed to offer sacrifices on behalf of himself. This role went right back to the time of Moses and the Levities who assisted the priests in their duties but the most significant thing was that the role of the earthly priest was a foreshadowing of what Jesus would do for us. Clearly, Jesus did not need to offer any sacrifices for himself but he is able to offer, on our behalf, a salvation that no-one else can bring. He is our great High Priest and we now need no other.
This king of righteousness and priest of God is recorded in the book of Genesis as someone who appeared to Abraham. Although the priestly system had not been introduced, in Melchizedek we see a glimpse of Christ. First of all, he appears for a short time and then is gone. There is no record of his birth or death. He is clearly powerful and, unusually, combines the office of priest and king. Later, God’s people would discover many different roles and ministries but it was for Christ and Christ alone to demonstrate that he fulfils all of the ministries. He is a prophet, priest, king, apostle, evangelist, pastor and a teacher. Melchizedek offered bread and wine. Jesus took bread and wine and introduced what we now call the communion. Jesus’ death and sacrifice, the giving of his body and the shedding of his blood, make our salvation possible.
The Obedient Son
This passage gives us a powerful insight into Jesus under trial, facing great tribulations and tests but coming through them all triumphant, to be able to save us. The Garden of Gethsemane was a place of tremendous agony and suffering for our Lord. Loud cries and tears were shed, as Jesus contemplated the enormous cost of being our sin-bearer. Even so, Jesus never gave in to potential fears and trials but submitted to the will of his Father. This process was incredibly real. There was nothing superficial about it. We cannot describe the agony that Jesus went through but we can experience the fantastic blessing that comes out of his obedience!
As we think about what Jesus did for us, we need to grow up in our faith and trust in him. Having established our foundation upon basic but wonderful truth, we are to grow in wisdom, discerning clearly what is good and what is evil, as servants of God and ministers of the Gospel.
Points to Consider:
- In what ways are we to be like the priests in our role of serving others in the body of Christ?
- How do we respond to the priestly role of Christ and how much are we benefitting from his unique position of being without sin?
- Melchizedek was the beginning of a new order. Are we moving forward in our relationship with Christ or are we stuck in legalism?
- Consider the agonies of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. How much do we appreciate the reality of the challenge that he faced and how has that helped us in our battle to overcome temptation?
- Maturity means wisdom, discernment and endurance. How much are these qualities seen in our lives and how can we encourage others to develop these qualities as well?
God bless you!
Bible Study: Hebrews 5
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