Hebrews 5:1-10

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 30, 2021 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people 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. And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.
In the same way, Christ did not take on 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 fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, 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 5:1-10

The theme of Jesus as our great high priest is one of the main themes of the book of Hebrews, and it’s one that’s only found in this book - nowhere else in the Scriptures. This topic was introduced in last week’s passage of Hebrews 4:14-16 and continues through today’s passage.

Though the concept of a high priest would have been very familiar to the author’s original audience, he still explains it for the reader’s benefit and to make sure everyone is on the same page with what that role looked like. His description points to the ideal high priest, not one of his contemporary high priests who were likely falling short of this ideal.

We see in verse 1 that the office of the high priest has a component of mankind and a component of God. He is selected from the people and represents the people. He is their link to God. He is the one who is able to offer sacrifices for the people’s sins – something that only God can do, but the high priest is His appointed earthly mediator for that role.

Verse 2 describes some of the moral qualities of this ideal high priest. When dealing with those who do not obey God and His rules for them, he does not have an uncaring attitude of indifference but rather he “deals gently” with them. This word in the Greek refers to a middle ground between being angry and being apathetic. He recognizes that is not the perfect model of obedience, so he’s able to use his own weakness to relate to the people. He, too, needs God’s forgiveness for his own disobedience, just as the people do.

Similarly, verse 3 explains how he is in need of sacrifices for his own sins, just like the rest of the people. The high priest was chosen from among the people and is still one of them in standing before God. Leviticus 16 provides the detailed guidelines that the people were supposed to follow for the annual Day of Atonement, and Leviticus 16:11 tells how Aaron (the first high priest) also needed that atonement: “Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household, and he is to slaughter the bull for his own sin offering.”

No person can choose to be the high priest; he must be appointed by God (verse 4). The pattern for this appointment was set by Aaron in Exodus 28:1-3. Aaron’s appointment is the only specific one recorded in Scripture, but his calling also included his sons and their descendents. There are examples in Scripture of people who were punished for trying to appoint themselves to this office; see Korah in Numbers 16, Saul in 1 Samuel 13, and Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26:16-23.

Now that the author has established what the earthly office of the high priest looks like, he turns his attention to Jesus Christ in verses 5-10 and how He fulfills that same office. Jesus goes way beyond the human qualifications for high priest because He is also God.

Jesus Christ, of course, has the qualification of being called and appointed by God. In verse 5, the author references Psalm 2:7, which was a messianic prophecy that had not been fulfilled when that psalm was written. We see this being fulfilled in the life of Jesus both at His baptism (Matthew 3:13-17) and at His transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13). In both of those situations, God verbally declared Jesus as His Son.

The next Old Testament quote, in verse 6, is from Psalm 110:4. You may be wondering who Melchizedek is; that’s a very good question, and we’ll get to him more in Hebrews 7, so stay tuned. It’s important to note here that this prophecy refers to Christ as a priest “forever.” Every earthly priest was limited by his lifespan, but Christ lives forever, so He is a priest forever.

Remember how the office of the high priest has a component of mankind and a component of God? We just saw how Jesus fulfills the God components, and now in verse 7 we see the mankind component. We see how Jesus was a genuine human; He prayed, He cried, and He was heard. Jesus lived a life in the flesh, just as we do.

Just as we humans need to learn obedience through discipline and suffering, Jesus did too (verse 8). This does not mean that Jesus was ever disobedient; He wasn’t. But He learned obedience by actually obeying God, and He did suffer in the process of being obedient even unto His death on the cross. Similarly, verse 9’s phrase of “once made perfect” does not imply that Jesus was ever imperfect; rather, His perfection was manifested in the suffering and obedience that He accomplished. Because of that perfection, He is the source of eternal salvation for all.

Verse 10 concludes this passage by wrapping it all up. Jesus shared our human life with us. He was qualified to be a high priest because of His calling by God. Because of His perfect life, He is qualified to not only be A high priest but THE high priest - the one who lives forever and perfectly fulfills the requirements of the high priest’s office.

What does this mean for us? It means that the system of annual sacrifices that the high priests of Israel had to perform is completely unnecessary. Jesus was the one perfect sacrifice, the only one that is ever needed for full repayment of the sins of all people at all times and in all places. He is the perfect high priest, and He has already fulfilled His duties. All we need to do is put our faith and trust in Him!

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