October 14 – Hebrews 5:1-6. A Priest Forever.

Friday, October 14, 2011

October 14 – Hebrews 5:1-6. A Priest Forever.

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.”

I can’t imagine living in a time before Christ, when there was no one holy enough to take on my sins as well as the sins of the people.  There was a lot of work to be done to atone for sin.  A priest did his best to live a holy life, but he was still human and couldn’t help but to sin.  So … he had to offer sacrifices for himself and then for the sins of the people.  That’s a lot of pressure – especially when to do anything else might bring the curse of God down upon the nation.

The high priest is supposed to care for his people.  He is called by God as their intercessor.  He tries to guide them and when all else fails, it is he who takes their sacrifices before God.

That didn’t work out so well as the Israelites moved closer to the time of Jesus.  By that point, we meet people like Annas and Caiaphas and see events like the clearing of the temple.  Corruption had riddled the priesthood so that true holiness was rarely seen by the people.  But, the kept bringing their sacrifices, hoping that God’s forgives would be filled with mercy and grace.

Jesus was called by God to be the high priest that would bring the ultimate sacrifice  - himself. Since he is of the lineage of David and through him, the tribe of Benjamin, that means Jesus can’t be part of the Levitical system of priests.  And that actually puts quite a crimp in things when it comes to declaring him a member of the priesthood.

Don’t you love how God works all of these things out?  He prepared another order of priests – one that existed long before Levi was born, one that was introduced in the time of Abraham.  We’ll look a bit more closely at Melchizedek another day, but the author declares Jesus to be of the order of Melchizedek – outside the Israelite tribe of Levi – a follower of God, but a man who would accept both the people of Abraham (the Israelites) and others who worshiped God (the Gentiles).

Jesus is called to be the high priest over all priests and over all the world.