You can only come to the Father in heaven through His Son Jesus Christ. He is the merciful and faithful High Priest appointed by God to compassionately bring sinners into His presence. Jesus truly fulfills all the qualifications of the priesthood, since He is God’s sinless Son. And you can be certain He will lead you to God.
Jesus fulfills everything the Old Testament priests symbolized in their ministry. Aaron and his descendants were called by God to compassionately guide the Hebrews in true worship. The sacrifices they offered in their service reflected the need for blood atonement and the worshiper’s need to trust God for the ultimate, effective sacrifice for their sins. But the priests in Aaron’s line were also sinners, and they needed to offer sacrifices for themselves as well (5:1-4). Their ministry was limited to the Law, which emphasized sin but could not effectively provide salvation.
However, Jesus is both sympathetic to our weakness and sinless (4:15). He is the faithful Son of God (3:1-7) and the Great High Priest who offers Himself as the sacrifice to make atonement for sin and provide righteousness for the believer. He is the Apostle and High Priest of our confession (3:1) in whom we can confidently trust.
Hebrews 5:5-11 explains that Jesus fulfills all the qualifications of God’s High Priest. However, unlike the imperfect and incomplete priesthood of Aaron and his descendants, Jesus’ priesthood is eternal and effective.
A Qualified High Priest (5:1-11) – Part II
Jesus’ Fulfillment (vv. 5-11)
His Priesthood is Eternal (vv. 5-6, 10-11)
It is the prerogative of the true and living God to establish a priesthood to represent the way He desires to be worshiped. He is holy, and we are sinful. Therefore, we cannot come to Him by our own choosing or methods. There is no variation of God nor any variation in the way we approach Him that is acceptable. In Scripture and most fully in His Son, He has revealed His holy nature and eternal purpose for creating and redeeming us (1:1-3), and we are accountable to His Word (4:11-13). It was established in eternity past that we either come to God through Jesus Christ, or we are judged as rebels (4:3).
As the ultimate High Priest who offers the ultimate sacrifice of Himself for our sins, “Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest.” Of necessity, our Lord was a sinless Man appointed by the Father in heaven to lead us into His presence. He is the chosen Captain of our salvation (2:10) and the forerunner (6:20) of redeemed humanity who satisfies God’s wrath toward sin with His own life’s blood (2:17). He alone is qualified to lead us into the true worship of God by faith now and by sight in the glory of heaven.
The eternal nature of Jesus’ priesthood is by God’s design just as Aaron’s priesthood was intended to be a temporal foreshadowing of the reality of Christ. Before the world was created, God not only appointed Jesus as His faithful Son, but He also appointed Him as the Great High Priest.
The writer emphasizes these truths by again quoting from the Messianic Psalms. Regarding Jesus’ eternal sonship he says, “it was [the Father] who said to [the Son]: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten you” (v. 5). That is a quote from Psalm 2:7 (cf. 1:5). The same God who declared the Christ to be His Son is the same God who “also says in another place: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (v. 6). This quote from Psalm 110:4 identifies Jesus’ ministry as High Priest to be an appointment from God of a different order than Aaron.
Jesus is “called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek” (v. 10). Who is Melchizedek? He was the king-priest of Salem (Jerusalem) in the days of Abraham. He was recognized by Abraham and his contemporaries as a true worshiper and priest of God Most High. Abraham both blessed this king-priest and was blessed by him (Gen. 14:18-20). However, nothing further is known about him from the Old Testament revelation other than God’s reference in Psalm 110:4, which places the Son as an eternal priest in that order. The New Testament revelation identifies him as a type of Christ — another foreshadowing.
The writer will “have much to say” about Melchizedek later in chapter 7, which is “hard to explain” to those who are slow to accept the Scripture (“dull of hearing”) — those who are admonished in 5:12-6:20. But we are told here that our Lord’s priesthood is eternal, being from a different order than Aaron’s.
This does not mean that Melchizedek was an eternal priest. He was simply not of the Aaronic priesthood, but his priestly ministry was obviously similar in its foreshadowing of Christ. There is no genealogical relationship between Christ and Melchizedek. However, he was the king of Salem and priest of God Most High. That is, he was a king and a priest, which Jesus is also but Aaron was not. Therein lies the similarity. Christ’s kingship was emphasized in 1:8-2:9ff. Christ is the eternal, incarnate Son of God who alone has a throne as well as a priesthood that is eternal by God’s design and declaration.
His Priesthood is Effective (vv. 7-9)
This is why only Christ’s priesthood could be effective. He meets the qualifications of being chosen and compassionate by way of His humanity, but so were Aaron and Melchizedek as Scripture testifies. What makes Jesus the ultimate fulfillment of the high priestly office is His sinless perfection as God’s faithful Son. And that perfection was demonstrated “in the days of His flesh” (v. 7).
Jesus proved His perfection as a completely righteous human being when He endured suffering and remained totally obedient to the Father’s will. This is what makes Him the prince and pioneer of the redeemed human race (i.e. Captain of our Salvation). His absolute trust in God and obedience in suffering confirms that He is God’s faithful Son and our Great High Priest. The writer spoke of this earlier in 2:10-18 and highlighted it again in 4:15 as it pertains to His effective priesthood.
Here we are given more insight into Jesus’ grief as He suffered and His trust in the Father. We are told how He demonstrated His perfection as a righteous man, and it reflects just how completely our sinless King-Priest identifies with us.
While experiencing the trials and temptations of human life, the “Son…learned obedience by the things He suffered” (v. 8). He thoroughly understood obedience because He is God. But He “learned obedience” in His humanity by humbly yielding Himself to do the Father’s will regardless of the consequences. His total dependence on the Father was demonstrated as He fervently prayed to the Father “who was able to save Him from death” (v. 7). That is, He knew the end result of His obedience in this world would be the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8), and He trusted the Father to deliver Him from death through resurrection (Jn. 10:18).
Jesus lived as every human being should live — in total dependence upon God (cf. Matt. 4:1-11). He “offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears” to God. And He was “heard because of His godly fear” (v. 7). He did not simply offer “prayers” as religious activity. The Son of God daily and repeatedly poured out His heart to His heavenly Father and expressed His needs (“prayers”) to the only One who could meet them (“supplications”). His reverence and trust were pure and passionate (“vehement cries and tears”). Such prayer marked Jesus’ earthly life at every stage (e.g. Lk. 3:21; 6:12; Matt. 26:36-46; Jn. 17).
As verse nine tells us, Jesus was “perfected” (i.e. completed; Gr. – teleioo) in His humanity. In other words, after fully identifying with mankind in every way but sin, “He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” God’s sinless Son is so completely human that He is able to save from sin and death all who trust Him. He became the means our salvation, and those who sincerely trust Him will also obey Him as He did the Father (Jn. 14:15). He is the prototype of righteous humanity and the instrument of God by which redeemed sinners are made righteous (Rom. 3:23-26). And that is precisely why Jesus’ priesthood is effective.
Aaron and Melchizedek respectively provided a qualified and accurate foreshadowing of Christ’s ministry as our regal High Priest. But their priesthood was neither eternal nor effective to bring us to God because they, too, were sinners who needed a perfect Savior.
The Father in heaven has established His Son as King and Priest over His children. But you need to ask yourself if you are really listening to what God is saying about Jesus Christ. Do you believe what the Scripture says about Him, or are you dull of hearing?
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