Today: [Hebrews 5:] The Priesthood of Jesus and the Priesthood of the Believer: In chapter 5 of Hebrews the author opens to us a brief glimpse into many things to be learned about the Melchizedek priesthood. This is an obscure subject that the writer urgently desires to elaborate on but first feels the need to bring us again through the rudiments of things we ought to be teachers of ourselves.
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[Heb 5:1-14 KJV] 1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things [pertaining] to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: 2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. 3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. 4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as [was] Aaron. 5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. 6 As he saith also in another [place], Thou [art] a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. 7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; 10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek. 11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which [be] the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk [is] unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Chapter five continues speaking of Jesus as our high priest ordained to offer to God in our behalf the sacrifice of himself to expiate our sins. The high priestly ministry of Jesus is intrinsically connected with His humanity and the vulnerability he exposed himself to in his earth walk. The compassion that Jesus has for us in our weakness arises from his own experiences as a man compassed about with infirmity and temptation on every hand. Because he was sinless in his nature, it was possible (v. 3) not only for him to offer up himself to God but also to offer up himself for our sins because he was untouched by sin. In v. 4 we see that no man can call himself or ordain himself to the priesthood that God recognizes. Aaron was called of God to be a Levitical high priest, and Jesus himself likewise was called of God not just as a servant but as a son as v. 5 quotes from Psalm 2:7 “you are my Son today I have begotten you…” and then from Psalm 110:4:
[Psa 110:4 KJV] 4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou [art] a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
Thus we come to the subject of the Melchizedek priesthood. Jesus is not a Levitical priest. His priesthood predates the law and Abraham first being mentioned and seen in full existence when Abraham meets the king of Salem (early Jerusalem) in Gen. 14:18-20.
What can be known about the priestly order of Melchizedek? One thing that can be said is this – the priesthood of Jesus as a priest of Melchizedek was conferred upon him as a son (ref. v. 5) and not as a servant. Verse 5 first declares his sonship, and then v. 6 establishes his priesthood. A Levitical priest had to be an Israelite from the tribe of Judah duly descended from the line of Aaron according to the Law. The priesthood of Jesus springs from His sonship with God as His father and is conferred upon all those that are his brethren namely the children of God by faith and the New Birth experience. Whatever this priestly order is it is parallel with the order of the family – the only social order that existed before the fall and the only order created by God and not man when man was in his innocence. Every order that came after was formed by man in his darkened state or by God to address the darkened condition of the sinful hearts of men.
In vs. 7-8 the humanity of Jesus is further emphasized speaking of the prayer life of Jesus that was more than just sublime fellowship but a matter of Jesus’ own survival on the earth. He offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and was heard in that He feared. Though he was a son He learned obedience through these experiences and coming to perfection in His humanity he became the author of salvation to all those who believe.
We might ask the question when was Jesus perfected? When he received word that Herod sought his life Jesus made the following statement in the gospel of Luke:
[Luk 13:32 KJV] 32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third [day] I shall be perfected.
The word perfected Jesus uses here means “to reach the goal.” What was Jesus goal? He was resurrected on the third day. The sufferings then referred to in v. 8 were the necessary sufferings of the cross that the goal of resurrection might be attained not only for Himself but for all of those that would follow after. The suffering then represented the necessary rigors associated with Jesus calling to pay the penalty for sin.
What about your own suffering? The kind of sufferings by which we learn obedience are those pressures associated with fulfilling our call. This is not referring to unnecessary suffering that Jesus paid for in our behalf on the cross. Ask yourself what is the personal cost you are paying to follow after Jesus and fulfill your calling? Do you know what your calling is? Are you pursuing it, or are you just coasting till Jesus comes? Every believer – EVERY BELIEVER is commanded to make their calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:10). You are called to do more than sit in a pew or to merely be a consumer of Christian ministry. As Jesus is a king and a priest even so you are a king and a priest. Kings have kingdoms. Priests have priestly duties to perform on behalf of others. If these things are not second nature to your understanding and instantly connected with core values in how you live and conduct yourself, then you have your assignment – to find out and to dedicate yourself to the tasks related with your particular calling. Ignorance is no excuse. The failure of your leaders to teach you otherwise is no excuse. It is up to you, and you will stand accountable before God for the degree to which you pursued, sought after and fulfilled these responsibilities as a believer.
The writer (v. 10) has many things to say of the order of Melchizedek but realizes that the people will be dull of hearing not motivated to learn more. The order of Melchizedek seems to be vestigial in nature like the appendix in the body. We all have one, but no one really knows what it’s function is, and if it is taken out, it doesn’t seem to matter. On the other hand, the writer insists (v. 12) that God’s children should get past the first principles and rudiments of Christian doctrine. Make no mistake about it – what you have learned all your life as a believer you should set the goal of being a teacher and not just a student of these things. The difference between a baby drinking milk and a mature person is the difference between a pupil and a teacher and you are to aspire and take responsibility not only to learn but to teach. If you are not capable of teaching these rudiments in Christ to others, you are still a babe – a condition that is unacceptable in the context of Hebrews 5:12. Until you are so conversant with the things of God that you come to full age as one teaching and discipling others, you can lay no claim to spiritual maturity.
God wants you to become skillful in the word of righteousness that you might come to full age being able to discern and rightly divide the truth and to teach others to be adept at the same. Thus the writer opens an aperture of understanding that we briefly glimpse the application of a whole body of Melchisedec truths and many things that are there to be learned but only by those who have decided to step away from the eternal childhood of the believer and come to full maturity and acceptance of complete responsibility in God.
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