So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him:
“You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.”
As He also says in another place:
“You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:5-6, KNJV)
The writer of the book of Hebrews was addressing a group of Christian Jews. These Christians, because they had grown up Jewish, would have been quite familiar with the Levitical priesthood. Meaning, they believed that the high priest must come from the line of Aaron (Exodus 28-29). They also knew that the high priest had the responsibility to offer “both gifts and sacrifices for sin” (Hebrews 5:3). To them, these were the religious practices needed to honor God.
Then enters Jesus.
Put yourself in the shoes of these Christian Jews for a minute. They were being told “it is finished” (John 19:30). That their works of righteousness were not good enough and no longer needed. That this Man named Jesus, who wasn’t even from Aaron’s family line, had offered thee ultimate sacrifice on their behalf. That every sin they had committed, were committing or would commit was atoned for. The old covenant they had grown up with, everything they thought they knew about pleasing God was done away with. And a new covenant was in it’s place.
This may have been a hard pill to swallow, right?
So what did the author of Hebrews do with this hard pill, this hard truth? He didn’t sugar-coat it, he Scripture-coated it. And the Scripture he used they most likely knew by heart.
“You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” (Psalm 2:7)
The Levites were servants of God, but Jesus was His Son. And He was begotten, at the day of His resurrection, for this purpose — to be the High Priest. God had appointed many high priests in the past, but this time it was different. This time He appointed His Son and His Son was more than special. How? We see it in the next coating of Scripture.
“You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4)
Jesus wasn’t a temporary high priest. He was (and is!) the forever High Priest because He was according to the order of Melchizedek. Jesus may not have been a Levite as the Jews thought all high priests needed to be, but that didn’t disqualify Him. Jesus, a Priest forever, was according to an order that had been around much longer than the Levitical order.
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. (Hebrews 7:1-3, also see Genesis 14)
Why is this important?
You may be wondering why all this is important. You may be thinking yeah, I already know all this. So what? Well, the what is in the why. Why was the letter to the Hebrews even written? Why did these Christian need to be told about Christ as their High Priest?
Why? Because they were beginning to question what Jesus did for them. They were beginning to wonder if what He did really was enough. They wanted to know if they need to go back to the old way of doing things, the old works-based way to make up for their sins and attempt to please God. And I know many Christians today who begin to question and wonder and want to know the same thing — is more needed?
I doubt many of us would consider reinstating the sacrifices from the Old Testament, but we are still very similar to these Jewish Christians. There is a deep rooted belief in many of us that says we must do more if God is to be pleased with us. This belief simply isn’t true.
Instead of animal sacrifices we often think we need to do things like read our Bibles, pray, go to church, be kind, be patient, etc in order to make God happy. We stress ourselves out working and working for something we already have — God’s approval.
Don’t get me wrong, reading our Bibles, praying and attending church are all wonderful. They are necessary for fellowship with our Savior, but they are not what earns us salvation. They are not what justify us before God. It is only through faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved and pleasing to God the Father.
It is my prayer today that we understand this: that because we have Jesus, our forever High Priest we have a forever smile from our Father in heaven. No more is needed. Our sins are washed away. We have right standing before God. There is nothing left to do. It truly is finished.
Please remember that I am human and flawed and my thoughts on this passage and others may not always be right. Please hold what I write up against the Word of God and listen to the Holy Spirit as He speaks to you directly.
Only by grace,
- Jot down a few of things that you “do” for Christ. Consider your motives. Are you trying to earn favor or are these things done in response to His love?
- Read more on the order of Melchizedek. Check out Hebrews 7, Genesis 14, and this mini Bible study.
- Listen to and sing old hymns, such as What Can Wash Away My Sin, There Is Power In the Blood, and How Deep The Father’s Love For Us.