The Hebrew writer has shown the superiority of Christ over the angels and over Moses. Before he begins to show how superior Christ is to any other Priesthood, he points out Christ’s compassion in 5:2. The word “compassion” (metriopatheo) is defined: “To treat with mildness, or moderation, to bear gently with … The idea is that he is not being angered by the faults and ignorance of others …” To maintain this outlook the high priest needed to remember that “he himself is also beset by weakness”. Jesus desperately wished for a change in circumstances; He petitioned God to alter His will so that He would not have to endure horrific physical and emotional agonies of the cross. But He also submitted Himself to the will of God: “nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Mt 26:39). Jesus did not merely provide salvation but is salvation in a direct, personal sense. Those who obey Him are grafted into the source of life itself, Jesus Christ the mediating High Priest between God and men.
He now shows how Christ is superior to the Aaronic type of Priesthood. He reminds them of another type of priesthood, after the manner of Melchizedek. Melchizedek served as king of Salem, of whom Abraham paid tithes, and served as God’s High Priest (more will be discussed about Melchizedek in chapter 7). Christ serves as God’s High Priest in this way. He also reminds us of how Christ was made perfect through sufferings (Heb 3:10-the sufferings of Christ made His qualifications to bring men to glory complete or “perfect”). So now, “having been perfected”, Christ is the “author” of their eternal salvation. He was called by God to be their High Priest forever. Christ’s priesthood is superior to any other.
- From what tribe of Israel did the priest come from (Num 3:5-9, Heb 7:5)? What tribe was Jesus from (Heb 7:14)?
- Why would the Hebrew writer mention Melchizedek here?
3. How is “devotion” in v7 and “obedience” in v8 seen to be the qualities of a High Priest?
4. What are the qualities that Jesus has satisfied as a High Priest according to verses
Hebrews 4:14 and 5:5-10 ?
The priesthood of Melchizedek, of whom they probably knew very little about or even nothing at all, was difficult to understand because they were not spiritually mature. He scolds them for their spiritual immaturity and calls them slow learners. They are like newborns who need someone to feed them baby food. They are inexperienced in God’s word of righteousness. By this time they should be mature Christians with the ability to teach others. It would be foolish to blame a six year old for not being as developed mentally and physically as a twelve year old, for natural growth patterns cannot be circumvented. However, the brethren addressed in Hebrews have failed to mature through a lack of effort: “by this time you ought to be teachers” (Heb 5:12). Instead, they now need to be re-taught the very basics of the gospel – the ABC’s if you will. “Use it or lose it” is the slang expression of what has happened to these brethren. But, for those who are mature and have put their knowledge of God’s word into practice, they are blessed in the ability to discern between truth and error. Herein is the happiness of living life, instead of living a lie!