Today we are in Hebrews chapter 5. This chapter is a little more straight forward by vitally important. It begins by establishing certain basic principles.
1. Every high priest is taken from among men.
2. The Priest is man’s representative before God.
3. The role of the priest is to offer sacrifices for sins.
And that is just the first sentence.
The priest is able to deal patiently with the faithful because he is like them. He offers sacrifices for himself and the people. Being high priest is a honor conveyed upon a person by God. The author then points out that it this is the same as with Jesus Christ. Who is made high priest by God and can offer sacrifices for us because he is like us in every way (except sin).
The author of Hebrews then makes two important points.
First, Jesus is a high priest “according to the order of Melchizedek”. Recall that Melchizedek was “a priest of God most high” even BEFORE the establishment of the Jewish faith. Melchizedek offered the sacrifice of Bread and Wine when Abraham won a victory in battle. The parallels to Jesus are easily spotted. Mainly, Jesus is a high priest from before the foundation of Judaism. His high priesthood pre-existed the establishment of the Jewish faith and is therefore greater than it. Recall that we saw Abraham paying tithes to Melchizedek thereby acknowledging his office of High Priest.
Melchizedek offers Bread and Wine as did Jesus. But notice, a High Priest role is to offer sacrifice. And we know that Jesus sacrifice is made on the cross. Therefore the Bread and Wine must be connected to the sacrifice of the Cross. This is why Jesus said “This is my body. … This is my blood.” This is part of the reason we take him literally.
Melchizedek offers the Bread and Wine after Abraham wins a great battle. Likewise, Jesus offers Bread and Wine after winning the greatest battle there is, the battle over sin and death. Some people might be perplexed by this, noting that the Last Supper and the offering of Bread and Wine were before the Crucifixion. Remember, God stands outside of time. When Jesus offered the Bread and Wine at the Last Supper as high priest he was offering a sacrifice. That sacrifice was his own sacrifice that he would make the next day on Calvary.
The second important point that the author makes is this:
Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him …
That’s a blockbuster theological statement … Jesus was “being made perfect”. We must read this with the correct understanding of Jesus dual natures, one Divine and one human. Jesus in his Divine nature was always totally perfect. Jesus was also perfect in his human nature – so far as any mortal man can be perfect. However, all mortal men can be perfected by being glorified by God. Notice how Jesus is made perfect. His human nature is perfected by learning obedience and through suffering. This is a partial explanation for why suffering continues to exist in the world even after Jesus has paid the price for all our sins and it is a very important thing to understand. Suffering is not meaningless. It perfects us. It purges the false gods of pleasure, avarice, gluttony, etc from us. Suffering purifies and perfects us just as it did the Lord. In fact, as I have discussed before because we are so radically connected to Jesus our suffering was felt by him on the cross. Our suffering is part of the offering of sacrifice that Jesus made to the father. Thus again, our suffering – if borne well as Jesus bore his suffering on the cross – are meritorious and actually bring help to bring about salvation.