In the overall context, we are studying about the priesthood of Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). In the immediate context, we are talking about “every high priest taken from among men” (Hebrews 5:1). The verses we are going to examine in this study are these: “And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 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. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 5:3-6).
As we have studied already, the high priest had compassion because of their own life experiences (Hebrews 5:2). Jesus lived in this world and because of what He faced, He has the experience of life in this world that helps Him be our perfect high priest. One of the differences that separate Jesus from the high priests that served before His time was that they offered sacrifices for their own sins (Leviticus 4:1-35, Leviticus 9:1-24, Leviticus 16:1-11, and Hebrews 9:1-7). Jesus never sinned (I Peter 2:21-22). Therefore, He did not have to offer a sacrifice for His own sin (Hebrews 7:19-28).
Jesus’ offering for sin was also different. The best way for us to see this is by reading what is later written in this letter. Notice: “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:1-14).
What hasn’t changed about the high priest is that whosoever serves as the high priest is called by God to do so. Aaron and his descendants were chosen by God to serve (Exodus 28:1 and Numbers 18:1-5). When man tried to take that honor by himself, the consequences were severe (Numbers 16:1-50, Numbers 18:6-7, and II Chronicles 26:1-23). Like Aaron and his sons, Jesus was appointed by the Father for the tasks set before Him (Luke 22:29).
To set forth the point, the Hebrew writer referenced a Psalm (Psalms 2:7). In fact, the same reference was made at the beginning of this epistle (Hebrews 1:1-5). Jesus came into this world to do the work that His Father required of Him (John 4:34). That ties to another difference between Jesus and the priests that preceded Him in that office. The other priests were not the begotten sons of God. Jesus is the only begotten Son of God (John 1:1-18, John 3:16-18, and I John 4:9).
Jesus didn’t come into this world seeking the glory of men by holding some office among men (John 6:15). Jesus was not a glory seeker (John 7:15-18). Jesus taught this: “Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God” (John 8:54). Notice what Peter said about Jesus when he wrote about the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:1-13, and Luke 9:28-36) of Christ: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount” (II Peter 1:16-18).
After establishing that Jesus did not glorify Himself in taking over the office of the high priest, the Hebrew writer takes us back to the origin of the priesthood Jesus serves in. Unlike Aaron’s decedents, Jesus is a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. This is what He was called for (Hebrews 5:10). This appointment is forever (Hebrews 6:20). As we get further into this letter, we will examine the priesthood of Melchisedec a bit more in depth and the place of Jesus therein (Hebrews 7:1-17).
Having considered all of these things, we should have a great appreciation that Jesus came into this world in the flesh to be our High Priest. He understands what we go through. He isn’t in the office to occupy a seat. He is there because He was chosen to ever serve in that office. When we pray, we come to our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:17 and I Timothy 2:5). By Christ, we are able to come boldly before our Father (Hebrews 10:19-23). Take some time to consider and be thankful for that!
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