16 October 2017

Hebrews 5:1-10

"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered, and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek." (vv. 7-10)

Psalm: Psalm 104:1-23


These verses are often interpreted as referring to Jesus' experience in the Garden of Gethsemane before his trial and death (Matthew 26:36-46). Jesus prays that he might be released from the cruel death he suspects awaits him. So the writer of Hebrews is convinced that Jesus Christ is our great high priest for all eternity. This statement is made because the writer wants to remind us that Jesus is close to God and designated by him as a high priest and one who can take us into the presence of God.

The writer also wants to remind the readers that although Jesus following his death and resurrection now is seated 'at God's right hand' (Hebrews 1:3) he remains close to humanity because of the his experience of pain and sorrow, suffering yet without sin. Jesus knows what he knows because he has lived our life. 

Melchizedek is mentioned twice in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament). The first occurs in at Genesis 14:18-20 where Abraham's transfer of goods to Melchizedek is seen to imply that Melchizedek is superior to Abraham, in that Abraham is tithing to him. The second is in Psalm 110:4, in celebrating some victory or conquest of an unnamed king of the Davidic dynasty, the king is said to be "a priest forever" and a successor of Melchizedek. The writer here is claiming that Jesus is high priest forever and replaces the need for worship in the temple in Jerusalem. 

To Ponder

  • Do we ever need any help in order to approach God? Why?
  • How does Jesus being God's son help us to know God better?
  • To what extent does it help us to know that Jesus experienced pain and distress like us?

Bible notes author

Revd Helen Cameron

Helen Cameron is a Methodist presbyter and Chair of the Northampton District. Prior to this she was the Assistant Secretary of the Conference and Director of Methodist Formation at the Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in Birmingham.