Tuesday 24 March 2015

Bible Book:

“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)

Hebrews 5:5-10 Tuesday 24 March 2015

Psalm: Psalm 129


This passage from Hebrews 5 seems almost enigmatic when readapart from Hebrews5:1-4. The central section of the chapter, describing Christ asa high priest, builds directly on the verses that precede it. In Hebrews 5:1 the author states that high priestsare chosen from among human beings to look after the things of God.The text goes on in remaining verses to argue that when the highpriest offers sacrifices on behalf of the people, he is alsooffering a sacrifice for his own weaknesses.

 The imagery here refers to the high priest in the Templein Jerusalem, who offered sacrifices for the sins of the people andfor his own sins. The high priest was believed to stand in thedescending line from Aaron, the brother of Moses, who was chosenfor this role in Exodus (Exodus28:1). The imagery also refers to a system of sacrificialatonement. Sacrifices were made in the Temple for particular ritualneeds in order to restore purity. One might remember the offeringof two turtledoves that Mary and Joseph brought to the Temple whenJesus was presented for circumcision (Luke2:24). This sacrifice would redeem Mary, who was consideredritually unclean after giving birth. On high holy days, the highpriest would offer sacrifices to God on behalf of the whole nation.Again, one might think of references in the Gospels to the day ofpurification during Passover when the unblemished lambs weresacrificed for the sake of the people (Mark14:12; Luke 22:7).

Hebrews refers to Christ as a high priest, appointed by God forthe role of offering sacrifice. The Son is incarnate in JesusChrist for this purpose, of being a priest forever. Instead ofoffering sacrifices of other creatures, he offers himself. Throughhis prayers, tears, cries, and suffering, he becomes the source ofsalvation for all who obey him.

There are brief mentions here of Melchizedek. These are largelyquotes from Psalm 110:4. The figure of Melchizedek from thestories of Abraham in Genesis (Genesis 14:18) is somewhat of a mystery. Hisname means 'King of Righteousness.' In Jewish apocalypticliterature, such as the Second Book of Enoch, he is a figure whowill announce the Day of Atonement and prepare the people forjudgement. In some Jewish rabbinical traditions, he is born from avirgin mother. In other traditions there is a suggestion that hehas eternal life. Hebrews mentions Melchizedek several times (Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6: 20; 7: 1, 10, 11, 15, 17)in reference to Christ, who is the holy and eternal high priest.The mention of Melchizedek is likely meant to emphasise the eternalquality of Christ's sacrificial priesthood.

To Ponder

  • What impact do references to Christ's sacrifice have onyou?
  • How do you handle unfamiliar phrases, such as "the order ofMelchizedek", when they appear in a biblical text?


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