Suffering Along With Us
5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,
“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;
6 as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8 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, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
Church history is full of people approaching God in different ways. Reverence and awe is interpreted culturally, so one dude is regarded as so pious because he walked through the snow to get to church. Another guy prayed while kneeling on dry rice. Priests’ and pastors’ clothing and architecture continue to change to reflect how we want people to draw near to God.
An even better display than all of that, though, is how God changed in order to approach us. Now I know what you’re thinking, the Bible says that God doesn’t change, so I’m committing heresy. Before you go get your gas can, hear me out.
We have just celebrated Christmas, when Jesus was born in difficult circumstances but welcomed and praised by angels. His family was displaced and oppressed by the government. His extended family would suffer a lot in the years after His birth.
He was a little, tiny, snuggly, cooing, cute, baby.
On His path to the cross, He put off all of His divine power and was just a man. Whatever power He had was the power of God the Father that was given to Him as a man – sometimes even temporarily for only for the specific moment or setting.
He suffered grief, temptation, physical pain, weakness, fatigue, and even some disagreement with God the Father! In all of that, He continued to be faithful in obeying God’s direction and commands.
Because He did all of that, He became the perfect priest. You have to remember, our modern-day term for priest was developed out of Roman government and culture in the 200s AD. When the writer of Hebrews talks about priests, they are talking about Levitical priests. They had to be sons of Aaron and had all kinds of sacrifices to offer.
Hebrews goes back before all of that to Abraham. Melchizedek didn’t perform any sacrifices, but simply blessed Abraham. We don’t get a lot of details, but as the Prince of Salem (or Peace!), Melchizedek was the first priest of the Most High God that Abraham met. Something about him moved Abraham so much that Abraham gave a ton of his wealth (10% after slaughtering about 9 armies) to Melchizedek.
Christ is all of those priests wrapped into one man. He has come to be with us. He has suffered with us. And now that the sacrificing is done and complete, His activity is to bless and be in friendship with us.
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