For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. 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”;
as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”
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. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:1-10 ESV)
The writer of Hebrews teaches us about what a priest is. He “acts on behalf of men in relation to God.” In other words, represents men before God. Priests in the OT brought the sacrifices of men to God. They slaughtered them, laid them on the alter and burned them. They were especially appropriate to the task (as opposed to angels) because they had heir own sin, their own weaknesses, so that they sympathized with those whom they represented. It is also important to note that no one takes this honor on himself but is appointed by God for the task. Jesus, of course, is the true high priest as he offered the true sacrifice that would in actuality pay the debt.
What strikes me about this passage is the nature of a priest in light of the fact that Jesus’ work makes the church into “a kingdom of priests.” Those who belong to Christ are to be priests, standing before God on behalf of men. You are to plead for your friends and neighbors and those in your city, sacrificing your time and, of necessary, other treasures in order to be a blessing to them. Note too that no one takes on this honor (of being a Christian) for himself but must be appointed by God for the task. Did you know that if you are a Christian it is not because you asked Jesus into your life (that may have been the means but it wasn’t the cause), but because God appointed you to belong to him? That is very important to remember!
Do you ever act as a priest for others? How so?
Thank God for his appointment to be a Christian and consequently a priest and ask him for help to do that.
McCheyne’s reading plan: 2 Ki 23, He 5, Jo 2, Ps 78