Wednesday, May 28, 2014
In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 5:1-10
The author continues to make the case that Jesus is worth placing our trust in.
In these verses, the attributes of a high priest are provided. He is a human who facilitates relationship between humanity and God by way of gifts offered to God and sacrifices for sin. He can patiently relate to the people he serves because he is one of them and struggles with sin just like they do.
The downside is that the high priest has his own sins to confront and deal with in the presence of God, which we can imagine prevents him from being the best possible mediator between humanity and God. The role of high priest was also not meant to be assigned by men (as was wrongly being done at the time Hebrews was written). It was meant to be assigned by God himself, as it originally was with the first high priest, Aaron. (See Exodus 29:9)
The author now begins to describe both the sufficiency and superiority of Christ as ultimate high priest.
As was originally intended, Jesus did not nominate himself to be high priest, but was appointed to be high priest by God the Father. This is spoken of prophetically in Psalms 2 and 110, which are quoted here. Both Psalms describe the promotion or "exaltation" of God the Son. We also learn here that, unlike the priesthood of others who eventually die, the priesthood of Jesus lasts forever. He is our ultimate high priest still today!
If you're curious about Melchizedek, and what it means for Jesus to be priest "in the order of Melchizedek", we'll take a look at this interesting person in Hebrews chapter 7. For now you're welcome to read his brief story in Genesis 14.
Jesus was human in the best and highest sense of the word. Human in the way humanity was always made to be. He made humble requests to God rather than demands of presumed entitlement. Yet his relationship with God the Father was not a stoic and reserved one, emotionally removed from his circumstances. His relationship with The Father involved "loud cries and tears". And his prayers were given consideration by God the Father because of the proper place that Jesus gave the Father in his life.
Even though Jesus was the unique, "firstborn" son of God, with all the rights and inheritance that comes with that title, he did not have an attitude of entitlement, nor did he automatically find everything easy in life. He learned what it truly means to obey through ongoing pain and suffering.
We often describe Jesus as being "perfect", and so it's worth mentioning that the Greek word for "perfect" in verse 9 might be better translated "complete, or brought to completion". Jesus did not start out as morally imperfect and then become perfect later. He was morally perfect from the beginning. Rather, his ability to become "the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him" was made complete through his suffering on earth. It was through his suffering that God designated him a high priest that is patterned after the priest Melchizedek.
Jesus not only offers "rescue"(salvation), but "eternal rescue". The Greek word for eternal often refers to a future age of time to come, but is also used to mean "without beginning or end". Jesus provides rescue, repair and reconciliation for every wrong in our past, present and future, without limit. And he provides this limitless rescue to all who listen and respond to him (the meaning of the Greek word for "obey" in verse 9).
I've recently been reminded that my relationship with God is much more tangible when I stop trying to be who I think I'm supposed to be during my time alone with God and just spend that time being myself, with all the mess and dysfunction that comes with that kind of solitary conversation. "Loud cries and tears" never used to be a part of my time with God. And while not frequent, they are much more common now than they once were.
I notice that many of us geeks highly value intelligence and emotional control. And these are good traits the world could use more of! But we can assign them so much value that we become coldly analytical, prideful and impersonal, both with others and in our time intended for God.
By contrast, Jesus had greater insight than any person in history, yet he was humble, feeling no sense of entitlement. He also regularly dumped his emotions on the table with God the Father, yelling and crying.
These attributes didn't make Jesus foolish or take away his dignity. They made him more useful to God's agenda. And I believe they can do the same for us, too.