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 honour 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.
Comment: The initial point made is that a Jewish High Priest was chosen, a man, a sinner, by God. Initially, through Moses, Aaron of the tribe of Levi was appointed. After Aaron by a hierarchical line God appointed the ensuing High Priests. People didn’t nominate themselves, God was in control. Because they were imperfect men they could surely sympathise with people who came to them seeking God, and perform their sacrificial duties on people’s behalf as well as for themselves.
Jesus was not a Levite. As this passage states Jesus was a direct appointee to the position by God. God the Father claims the human (God-man) Jesus as His Son and appoints Him for ever a priest after the order, not of Levi, but Melchizedek. Not much is known about Melchizedek except that he walks across the pages of scripture in the time of Abraham. His outstanding feature is that historically he had no beginning and no end. This is the aspect emphasized here about the Jesus-Priest . His priesthood is for ever!
Having been obedient through a very testing life Jesus, not sinning or failing the testing, was made the perfect one to be not only the High Priest but also the sacrifice which was offered for sinners. This is dealt with much more fully in the following chapters. The author highlights that Jesus is the Source of Eternal Salvation to those who believe in Him. It is interesting to note that the word ‘believe’ in English and Greek are not quite the same. In English ‘believe’ is a head word. A conviction that it is true. In Greek, it is a life changing word – having accepted something as true you act on that truth.
Prayer: Help me to grapple with this not easy, but very significant passage, please.