Going Deeper 03.18.2021

The second reading for Lent 5... Hebrews 5:5-10

So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest but was appointed by the one 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, according to the order of Melchizedek.” 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.

Like the book of Hebrews in general, this is a challenging text!  Specifically, what is this reference to a rather obscure Old Testament figure, Melchizedek, all about?  Once again, it is all about context!  (The following is a summary of what scholar N.T. Wright included in a sermon on Hebrews)

The author (unknown) of Hebrews is building a broad description of Jesus.  In chapter 1, He is described as superior to the angels, while chapter 2 emphasizes that Jesus is at the same time fully human.  In chapters 3 and 4, Jesus is depicted as the true Joshua (same name as "Jesus" in Hebrew and Greek), the one who leads God's people into their true "promised land."  

In chapters 5, 6, 7 the theme shifts to understanding Jesus and the true High Priest, the one who intercedes and offers sacrifice on behalf of the people.  However, as Jesus was of the line of David, His priestly lineage needs to be understood as above and beyond that of the Jewish high priests.  Like the mysterious Melchizedek, Jesus is "a priest forever," whose priesthood is not based on ancestry but on the call of God alone.

What is the value for us in trying to understand all of this?  Jesus is the real deal, the full package!  As a matter of fact, Jesus is so complex that we cannot fully comprehend everything about Him, and yet at the same time, and at the very heart of it all, is the truth that Jesus is both fully human (able to relate to us) and fully divine (capable of saving us).  And the amazing love of Jesus is what fueled His entire mission.

With You in His Love,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"