…and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 5, verse 10.
Still holding off a few more days in talking fully about Melchizidek, although, as you know, we’ve already said a few things about him. Yet consider the context of why the author of Hebrews says this phrase again, mentioning this (today) obscure figure from Biblical history. In doing so, I think you might reach a particular conclusion.
The reason why he keeps mentioning Melchizidek is because being that high priest was Jesus’ primary mission here.
But think about it. Yes, Jesus came to save us from ourselves, to forgive all of our sins so as to restore the relationship He intended for mankind. Yes, Jesus was the only person in all of human history who could do that very thing. Yes, Jesus taught many things that are brilliant life lessons for us here even today.
It’s because He was our real high priest.
Priests are intermediaries between people and God. They’re called servants whose calling and vocation is to be God’s heralds in the world. Pastors and priests proclaim Jesus’ good news by the lives they lead, the words they speak, the actions they take. They are Jesus’ representatives here; a special elect who intercede for people with God. Pastor’s carry out church justice, minister to souls, interpret all things Biblical and Godly for those not uniquely called or religiously trained.
But their primary role is that intercession role. In this way, priests and pastors are not unlike lawyers, equipped and educated to take matters to and from God on our behalf. It’s not that they have a special relationship with God that others can’t have. But it is that priests and pastors have that calling, equipped with ecclesiastical education, that prepares them to interpret God’s word to and for us, and to minister, rebuke, praise, and correct as we all walk along our sinful paths through life.
They learned it from Jesus. It’s what Jesus does for us now, sitting at the right hand of the Father in heaven, interceding for us. God the Father demands holiness from us. It was how He created us to be, and He loves us enough to respect our choices even when we’ve chosen paths that take us away from Him. Every time a contemplation of the justice we deserve crosses the mind of the Father, there’s Jesus right beside Him, in union with Him, whispering, “have mercy once again, Abba. They made a mistake.” God’s Spirit moves our hearts to repent; God’s Spirit communicates the love of the Father and Son to us, reminding us to repent, and remembering our sins no more.
Sounds like what a priest does.
The Apostle Peter was a burly, brusque man, used to hard manual labor and worldly ways. And yet Simon Peter was the man who Jesus chose to lead the church after Jesus ascended back home. Peter wasn’t formally trained for the job, though he had learned everything He would need to know about the faith directly from the face of the Savior. But it probably wasn’t the life Peter imagined for himself during those long days and nights spent fishing in the years before he met the Christ. Our pastors and priests today have university degrees, often learning to speak Latin, Hebrew, and Greek so that they might study original versions of Scriptures. Even back in Biblical days, the priests in the temples and synagogues were rabbinically trained, spending years under the tutelage of senior rabbis. None of that was available to Peter. He had to learn things as he went. Peter didn’t envision founding what became the Roman Catholic church – and Christianity – but that’s what he and his compatriots did. Doing so eventually cost him everything.
Yet Peter did it willingly. He and the other Apostles founded practices and bases that we still use in worship today. Peter was the first pope, the fisherman and fisher-of-men in whose traditional shoes every pope, priest and pastor have since walked their call. And Peter modeled his behavior on that of his Savior, brother, and friend, Jesus. He did so because he understood that Jesus was our true high priest.
For more reading: Hebrews 2:17.
Lord Jesus, thank You for being the true priest and pastor. Thank You for interceding for me, for ministering to me, for Your mercy and Your grace, and for all You do.