World English Bible translation
5:1 For every high priest, being taken from among men, is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 5:2 The high priest can deal gently with those who are ignorant and going astray, because he himself is also surrounded with weakness. 5:3 Because of this, he must offer sacrifices for sins for the people, as well as for himself. 5:4 Nobody takes this honor on himself, but he is called by God, just like Aaron was.
This section of the Epistle to the Hebrews concerns itself with the qualifications of the high priest and how Jesus Christ is uniquely qualified to be the great high priest for the people of God. The author of this epistle has already written of the human nature of Jesus and how He shared our infirmities and temptations, yet without sin. He has already written that Jesus is our high priest. But, this author is methodical in his argumentation and his reasoning. Having stated that Jesus is our great high priest, he goes on to conclusively prove his point. In this way he seeks to persuade these Jewish Christians who were beginning to waver.
Today's Lesson is all about the duties of the earthly high priest. The first qualification to serve as high priest must be that the high priest must be a human being. His is an "appointment for men in things pertaining to God. He is man's representative. He offers to God the gifts and sacrifices that man must make for sin and he is qualified to do so first and foremost because he is a man just as those on whose behalf he stands. A high priest must be one of the many that he represents so that in representing them before God, he is also representing himself before God.
Because the high priest stands in the stead of human beings before God, he is weak in the same ways that they are weak. The majesty and power of God overshadows all men. The high priest is no exception. Because of this, when men are ignorant and lead themselves astray, the high priest can be gentle with them. A high priest will understand the ignorance of mankind in the ways of God.
Because he too is subject to the weaknesses of the flesh, the high priest must offer sacrifices for himself and his family before he can offer sacrifices for the sins of the people. Aaron first had to atone for his own sins before he stood before God as the representative of the people. Before standing before the holy God for another, the supplicant must first be acceptable as holy before God in his own right.
The last qualification for the earthly high priest, and perhaps the single most important qualification, is that the high priest must receive his calling from God. No one can appoint himself to be a true high priest before God. Many men, through hubris or through force of arms have tried to lay claim to the title, but only God can grant a man the power and authority of the true high priest.
This is because the high priest is not just the representative of man before God. The true high priest must also be the representative of God before man. He is appointed by men to represent them, but God calls him. The true high priest must have the faith and confidence of both man and God in order to fulfill his role and purpose. He must offer sacrifices and gifts for sin to God on man's behalf and he must be able to tell the people with God's own voice that their sins are forgiven.
Is there any other human being for which you have fulfilled the role of the priest in this sense? Is there any other human that you would trust to represent you before God?
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