Lesson 14

The Epistle to the Hebrews

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

5:5 So also Christ didn't glorify himself to be made a high priest, but it was he who said to him,

 "You are my Son.
      Today I have become your father."

5:6 As he says also in another place,

 "You are a priest forever,
      After the order of Melchizedek."

5:7 He, in the days of his flesh, having offered up prayers and petitions with strong crying and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and having been heard for his godly fear, 5:8 though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered. 5:9 Having been made perfect, he became to all of those who obey him the author of eternal salvation, 5:10 named by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Today's Lesson  

This section of the Epistle to the Hebrews concerns itself with the priesthood of Jesus Christ. It is the premise of the author that Jesus Christ has been appointed by God to be The Great High Priest over all His people. Jesus is the one person in all history who is uniquely qualified to fulfill this role. The author has already gone into the qualifications of a high priest. A high priest must be a human who can share the sufferings and temptations of the people for whom he must serve because he is one of them. In effect, a high priest must be chosen by men because they can trust that he will intercede with them in their needs before God. And, as a second qualification, a high priest must be chosen by God. A high priest represents God before man and represents man before God.


So, how do these qualifications relate to Jesus? The author deals with the last of these qualifications first. Jesus is qualified to be a high priest because God appointed him. In this, as in most of the lines of reasoning in this letter, the author turns to Scripture. He quotes two Old Testament passages that the early church readily applied to Jesus. The first passage refers to when Jesus was "appointed" as a Son to His Father and the second refers to when Jesus was "appointed" as a priest forever.


Neither of these passages are meant to be construed as meaning that there was a time when Jesus was not either Son or priest. Jesus was, and is, forever eternally the unique Son of God. By implication, He is also forever and eternally a priest before God. But, there was a particular point in the time of this world when Jesus was acknowledged and appointed as both Son and priest. That point came when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist. The Father placed His seal of approval on the person and ministry of Jesus that day, confirming Him to the Baptist. Other people came to John repenting of their sin. Jesus came, not to repent of His own sin, but to be counted among sinners and to accept His own identification with those who would repent. And God set His seal upon this act; "You are my Son. Today I have become your Father."


Jesus also suffered trial and temptation in the flesh, identifying Himself with humankind. The author not only writes that Jesus suffered in the flesh, he writes that Jesus "learned obedience by the things which He suffered." How is it that the Son of God might learn obedience? How is it the One who is the image of God might be made perfect? Jesus learned obedience and was made perfect because He fulfilled the will of the Father, as a Son should. It is one thing to desire to do the will of the Father and quite another to actually do the will of the Father. Jesus did the will of the Father; always doing what the Father instructed Him to do. He was made perfect from actually accomplishing that which had been given Him to do. He "learned" in the same sense that a man will "learn" from actually doing that which before hand he had only understood intellectually. I may know how to assemble something by reading the instructions. I "learn" from actually putting it together. I did not learn anything "new" in the assembly, but I experience the sense of learning from fulfilling in reality that which had only previously been potential.


In this way Jesus is qualified to be a high priest. He is acceptable to man by having experienced in the flesh the same sufferings and temptations that we experience. He learned through His obedience just as we must. He is acceptable to God because God has placed His seal on His life and ministry, foreshadowed at His baptism and finally, completely at His resurrection. Because of this, Jesus was named "by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek." About this Melchizedek we will speak of at length in future lessons.


Are you ready to be made perfect through obedience through the Father. Are you ready to accept the hardships of this challenge?


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