A Better Priest
And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek, …” [Hebrews 5:9-10]
Jesus the Son, better than the prophets [Heb 1:1-3], has “become so much better than the angels” [Heb 1:4-2:18]; “has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses” [Heb 3:1-19]; and brings us into a greater rest, even greater than that of Joshua [Heb 4:1-3]. As we’ve seen thus far in our study of Hebrews, the Son is better, greater, higher, and superior to all others.
This morning we will begin to unfold the section on Jesus as our Great High Priest, who is better than Aaron. Now remember that the original audience of this letter is Jewish Christians. The proclamation, better than Moses [ref. Heb 3:3] and better than Joshua [ref. Heb 4:8] would no doubt get their attention. But now in chapters 5-6 the writer teaches that Jesus is better than Aaron, Israel’s first high priest. “And having been perfected, He became author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest ‘according to the order of Melchizedek.’” In short, Jesus is a High Priest of an entirely higher order.
Now, these Jewish readers must be asking, “how can this be?” That is why Psalm 110:4 is quoted from their own scriptures, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
There is much to say and discuss [and debate] about Melchizedek. Who is he? Where does he come from? And why did Abraham pay him a tithe [ref. Gen 14:18-20]? We will get into this a little bit this morning, but we must be careful not to allow our intrigue with Melchizedek divert us from the key themes of the letter, which are (1) spiritual maturity; and (2) entering into the Holy of Holies. It is this latter point for which Jesus, our Great High Priest, has come. Just as Aaron went in behind the veil in the earthly tabernacle; so, too, Jesus enters behind the veil in the heavenly tabernacle.
So you can see the progression into the Holy of Holies, which is key. Jesus, our Great High Priest, is the One through whom we enter. He is the Mediator of the new covenant. Just as Aaron was the go-between for Holy God and sinful Israel in the earthly tabernacle, so too is Jesus the go-between for Holy God and sinful man in the heavenly tabernacle.
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” [Heb 4:15]