Final Thoughts on Hebrews 5:1-11
For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek”; who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 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,” of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. NKJV
Hebrews was written to the Jews to show them that Jesus is the Messiah, and as such, is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament ceremonial laws including the establishment of the high priesthood. In our text, we are given a three-fold portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, Jesus was appointed by God the Father as the believer’s high priest (vs. 1-4). The high priest had to be a man (v. 1). No other created creature could serve as high priest—neither angel, nor animal—he had to be human. In the person of Jesus, God became a man (Jn. 1:14, Phil. 2:5-8). As sinners, the Old Testament high priests first offered up sacrifices for their own sins before offering up sacrifices for the peoples’ sins (vs. 2-3). Because the high priest himself was a sinner, he was unsuitable as a satisfactory, substitutionary sacrifice to pay for the sins of others. God solved this problem by becoming a man Himself, and living a perfect, sinless life in the person of Jesus, so that He was able to go to the cross and become the perfect sacrifice for our sins (Heb. 4:15, II Cor. 5:21). No man could legitimately appoint himself as high priest (v. 4). Only God could appoint a legitimate high priest, and that is exactly what God the Father did in appointing the Lord Jesus Christ as high priest (vs. 5-6, 10-11).
Second, Jesus was approved as the Savior and High Priest through His suffering and perfect obedience (vs. 7-9). In verse seven, the word “from” is translated from the Greek word “ek,” which literally means “from out of the midst of.” Jesus’ prayer was not for His heavenly Father to “keep” Him from dying, but rather to raise Him “out of the midst of” death. God the Father answered Jesus’ prayer by raising Him from the dead (Psa. 16:9-11, Acts 2:24-32). We are told in verse 8 of our text that Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered. It’s easy to obey authority when it doesn’t cost anything to obey, or if it’s something we want to do anyway. But real obedience is learned by doing that which does cost, or by doing that which we do not want to do.
Third, Jesus was anointed King as well as High Priest. In the Old Testament, God anointed some men as priests and others as kings, but no one was ever anointed by God as both priest and king—with one exception; a man named Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18-20, Heb. 7:1-4). God declares that Jesus is a high priest after the order (arrangement or pattern) of Melchizedek (vs. 6, 10), because God the Father has not only appointed Jesus to be High Priest, but to be King as well. In fact, in Jesus, you have all three anointed offices, prophet, priest, and king, in one person. Jesus began His public ministry as a prophet, speaking by direct revelation from God (Heb. 1:2). He concluded His public ministry as a high priest when He offered up the perfect sacrifice for our sins, and He still continues in that ministry of High Priest where He stands at the right hand of God the Father, offering eternal intercession for all believers. Jesus also sets at the right hand of God the Father, having been anointed as King (Lit. King of Kings = I Tim. 6:15, Rev. 19:16), and one day He will return and reign visibly and gloriously over all the nations of the world (Eph. 1:20-22, Matt. 28:18, Psa. 2:6, Isa. 32:1, Zech. 9:10). The scripture declares that every knee will bow, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord (Lit. Master, Boss, the Sovereign Ruler of all creation) to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:9-11).
We all have two choices in life. We can either accept Jesus as our personal High Priest and Savior, and willingly serve Him as our King, and reap eternal blessings and joy as a result. Or we can reject Jesus as our personal High Priest and Savior, and stand before Him some day as our King and Judge, and reap the eternal torments of Hell as a result. But either way, He will be exalted as King.