Read Hebrews 5:1-10. What is the role of the priesthood and, according to this passage, how does Jesus fulfill that role?
The basic purpose of the Levitical priesthood was to mediate between sinful people and God. Priests were appointed by God in order to minister in behalf of human beings; therefore, they needed to be merciful and understanding of human weaknesses.
There are some important differences, however. Jesus was not “chosen from among men” (Hebrews 5:1, ESV). Instead, Jesus adopted human nature in order, among other things, to serve as a priest in our behalf. Jesus did not offer sacrifices for His own sins (Hebrews 5:3) but only for our sins, because He was sinless (Hebrews 4:15, Hebrews 7:26-28).
Hebrews says that Jesus prayed “to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard” (Hebrews 5:7, NKJV). Hebrews was referring to the second death, from which God saved Jesus when He resurrected Him (Hebrews 13:20). Hebrews also says that Jesus “learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8, ESV). Obedience was new to Jesus, not because He was disobedient but because He was God. As sovereign over the universe, Jesus did not obey anyone; instead, everyone obeyed Him.
Jesus’ sufferings and death on the cross are an essential part of His priestly ministry. Sufferings did not perfect Jesus in the sense that He improved morally or ethically. Sufferings did not make Him merciful. To the contrary, Jesus came to this earth because He always was merciful, which is why He had compassion on us (Hebrews 2:17). What Hebrews means is that it was through sufferings that the reality of Jesus’ brotherly love, the authenticity of His human nature, and the depth of His submission as representative of humanity to the will of the Father were truly expressed and revealed. He was “perfected” in the sense that His sufferings qualified Him to be our High Priest. It was His life of perfect obedience, and then His death on the cross, which constitute the sacrificial offering that Jesus presented before the Father as our priest.
|1 Peter 2:9 says that we are “a royal priesthood.” What does Jesus’ life tell you that your relationship with other human beings should be because we are in this sacred role?|