Hebrews 5 Devotional
By Pastor Lawrence
The author of Hebrews has already explained that Jesus is our great, sinless, and sympathetic high priest. But some of those coming from a Jewish background were tempted to go back to Judaism seeking the help of an ordinary human priest instead of Christ in order to avoid persecution, and some began questioning whether or not Jesus could even serve as a high priest given the fact that he didn’t come from the lineage of Aaron, which was the only family from which every high priest in Israel had come. So the author is pointing out here in chapter five how Jesus is qualified to serve as our high priest.
First, he is qualified to serve as our high priest because he is the perfect mediator between God and men being able to lay a hand upon us both. In v.1 the author says, “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God…” In order to represent men, the high priest needed to be of the same nature as man, so that he could adequately present his offerings and prayers unto the Lord. But he also needed to be able to approach a holy God, and he could do this without performing any ceremonial cleansing rites on his own behalf since he is always perfect in righteousness and holiness.
Second, he is qualified to serve as our high priest because of his divine appointment by His Father. The author stresses this truth again and again in this passage. In v.1, he states that every high priest is chosen and appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God. Then, in v.4 he says, “And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.” If you remember, after the Lord had called Aaron to serve as the high priest, he commanded Moses to gather all the people together so that they could see his ordination and purification ceremony decking him out with holy garments so that all God’s people might know that the Lord had set him apart for this very important ministry. Because the office of high priest was never open to volunteers, one had to be appointed by God. But unlike Aaron’s descendants who were appointed according to their birthright but only until their time of death, Jesus was appointed directly from heaven to serve forever as our great high priest.
Then, third, Jesus is qualified to serve as our high priest because of His Ability to Gain a Hearing in Heaven. Back in v.1, we are told that ‘every high priest who was appointed by God had to come before God offering gifts and sacrifices for sins in order to gain a hearing with God.” Then, in v.3 the author states that because the priest is beset with weakness, “he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.” But notice, in v.7, that Jesus did not offer any gifts or sacrifices on his own behalf unto God, but instead, we are told that he “offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” So, unlike Aaron who gained a hearing with God only by the substitutionary shedding of blood, Jesus gained a hearing through his own reverence or piety.
Because Jesus is both God and man, because he is divinely appointed to serve as our high priest forever, and because he will always gain a hearing from God for us through his own righteous deeds, we are assured that God will hear our prayers as well, that we will always be welcome in the house of the Lord and that the Lord will not draw away from us in horror because of our sins, since Jesus has already made atonement for them forever. All these assurances should make the Christian who trusts in Jesus very bold and confident in his approach to God regardless of the weightiness and oppression of his sins.