Summary: Christ is superior in His priesthood because of His ministry
“CHRIST: THE BETTER PRIEST”
August 31, 2008
Pastor John L. Harper
Warden Assembly of God
Introduction: “The painting of Lucretia”
Back in the 17th century, the Dutch artist Rembrandt painted two portraits of a famous Roman heroine named Lucretia. One portrait was painted in the year 1664. Two years later, he painted a second portrait of Lucretia in a different pose. For over 300 years, the two paintings were never seen together. Different private collectors owned one or the other of the paintings.
They were two paintings of the same person, painted by the same master, but no one was aware of their connection … until 1991. At last, the two paintings were displayed side by side where they could be compared.
In a similar way, the portraits of Melchizedek and Jesus Christ had never been compared until the 7th chapter of Hebrews. Ever since Abraham encountered the mysterious Priest called Melchizedek, his name was held as a masterpiece of God.
Over 2000 years later, another masterpiece appeared in the form of Jesus Christ. In Hebrews chapter 7, the two portraits are finally displayed together and we see an amazing similarity.
I. A PRIEST HOOD WITHOUT END (vs. 1-3)
A. Melchizedek, King of Salem
1. High Priest of God
2. Met Abraham after the slaughter of the kings
B. Melchizedek, received tithes from Abraham
1. Abraham gave a tenth of all
2. He gave to the “King of Righteousness” or “King of Peace”
“Righteousness” refers to the moral character, attitude, and behavior of our Lord. Jesus Christ alone incarnated righteousness. He is declared to be “the Righteous One” (I John 2:1) Michael Blankenship
“King of Salem,” is explained to mean “king of peace.” The ancient city of Jerusalem was likely the place referred to in this title of Melchizedek. There he exercised a godly rule and the city was blessed with peace. But his title was simply a shadow of the lasting, eternal peace that comes through Jesus Christ. Isaiah prophesied that He would be called, “the Prince of peace” (9:6). Paul declared Christ to be our peace who through His own death delivered us from being at enmity with God (Eph. 2:14-16). The need for peace has never changed. Circumstances may be different, but the struggle of humanity to live at peace with God has existed since Adam. It is only through the justification that is in Christ, received by faith, that “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).
Let’s go back to our first century audience for a moment. All of life was coming unglued for them. Threatened by persecution on one hand, and fear of having embraced the wrong religion on the other, they were distraught and needed assurance. The entire Epistle breathes an air of assurance for these embattled saints. They could count on the reign of Jesus Christ to be righteous. He would exercise his rule in demonstration of the perfections of his character. And they could count on the rule of Christ over their lives eventuating in peace. Their peace was threatened. So this pastoral writer uses the shadow of the ancient Melchizedek to show them the substance of Jesus Christ as their king of peace. Michael Blankenship
Illustration: Statistics on peace
A group of academics and historians has compiled this startling information: since 3600 B. C., the world has known only 292 years of peace! During this period there have been 14,351 wars large and small, in which 3,640,000,000 people have been killed. The
value of the property destroyed is equal to a golden belt around the world 97.2 miles wide and 33 feet thick. Since 650 B. C., there have also been 1,656 arms races, only 16 of which have not ended in war. The remainder ended in the economic collapse of the countries involved.
Over 3,000 American Servicemen and Servicewomen to date have perished in the War in Iraq. World peace continues to elude us. Is there any hope it will ever become a reality?
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow felt the same hopeless despair during Christmas of 1863 when our Nation was in the midst of Civil War and he penned his poem that became our Christmas Carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” He laments in stanza three: And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth,” I said, “For hate is strong, and mocks the song Of peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
But his despair quickly turns to hope as he receives divine assurance in stanza four: Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
C. Melchizedek, a priest forever
1. He was without mother or father (He was meant to be elevated above common man) It means one who is eternal