Summary: Jesus could not be a priest under the Old Covenant because He was of the tribe of Judah. However, he has been made a High Priest under the order of Melchizedek.
THE AUTHOR OF ETERNAL SALVATION
You and I have a Great High Priest in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Out High Priest is superior to the Old Testament High Priest and the order of Aaron. In 5:1-4, we discover the qualifications of the high priest. First, he must be taken from among men (15:1a), Next, he must act for men in things pertaining to God (15:1b). He must be compassionate (2a). He must be aware of his own weakness (2b-3). Finally, He must be called(4).
Jesus was all these things but He was so much more. Jesus is our great high priest who came to act in our behalf. He is greater that Aaron’s priesthood. Aaron was the high priest under the Old Covenant. He was from the tribe of Levi. Jesus could not be a priest under the Old Covenant because He was of the tribe of Judah. However, he has been made a High Priest under the order of Melchizedek. (More about this in chapter 7).
As we think about Jesus as our great High Priest I want you to Consider with me:
I. HIS CALLING (5-6)
Aaron also was called, but Jesus was called from a different line from Aaron. Jesus was of the tribe of Judah rather than Levi. Note that Christ “glorified not himself to be made an high priest.” He did not appoint himself. His total concern was in doing the complete will of the Father.
He received His office as High Priest from the Father. Verse 5 quotes Psalm 2:7. Jesus is the very Son of God, begotten of God. He was fully God and fully man. However, this verse may be a reference to the victory of Jesus over the grave.
Verse 6: Jesus is an eternal high priest. Aaron served but then he died. Elieazer, his son served in his stead. However, Jesus is an eternal High priest who ministers for us in heaven. Aaron was an earthly high priest. Jesus is a heavenly high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
See 7:1-3: The High Priestly role of Jesus has never ended and his sacrifice has eternal results.
II. HIS SUFFERING (7)
This verse reflects the experience of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. (SEE Mt. 26:36-46. Luke describes the agony of Jesus in Gethsemane. “And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly, and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Gethsemane was a place of sorrow, of prayer, of surrender, and of victory. I’ll never forget the time several of us knelt around the Rock of Agony and meditated on what Jesus went through in that place. As we stood up, I commented to a friend with me, “there is where the victory was won.”
Note the Jesus prayed to “Him who was able to save him from death.” Note also the content of his prayer in Gethsemane. He prayed, “Not my will, Thine be done.”
He was heard because of his “reverent fear.” He was not saved from death but saved out of death in the resurrection.
III. HIS OBEDIENCE (8)
Jesus learned obedience. It was not that he had ever been disobedient. He was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin (4:15).
Jesus was called to obey to an extent he had never experienced before on the cross. Phil 2:8 says, “He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
It is one thing to say one is ready to obey to the death. It is another thing altogether to actually do it. Jesus was not only ready obey. He actually did go to the cross.
Peter had boasted that he would be lay down his life for Jesus. However, when the chips were down he denied that he even knew Jesus. Jesus, however, willingly laid down his life on the cross. It was not the Jews, or the Romans, or even us that put Jesus on the cross. Of course we all had a part. God have His Son to die for us. Jesus willingly laid down His life for us. Jesus said, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life- only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18).
IV. HIS PERFECTION
Because of His reverent submission and his obedience, he became the perfect sacrifice for our sins. The word “perfect” or “made perfect” is not to be thought of in a moral sense for Jesus was perfect. But by submitting himself to the cross, he perfected our salvation. He completed to the fullest extent his mission, the work of redemption.