Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Hebrews, Chapter 5

Today's lesson involves a bit of history as the author of Hebrews works to tie in the tradition of the high priest in Jewish cultures with the work that Christ did while on earth. As we read through the first few verses on this topic we can see how flawed the old system of having one high priest that can atone for the sins of a people was. Here was a guy (the high priest) that no matter how hard he worked and how pure he tried to make himself, he was still human. He still needed to account for his own sins and make sacrifices on his own behalf. Even though he was chosen by God for the role that he served he still fell short of the glory needed to truly atone for sins.

"1Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was." – Hebrews 5:1-4

Even today those among the respective clergy are imperfect and prone to weakness. The pastor at my own church has a weakness for NASCAR, but I'll forgive him for it (sorry, it was too easy). What we see in the next few verses though is that even though Christ was perfect, the only perfect man that ever lived, He still had to be called by God to fill His role. He was made perfect in his willingness to sacrifice Himself and even though He washed away the old system, it still existed in a new form because he was now the high priest and mediator for us before God.

"8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek." – Hebrews 5:8-10

His suffering served a purpose because it explained to us in our own terms what it meant to obey. This guy is the son of God. He easily could have walked down off the cross feeling no worse for wear but He instead took his mantle of suffered and obeyed the Father. Because of this he can now enter the Most Holy Place at any time for any of us on our behalf. He sets forth and example of obedience that we must learn to follow, as He submitted to the will of the Father in the face of an enormous amount of pain and torture.

The final part of this brief chapter deals a warning against falling away from God and how we can prepare our hearts against this. When we are new to the faith we can get by with being taught the elementary truths of the Word; that is the milk referred to here at the end of the chapter. As we grow in our faith however we must get deeper into the word. We have matured beyond the point of needing mere milk to needing the meat of the word in order to survive spiritually. Until we get into the word and receive the spiritual nourishment that it provides our growth is stunted, because we can only be hand-fed the truth for so long. It is our responsibility then as mature being to seek out the truth on our own and learn from it. This is why I encourage you to read beyond the verses I post here and find the rest for yourselves.


  1. What role did the high priest play for the Israelites?
  2. Why is it that even Christ, who was greater than all men, still needed to learn obedience?
  3. How can not growing spiritually by studying the Word of God cause us to fall away?

No comments: