Hebrews 5:1-10 (NLT)
Every high priest is a man chosen to represent other people in their dealings with God. He presents their gifts to God and offers sacrifices for their sins. 2 And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses. 3 That is why he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as theirs. 4 And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was. 5 That is why Christ did not honor himself by assuming he could become High Priest. No, he was chosen by God, who said to him, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.” 6 And in another passage God said to him, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” 7 While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. 8 Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. 9 In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. 10 And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
V1, The first qualification of the Aaronic priest was that he had to be chosen from among men. In other words, he had to be a man himself.
He was appointed to act for men in relation to God. He belonged to a special caste of men who served as intermediaries between men and God. One of his principal functions was to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. Gifts refer to any offerings that were presented to God. Sacrifices refer to those special offerings in which blood was shed as atonement for sins.
V2, He had to have compassion on human frailty and to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward. His own frail flesh equipped him to understand the problems his people were facing.
The reference in this verse to the ignorant and wayward is a reminder that the sacrifices in the OT were for sins not done willfully. No provision was made in the law for deliberate sin.
V4, The office of priest was not something that men chose as a vocation. They had to be called to the work by God, just as Aaron was. God’s call was limited to Aaron and his descendants. No one outside that family could serve in the tabernacle or the temple.
V5, The writer now turns to Christ and demonstrates His fitness as a priest because of His divine appointment, His manifest humanity, and His acquired qualifications.
As to His appointment, its source was God Himself. It was a sovereign call, having nothing to do with human genealogy. It involved a better relationship than any earthly priest ever had. Our Priest is the unique Son of God, eternally begotten, begotten in incarnation, and begotten in resurrection.
V6, Then Christ’s priesthood is of a better order because in Psalm 110:4 God declared Him to be a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. This superiority will be explained more fully in chapter 7. The prominent thought here is that, unlike the Aaronic priesthood, this one is forever.
V8, “He learned obedience”, Jesus experienced all of what a person goes through on this earth. He knows how difficult it is to obey God completely, just as He understands the attractions of temptation (2:18). Yet He persisted in obedience, leading a sinless life (1 John 3:5).
V9, “God qualified Him” or “having been perfected”: This phrase does not suggest that Jesus had not been perfect before. It means that He successfully carried out God’s plan for Him. He endured suffering and temptation so that He could truly function as our High Priest, understanding our weaknesses and interceding before God for us. “Became the source”, means “cause” or “author.” Jesus’ obedience to the Father led to Calvary, His own death on the Cross. The sacrifice of this sinless One in our place makes Him the source of our salvation.
V10, Having gloriously accomplished the fundamental work of priesthood, the Lord Jesus was addressed by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek.”
It should be mentioned here that though Christ’s priesthood is of the Melchizedekan order, yet His priestly functions are similar to those carried on by the Aaronic priests. In fact, the ministry of the Jewish priests was a foreshadow or picture of the work that Christ would accomplish.