Jesus – High Priest
Yesterday’s passage looked at the priestly order of Melchizedek and today the passage compares Jesus to this change of priestly order.
The priesthood was hereditary through the tribe of Levi and especially the line of Aaron in Moses' time. We read in v.14, and we know from other Scriptures, that Jesus was descended from the line of Judah, of which Moses said nothing about priests. So why the need for this change of priesthood?
Simply, the old covenant (The Mosaic law) was unable to make men perfect; it was administered by a succession of sinful, mortal priests who had to repeat the sacrifices regularly. The old covenant only condemns and shows the need for a saviour. The presence of God was blocked to all bar the high priest in the tabernacle/temple – and he had to go through purification rituals.
So, in v.17 we see Psalm 110 quoted referring to the Messiah, Jesus, as a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Jesus is a non-Levitical high priest, who has brought in a new covenant. In v.16, Jesus is shown as a non-hereditary priest, but a priest by the power of an indestructible life. Melchizedek was described as having neither beginning of days nor end of life. Jesus was in the beginning (John 1:1) and is eternal (1 John 5:11). This is summed up in Hebrews 9:15 – “Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”
God has therefore appointed Jesus to be a new type of high priest in the order of Melchizedek. He was born into the royal tribe of Judah, not the priestly line of Levi, because he doesn't owe his appointment to descent from Aaron. Jesus, who died for all, has been raised to life for ever. We have been made new through this new priest's once and for all sacrifice. Access to the Father is open to all who accept Jesus and his sacrifice, and believe in him.
The surety of this is shown in verses 20-22; the old priesthood was hereditary (it just happened naturally) but the new priest is secured with an oath from the Lord God. God swore this oath so that we might know with absolute certainty that this new High Priest has been established through God's unchangeable character and as a result of his unchanging purposes.
Verse 22 – This oath makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. Jesus, as our guarantor, literally staked his life on it. He died on the cross as our once and for all sacrifice.
Verse 28 – The word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a son who has been made perfect forever. Jesus was perfect and did not need to sacrifice for his own sins, unlike the Levitical priests.
In our worship and lifestyle, our whole life in fact, we accept Jesus for who he is and what he has done. Thank you Jesus!!!