The writer of Hebrews is writing to Jewish believers in Jesus who are being persecuted for their faith and tempted to revert back to Judaism and exhorting them to press on to maturity in Christ.  Likewise, the world, the devil and our flesh wage war against our soul and tempt us to compromise with the world so we need these exhortations. Now in chapter five he deals with their questions and doubts about the high priest because the old covenant required a high priest both to mediate between the people and God and to make sacrifices for their sins. And since Jesus was not of the tribe of Levi, as prescribed by God in the OT (Exodus 28:1; Numbers 3-4; 18:7), how could He be the high priest? Thus the writer not only shows that Jesus is selected by God from among men, sympathetic with man and sacrificed for man but that the Old Testament itself taught that when the Messiah came, he would replace the Levitical priesthood!

The main application for us today is that Jesus is our only mediator and we must never let anyone (priests, Mary, canonized saints, pastors, etc.) come between us and God. "For there [is only] one God, and [only] one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. 2:5)

SELECTED BY GOD FROM AMONG MEN – "Every high priest is selected (by God – vv. 4, 10) from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God." God didn't choose angels to be priests. They could not understand men. It had to be a man who was subject to the temptations of men. It had to be a man who had experiential acquaintance with suffering like men have in order that he might minister in a merciful way. Likewise Jesus had to be a Man and the writer of Hebrews speaks of Jesus' suffering as a Man as He cries out to God in prayer.

SYMPATHETIC WITH MAN – "He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness." {This compassion (Gr metriopatheō) is a controlled compassion, meaning "to be gentle with." Etymologically, it involved a measured, or balanced, feeling. This unusual word (found nowhere else in the New Testament) was used "in the Aristotelian philosophical tradition in the sense of to moderate one's feelings or passions and so to avoid excesses either of enthusiasm or impassivity." (Hughes, p. 176). It involves caring without undue harshness or weepy sentiment." [1] KJV Bible Commentary. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1994, S. 2545} "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ." (Eph. 4:15)

SACRIFICED HIMSELF FOR OUR SINS – "Every high priest is selected from among men…. to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.  "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him (out) from death, (i.e., He prayed for God to raise Him from the dead) and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, (through His sacrifice for our sins) he became the source of eternal salvation…" Jesus learned obedience not in the sense that He was ever disobedient but He learned the full meaning and cost of His obedience on the cross. {"Through His incarnation, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, He completed the work that was necessary to save us from our sins, and now He has the acquired glory of being the perfect Savior of the world." [1]MacDonald, William ; Farstad, Arthur: Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995, S. Heb 5:1} From the cross Jesus the perfect Man and perfect high priest, prayed, "Father forgive them", as He offered the perfect sacrifice (His spotless blood) and God raised Him from the dead to show us that He accepted His Son's perfect sacrifice and gave us our assurance of eternal forgiveness. Now our heavenly, holy and human high priest, Jesus the God-Man, mediates and advocates for us and leads us into His holiness. There is a Man in heaven sitting at the right hand of God (Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 12:2).

JESUS REPLACED THE LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD! – "God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. And he says in another place,  "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." {"The author argues that this change in priesthood is mandated because Jesus is part of an older, superior priesthood-the  priesthood of Melchizedek (read 5:5,6,10).  Before we read his explanation of this fact, let's look at the two Old Testament passages that talk about this priesthood. The first passage is in Gen. 14, which briefly records a strange encounter between Abraham and this person Melchizedek.  The time is about 2100 BC-700 years before the Levitical priesthood began.  Abraham is returning from a battle in which he rescued his nephew Lot after he had been kidnapped by some wicked local rulers.  Read 14:17-20.  What a strange event!  It raises a lot of questions.  Who was this Melchizedek?  Where was Salem?  Why was he both a priest and a king?  Why did he bless Abraham and receive gifts from him?  Why did God make sure this event was recorded?  Nothing further is said about him until 1100 years later when God says something very strange to David…Read Ps.110:1-3.  David is relaying a conversation he overheard between God ("the LORD" – YHWH) and David's ruler ("my Lord" – Adonai).  The problem is that David is the ruler of Israel; he has no human ruler.  Who is this "lord?"  Both Jewish and Christian scholars have long agreed that David is talking about the coming Messiah-for two reasons.  David's description of Him fits the description of the Messiah in Gen. 49:10. David was from the tribe of Judah, and God promised David that one of his descendents would reign permanently as God's King (read 2 Sam. 7:12, 13).  So David is recording a conversation between God and the future Messiah, in which God presents His kingdom to the Messiah. But David also hears God say something else to this Messiah (read 110:4).  Wow!  Not only would the Messiah be a King from the tribe of Judah-He would also be a priest from the order of Melchizedek!  And God swears that the Messiah's priesthood would be permanent. So what do these two Old Testament passages tell us about the relationship between the Messiah and the Levitical priesthood?  They tell us that the Messiah will be a part of an older priesthood that is superior to the Levitical priesthood and that when He comes His priesthood will last forever.  God never planned the Levitical priesthood to be permanent.  If He had planned this, He would never have spoken of the Messiah as a Melchizedekian priest.  He sovereignly arranged the encounter between Abraham and Melchizedek, and He inspired David to say the Messiah would be a priest according to the order of Melchizedek so that His people would know that a change in priesthood was coming. And why was the Levitical system only a temporary arrangement?  Because it never did the job-it never fixed any of the problems between us and God. The only value of the Levitical system was that it provided prophetic pictures of Jesus.  And now that Jesus has come, God has set it aside-He no longer wants us to relate to Him through human priests and ritualized sacrifices." Gary DeLashmutt – Xenos Christian Fellowship – 1340 Community Park Dr., Columbus OH 43229  (614) 823-6500}

JESUS BECAME THE SOURCE OF ETERNAL SALVATION FOR ALL WHO OBEY HIM – Here the word "salvation" means more than justification (forgiveness of sin). It often refers to our future inheritance/reward and our reign with Christ based on our obedience to Him in this life even as seen in Hebrews 1:14 and Matthew 16:24-27 and many other passages.


1) Jesus was a sympathetic high priest because He lived with man and suffered with man and suffered for man. How does our culture isolate us from the suffering of others and how can we avoid being desensitized from the suffering of those around us?

2) Read vv. 7-8. How did Jesus' high appointment from God to be our great high priest compare to the life He lived on earth? What should this say to us about our high calling as God's adopted sons and daughters?

3) {"Through His incarnation, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, He completed the work that was necessary to save us from our sins, and now He has the acquired glory of being the perfect Savior of the world." [1]MacDonald, William ; Farstad, Arthur: Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995, S. Heb 5:1}  Jesus was perfected through suffering. How can His example help us when we are suffering?

4) Jesus offered up prayers and He was heard because of His reverent submission (versus "name it and claim it"). How does His example with God in prayer speak to us about our attitude in prayer?  

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