Season After Pentecost (Proper 24) – The Epistles Passage: Understanding the ways of High Priests
[Somehow I did a cut and paste of the incorrect Epistle passage last week. And now I am faced with writing something “quick fast” so it is ready to post posthaste. It reminds me of the days in college, and once in a while in seminary, that I had a paper due and needed to somehow complete in a short amount of time. I actually write quite well under pressure. But I have not had to for a good many years! So here I go! ]
“Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people.” (Hebrews 5:1 – 3)
What strikes me here is the human-ness of the high priests. Sometimes the high priests are as fallible as the people they serve and sacrifice for. I am reminded of Eli who Samuel reminded what it was like to be called by the Lord God. And Samuel himself who thought that a king appointed by the Lord God would like strong and “kingly.” John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, who was struck numb when he doubted that he would have a son. And then there were the high priests of Jesus’ time who cared more for politics than faith. Paul seems to have a kinder view of high priests. In our own time there have been good ministers and not so good ministers. So we know what Paul is talking about.
“And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was.” (Verse 4)
That could be why some of the high priests who presided over the Hebrews were hit and miss – many times such an honor was passed down through family lines and not an individual calling by the Lord God the Divine.
“So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” (Verses 5 – 7)
Not, Paul seems to being saying, because he was the Son of God but because he comported himself as a child of God. We can do that too, beloved reader!
“Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Verses 8 – 10)
Next week the Epistle passage speaks to the proofs of Jesus Christ being the perfect High Priest. I should know, because as I said earlier, I cut and pasted the wrong passage and ended up writing on next week’s Epistle passage instead of the one for this week. I am still trying to figure how that happened and feel a little loopy having set down such a strong case for Jesus as the perfect High Priest, and now having to back track to an earlier point in Paul’s argument. Knowing where he is heading, it is challenging to write the prequel! I guess it just goes to prove Paul’s point – human-ness can be a heavy load to bear, and allowances should be made! Selah!
Syndicated from Pondering From the Pacific