A Verse by Verse Look at the Book of Hebrews

Hebrews 5

Jesus is the Perfect High Priest

Hebrews 5 shows Jesus as God's appointed High priest who became the source of eternal salvation for everyone who believes. He was subjected to the weakness of the flesh yet without sin. He learned obedience through what he suffered so in the same way he is able to help those who will inherit salvation. Jesus was designed by God to be our high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

The High Priest Selected from Among Men (Hebrews 5:1-3)

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"Every 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. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 5:1-3)

The sacrificial system was a type and shadow of what was to come (Hebrews 10:1). It was a rough outline and not the very image itself. It represented a vague picture of the true sacrifice that would be made by the Messiah. It was used to remind those making the sacrifices of their sin (Hebrews 10:3). They experienced this symbolism year after year looking forward with anticipation to the Christ.

God Bestowed the Honor of High Priest on Jesus (Hebrews 5:4-5)

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“No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father” (Hebrews 5:4-5)

Jesus did not exalt himself to the position of High Priest, even though He was the only one qualified who could have easily assumed the role. Instead God appointed Him this honor. Since the introduction of the High Priest, it was God who chose who would serve at the altar. He chose Aaron and gave instruction that every high priest would be his descendant (Exodus 29:9). Aaron wasn't qualified when God chose him, having served as a slave in Egypt his entire life. Nevertheless, God chose and equipped him to intercede on Israel's behalf.

Jesus is a Priest in the Order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:6)

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“And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:6)

Not only did God appoint Christ and exalt Him with the honor of becoming our High Priest, he also appointed Him a rank in the order of Melchizedek. This is extremely significant as human standards would never have allowed Jesus this position. And yet, God is the one who appointed Him as eternal High Priest after this order. There was a reason God prophesied these very words through David, "The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4). To understand this, we must look at who Melchizedek was and how Jesus is like him.

Jesus Had a Choice (Hebrews 5:7-8)

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“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 from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:7-8)

On this side of the cross we are used to hearing about Jesus' sacrifice for our sins so we forget this important truth, Jesus had a choice.The choice to redeem mankind, or let mankind pay the price for Adam’s choice in the garden. Adam chose death, suffering and sin over God. As result, he plunged the entire world into this pattern of life and we were subjected to the destructiveness of un-regenerated  man. Mankind needed someone to intercede which is why Jesus volunteered for the role as Savior of the world (I Corinthians 15:22; II Corinthians 5:19; I Peter 1:20; I John 2:2).

Jesus is the Source of Eternal Salvation (Hebrews 5:9-10)

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“and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:9-10)

On the cross Jesus said "it is finished" right before he gave up his spirit. With these words, He was signifying that everything He came to do was accomplished, everything written about Him had been fulfilled and the redemption of the entire world was completed. Since there was nothing left to do He ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Father taking his rightful place as Lord (Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 1:3; 10:12).

This is an important truth to understand because Jesus is Lord whether you have personally confessed his Lordship. Not recognizing His position does not change it as fact. Peter stated this very thing at Pentecost, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2: 32-36).

With one marvelous act of obedience on the cross, Jesus was perfectly equipped through this experience to become our High Priest in service to God. With this completed exercise He became both the author and source of eternal salvation to everyone who puts their saving faith in Him.

Everything we know and experience as humans has a beginning and an end. We are bound by time, distance and energy. We set aside periods of rest and recharging by eating, sleeping and drinking. This maintains our body’s health and energy. In light of this, it is hard to wrap our brains around the fact that, Jesus is the source of eternal salvation. Which means that it originated with him, it flows out of him and He is the supply for its power. Jesus told this very truth to the woman at the well in John 4, "Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). Once you participate in this life that Jesus offers He is able to sustain you and keep you forever because Jesus is the wellspring to eternal life and its supply will never be shut off.

This truth rings more clear when we understand that Jesus has been guaranteed this position because God designated Him to be a high priest in the order of Melchizedek.Hebrews 7 gives much more detail about this. "And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 7:15-17). With Jesus' resurrection from the dead, he broke the power of death, meaning he can never die again (Romans 6:9; Acts 2:24; Ephesians 1:20-23). Since He cannot die again, it also means that He will live forever. "Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them" (Hebrews 7:23-25). This is why it is so wonderful that God designated Jesus to be a priest after this order. "For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever" (Hebrews 7:28).

As if this wasn't enough, God promised Jesus by an oath that He would never change his mind, as so Jesus became the author and source of the salvation we so dearly cherish and cling to. "And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever.’” Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant" (Hebrews 7:20-22). Understanding Jesus' role as our high priest, knowing that he is the source of eternal salvation guaranteed by oath from God is an amazing truth that will encourage and bless you throughout your entire life.

You Need Milk, Not Solid Food (Hebrews 5:11-12)

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“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Hebrews 5:11-12)

This is a word for the modern church today. We have congregations of people who neither know the truth of the Word or the power of God. They remain in infancy, hovering around the door of salvation without desire to walk into the fullness of God to which they have been called. Placing no importance on God's Word in their own lives, they starve on half truths and “feel good” sermons. They cannot accept the deep things of God because they haven't strived to understand even the foundation.

Solid Food is for the Mature (Hebrews 5:13-14)

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“Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14)

When a baby is born they are fed their mother's milk for the first six months of their lives. Then as they grow they are slowly introduced to solid food. First in the form of baby foods, pureed fruits and vegetables that are easy to swallow and digest. Then small amounts of prepared food, cut into little bits. Eventually they are given solid food, once their teeth have come in and they have learned to chew and swallow it. It is a natural process that one does not have to teach with much effort.