Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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      Hebrews - Chapter 05 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. Every high priest is appointed to help others by offering gifts and sacrifices to God because of their sins.
    2. A high priest has weaknesses of his own, and he feels sorry for foolish and sinful people.
    3. That is why he must offer sacrifices for his own sins and for the sins of others.
    4. But no one can have the honor of being a high priest simply by wanting to be one. Only God can choose a priest, and God is the one who chose Aaron.
    5. That is how it was with Christ. He became a high priest, but not just because he wanted the honor of being one. It was God who told him, "You are my Son, because today I have become your Father!"
    6. In another place, God says, "You are a priest forever just like Melchizedek."
    7. God had the power to save Jesus from death. And while Jesus was on earth, he begged God with loud crying and tears to save him. He truly worshiped God, and God listened to his prayers.
    8. Jesus is God's own Son, but still he had to suffer before he could learn what it really means to obey God.
    9. Suffering made Jesus perfect, and now he can save forever all who obey him.
    10. This is because God chose him to be a high priest like Melchizedek.
    11. Much more could be said about this subject. But it is hard to explain, and all of you are slow to understand.
    12. By now you should have been teachers, but once again you need to be taught the simplest things about what God has said. You need milk instead of solid food.
    13. People who live on milk are like babies who don't really know what is right.
    14. Solid food is for mature people who have been trained to know right from wrong.
Reflections

Hebrews - Chapter 05

Entered: March 07, 2006
Paul makes a comparison of the priesthood of Aaron and the earthly priests and of the Messiah and a heavenly priesthood. The earthly priests were in a perpetual state of making a sin offering, first for himself and then for the people. But the Messiah has made an offering once for all people which is sufficient for all time. Paul is attempting to explain more complex aspects of this but feels hindered because of the immaturity and lack of understanding the Hebrews have. He admonishes them for repeatedly going over the same elementary issues of the faith. If they are to avoid an eventual falling away from the faith, as some have done, the must move on to more mature things. And if they should fall away, there will be no return for them for they would be, in effect, recrucifying the Messiah. Paul concludes chapter six expressing confidence that the Hebrews will keep the faith.

Entered: February 08, 2012

Chapter five begins a new section. In the first section the writer has established Christ's position as God's Son and discussed the inheritance of those who persevere with their faith in Christ. While the topic of Christ's priestly role was touched on in the first section, it will be dealt with in detail in the second section beginning with chapter five. 

He begins with the role of the High Priest and then discusses Christ's credentials to be a High Priest. First, the High Priest serves God, not the people, but does so on behalf of the people. In this role he offers both gifts and sacrifices for sins. The typical High Priest had to first offer sacrifice for his own sins and then for those of the people. No one could assume this position for themselves, "instead, a person is called by God." This was also true of Christ. He "did not exalt Himself to become a high priest, but the One who said to Him, You are My Son; today I have become Your Father, also said in another passage, You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek." (5:5-6)

Though Jesus was sinless and therefore did not have to offer sacrifices for His own sins, He nevertheless was human and experienced all that any human experiences. Thus, He called out to God with prayers and supplications as any man would do. And, God heard His prayers "He was heard because of His reverence." (5:7) It is of interest to note that the writer did not mention that Christ's prayers were heard because of His faith, but because of His reverence.This does not mean that faith was not involved, but does include reverence as a necessary element of prayer.

Jesus experienced suffering as does any human, and even went beyond the suffering of many. It was through that suffering that He learned obedience. Some naively think that if God will give only good things and experiences to people they will be most likely to be faithful and obedient. But it is the opposite that is true. It is through our suffering that we are most prone to grapple with issues of faith and obedience. Our proneness to pride blocks this process when we experience only good. Without suffering to temper the pride, we begin to think that we have caused the good rather than God. In our pride we are more prone to attribute suffering to God than to attribute good to God. Thus, it is in the suffering that we are most likely to come to terms with issues of faith and obedience. True, some are embittered through suffering, but it is a choice they make just as it is a choice to believe.

In the last verses of the chapter the writer pauses briefly to address his readers directly. As he continued in his explanation concerning Christ's role as High Priest he was concerned he would be going beyond the maturity level of his readers. They had been slow in their spiritual development. He compared their spiritual development to the physical development of babies. When they should have moved on to solid food, they were like infants whose diet was limited to milk. This called for a warning for them to move on to solid food and allow their senses to be "trained to distinguish between good and evil." (5:14)