Hebrewsby Robert M. Solomon
The author relentlessly emphasises the uniqueness of Jesus as our High Priest, far above all the priests and high priests who had served in the religion of Israel as constituted by the law of Moses. He argues that the Levitical priesthood, useful as it was in the worship of Israel, was nevertheless insufficient. It was not perfect. ″If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood . . . why was there still need for another priest to come″ (Hebrews 7:11). The priesthood of Jesus was necessary to provide a perfect priest for Israel and the world. Jesus does not belong to the order of Aaron, for He did not come in that hereditary line of priests. Instead He comes from the order of Melchizedek (v. 11).
Jesus belonged to the tribe of Judah (Hebrews 7:14). No priests had come from that tribe (v. 13), though kings, starting from David, had come from that royal line. But like Melchizedek, who was both king and priest, Jesus too was both king and priest-the perfect King and Priest. The priestly ministry of Jesus was prefigured by the mysterious king-priest Melchizedek. So it was really before Jesus, the perfect King-Priest, that Abraham (and through him Levi and all the Levitical priests) submitted. The reality is that Jesus introduces a new eternal priesthood centred in Him. This would have answered anyone having trouble accepting the priesthood of Jesus, since He was not a descendent of Aaron. The writer shows that Jesus' priestly ministry was valid because it belonged to a different order. In fact, for this reason, it is superior to the priestly ministry of the Aaronic priests of Israel.
With the eternal priesthood of Jesus in place, the old Levitical priesthood was no longer necessary (Hebrews 7:12), having been superseded by the Melchizedek priesthood of Jesus. Accordingly, the old Mosaic law which supported the Levitical priesthood, offering divine forgiveness to repentant Israelites through the sacrificial system, is no longer necessary too. The old priesthood and the law were not able to bring about perfection. Instead they foreshadowed the coming of Christ, who alone as the perfect High Priest and the Lord of the New Covenant could bring about perfection. ″The Melchizedek priesthood of Jesus was in the mind of God centuries before the Levitical priesthood and the law″.30 The law and the priesthood were temporary ″shadows″ of the reality which is Christ, whose high priestly office has ″cosmic significance″.31
30Stedman, Hebrews, 83.
31Gooding, An Unshakeable Kingdom, 119.
In what ways could Christians grow to rely on methods of worship and spiritual growth apart from Jesus? How can we ensure that we rely on Christ's perfect ministry for our daily as well as ultimate needs?
Why is Jesus both a Priest and a King, and what importance does this have for the way He ministers to you? How would you therefore respond to Him?