What is your vision of a great high priest? Would your mind go back to Aaron the first of the High Priest God set in place? What about Samuel who was both the high priest and the prophet of God the people turned to for guidance? In reality there was a high priest in the Old Testament that wasn’t part of the Nation of Israel at all, but was the one that God promised us, the messiah would serve in His Order. His name was Melchizedek. We don’t know much about him. He appeared in Genesis 14 when Abraham had rescued Lot and Sodom and was returning from the battle. In verses 18-20 of Genesis 14 it says, “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, ‘Blessed by Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.’ Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Then, almost a thousand years later David mentioned Melchizedek in Psalms 110:4 “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” In Hebrews 5:5-6 the Holy Spirit led the author of Hebrews to say, “In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But 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.” So Jesus Christ, came as the Messiah, the Savior of the world and God planned always for him to be a priest, a prophet and a king over his kingdom. He wouldn’t follow the order of Aaron, but go back to the little known priest who took tithes from Abraham.
In verses 7-10 of Hebrews 5 he takes this point to a different level. “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 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.”
It seems amazing to me that the tie made to Jesus becoming our high priest after the order of Melchizedek is his agony in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Remember that night of Jesus’ betrayal, the night when he would be denied by Peter, forsaken by all the apostles and would suffer the greatest physical agony we can imagine. It was the same night when he had met with the apostles for the Passover, the last supper with them before his crucifixion. That night started with them together in the upper room when Jesus removed his outer garments, took a towel and a basin and bowed before each of the twelve men he had chosen as his apostles to wash their feet. He told them it was an example they should follow and if they learned the lesson and followed that example they would find happiness in serving him. Later than night they ate the Passover meal together and Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, the communion his disciples would take for the rest of time on this earth since it was a means of both remembering his death and proclaiming that death until he returns. Later that night when Judas had left to make arrangements for his sell of Jesus, the Lord gave them the new commandment by which all would know we are his disciples, that we would love one another as he has loved us. They sang a hymn together and went out to the Mount of Olives. There Jesus left the group and took Peter, James and John a little further. Then he asked them to watch and pray with him. He went about a stones throw further and fell on his face before God to pray the prayer of fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death.
His loud cry to the Father was “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me! Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” God heard him. He had the power to save him from dying the agonizing death on the cross. But if he saved Jesus from the cross, it would mean that all of humanity would be eternally lost. There was only one way by which we could be saved from the sins in our life. We must have a Savior who has suffered the temptations we deal with all the time without ever giving in to that temptation and sinning. Jesus was the only one who had or has ever lived that perfect life. It was only through him taking our sins upon him just as the sins of the people were placed on the lamb that was slain to symbolize the price of forgiveness. But every lamb ever slain was a declaration that one day a real savior, the true lamb of God would come and instead of symbolism he would literally take our sins upon him and would pay the price of our sin in the suffering and death he went through on the cross. God would take our sins to put them on Jesus and take His righteousness and place it on our account so that He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:22). God the Father who had the power to save him from death, heard his one and only Son crying out in agony to please save him from this hour.
But he also heard the cry of submission. “Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” In that submission, that learning of obedience from what he suffered, Jesus was made perfect as our savior. Through the suffering and death of Calvary and his resurrection from the dead after three days in the tomb, Jesus became the source of eternal salvation FOR ALL WHO OBEY HIM. He wouldn’t be the savior just for the Israelites. He wouldn’t be the savior of just white people. He wouldn’t be the savior of any select group. He is Savior For All who obey him.
If I lose out on the amazing salvation our God offers at the cost of His own Son’s suffering and death it is my own fault. He made the way for all who will obediently follow him. Think of the point for a moment. Jesus obeyed the Father’s will no matter the pain and agony he had to suffer so we can be saved. How foolish of one today to say they want the salvation he offers but without being willing to obey him! That would be like Jesus saying to the Father, “I really want to save the people, but I’m not willing to go to the cross for it to happen. Father save them without me paying that price.” It couldn’t happen that way. The justice of God had to be met by an obedient savior. Our taking advantage of the salvation Jesus offers today, demands that we too be ready to obey him.
I desperately want to have the salvation that Jesus offers. Don’t you? “Father, Not my will but your be done.” Whatever God commands I’m ready to obey since a God who wants my salvation so much He would pay that price of His one and only Son will not ask of me what isn’t both possible and reasonable for me to do. An obedient Savior leads obedient people to salvation.