A Better High Priest
By Dr. John Koessler
Job postings usually include a section describing the qualifications for that position. They ask for a certain level of experience. Hebrews 5:1–3 describes one of the most essential qualifications for the position of high priest. High priests were “selected from among the people” (v. 1). The priest’s unique role was the reason. A priest was more than a religious functionary. A priest was appointed to “represent” the people by offering sacrifices. The Greek text literally says they were “chosen on behalf of men.”
He learned obedience from what he suffered.Hebrews 5:8
The writer points out that to be effective in this calling, priests must be like those they represent. Shared weakness enables the priest to “deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray” (v. 2). Because earthly priests shared the same sin nature as the congregation, they had to offer sacrifices for themselves as well as for anyone else (v. 3). Being a priest was a calling, not a career choice. Nobody volunteered for this kind of work. They were appointed by God (v. 4).
This review of the high priest’s essential qualifications sets the stage for one of the author’s main points in this letter. Not only is Jesus qualified to be a high priest for God’s people, He is a better high priest than any of the priests of the law. They were fellow sinners who served God’s people. Jesus shares our human nature’s weakness but not sin’s imperfection.
When Jesus was tempted, His obedience revealed the uniqueness of the Savior’s human nature. When it comes to His humanity, Jesus was like us in every point except one. He never sinned (vv. 7–8). This obedience reached its apex in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prayed “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
What are the qualifications for a priest? Why did Jesus perfectly fill this role? Why is having Jesus as your high priest far better than any human priest?
Pray with Us: Lord Jesus, our wonderful High Priest, draw us closer to You through the study of Your Word. Thank You for interceding for us before the throne of grace.