5:1 Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
5:2 He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness;
5:3 and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people.
5:4 And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
5:5 So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”;
5:6 as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
5:7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
5:8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered;
5:9 and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him,
5:10 having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
This passage of Hebrews echoes other themes of the texts for this week – the idea that to be a perfect king or perfect priest we must not remain aloof from the experiences and people who need the most redemption, but instead we must sacrifice, deal gently with others, and be perfect by experiencing and working with imperfection and sin.
You can read a lot about Melchizedek, a king and priest of Salem (or Shalom) in the time of Abraham. One way to sum up his story is to say that he was the best leader, both political and spiritual, any kingdom ever had, and if God makes Jesus a priest in the order of Melchizedek, he is the highest priest of all. And what are his priestly qualities? Look at verse 2: gentleness with the ignorant and wayward, while remaining humble, not claiming such a high title for himself but accepting it when given to him.
Becoming unexpectedly the greatest by dedicating your life to serving. Who does that sound like? Mother Theresa, perhaps? St Francis, perhaps? Someone who willingly bears the cross instead of taking revenge? Someone who willingly and knowingly pours herself or himself out for the benefit of someone more lowly.
In times of social unrest and failure to listen well to one another, how might we become this sort of leader or just human being? By pouring ourselves out for the sake of someone who has no one else to do it – the poorest of the poor, those with no other advocate. Allow yourself to be used to serve someone who needs you. You will see what it means as you are doing it.
Gracious God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for giving us chances to serve those you have compassion for. Help us not to miss our chance to pour ourselves out for someone else who needs us. Amen.