For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. 3 Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. 4 And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.
5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him:
“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.”
6 As He also says in another place:
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek”;
7 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him . . .
Under the Old Covenant, the high priest was appointed to make intercession for the people. Only the high priest could enter into the Holy of Holies to place blood on the mercy seat, which sat atop the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark represented God’s presence, which is why entrance into the Holy of Holies was prohibited to all but the high priest, and then only once annually. It was no small thing to walk into God’s presence. Entering the Holy of Holies outside of the strict bounds that God established was a step toward certain death.
Accordingly, the high priest was aware of his shortcomings and required to make sacrifices for himself as well as for the people. Because of the fear associated with his role, he was well aware of his own weakness. Awareness of one’s own weakness helps a person to walk in compassion when considering the weakness of others.
It seems ironic, then, that religion seems to produce judgemental attitudes in people. This happens when we forget that high priests are not appointed by men. This includes self-appointment. Remember this the next time you feel tempted to condemn someone, including yourself. God has appointed Jesus as the perfect High Priest, and He does not condemn us.
Notice that it was through obedience that Jesus was perfected. Philippians 2:8-9 tell us that it is because of His obedience unto death that God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name above every name. Jesus did what He did because He believed His Father, and He was perfected through His obedience. We are perfected the same way – through His obedience.
New Covenant obedience is the obedience of faith. Remember from Genesis 15:6 that Abram “believed in the Lord, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.” Abram’s (Abraham) obedience was the obedience of believing God, not of doing things perfectly. We will never walk in perfect obedience of our own accord. But that is not where true obedience lies. It lies in faith in Christ and the more we grow in that truth, the more we will find ourselves getting everything else right as well.
Obedience to Christ is believing in Him for salvation and through that act, receiving credit for His perfection. In this process, He is the author of our salvation. You cannot author your salvation. You were never expected to. Don’t make the mistake of avoiding God because you know that you can’t be perfect. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can and therefore others should as well. Through God’s immeasurable grace, He credits all who believe with righteousness. Jesus is your perfection and the author of your salvation. By braving grace, you’ll do more right for God by accident than you ever could through effort.