Written by the fantastic Sarah Long. Sarah works for the Diocese of Winchester as Youth Adviser having previously worked for Romance Academy and as a Youth Worker in Camberley. Follow her on Twitter at @snailsarah
Read: Hebrews 7:11-28
There are books of the Bible I open up and think ‘Oh yeah, that’s obvious, I get that.’ And then there are the other books, the ones I open and it’s like they’re still written in Greek. I just don’t have a clue what they’re on about. I’ll be honest with you, Hebrews is one of the latter type of books. I don’t know how you’re finding reading it, but it makes my brain hurt.
When I don’t get what’s going on, there’s three handy questions I like to ask myself:
- Who’s it written for?
- Why’s it written?
- So what does that mean today?
Today’s passage is all about Priesthood, Jesus and some guy called Melchizedek. We’d be here for a long time unpicking it all, but here’s my attempt to answer those questions above.
Who’s it written for?
Theologians believe this letter was written to Jewish Christians (pretty much all the early Christians were Jewish) some time between AD50 and AD70 (that’s approximately 1950 years ago).
Why’s it written?
These are people who have grown up with the Old Testament Scriptures, with rituals, beliefs and cultural practices based there, and Jesus’ arrival had changed, adapted, transformed many of those older things. This letter is all about helping them to understand and reinterpret everything they’ve believed before through the lens of Jesus. Jesus changed and transformed everything – this letter is all about how that works.
So this part of the letter is all about how Jesus has changed ‘Priesthood’.
Where before there was a special group of people in society, Levites, who were responsible for being Priests, now we have Jesus alone.
Where the Levites were just as broken and sinful as we are, Jesus is ‘Holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners and exalted above the heavens’ (Hebrews 7:26)
Whereas before the Levites would have to cautiously approach God in the Temple every year to say sorry for everything the people of Israel had done wrong, now we get to boldly approach God with Jesus at our side, because he’s said sorry and made up for everything we have ever and could ever do.
Everything is different, everything is better because of Jesus.
Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Hebrew 7:22
So what does this mean today?
Well, some of it is summed up in this verse here…
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:25
Jesus has become our perfect priest, always in the presence of God on our behalf, welcoming us to join him there. He has made the perfect amends for everything we could ever do wrong.
We don’t need to fear that we aren’t good enough to be saved – Jesus has done it for us.
We don’t need someone else human to approach God on our behalf – Jesus is there, welcoming us in.
Hebrews hurts my head, but underneath the complexity there’s amazing good news for us. Because of Jesus, we can approach God in confidence.
What does this passage mean for you?
How does it make you feel to know you can approach God with confidence?
Thank you God that we can approach you with confidence. Thank you that Jesus is our perfect priest, he makes a way for us to be with you, even when we’ve made a mess of things in our lives. Amen.