The Annunciation, Thursday, March 22

Hebrews 5:1-10 (ESV)

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.  He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.  Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.  And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,

“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;

as he says also in another place,

“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.  Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.  And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

The author of Hebrews is writing to a group of Jews who, because of persecution and suffering for their faith, were considering turning away from Jesus, the Great High Priest, and returning to their traditional customs and beliefs.

However, Jesus, by His crucifixion and resurrection, fulfills all the duties of the high priest, once for all.  Whereas the high priest had to offer sacrifices for his own sin, making atonement for himself before he could make atonement for the sin of the people, Jesus is the perfect sacrifice.  He was without sin.

His death on the cross was for the atonement of all sin; one perfect sacrifice for all sin, for all people, for them, for you, and for me.  Thus, the sacrifices that the high priests used to make are obsolete.

The Jews should not turn back, for there is nothing to turn back to.  Jesus alone is the source of our eternal salvation.

Yet Jesus suffered too.  He offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries.  Through His suffering, He learned obedience to God.  Jesus, though He was without sin, suffered when He came into this sinful world.  Should we expect anything less for our own lives?  In our suffering, we too, like Jesus, can learn obedience to God.  That is the hidden blessing in suffering, for obedience to God draws us closer to Him.

Don’t give up on your faith in times of crisis or despair.  Instead, follow Jesus’ example: offer up prayers and supplications with loud cries to God; turn to Jesus and lean harder on the One who gave up everything for you.  He alone is your Savior.

Merciful God, You gave Your Only Son, Jesus Christ, who was obedient to Your will and died on the cross to atone for our sin, a perfect sacrifice.

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