For Sunday, March 21, 2021
Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B
I haven’t posted in a long time but am resuming again! If you are a returning reader to this blog would love to hear from you! If you are a new reader, would love to hear from you too!
What do you know about the Mystery Man named Melchizedek?
If you are like me, your mind might immediately go to, “Oh man, that is some arcane Bible knowledge that I really don’t have time for!” Yet for the author of Hebrews (whom I personally think was Apollos) Melchizedek was a very important topic. Why? Because Melchizedek is crucial to the unfolding of the gospel story. Melchizedek is the Mystery Man who matters.
First, Melchizedek is the key to unlocking the mystery of how Jesus could be a high priest. Without Melchizedek, Jesus would have had to be a Levite in Aaron’s line even to be a priest, much less a high priest. But Jesus wasn’t a member of the tribe of Levi. He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. So the only way for him to also be a high priest is if there was another priestly line outside of the Levitical priesthood. Aha: enter our mystery man Melchizedek.
Gen. 14 introduces Melchizedek as king of Salem and a priest of El Elyon who blesses Abram. Abram reciprocates by giving to Melchizedek a 10th of everything he owned! (Gen. 14:20). Melchizedek then gets mentioned again in Psalm 110 in a reference as cryptic as a Q drop. Some person would be declared a “priest forever in the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4).
Second, the re-emergence of Melchizedek meant the end of the Levitical priesthood. Our author will have much more to say about this later in Hebrews (see chapters 7&8). But for now, think about the significance of this: the Levitical priesthood is over.
Third, Melchizedek opens the door to our eternal salvation. What we needed was someone who experienced all the travails that we do, yet overcame them. That is Jesus. Yet he had to become our priest in order to represent us, and that never would have happened without Melchizedek.
Hebrews can be one of the hardest books to understand in the entire Bible, yet it can also be one of the most rewarding, because it explains how the Old Testament relates to the New Testament, and how the New Testament is a fulfillment of all to which the Old Testament pointed. Some will suggest that with the coming of the New Testament, the Old Testament became obsolete. Nothing could be further from the truth. God’s promise to Abraham was made for eternity. The New Testament unlocks for us how God has moved to fulfill and secure it. We need both Testaments because we can’t appreciate either without the other!
There is a spiritual principle in all of this too. God has a way of coming to our rescue in unexpected ways but in ways that he has hinted at all along, and only make sense in retrospect. If you are facing a challenge today, you can know that God has already put in place the seeds of your deliverance!
For a great commentary on Hebrews, check out David Gooding, The Unshakeable Kingdom.