Friday, November 03, 2006

A great high priest

There is a great line in today's reading from Hebrews 5. In contrast to Jesus, the great high priest from yesterday's reading, this line is talking about human priests that are still here on earth:
He can deal gently with the ignorant and the wayward, since he himself is beset by weakness
Hebrews 5.2
I love this because it's such a great example of what I should be like.

When I encounter someone who is... well, who's like me in having certain weaknesses, the temptation is to be annoyed or impatient -- those are my weaknesses. But to be like a good high priest (not a bad high priest like Annas and Caiaphas were) I want to be aware of my weaknesses, rather than yielding to them. A good high priest is aware that he's beset (but not defeated) by his weaknesses.

I wanted to say something about one other part of this chapter. This is talking about Jesus:
Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him...
Hebrews 5.8-9
Now what does this mean? How could Jesus be other than perfect? I mean, how could he be "made perfect"?

Well, a few nights ago, the elder teen reminded me that the word translated "perfect" carries the meaning of "complete" or "full." In other words, there wasn't anything wrong with him before he was "made perfect." but he hadn't yet gone through all the experiences he was destined for. Only after those experiences could the writer say that Jesus "was tempted in all things as we were" (4.15). And it is good news that he was, because he can sympathize with our weaknesses - though not as a human high priest who has also fallen, but as the great high priest who has passed through the heavens.

And he's also the source of our eternal salvation.

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