Hebrews is one of those books that is difficult for me to relate to. Let’s face it: I’m not a 1st century Jew. No matter how much research I do on this issue, I can’t quite get into the mind of this writer.
But, one thing strikes me about today’s reading. The purpose of this chapter, and in fact most of Hebrews, is to convince the 1st century Jews that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah within the context of the Old Testament. They had hear for so long that the Messiah was coming, they had gotten complacent and some had stopped believing. The Book of Hebrews tried to reconcile the old world Jewish laws to the new way of the risen Lord. Not an easy task.
So then I ask myself: What if the apostles were trying to convince me that Jesus was the Son of God? What arguments would they use in 21st century parlance? How would they advertise a tent revival with Jesus as the speaker? Would we go? That's a bit frightening, isn't it?
Well, today’s reading is about establishing the uniqueness and permanency of Jesus’ priesthood. In looking at that through the eyes of a 21st century “Christian” that would be hard to do. Look at how many different religions there are, how many different sects. How does one articulate “uniqueness” is this area? I would argue that, while there are many different opportunities for folks to worship in the way that is comfortable for them, there is still only one God and still only one risen Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter how many different religions there are, or what the differences in worship styles, or whether or not you use liturgical sacramental rites, or whatever (although I personally get a little uncomfortable with snakes). There is no questioning the uniqueness of our risen Lord. No matter what century you are in.
So, if you, like me, are a little put off by words such as “Melchizedek priesthood”, don’t fret. Keep reading. The point is that Jesus is our risen Lord. He rose from the dead to save the sins of everyone, even 1st century Jews, even the sins of you and me.