Can you imagine trying to feed an infant a steak? It’d be an impossible task! Infants don’t have the teeth or the chewing and swallowing skills necessary to eat any solid food. This is why for the first six months of a child’s life they are fed milk. Then as the infant grows, they are slowly introduced to solid food. First in the form of baby foods that are easy to swallow and digest, then the parent begins to introduce small amounts of prepared food cut into tiny bits, and eventually the child is ready for and given solid food. As a father, this was the worst stage! Every time that you feed the child something new, you’re nervous that they will choke! Not to mention the mess of food on the child and all over the kitchen. But this process is a natural growth and progression that must take place.
This natural progression in eating development and maturation can be applied to our spiritual lives as well. At the end of Hebrews 5, the writer of Hebrews says, “You need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.” The author uses these harsh words after saying that there is much more, they would like to explain about Jesus being our High Priest. The writer goes as far to say that the readers are “spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen” in verse 11.
The ”solid food” that the author is trying to explain is Jesus as God’s appointed High priest who became the source of eternal salvation for all who believe in Him. He was first identified as high priest in Hebrews 2:17, and again in Hebrews 4:14-16, but it’s not until chapter 5 that Hebrews begins to explain the case for Jesus being our high priest. The first section of our chapter today gives a definition and criteria for being a priest, while the next section shows us how Christ meets these criteria.
In verses 1-4, we see the duties and qualifications listed for becoming a high priest. As humans, the high priests would sympathize with human weakness and temptation, present sacrifices for the sins of others and themselves, and they would be appointed by God. Jesus not only fulfills these criteria but exceeds them in that he is the perfect high priest who is without sin, and therefore doesn’t need to perform sacrifice for himself.
On the cross Jesus said, “it is finished” right before he gave up his spirit. And with these words, He was signifying that everything He came to do was accomplished, everything written about Him had been fulfilled, and the redemption for the entire world was completed. Mark 16 says that Jesus then ascended into heaven and sat down at the right of the Father taking his rightful place as Lord. With this one act of obedience on the cross, Jesus was perfectly equipped to become our High Priest in service to the Lord. Through this, He became both the author and source of eternal salvation to everyone who puts their faith in Him.
And it’s on this foundation of understanding that the writer of Hebrews builds their call to spiritual growth. The author tells the readers that they should be teaching others by now, but they are still feeding on the milk of the word, needing someone to teach them the basic principles again. Meaning those that have heard this message aren’t progressing in the way they should be. The writer concludes this chapter by saying, “But solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”
So my question for you today is: are you growing in your understanding? Are you growing to maturity in your understanding of Christ and His Word? Or are you still feeding on milk when you should be ready for a steak? The problem is too many Christians aren’t progressing! For too long, Christians have stayed in this infancy stage of belief when the author of Hebrews is calling us to grow up and mature in our faith! We do this by paying much closer attention to the faith (Hebrews 2:1), by following God’s will without fear and without disobedience (Hebrews 4:11), and by learning the Word of God in order to aid our discernment (Hebrews 4:12). The end result, according to this verse, is a person who can distinguish between good and evil. You don’t have to stay in infancy! You can choose today to grow up spiritually and mature in your walk with the Lord.