As a junior high teacher, I’ve often had discussions about who the GOAT is in the NBA. Now what I know about basketball could fit in a thimble and rattle like a bb in a boxcar, but I’ll throw hands when it comes to Michael Jordan. He is the GOAT – greatest of all time. My kids say it’s Kobe or LeBron, but no one compares to Jordan. The fact that they are still wearing shoes named after him is a testimony of his GOAT-ness.
Today we are going to talk about another GOAT. Chapter 7 of Hebrews opens with a discussion of Melchizedek. We see him first in Genesis 14:18 and then in Psalms 110:4. Scripture is then silent about this mystery priest until Hebrews 7.
So, who is this guy? And why did Abraham honor him with a tithe? According to Matthew Henry’s commentary, Melchizedek could be one of three people. Jewish writers thought he was Shem son of Noah, but we have no evidence of a name change or that he went to Canaan. Christian writers thought Melchizedek was Jesus appearing to Abraham. Now this tracks what is said about Melchizedek and what is said about Abraham in John 8:56. Lastly, Melchizedek could be a Canaanite king who is foreshadowing King Jesus - the GOAT – the greatest of all time.
Whoever he is, the Lord did not clarify and has chosen for Melchizedek to remain one of the many mysteries of Scripture.
But why does he pop up in Hebrews? Of all places? Because Paul is showing us, again, that perfection cannot come from the law, from the earthly priesthood. We need a perfect priest to save us – one that does not need to offer sacrifices for his sin along with sacrifices for our sin. One who is the perfect sacrifice. Hebrews 7:26 says, “Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” Jesus not only meets our need to be saved, but he is faithful to satisfy our daily needs.
Hebrews 7:23 – 25 states “ Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Earthly priests could not do what Jesus did because they did not live forever. Jesus saved us, to the uttermost, and continually talks to his Dad, our Father, about what we need. He lives to intercede for us.
This is not the first time in Hebrews that we are reminded about Jesus’ intercession for us. In Hebrews 4:14 – 15, it says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”
Think of this – when we ask someone to pray for us about a particular situation, it’s entirely possible Jesus has already approached his Father’s throne on our behalf. We see evidence in the gospels that he prayed for us with frequency because we needed it. No one knows how much we need the intervention and intercession of Christ like Christ himself. He is well familiar with my grief, my sorrow, my shame, my hurt, my frustration, my hopelessness, my addiction, my family – he is no stranger to the human condition.
I remember walking by the prayer room at my church one Sunday. There were several older women, Prime Timers, you might call them, praying. And I realized my error. I thought the power was in the service, but the most powerful people in that building were the praying women. Standing in the presence of God, beseeching him on behalf of the congregation and their families, I could see the valor, the armor, the battle preparation. In my mind’s eye, I could see them with Jesus interceding before the Father’s throne together.
Take heart. You have a high priest who is well acquainted with your grief. He’s got you. He loves you.