Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Day 28- March 25
So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,
‘You are my Son,
today I have begotten you’;
as he says also in another place,
‘You are a priest for ever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.’
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
There's no book in the Second Testament quite like Hebrews. The author's primary interest seems to be a portrayal of Jesus as a high priest, a discussion taken up in much greater detail in Hebrews 7. An interesting but somewhat obscure reference to Melchizedek, the priest who blessed Abraham and bore his tithe to the altar is not the only example that leaves us wondering whether this section is accessible and helpful to us. It's troubling think that the author of Hebrews is suggesting that God deliberately caused Jesus to suffer. It's odd to think about a priest who doesn't offer up the expected sacrifices (animal or sacramental...bread and wine. In this passage, Jesus the High Priest offers up the lament of all people with loud crying and tears. Could it be that this author wants us to focus not on the "accessories" of priestliness or sacrifice, but rather to spend time reflecting upon Jesus' deep, deep compassion? A priest forever, Jesus cries out on behalf of all people, forever. Perhaps we can relate to a Jesus who weeps for us and on our behalf, and calls us to hear and echo that cry on behalf of all who suffer.
Hear our prayers, O Lord, for those who suffer, for those who weep, whose conditions break our hearts, and yours. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world. Have mercy. Amen.
Sculpture: "Love and Anguish" found here.