“For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:” (Hebrews 5:1, KJV 1900)
Have you ever been somewhere that made you feel completely out of place? In other words, it was a place where, after entering, you did not see the activities that you expected. Imagine that you were a Jewish person in 65 A.D. and you were invited to a Jewish Christian worship gathering. How strange do you think the service would appear to you? What kind of questions would you ask? Keep in mind that the Jerusalem Temple was still standing and the sacrificial system was fully functioning.
One of the most likely questions would have to do with the problem of sin, the sacrificial system, and the high priest. Can’t you just hear the guest’s questions? Who is your high priest? You don’t sacrifice? How do you deal with sin? The guest would likely feel quite strange in this Christian environment. There were likely many Jews in the community to which the author of Hebrews wrote, that would feel the same way. Those Jews who were investigating Christianity but not yet have become fully convinced would especially want to know the answers to these questions. It is because in Judaism these things were of paramount importance.
Thus, the author presents this key teaching that Jesus is the great high priest. However, the seeker would have one other question. Why is Jesus qualified to fulfill this role as the high priest? In this section of the book of Hebrews, the author presents several points to show that Jesus is qualified to be the high priest.
One of the key qualifications of the high priest was that he would be chosen from among men. The high priest had to be a man who was appointed to act on behalf of men in the work of offering gifts and sacrifices for sins. Jesus was no ordinary man. He is the eternal God who became flesh. Being fully human, He met this qualification.
Going on, the writer indicated that the high priest would deal gently with the wayward because he was weak himself (Heb 5:2). Jesus voluntarily forsook the outward manifestation of deity and identified with the weaknesses of every man (Phil 2:5-8), being tempted and yet without sin. Thus, Jesus is our compassionate high priest.
In addition, one could not exalt himself to this position of high priest. Only God could call one to it (Heb 5:4). The author indicates that God designated Jesus the eternal high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Heb 5:5-6). (We’ll get more into Melchizedek’s priesthood later.)
So, the answer for the Jews who might ask the many questions. Who is your high priest? It is Jesus. You don’t sacrifice? That is correct. Jesus, who was sinless, without spot or blemish, sacrificed himself by dying on a cross once for all. There is no longer any need for sacrifice. How do you deal with sin? We deal with it by trusting in the finished work of Jesus Messiah on the cross once and for all. When we truly believe, God counts it to us as righteousness and He saves us from all our sin.