Hebrews 5

This devotional is written by Andy Hunt.

Hebrews 5

Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4 And no one takes this honour on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.

5 In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,

‘You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.’

6 And he says in another place,

‘You are a priest for ever,
in the order of Melchizedek.’

7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Warning against falling away
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.


Ok wow.
There’s a lot of symbolism in this passage, before we even get started on the historical stuff about high priests!
Unsurprisingly though, the part that grabbed me first in this passage is the part about food.
I was initially a bit put off by the telling off given in verse 11 where there’s some evident frustration at the Hebrews for the way that they have ‘stopped listening’ - leading them into a state of arrested development on their journey towards becoming teachers.
I think I felt particularly nagged by this telling off! It resonated with my own frustrations at my lack of progress in my own academic studies. I worked out the other day that I have another 220 hours to go until I get my qualification!
Anyway, aside from the nagging, for the purpose of this reflection, I wonder if we might take a kinder look at this concept of milk vs solid food?
Rewind ten years and I was just starting out as head of music in a secondary school, sitting in the cab of a minibus waiting to get my licence to drive my students to concerts! I remember the instructor telling me to take him for a drive for five minutes so he could do an initial assessment. As I imagine is the case with a lot of young men, I was none to phased by this request - after all, I had been driving for nearly ten years already and was more than happy to offer him a masterclass of my skills!
Five minutes later, the instructor pulled me over and began to point out that I should probably use my mirrors, and that it would be a good idea to put the handbrake on at junctions. All that before we even got to the concept of reverse parking…
I came to the realisation that, whilst I had done an ok job of getting from A to B in my little Clio, I was going to need to repurpose my skills a little if I was going to be responsible for transporting children.
What does this have to do with Hebrews 5? Well, I want to make the point that maybe we all have to go back to Milk sometimes. I’d even go as far as to say that this isn’t always something to be ashamed of. After all, the faith we have right now, got us as far as here… But we know that God is making all things new and that the beauty of this mystery of faith is that we are on a path of being continually transformed by the renewing of our minds: Any musician will tell you how important slow scales are, as well as sonatas. Any athlete will tell you that breaking down their cadence can be as helpful for running performance as doing sprints.
So where are you at today?
What is the Spirit prompting in you as you read Hebrews 5?
Is this your time to progress onto solid food, to step out in faith and challenge yourself to sail out into the bay and explore outside of those fundamentals that you’ve been holding on to with white knuckles…?
Or maybe today you feel a call to come into shore for a bit, craving pure spiritual milk to nourish you for the long haul.
Either way, Jesus is our High Priest, and has done this journey already, to the delight and approval of His Heavenly Father.
 May you journey with him intimately today…

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