"...the source of eternal salvation..." Hebrews 5:9
As we continue in our discovery of the letter to the Hebrews, we discover, yet, another phrase to impact our understanding of Jesus' priesthood. The writer continues elaborating on the importance of Jesus being our High Priest, describing how earthly priests are chosen, as well as the responsibilities the priest is expected to fulfill. (read 5:1-4) The priest is selected from among the people: His calling by God (v.4) is recognized by those who know him and have observed the gifts of his calling.
The one called to the priestly role represents the people in matters related to God. He has a heart for the people to know God and grow in God's grace through His Word. The "matters" which relate to God and His Kingdom are given as: offering gifts in the act of worship, as well as sacrifices for repentance from sins. We do not approach God empty-handed; we offer Him gifts because of the lavish gifts He has given us in life, family, friends, income, health and functionality. In Biblical times, the worshiper offered a blood sacrifice, following Levitical law, to accomplished at least two things: coming clean with one's sin - owning up to one's transgression and demonstrating a personal desire to continue in relationship with God... His way. When one repents of a sin, it is not just to confess it, but to turn away from the pattern of the sin. Repentance is an 'about face' from a life practice which seeks to enslave the sinner and bring destruction to the sinners life and relationships.
Jesus, as High Priest, represents us (the people - those who have been regenerated through the power of the cross) in matters relating to God: He actually took the punishment we deserved for sins we committed, and He is ever interceding for us to the Father (7:25). He's as close as the mention of His name, to offer us power over sin and strength for each day. Though He never sinned, He was tempted in all ways known to man, yet without sin. Therefore, He understands our weakness and deals gently with us to call us away from sin and its snares.
The writer then describes Jesus' priestly identity as that, "...after the order of Melchizedek." The name literally means, "King of righteousness". The first mention of Melchizedek is found in Genesis 14, where he meets Abraham and presents bread and wine to Abe and his men who had just defeated Kedorlaomer and his three allied forces. Melchizedek is described as both the King and High Priest of Salem (Jerusalem), who brought the provisions to Abraham and then redirected Abe and his men to recognize God as both the Creator and the Deliverer in battle. In so doing, Abraham and his men were reminded that is was not their might, weapons, or war strategy that won the victory, it was the hand of God. There is no further mention of the King of Salem until David mentioned him in Psalm 110:4, which the writer of Hebrews quotes: "...the Lord has sworn and will not relent, 'Your are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."
There are some theologians who believe the High Priest was the pre-incarnate Jesus - Jesus revealing Himself to Abraham, just as later He may have revealed Himself to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. (read Daniel 3) In any case, Jesus' role as the High Priest from heaven, qualified through His obedience leading to His death on a cross, became "...the source of eternal salvation..." from that moment on. And Jesus was not clueless to this essential mark of His identity. He even stated that He was the resurrection and the life, and anyone who trusted their eternity in Him would have eternal life (John 11:25-26).
I hope God will use those five words to convince you of an awaiting eternity and of salvation through no other than Jesus Christ.
He's the Fountainhead of our eternal home...