And no man takes this honor to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.…
Twice already the apostle has referred to Christ as our High Priest, and he now enters on the development of the central theme of his Epistle — Christ a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. But in order to explain the priesthood on which Christ entered after His death and resurrection, and of which not Aaron but Melchizedek was the type, it is necessary for him to show how the Lord Jesus fulfilled all that was typified of Him in the Levitical dispensation, and possessed in perfection all the requirements which, according to Divine appointment, were needed in the high priest, and which could not be possessed in perfection by sinful men like the Aaronic priests. In the first place, the priests were as sinful as the people whom they represented. It was on account of sin that Israel felt the need of a mediator. But Aaron and the priests were only officially holy; they were not in reality spotless and pure. Hence they had to offer sacrifices for their own sins and infirmities, as well as for those of the people. Secondly, the mediator ought not merely to be perfect and sinless man, he ought also to be Divine, in perfect and full communion with God, so that he can impart Divine forgiveness and blessing. Only in the Lord Jesus, therefore, is the true mediation. He who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, hath made us kings and priests unto God. The two qualifications of the Aaronic high priest, that he was from among men and that he was appointed by God, were fulfilled in a perfect manner in the Lord Jesus. But in considering these two points, we are struck not merely by the resemblance between the type and the fulfilment, but also by the contrast.
1. Aaron was chosen from among men to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Jesus was true man, born of a woman and made under the law; He. became in all things like unto His brethren. But whereas the Jewish high priest had to offer for himself, as he was a sinner, the Lord was harmless and undefiled, pure and spotless. His mediation was therefore perfect. The Aaronic high priest was able to have compassion on the ignorant and on them that were out of the way, knowing and feeling his own infirmities and transgressions, and knowing also the love of God, who desireth not the death of the sinner, but that he should turn and live. But this compassionate regard for the sinner can exist in perfection only in a sinless one. This appears at first sight paradoxical; for we expect the perfect man to be the severest judge. And with regard to sin, this is doubtless true. God chargeth even His angels with folly. He beholds sin where we do not discover it. He setteth our secret sins in the light of His countenance. And Jesus, the Holy One of Israel, like the Father, has eyes like a flame of fire, and discerns everything that is contrary to God's mind and will. But with regard to the sinner, Jesus, by virtue of His perfect holiness, is the most merciful, compassionate, and considerate Judge. Beholding the sinful heart in all, estimating sin according to the Divine standard, according to its real inward character, and not the human, conventional, and outward measure, Jesus, infinitely holy and sensitive as He was, saw often less to shock an,t pain Him in the drunkard and profligate than in the respectable, selfish, and ungodly religionists. Again, He had come to heal the sick, to restore the erring, to bring the sinner to repentance. He looked upon sin as the greatest and most fearful evil, but on the sinner as poor, suffering, lost, and helpless. He felt as the Shepherd towards the erring. Again, He fastened in a moment on any indications of the Father's drawing the heart, of the Spirit's work:
2. The high priest is appointed by God. No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. The high priesthood of Christ is identified here with His glory. "Christ glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest." Blessed truth, that ,he glory of Christ and our salvation are so intimately connected, that Christ regards it as His glory to be our Mediator and Intercessor! This is Christ's glory, even as it is the reward of His suffering, that in Him we draw near to the Father, and that from Him we receive the blessings of the everlasting covenant. He rejoices to be our High Priest. God called Him to the priesthood. The calling of Jesus to the high priestly dignity is based on His Sonship. Because Jesus is Son, He is the Prophet, perfectly revealing God; because He is Son, He is the true Sacrifice and Priest; for only the blood of the Son of God can cleanse from all sin, and bring us nigh unto God; and only through Christ crucified and exalted can the Father's love and the Spirit's power descend into our hearts. Here the comparison and contrast between the Lord and Aaron ends. The apostle now enters on that which is peculiar to our Saviour Jesus. The types and figures of the old covenant could not be perfect and adequate; for that which is united in Christ had necessarily to be severed and set forth by a variety of figures. The priests offered not themselves, but animals. Now the obedience, the conflict, the faith, the offering of the will as the true, real, and effective Sacrifice could not possibly be symbolised. Nor could any single symbol represent how Jesus, by being first the Sacrifice, became thereby the perfect, compassionate, and merciful High Priest. Christ was the victim on the Cross. The Son of God, according to the eternal counsel, came into the world to be obedient even unto death. "Lo, I come to do Thy will." His obedience was characterised throughout by such continuity, liberty, and inward delight, that we are apt to forget that aspect of His life on which the apostle dwells when he says, that though Christ was a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered. Real and great were His difficulties, temptations, and sorrows; and from the prayers and complaints ascribed to Messiah in the psalms and prophets, we can understand somewhat of the burden which weighed on His loving and sensitive heart, and the constant dependence with which He leaned on the Father, and obtained from Him light and strength. Jesus believed; He lived not merely before, but by the Father. Thus is Jesus the Author and Finisher of faith. He went before the sheep. He is the forerunner. He has experienced every difficulty, and last, d every sorrow. He knows the path in all its narrowness.
Parallel VersesKJV: And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.