What Melchizedek Can Teach Us About Jesus
By Chara Donahue
“The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek..." Psalm 110:4.
Genesis introduces Melchizedek – a “priest of God most High,” as he blesses Abram. He is mentioned again in Psalms, but we aren’t alerted to how much attention we should give him until we see his name again in the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 7:1-28). For as much mention the author of Hebrews gives to Melchizedek we know it is worth our time to discover who he is and what he was about.
So who is this man who was an imperfect foreshadow to Jesus and why should we care?
Psalm 110: is talking about Jesus, “’You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.’” The Matthew Henry Concise Commentary said this about the Psalm:
“[Jesus] is the Priest of the order of Melchizedek, which was before that of Aaron, and on many accounts superior to it, and a more lively representation of Christ's priesthood.”
Melchizedek is important. Any glimpse in scripture which offers a more complete view of Jesus is beauty and truth that we cannot set aside.
The author of Hebrews repeatedly contrasts Old Testament heroes and practices and then profoundly reveals how Jesus is the better and truer fulfillment of the Hebrew’s beloved traditions and patriarchs. In chapters 5 through the beginning of chapter 8, the author focuses on the superior priesthood of Jesus over the Levitical Priesthood as the eternal, perfected priest of the order of Melchizedek.
The Levitical priests would represent the people of Israel before God. They became priests by lineage, which didn’t guarantee righteous living; see Aaron’s son’s unauthorized fire or Eli’s wicked sons for example. Melchizedek was a priest in an order that had no beginning; because Jesus is the order’s greatest priest, it will also never end. The great news found here is that Jesus is not a Levitical priest for the Israelites, but a priest of the order of Melchizedek – meaning he is a priest for all. Though the Jew and the Gentile were once separated by promise and law, through Christ all of humanity was extended the opportunity to be drawn near.
Psalm 110 foresaw that the Messiah would hold the Melchizedekian priesthood forever, and our Lord’s overcoming death means He will never set aside His priesthood. If we come to God through the priestly ministry of Jesus, we can be sure that like His priesthood, our lives will be eternal. Knowing that Christ holds an eternal priesthood, we are confident that we are secure in Him forever.