Chapter seven of Hebrews gives what few details we know about a mysterious priest named Melchizedek – that his name carried a meaning regarding righteousness, and that his office was one of peace.
Because the records of his birth and death are not found in Scripture, and because his priesthood is not tied to any biological lineage, it seems that he was a priest solely at God’s discretion. In some way Melchizedek foreshadowed Jesus.
Jesus is “after” (“like”) the order of Melchizedek because he is righteous. His office as Prince of Peace also grants him special status. Like Melchizedek, Jesus is not installed as ultimate high priest because of his lineage, but rather because of who he is and the divine will of God.
It’s at this moment that Jesus as the catalyst for spiritual formation comes into focus. Because we have this perfect high priest, we are able to draw near to God through him, and he makes intercession for us…changing us in the process.
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. (Hebrews 7:26-27, ESV)
Ultimately, God’s plan couldn’t be accomplished by the Levitical priesthood. Their sacrifices were temporary, and as fragile human beings they could not go on forever. Jesus, however, can offer himself one time, for all eternity.
His perfection ensures us that we don’t needn’t continually offer sacrifices to appease God or obtain forgiveness.
Jesus–the perfect priest–did this for us, once and for all. We are at peace with the God of universe and ourselves.