by J.D. Greear
“We continued our series through Hebrews this weekend with a passage on Melchizedek, one of the more obscure figures in the Old Testament. It’s tempting to skip over Melchizedek, but the author of Hebrews mentions this seemingly minor OT character to teach us four important lessons about Jesus.
1. All of the Old Testament points to Jesus.
Other than the passage in Hebrews, Melchizedek is only mentioned twice. He shows up in Genesis 14 just long enough to receive a tithe from Abram, and then disappears until David mentions him in a prophetic psalm 1,000 years later. And that’s it—outside of Hebrews, Melchizedek gets four verses.
But the author of Hebrews sees Jesus even in this minor Old Testament character. This is what I love so much about reading and re-reading the Old Testament. You begin to see that the entire Bible is woven together to teachone story, the story of the gospel. As Jesus himself said, all of the Old Testament stories—even the obscure ones—ultimately point to him (Luke 24:27).
2. Jesus was both a King and a Priest.
One of the few details we know about Melchizedek is that he was both a king and a priest. This is true of no one else in the Old Testament, and for good reason. The kingly and priestly offices were ones you would not want combined. Just imagine combining the roles of pastor and police officer! Each one had a very specific function to fulfill. The king was the lawgiver, the priest was the counselor. The king stood firmly for truth; the priest sympathized with people in their weaknesses. The king represented God to the people; the priest represented the people to God.
In Jesus, however, the offices of king and priest converged. With his death on the cross, Jesus brought together absolute justice and the fullness of God’s mercy. By taking our place, Jesus accomplished what justice required for our sin, but in a way that he could still approach us with the tenderness of a priest.
3. Jesus can save anyone, anywhere.
The problem with the OT priests, as the author of Hebrews says, is that they could only represent other Jews. Besides that, they had their own sins to deal with, and even the best of them eventually died. Melchizedek, though, has no genealogy, so he represents a new type of priest, not bound to the nation of Israel.
Jesus is the fulfillment of that new type of priest, not bound to the nation of Israel, nor bound by sin or death. He did not die for a certain type of person. He died for all people everywhere, so that anyone, anywhere could be saved. Or as the author of Hebrews says, He can save to the uttermost (7:25).Jesus’ death opened salvation to all people, so what keeps us from God now is not our sin, but only our unbelief.
4. Jesus deserves our first and best.
When Abram met Melchizedek, he was looking for a way of giving thanks to God. So he tithed to Melchizedek, offering to this king and priest as to a shadow of the King and Priest to come, Jesus Christ. In the same way, we who have been saved by Jesus ought to offer to Him our first and our best. How can we say we have any concept of God’s free grace if we persist in thinking of our money, time, and talents as things that we deserve because we earned them? Certainly our efforts matter, but so much depends on our health, where we were born, and our innate abilities—which all come from God! When we see that it all comes from God anyway, it is much easier to offer back to Jesus our first and our best.”