The Priest Who Seeks and Saves

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the Lost” (Luke 19:10)

“And being made perfect, He became the Source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9)

Hebrews 5 carries forward the description of Jesus as High Priest that was begun in Hebrews 4. His priesthood was not along the lines of the Levitical heritage established in the time of Moses and Aaron. Jesus was of another order of priests.

Jesus did not grab this honor for Himself. He answered all of the calling related to His manhood. His exaltation came as a result of His obedience to the parameters of His humanity.

He fulfilled all righteousness, “being made perfect” in His Person. He told John of this when it came time for Him to be baptized (see Matthew 3:15). John was reckoned in the line of Aaron. This relative of Joseph and Mary was of a priestly family. We read confirmation of this in Luke 1 when John’s father, Zacharias, carried out the incense offering and was met by Gabriel the angel and told of the Baptist’s amazing conception and birth through the long barren Elizabeth.

Jesus lived a life that met the demands of the Law of Moses down to the minutest detail. This bathing by John in the Jordan River represented a point of necessity in the Son’s preparation for His work as our Priest.

In 1 John 3:16, we are told this:  “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

The Son set aside so much in coming to live in the context of humanity. Philippians 2 describes His choice and commitment to us and our redemption this way:  “[He] emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7).

Winning by Every Word

Consider the showdown Jesus had with the devil as described in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. From the Greek text, we come to understand that these 40 days in the desert involved continuous temptations thrown at the Son.

We are given information related to three major challenges:

He was told to turn stone into bread to satisfy His hunger in His time of fasting. He was dared to cast Himself from highest point of the Temple to provide a spectacle, a wondrous sign to enhance His popularity. And He was offered the splendor and riches of this world’s kingdoms in exchange for a moment of worship before Satan.

Jesus was perfect in all of His responses as He chose the way of the Word in this combat. Adam failed to follow the Word of God as it related to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And so he and his wife both took the low road. They joined with the devil in agreeing with his deception and with his attack on the character of the Lord.

However, Jesus’ obedient way fitted Him for this priestly role prepared. Only a man could claim this position. And so the devil worked feverishly to draw the Son out of His skin. Hell’s wiles had worked sinister successes in the angelic rebellion and in the Garden with the man and the woman.

Could Satan bring about another downfall, and leave the Lamb bespotted and unacceptable as the offering for sin?

The High Priest had to possess a true identification with the ones He represented. He had to be subject to weakness so that He could deal gently with those who are ignorant and going astray (Hebrews 5:2). Ignorant is exactly how Jesus defined those crucifying Him. He understood their weakness and prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Jesus lived to enter into a priesthood of a higher kind. He was “designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:10). The primary element to emphasize here is that this order is an order devoted to seeking and saving.

Blessed by the Most High

Who was Melchizedek? He is introduced to us in Genesis 14 when he greets Abram, the man whose name meant “high or exalted father”–a name God later changed to Abraham, meaning “father of many peoples.”

Abram had finished something of a military operation in Genesis 14. He led a band of 318 against a confederation of four rulers. These kings invaded and spoiled Sodom and Gomorrah, largely because the kings of these cities ran away.

Among the captives taken in the raid were Lot and his family. Abram heard the news about his nephew and got busy. He organized his trained men and staged a rescue under the cover of night.

Abram recovered Lot and his family and everything else that had been taken. This was something of a David vs. Goliath situation, and the results were similar—the friend of God wound up victorious.

Abram recovered Lot and his family and everything else that had been taken. This was something of a David vs. Goliath situation, and the results were similar—the friend of God wound up victorious. Click To Tweet

Melchizedek, also recognized as the King of Salem or Jerusalem, initiated his encounter. Interestingly, he came to Abram just as the obviously delighted king of Sodom showed up.

Here we see the world and Heaven at odds. There’s a competition between two kings for the attention of Abram in his moment of satisfaction and triumph.

The seeking priest/king served Abraham with bread and wine. He also pronounced a blessing upon the warrior:  “… Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be the most high God, who delivered the enemies into your hand. …” (Genesis 14:19-20).

There was no altar there. No offering was needed.

Melchizedek and Abram sat and ate together. This was a moment of royal fellowship. Abram responded with appreciation, giving one-tenth of his spoil–a tithe in other words–unto the priest.

The supper also fueled a heart of loyalty in Abram. The king of Sodom attempted to pay off Abram for his successful mission, bidding him to claim the stuff he brought back. He refused the offer, saying “… I have lifted up my hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth. I will not take from you a thread even to a shoelace, and I will not take any thing that is yours lest you should say, I have made Abram rich” (Genesis 14:22-23).

He Comes Near

I read Genesis 14 and I think of John 13, about Jesus as the ultimate Priest/King washing His disciples’ feet and dining with them, breaking the bread and sharing His Cup.

This is the order of priesthood to which Jesus belongs. He seeks and He serves and He always has.

Read through the Bible and see how the Lord goes to people in much failure and distress. He goes after Adam and Eve. He confronts Cain. He visits Hagar, twice. He talks with Jonah in his disappointment over the mercy shown to Nineveh.

And then, of course, we read of how Christ came to the two men running on the road to Emmaus. He showed up in the upper room as the disciples were hiding in fear. He met Peter on the shore. He shined His Light from Heaven down upon Paul.

The Son came to seek and to save. This is among the first principles of truth that we must get deep in our hearts and minds. The father ran to the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable (see Luke 15), and He runs to us. He welcomes us home and celebrates with us.

Let us be quick and ready to draw near to the Author of our Eternal Salvation for He is ever ready to draw near to us.

Steve Andrulonis
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