For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,
“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”;
as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:1-10, ESV)
Jesus is superior to those who delivered the Law to Israel, the angels and Moses. He is the Son over God’s household and they are servants to (angels) or in (Moses) God’s household. Jesus is also superior to Aaron and his priesthood. Only members of Aaron’s line in the tribe of Levi were allowed to be priests and high priest in Israel. But Jesus was from the line of David in the tribe of Judah. Did he appoint himself as priest?
Human beings alone can be priests, acting on behalf of other humans, offering sacrifices, dealing in gentleness with the ignorant and wayward, two very different postures of sin. But all human priests are also sinners and need to offer sacrifice for their own sins as well. Only God can call you to priesthood.
God called Jesus to priesthood, also, but not to the order of Aaron’s priesthood. He was made a priest, according to Psalm 110, in the order of Melchizedek. Jesus carried out this priesthood in the days of his flesh, the days in which he veiled his deity and lived just as we must live, in weakness and in dependence upon God. During this time he appealed with great distress to his Father as he faced the cross, where he made his priestly offering, the sacrifice of his own life for our sake. God heard his prayer and strengthened him to endure this death penalty. In this sense he was made “perfect” to be the blameless lamb of God on the altar.
Do you appreciate what Christ did for us? What a burden he shouldered on our behalf! He carried the sin of the world on his back and took its penalty from the Father, death, and did so without using his own divine power. Rather, he looked to God as he experienced incredible dread and anxiety about the prospect of dying on a Roman cross. He is both our rescuer and our model.