Melchizedek, Priest of God 7 1Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of the Highest God. He met Abraham, who was returning from “the royal massacre,” and gave him his blessing. 2Abraham in turn gave him a tenth of the spoils. “Melchizedek” means “King of Righteousness.” “Salem” means “Peace.” So, he is also “King of Peace.” 3Melchizedek towers out of the past—without record of family ties, no account of beginning or end. In this way he is like the Son of God, one huge priestly presence dominating the landscape always. 4You realize just how great Melchizedek is when you see that Father Abraham gave him a tenth of the captured treasure. 5Priests descended from Levi are commanded by law to collect tithes from the people, even though they are all more or less equals, priests and people, having a common father in Abraham. 6But this man, a complete outsider, collected tithes from Abraham and blessed him, the one to whom the promises had been given. 7In acts of blessing, the lesser is blessed by the greater. 8Or look at it this way: We pay our tithes to priests who die, but Abraham paid tithes to a priest who, the Scripture says, “lives.” 9Ultimately you could even say that since Levi descended from Abraham, who paid tithes to Melchizedek, 10when we pay tithes to the priestly tribe of Levi they end up with Melchizedek. A Permanent Priesthood 11If the priesthood of Levi and Aaron, which provided the framework for the giving of the law, could really make people perfect, there wouldn’t have been need for a new priesthood like that of Melchizedek. 12But since it didn’t get the job done, there was a change of priesthood, which brought with it a radical new kind of law. 13There is no way of understanding this in terms of the old Levitical priesthood, 14which is why there is nothing in Jesus’ family tree connecting him with that priestly line. 15But the Melchizedek story provides a perfect analogy: Jesus, a priest like Melchizedek, 16not by genealogical descent but by the sheer force of resurrection life—he lives!—17“priest forever in the royal order of Melchizedek.” 18The former way of doing things, a system of commandments that never worked out the way it was supposed to, was set aside; 19the law brought nothing to maturity. Another way—Jesus!—a way that does work, that brings us right into the presence of God, is put in its place. 20The old priesthood of Aaron perpetuated itself automatically, father to son, without explicit confirmation by God. 21But then God intervened and called this new, permanent priesthood into being with an added promise: God gave his word; he won’t take it back: “You’re the permanent priest.” 22This makes Jesus the guarantee of a far better way between us and God—one that really works! A new covenant. 23Earlier there were a lot of priests, for they died and had to be replaced. 24But Jesus’ priesthood is permanent. He’s there from now to eternity 25to save everyone who comes to God through him, always on the job to speak up for them. 26So now we have a high priest who perfectly fits our needs: completely holy, uncompromised by sin, with authority extending as high as God’s presence in heaven itself. 27Unlike the other high priests, he doesn’t have to offer sacrifices for his own sins every day before he can get around to us and our sins. He’s done it, once and for all: offered up himself as the sacrifice. 28The law appoints as high priests men who are never able to get the job done right. But this intervening command of God, which came later, appoints the Son, who is absolutely, eternally perfect.
The Message® / © 2002 Eugene H. Peterson About