When Jesus cried out for us – Wednesday, 24th Week in ordinary time – Hebrews 5:7-9
Today’s reading has three power packed verses from the letter of St Paul to the Hebrews. St Paul’s letter to the Hebrews has the most intricate Christology in the New Testament. Christology deals with the person and works of Jesus. St Paul’s letter to the Hebrew’s presents a unique picture of Jesus.
In the letter to the Hebrews, St Paul presents Christ as the agent of creation, the exalted Son of God and High Priest installed at God’s right hand (especially see the opening of 1:1-4). Yet at the same time, the letter stresses how Christ shares every aspect of our humanity with the exception of sin (2:17-18; 4:15).
To fully understand this text we need to also read it with chapter 4:14 onwards, in which we see dual identities presented for Jesus; as Son of God and as High Priest (Hebrews 4:14). The text of today expands on Jesus as the Son of God and High Priest. In antiquity, high priests functioned as intermediaries. They offered sacrifices for the appeasement of the gods and the sins of the people. They offered intercessions and prayers, pleading the case of the people before God. They stood in the gap between God and the people.
Jesus is described as “a great high priest who has passed through the heavens” (4:14). Part of Jesus’ priestly service involved offering up prayers and supplications while identifying fully with humanity and who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet is without sin.” In simple words, in Jesus, we have a high priest who is empathetic with our struggles, he understands what we go through each day. He is truly Emmanuel, God with us.
Since Jesus is both our great high priest and our great intercessor he not only made it possible for us to approach God, but as the writer of Hebrew’s also suggests that we should approach God and do it with boldness.
Today’s text tells us that Jesus cried loudly and with tears on our behalf. Jesus cried out for us (verse7), not only so that we can cry out for ourselves but also so that we can cry out for others; cry out on behalf of our wounded and broken world; cry out against poverty and injustice. Intercession is our opportunity to stand in the gap for others, to bring their needs before God. When we approach the throne of grace, we can be confident to receive mercy and find grace to help us and those in need.
The text of today also tells us that Jesus cried out to the ‘one who was able to save him from death.’Jesus is not praying that he would avoid death. Rather, he is praying to the One who will save him out of the reality of death through his resurrection and exaltation. Thus Jesus is modeling ultimate trust in and reverent submission to the One who has ultimate power over death as part of his priestly service. He rescues us from death through his own death.