Hebrews 7: Not the Great, the Only

Berry Long and I stayed up way too late talking theology/football/books and all that.  Toward the end of our conversation, I feel pretty sure I was incoherent.  For Christians, getting tired is as close as we come to getting high.

Berry shares my love for John Stott.  In 2003, I remember Stott lighting up Urbana.  Most people won't remember Stott lighting up Urbana.  John Stott had a stroke right before Urbana and didn't make it out to Illinois.  But I remember his talk.

Joshua Wathanga read the transcript of Stott's talk on Radical Christianity, and this was a part of it:
We may talk about Alexander the Great, Charles the Great and Napoleon the Great, but not Jesus the Great. Jesus is not the Great, he is the Only. Jesus has no rivals and Jesus has no successors.

I remember that line 7 years later.  And that's the point of Hebrews 7.

Melchizedek wasn't just a better priest.  He was a totally different kind of priest.  He wasn't just better, he was different.

This kind of thinking is really difficult for us.  Our brains work analogically: this is like that.  When something doesn't fit an analogy, we force an analogy upon it.  The author of Hebrews knows this about us.  God knows it too.  So we're treated to analogy after analogy.  Greater than angels.  Greater than Moses.  Greater than sacrificial system.

But we're also challenged.  Break the analogy.  Start a new category.  "You know priests" says Hebrews 7.  "He is a priest, but of the order of Melchizedek, not of Aaron.  You've never seen a priest like him."

He is not the Great.  He is the Only.

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