The “honor” of serving as a High Priest in Israel was something that no one could bestow upon himself. Aaron did not appoint himself. In Exodus 28:1, God calls Moses to bring Aaron and his sons before Him that He could appoint them as the priests of Israel. As it was God Himself that appointed Aaron, so too it was God Himself who appointed Jesus to His role as the Great High Priest for us all. Hebrews 5:4 says, “And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.” The writer of the Handbook for Translators wants those who wrestle with this text in different languages to focus on the issue at hand and not be misled by the idea of the “call” itself. They say, “The wider context is concerned with valid appointment to the office of high priest, not so much with the call itself.”[1]

I can’t tell you how many sermons I’ve heard, books I’ve read, and Christians I have talked to, that try to take this passage and some others that are talking about the legitimacy of Christ’s call by God, and apply it to a human “call to ministry.” That’s not what this passage is about. It’s not about me although I would like it to be sometimes. It’s about Jesus! So much of the Bible is taken out of context in order to make it mean something “to me” that the original point is missed altogether. The Bible is all about Jesus, it’s not about you! He’s the only one who can offer a perfect sacrifice for our sins. Only His righteousness is sufficient to meet the perfect demands of God. Jesus’ perfect life and perfect sacrifice on Calvary is what the Bible is all about. He’s the center of God’s message to man and it’s seen from Genesis through Revelation. He does for you and I what we could never do for ourselves. If you feel you have to add something to that through your own efforts, dedication and hard work, I feel sorry for you.

You and I were not appointed by God to save ourselves or others! We are not David going down to meet Goliath in the Valley of Elah! Not nearly! I am a frightened warrior standing with other frightened warriors needing a champion to fight for me. Jesus is that Champion. I am not Joshua (OT name for Jesus) wanting to stand against the giants in the land of Canaan. I am one of the other spies shaking in my boots at the size and demeanor of the enemy. I’m the one who needs a champion to take the land for me. Jesus is that Champion. We must stop seeing the Bible as just another self-help book to inspire us to take control of our lives; “Be like Daniel! Be like Joshua! Be like David! Be like Jesus!” I am not Daniel. I am not Joshua. I am not David, and I am certainly not Jesus! I want to let Jesus be Jesus! I want to be the sinner who is saved by God’s grace through the only perfect life and sacrifice that could ever be made. It’s not until we get over ourselves and let Jesus be our savior that we’ll ever find true rest. Through faith in Christ, my Giant enemies have been conquered! He did it for me. He is the only legitimately appointed Messiah, Savior, of us all. We cannot save ourselves. We must let Jesus save us!

[1] Paul Ellingworth and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the Letter to the Hebrews, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 96.