How often have I been captivated by the masked man, the man of mystery, in stories and film? The Man in the Iron Mask was reputed to be wrongly imprisoned heir to the throne of France, and was restored to his reign by the Three Musketeers. The masked Lone Ranger, a good-hearted Spanish landowner, who rode on a white horse named Silver, bravely helped the under-privileged. The Phantom of the Opera was a disfigured and disgruntled musical genius, masked to hide his ruined face, and took over the Paris Opera to kidnap his beloved Christine. There are many masked Marvel heroes who battled evil and defended the good. Each man of mystery plays a pivotal role in the story, or influences it from the background. Did you know the Bible features a man of mystery, too? His name was Melchizedek.
“‘….You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek’; who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest ‘according to the order of Melchizedek’.” (Hebrews 5:6-9 NKJV)
Melchizedek was a mysterious priest who appeared briefly in Genesis 14 in the story of Abraham, caught up in a war between tribal leaders, and intent on rescuing his nephew Lot, captured by one of them. Upon his victory, Abraham was offered tremendous war booty, but he did not want to be compromised by a cozy deal with the defeated enemy, instead choosing to give ten percent of the spoils as tithe to the man of mystery, the king of Salem and high priest of God, Melchizedek. Because of this faith-filled decision, Abraham was blessed.
Why does Melchizedek matter to us now? He matters because he was preview of the Messiah to come, two thousand years later. God shows us through Melchizedek what the Messiah would be. Like the mysterious priest, Jesus is a king and high priest who rules forever, without start or finish. Melchizedek was not a Levite, born into the priesthood, and neither was Jesus. We think of priests as those to speak to God for us, offer sacrifices for us, and receive God’s forgiveness for us. Melchizedek doesn’t fit that role in the story, and neither does Jesus. Our Lord often doesn’t do what we expect Him to do, and Melchizedek helps us understand that. The mystery man reminds us of the importance of the person of Jesus over religious practice.
It was through His obedience on the cross and right relation with God that places Him as the high priest who lives forever, so we who believe will no longer need a priest to intercede for us. This is a true super hero! He is sometimes masked to us, and we don’t always understand His ways and purposes, but we know for sure He acts for our good and for our blessing.
Prayer: We thank You, God our Father, for the gift of Your Son, who offered up prayers and supplications for us to You who was able to save Him, but accepted death for our sins so that we who believe may enjoy the eternal salvation He won for us, and His blessing. Hallelujah/1