There are lots of (to us) funny names in the Old Testament. Bible readers dread them on a Sunday: Enoch (who I once heard repeatedly pronounced as Eunuch to the joy of the congregation), Phinehas, Zerubbabel, Merodech-Baladan and many more. Today we come across good old Melchizedek. On a clergy study day last week he popped up in the daily bible reading and one of my colleagues blithely referred to him as Melchizzledek throughout, oblivious to the smothered giggles of her peers.


Melchizedek is a big man. He appears in Genesis without end or beginning, a great King, the powerful, holy, high priest at Jerusalem. Even the greatest patriarch Abraham submits and pays him tribute. Fleetingly referred to in the Psalms he pops up in again in Hebrews as we heard today. The letter to the Hebrews is generally considered to have been written as encouragement to Jewish Christians who were wavering in the new found faith in Christ, being tempted to return to the old ways. The writer packs in reference after reference to the Old Testament attempting to show how the Old Testament stories are pictured of a greater reality, and that Jesus is the fulfilment of everything promised therein. He contrasts the two characters. Like Melchizedek, Jesus too is a High Priest, a King, powerful, great and holy, but much more than that, Jesus is timeless Son of God without beginning or end.


Hebrews 5:5 Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, ‘You are my son, today have I begotten you.’


The point? For the writer to the Hebrews, Jesus is the one and only, ever living and powerful high priest for all needy humanity. He offers a better sacrifice for sin than Melchizedek: not in some tatty earthly temple sanctuary a poor copy of the real one in heaven. This High Priest has eternal access to the Holy of Holies the very presence of God, bearing not some tin pot sacrifice of animal blood but the real McCoy, his own blood.


As Hebrews says we have this hope as an ‘anchor for the soul’, a cord if you like that extends right into the presence of God and firmly attached to Jesus, not as in Old Testament Days in case the High Priest died in the Holy of Holies and his chums could pull him out; but for us to be led forgiven and welcome into heaven introduced personally by Jesus, the Son of God and our High priest for ever.


Mechizedek smizzledek: Hebrews was right. Jesus is the one and only, ever living and powerful high priest for all needy humanity. Take this hope as an anchor for your souls and you will not be disappointed.