Hebrews 5:9-10, “And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.”
In Hebrews 5:1–4, the author briefly describes the work of the old covenant priesthood. He does this so that in 5:5–10 he can demonstrate how Jesus meets the requirements of the old covenant high priest. However, since Jesus is God incarnate and completely sinless, He is a greater High Priest than any that came before Him.
Jesus had to come and do the work of a high priest in order to fill that office. He had to come and offer atonement on behalf of His people to the Father. Thus, He became incarnate and offered tears and supplications unto the Father, thereby learning, or fully experiencing, obedience through His vicarious suffering (5:7–8).
Today we come to Hebrews 5:9–10. In verse 9 we are told that Jesus was “made perfect” by the suffering described to us in 5:7–8. Remember, we found this teaching previously in Hebrews 2:10. To reiterate, “made perfect” means “to be set apart for an office.” Jesus was set apart for His office as High Priest through His suffering. This connects well with the previous passage (5:8), which describes Jesus’ full experience of obedience through suffering. The Son knew in theory what obedience under suffering would be like prior to the incarnation but did not know it in practice until He suffered. Likewise, He knew what the work of the High Priest would be like in theory prior to the incarnation, but He could not know it in practice until He was set apart, or until He was placed fully in that office through His suffering.
Once Jesus assumed the role of High Priest through His full experience of suffering, He “became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey” (Heb. 5:9). Again we have an implicit warning to the audience of the epistle. The author knew that some in his audience were not true believers and in danger of disobeying Christ and abandoning the new covenant completely. Here again we are told that only those who obey Christ will inherit eternal salvation. Jesus will save only those who are obedient to Him in faith. He cannot be Savior without also being Lord.
Verse 10 tells us again that Christ was designated a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. As mentioned earlier, we will pick up this theme more fully when we study chapter 7. Suffice to say for now that because Christ is in the order of Melchizedek, His priesthood and the salvation He grants are both eternal.
The Father, like He did with Christ, often uses suffering to set us apart for His work even though we cannot always see how He is doing this while the suffering is taking place. Look back and consider how God has used your suffering to further the kingdom and ask Him to show you how He will use your present suffering to do the same.