Melchizedek in Barbieland

Written in


Introduction: Barbie

“Since the beginning of time, since the first little girl ever existed, there have been dolls. But the dolls were always and forever baby dolls, until…”[1]

Barbie, one of the most popular films to be released last year, written and directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie as Barbie. In preparing to play the role of Barbie, actor Margot Robbie recounts in an interview how the film’s director “wrote [for her] an abstract poem about Barbie… [One that] shares some similarities with the Apostles’ Creed.”[2] One can only imagine what such an abstract poem about Barbie might sound like. But it is easy enough to recognize the value of such an exercise and how such a creed, or poem, might help an actor fully assume the role that they are called to play. The poem serves as a pattern, a blueprint, a model to be fully filled in and fleshed out by the actor. The role itself—playing Barbie on screen in this case—remains the substance of the role; the actor’s poem its shadow, serving the performance as a poetic flame by which to better see her role, to mediate on who she has to become. Like the creeds we recite which present theological truths in abstract language, poetry creates a forest of meaning from trees strategically planted that stand to be admired from multiple angles.

Models and Examples

New Testament writers similarly make use of poetic texts not simply to adorn their writing but to show us how patterns within the Bible itself have already been played out and fulfilled within its own pages. Showing us these patterns and their fulfillment aims to invite, and hopefully even entice, us the audience to embody the teaching they are trying to communicate. The Bible itself is replete with models and examples, types and archetypes, shadows, and their substance.

In today’s reading from Hebrews (5:5-10), the author likewise draws on poetry—two passages from the Psalms—to invite us to mediate on the mystery of Christ and his ministry, specifically as a high priest. For, you see, Jesus is not just any high priest. While there had been numerous before him–those from the family of Levi–Jesus is a different type of priest altogether, one “according to the order of Melchizedek.”

This morning, we are first going to look briefly at this mysterious biblical figure of Melchizedek before considering in what way Jesus is like him and all that this means for us, Jesus’ followers, as we approach Easter.


We presently find ourselves just one week away from the start of Holy Week, next Sunday being Palm Sunday. This Sunday marks what has traditionally been known as Passiontide, the final two weeks of Lent. Here the word “passion” refers not to just any strong, overpowering swell of emotion, but to physical suffering and pain.[3] Between now and Easter, we are urged to think deeply about the sufferings of Jesus during the final days of his earthly life, those events leading from the Last Supper with his disciples to his crucifixion and death.

And it is in fact to these events that the author of the letter to the Hebrews draws on to encourage believers in his day not to abandon their faith. He speaks of Jesus praying with loud cries and tears, recalling the mental anguish that he would have experienced in the garden of Gethsemane prior to his betrayal and arrest.


The mysterious ministry of Melchizedek similarly invites further reflection. In what way is Jesus a priest “according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb 5:6)? Who was Melchizedek, whose name in Hebrew means “king of righteousness”?

Melchizedek is an extremely enigmatic figure in the Bible who is only mentioned a handful of times. (And this is not the last time that royalty has been enshrouded in mystery.) But his significance and infamy far surpass his mentions. We first find him in Genesis chapter 14 in an episode in the life of Father Abraham. Abraham is returning home victorious from battle when Melchizedek, called both “king of Salem” and “priest,” comes out to meet him. According to the passage, Melchizedek only does two things: 1) he brings out bread and wine, and 2) he blesses Abraham, attributing his success to God Most High. Bread, wine, and a blessing.[4]

According to the Order of Melchizedek

The author of Hebrews draws on the figure of Melchizedek as a type, or shadow, to show how Jesus becomes himself the ultimate gift. His priesthood is one in which he offers himself up as a perfect sacrifice. Through this he became for all time the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Heb 5:9). Unlike the ordinary priests from the family of Levi, Jesus is a priest who does not have to first offer a sacrifice for his own sin but was made perfect by his perfect obedience to God the Father.

What it means then for Jesus to be our high priest according to the order of Melchizedek is to underline his uniqueness. He is a priest unlike any other. All other priests who may stand between us and God are limited, imperfect, lacking in some way. Not so with Jesus. He is on another level, providing access to God like never has been known before.

Despite the pain and suffering that he knew awaited him, he did not shrink back from entrusting himself to the Father. He faithfully surrendered his will and committed himself wholly into the hands of the One able to save him from death and he was heard. It is with this message of perfection through obedience and faithfulness that the author of Hebrews intends to encourage us to press on toward perfection following Jesus’s example.


The enigmatic life of Melchizedek reinforces a pattern of living that rises to meet opportunity,[5] blesses lavishly, lives forever, and is somewhere between this world and the world to come.[6] Pondering these mysteries of God should bring us to a place of peace. Meditating on Jesus, one who is like no other, will bring you to a place of peace like no other. And it is when we are at peace with God that we can be at peace with ourselves. Going further, it is when we are at peace with ourselves that we can be at peace with one another. Only then can we fully flourish and live in the fullness of life as God intended.

Let us therefore press on to perfection, not merely a perfection of morality but of perfect obedience and faithfulness even in the face of adversity. Jesus as our perfect high priest endured the unimaginable so that we might have peace with God and one another.

Let us not now sacrifice that hard-earned peace purchased by his blood because of petty concerns or selfish self-interest. Let us look out for the interests of one another, pursuing love and good deeds, demonstrating that we are faithfully his.

In the same way that Melchizedek rose up to meet an opportunity, be a blessing, and give God the glory, so, too, did Jesus through the offering of a new covenant in his blood, so that we may rise up sacrificially to meet the opportunities that God places before us, opportunities to serve, to be a blessing and instruments of peace, and subvert the world’s ordering of interests to walk in the way of our high priest and king, Jesus, according to the order of Melchizedek, king of righteousness, prince of peace.


  1. Barbie (2023), 2023,
  2. Abby Aguirre, “Barbiemania! Margot Robbie Opens Up About the Movie Everyone’s Waiting For,” Vogue, 24 May 2023,; Emily Brown, “Greta Gerwig Wrote an Apostles’ Creed-Inspired Poem for ‘Barbie,’” RELEVANT, 24 May 2023,
  3. OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY, s.v. “Passion, n.”
  4. Carmen Joy Imes, “Melchizedek,” Bible Odyssey, n.d.,
  5. Merryl Blair, “The ‘Order of Melchizedek’: Hebrews 7 as a Model for Thinking Ecumenically about Priesthood: Journal of Ecumenical Studies,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 53.1 (2018): 95–109,
  6. Madison N. Pierce, “Conclusion,” in Divine Discourse in the Epistle to the Hebrews: The Recontextualization of Spoken Quotations of Scripture, Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), 203,


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