Jesus Is Our Priest

I look at the institutional church now days and I see a tremendous deficit, we have, in our modern context, taken a concept which would aid us immeasurably in understanding what God is doing, and we have distorted it beyond all recognition. I speak of the office of priest. In our day to day lives, if anyone would identify themselves as a priest we would instantly know him to be from the Roman Catholic or Anglican traditions or perhaps a little less familiarly from the Orthodox tradition. In the Protestant world I live in, priesthood is foreign, and all too often identified solely with the Roman Catholic world. In our culture we have allowed the Roman Catholic church to define priesthood, so we tend to avoid the subject, and give it short shrift whenever we encounter it in Scripture.
I am hoping that today we can get to the bottom of this subject. A subject which deserves far more attention than we have given it in the past.
So what is the definition of a priest? This is what the Merriam-Webster’s website says

“Main Entry: priest
Pronunciation: \ˈprēst\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English preist, from Old English prēost, ultimately from Late Latin presbyter — more at presbyter
Date: before 12th century

: one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God; specifically : an Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, or Roman Catholic clergyman ranking below a bishop and above a deacon.”*

Let’s look at the first part shall we?
Webster says; “one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God;”
This definition is the most general possible and applies to human religious priesthood, christian or pagan.
If you dig into the Bible, for that is where we will find the full definition, you will discover another facet of priesthood, a true priest is one who is appointed by and sent from God. There is also a sense from the appearance of Melchizedek the King of Salem (Shalom or peace) in Genesis 14, that God will provide a priest.  So here is the first clear requirement of priesthood, a true priest is one whom God has chosen and sent.

A second requirement is that a priest be from among the people who are being represented. Melchizedek was a human and he represented humankind to God, Aaron was a Hebrew and he represented the descendants of Jacob to God.
An angel or any other kind of non-human could never be a priest for humans. Therefore to be our High Priest Jesus had to become one of us. By means of the creative power of the Holy Spirit, through Mary, He became a human being. Jesus was a descendant of Abraham through Mary and, by adoption, of David through Joseph in order to represent Israel and to be it’s King, but as a human being He represents us all. Therefore as one begotten of God, He is the God-man and at the same time the man-God.

So now we come to the wrinkle which God threw into the concept of priesthood, which departs from the Old Testament office of human priest. He is revealing the reality of priesthood to us, in that Jesus was, in His earthly form, Immanuel or God with us, So we have a person who is a human being to represent us to God, and He is at the same time God to represent God to us. This reflects the ministry of the high Priest of Israel, who went through the veil into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur to bring the blood of the sacrifice into the presence of God, standing as a representative of the people to God, and then he would come back out through the veil to pronounce the blessing to the people, announcing the forgiveness of God to them, thereby representing God to the people. Jesus is the only person begotten of God, that is, who came directly from God, who was chosen and sent by God and revealed in human history. He is the only human who ever lived who is actually fully qualified to speak to God for humankind and to speak to us for God. Thus He is the only way to God. He is the door, He is the gate, He is the only true Shepherd.

A priest does what the rest of the people cannot do for themselves, he goes into the presence of God and pleads for those whom he represents. So it is that this man Jesus was the High Priest for all humanity on that day so long ago when He went through the veil of death into the very presence of God to present His blood as a sacrifice for us all. Then He came back out through that veil, back to life in His body, to announce God’s blessing of forgiveness, but as God sometimes does He introduces us to something new. Jesus did not simply repair His old body, to be just like ours, no, He raised it to be as it should be, the singular mark of representing God to us, and the signpost of our future as ones who will be like Him.

So let us review.
A true priest is one whom God has chosen and sent.
Jesus is the Messiah or the “anointed” or “chosen one” of God.
In our culture, in the traditions which ordain “priests”, we seem to think that we can choose someone, train him, and voila! he is a “priest”. We as humans wish to choose our own representatives. Yet in situation after situation in Scripture if someone whom God did not choose sets himself up as a priest, not only does God not accept this, but disaster usually follows. It is quite clear from Scripture that Jesus is the “chosen one”, let’s save ourselves a lot of grief and go with God’s choice.

A priest must be from among the people who are represented.
Jesus was a human being and a member of the tribe of Judah. therefore representing Israel and humankind before God.

In a twist from God, Jesus was divine, making Him uniquely qualified to speak to us as God. This confirms the chosen nature of priesthood, for God sent Jesus, a vital part of Himself, to show us Himself. This simply would not have been possible with anyone else, Jesus came from God, he was chosen by and sent from God.

Finally a priest does what we ourselves cannot. He prepares the sacrifice and He goes into the presence of God to present the sacrifice and to plead for us.
Jesus sacrificed Himself and went through the veil of death into the very presence of God to be “us” before God, that is why those of us who know Him are “in Him”. Then He came back through the veil of death to tell us that we have been reconciled to God. And He did more than that in sending the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, to set up a Holy of Holies in our hearts, thus we are, each of us, the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Just as the Temple of God in Jerusalem was the meeting place between God and man in the world during that time. Now we who know Him are the meeting place between God and man in this present world.
Therefore we are all priests under our great High Priest Jesus. We plead for our friends and neighbors to God, and we represent God to the world.

Blessings to you all,
Nathan

*My sincere thanks to Merriam-Webster and their fine editorial staff for making this available, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/priest

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10 Comments on “Jesus Is Our Priest”

  1. internet elias Says:

    Beautiful…heartfelt…God-honoring post. Thanks. I feel I was worshipping as I read your works.

    I would add only one thing to your words of wisdom. Christ blood truly atoned sins that are past. But He also gave His pure soul to be laden with the sins of fallen man….to death. And it was a HORRIBLE death. He was left desolate, forsaken, laden with sin, and hopeless except that he held the promise of God that his soul would not be left in hell…nor would his body see corruption.

    Beautiful.

    Carolyn

    • Nathan Says:

      Thank you Carolyn,
      Yes, I think it is most important to consider the price He paid in despair and pain for us, but I believe He walked into the situation with His eyes wide open. He was fully aware of the price to be paid for us, and thank God He didn’t turn away from the horrible task. I hang my smile on the Scripture in Hebrews 12:2. It was for the joy set before Him that He endured the pain. I see Him as being like a parent who might run out in front of a speeding bus to save their child. The parent would know the possible consequences and yet still do it. He knew what it would cost, and He did it anyway, for our sakes. He loves us very much indeed!

      Bless you Sister
      and thank you again,
      Nathan

  2. Rachel Says:

    What struck me as I read this was how many people still feel they need a priest (a middle man in spiritual matters other than Christ Jesus. They need someone inbetween them and God in some shape or form. They need a pastor to guide them. They need human teachers to instruct them in God’s truth and about who God is. They need human counselors to counsel them. It is a sad reality when you NEED or RELY on humans when God made a way through our Hight Priest Christ to come to Him directly for ALL things.

    Rachel

    • Nathan Says:

      Yes, it is one of the saddest things there is to think that Jesus is waiting for a person to look up from the business with which they have been diddling their lives away, to meet Him and hear from Him. And yet they never look to Him and meet Him because they have been taught not to at church, and this goes for nearly all traditions.

      The tendency to compartmentalize the Spiritual components of our lives, and hand them out as jobs is where the idea of a professional clergy came from in the first place. It encourages the idea that we are not responsible to God, that’s the preacher’s job. And God will be appeased if we just give money and show up.

      Talk about another gospel!

      The problem perpetuates itself too, because if a person thinks that this stuff is the preacher’s job then they will not seek it out the truth for themselves.

      He is shifting the foundations of human conventions and institutions. Soon we will experience that there is nothing of human origin which can be relied upon as trustworthy. Then we will see a certain number of people for whom the lights will come on. They will say. “Oh, that’s what Jesus was talking about!! ”
      Yes, my Sister we will have a lot of work to do shortly.

      Blessings

      Nathan

  3. cindyinsd Says:

    What a cool post, Nathan. It makes me think of the whole drama with God revealing Himself to Israel at Mt. Sinai and the people saying, “No, Moses–you speak to God for us and we’ll do whatever He tells you to tell us. But God wanted right then and there to make His people a kingdom of priests. Then He appointed the new covenant church as a kingdom of priests, and what have we done? Same ol’ same ol’ We’ve gone and appointed priests for ourselves. But we have one High Priest, Jesus Christ, and each of us is a priest under Him.

    I think your reply to Rachel is right on the mark. I just reposted something I shared a year ago on this subject (because of some commentary on Rachel’s blog, wherein she also posted on the same subject). It’s remarkable how God is speaking to His people. If we haven’t already been preparing, it’s t-i-m-e . . .

    Blessings, Cindy

    • Nathan Says:

      Thanks so much for your comment Cindy
      I looked at your repost and I love it. it is dead-on.
      For those of you who might be reading this you can read her repost too, go to the cindyinsd blog from my blog roll, or from the address link in Cindy’s name above her comments.
      God is so busy telling us what He is doing and preparing us for the next couple of big things. We must listen and stand ready to do what He wants. I think He is going to be stretching us, we will have to love some unlovable folks and we will be embracing others for Him, people who never imagined that God actually loves them, partly because we never told them so.
      We have spent far too much time in our “Christian” culture making excuses for being proud of ourselves, making excuses for why we shouldn’t care about other people. I believe He is going to take us, as a culture, to the woodshed. We will be far better off when we have learned the lessons He has for us. When we look into His eyes and see the unflagging love He has for us, and for those whom we had spurned as well, we will just be beginning to understand that we cannot make a “custom made Jesus” just for ourselves, Jesus is for everyone if He is for anyone at all. Each person must make their own choice, for Him or against Him, for He has already made His choice.

      Bless you Sister,

      Nathan

  4. Mike Says:

    “Jesus sacrificed Himself and went through the veil of death into the very presence of God to be “us” before God, that is why those of us who know Him are “in Him”. Then He came back through the veil of death to tell us that we have been reconciled to God.”

    To a degree I feel even while we are still yet alive, it is as we pass through this veil of death that we come into the presence of God. Then, once we have been in it, we come back to tell others what we have seen.

    • Nathan Says:

      Yes indeed Mike.
      That would certainly be part of our priestly function, telling people who don’t know Him about Him.
      I grew up in one of those denominations that are fond of the sales-pitch version of witnessing and I saw very little come of it.
      Then one time I was reading Acts and you know the Apostles didn’t just get up and take their tracts and go to the forum. They were almost always sent by God to someone, or some people, in particular. I just get the feeling that we should wait on His direction more and thus bear more fruit by doing what He directs. I believe He will give us plenty of folks to talk to, if we will listen.
      Bless you Mike, and thank you for your comment.


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