2006-05-07 - Prophet, Priest, King
Ephesians 5:2, "and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."
We continue today with the third installment of this short series on Christ's offices of a prophet, priest and king based loosely on the questions regarding this topic in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Today we will cover the question regarding Christ's office as a priest.
Question 25: How doth Christ execute the office of a priest? Answer: Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God; and in making continual intercession for us.
Some verses that are used in reaching the answer to this question are: Hebrews 2:17, 7:23-25, 9:14, 28. Ephesians 5:2, 3, 1 Peter 2:24.
There is no book in the New Testament that is more Jewish than the book of Hebrews. The author of Hebrews, largely believed to be Paul (Who was a converted Jew), writes like a Jew while showing that the faith and worship ceremonies that the Jews had long held had vanished away in Christ. Hebrews is the book that proves that the Jews days of looking for a Messiah is past and that Christ has fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament as the Messiah. There is no longer the need for sacrifices because Christ, as the great high priest, has offered up Himself a sacrifice for sin. Christ offers himself as a sacrifice in our place and the divine justice required as the penalty for our sin is absolved by His shed blood.
The role of a priest is to reconcile two parties. The offended party is God and the offending party is us. Because of our sin we are estranged from God, but Christ pays the penalty for our sin and the penalty of our sin is removed and laid upon him. This is why the phrase, "and reconcile us to God," is included in the answer. It fits in completely with the roll of the priest in the Old Testament who offered a sacrifice to atone for the sins of the people. This is why the writer of the Hebrews stresses that there is no longer any need for the past sacrificial system. Christ has reconciled us to God.
I came upon a somewhat moving illustration from history which drives home neatly the beauty of the sacrifice of Christ and it's application to us. Rather than going any deeper into this important question and answer, I would like to end with it.
Queen Elizabeth reigned for many years in England. I believe she died in 1602. She was known as the politique queen. This meant she found a way to keep everyone happy. She would pander to both sides on political and religious issues and while nobody loved her for espousing their views, nobody hated her either. She walked a middle road and sought to keep everyone happy. One of her gardeners had a little five year old girl. He had invested a lot of time in her religious instruction. One day the queen met her and was very pleased with her. She was invited to visit the queen at the palace. She approached the queen, kissed her robe and took the seat that had been prepared for her. From her seat she watched the queen having dinner with some of the ladies of the court. It was full of pomp and splendor, and the woman were curious to see the poor little girls reaction to such ceremony. The costly dresses, gold and jewels that adorned the women and the table were quite a spectacle. In response the little girl quietly folded her arms and began to sing.
"Jesus, they blood and righteousness
There was a lot of surprise among the ladies. Some of them cried, and the queen said, "Ah, happy child! How far are we below you!"
It is not an easy thing to view the shed blood of Christ as a thing of beauty, but if we aspire to a right view of that precious blood and what it means to us we will understand what this little five year old girl knew. It is more priceless than the finest adorned table or garments we could ever imagine.
Soli Deo Gloria,