“Offer Yourself, O Priest!”
Say “priest” and minds tend to go anywhere but Jesus. “Priest” is that guy (probably catholic) wearing a black shirt with a white clerical collar. Hear “priest” and perhaps one pictures a Buddhist sort with shaved head, chanting single syllables or sitting silent in lotus position. Some hear “priest” and think new scandal or old corruption. For most, “priest” is some sacred servant of God.
Hear “priest” and think “Jesus”? Maybe that’s not your first thought. Jesus is our “great High Priest,” as described in Hebrews 4: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” (Heb. 4:14)
The High Priest holds a solitary office with unique duties in the Bible. He’s not the only priest; he presides over many priests. The highest, holiest sacrifice may only be offered by the High Priest. He alone can act to atone for the sins of the people, cleansing the sanctuary, everyone, and everything in it by the blood of His sacrifice. Biblical priests only deal with real blood.
“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Heb. 9:22) Priests are consecrated through direct contact with the blood (Exodus 29:11). Blood is God’s appointed instrument for sanctifying all His people (Heb. 9:18-20). Under the Old Testament, animal blood was applied to the people with these words, “‘This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.'” (Heb. 9:20)
Jesus is the High Priest of the New Testament, “the mediator of a new covenant.” (Heb. 9:15) His New Covenant includes a sacred, priestly Sacrament given to cleanse His people. He bids beloved and well taught disciples drink His cup, saying “this is My blood of the covenant…” (Matthew 26:28) Not the crowds, but His called and gathered few Christ invites and offers to them His Supper. His high priestly language resonates loud and clear. He told them, “This do as oft as ye drink it in remembrance of Me.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)
“Remembrance” is the Lord’s covenant word. This “remembrance” means much more than fond recall of far removed things, some sentimental longing for what was, once upon a time. “Remembrance” is the Lord’s call for faith to grasp what gift He gives you now through His chosen instruments. Remembrance clings to the reason Jesus decreed “This do” for you: “for the forgiveness of sins.” Remembrance links that use of God’s appointed substance with His own binding Word and blood-oath to forgive.
Jesus is our great High Priest. Moreover, “priest” is a word describing you, too! (1 Peter 2:5,9) Immanuel’s 2020 Lenten Series, “Offer Yourself, O Priest!” explores our Lord’s High Priesthood, in personal connection with your own true priestly calling. Come, learn again to believe and to live as priests under this great High Priest, Jesus.
–Pastor Jeffery Warner
Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church
Third & Alma Streets, Laurel, NE
P.S. Visit immanuellutheranlaurelne.com to stay up to date on the podcast and sermon series as it unfolds. You can download our app from the home page for both iOS and Android devices, if you like. You’ll also find the continuing Sanctuary Bible Study of Revelation (19 episodes and going strong!)
Apoligies to my longtime readers. We’ve been looking for a new office manager since the first of the year, which leaves me little time to maintain two web sites for now.
I am still teaching, preaching and writing. Hopefully (soon) I can give isaiah504blues.com the attention I was once able to invest for the growth of God’s people. Thank you for your interest and patience during this transition!