In my latest series of posts I have been talking about why our Lord Jesus Christ is an all-sufficient Savior. In doing so, I wanted to explore his three-fold office as Mediator. What it means for Christ to be a mediator is for him to be in the middle between us and God in order to bring us to God. In executing his saving work as our Mediator and Redeemer, he fulfills a three-fold office of prophet, priest, and king. The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689), Chapter 8, paragraph 10 nicely summarizes what these three offices of Christ:
This number and order of offices is necessary; for in respect of our ignorance, we stand in need of his prophetical office; and in respect of our alienation from God, and imperfection of the best of our services, we need his priestly office to reconcile us and present us acceptable unto God; and in respect to our averseness and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and security from our spiritual adversaries, we need his kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us to his heavenly kingdom.
In my last post I covered Christ’s prophetical office. In this post I cover Christ’s priestly office.
So, first off, what is a priest? A priest, simply put, is one who intercedes on behalf of people before the presence of God in order to make them presentable. The priest does this in three main ways: offering the sacrifice to make the people presentable to God, offering their gifts to make those gifts presentable to God, and offering up acceptable prayers, petitions, and pleas on their behalf.
The reason we need Christ’s priestly office was stated in the Confession quoted above: “in respect of our alienation from God, and imperfection of the best of our services, we need his priestly office to reconcile us and present us acceptable unto God.” As it is with the other offices of Christ as Mediator, his priestly office is needed because of our sin. Whereas, the prophetic office (my last post) dealt with our sinful ignorance, the particular aspect of our sin that his priestly office deals with is our alienation from God and therefore our inability to approach him. Habakkuk 1:13 says, “You [God]…are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong.” Because we are evil, we are rendered unable to approach God. Furthermore, because of the hostility of our hearts, we have no desire to in our natural state. We are completely helpless in our alienation from God.
But thanks be to God that he himself took the initiative and did all the work in reconciling us to him. The Father sent his Son to put on our very own humanity in order to be our priest.
As priest, Christ offered up his very own blood as the sacrifice to remove all the guilt of our sin so that we would be presented fully and forever acceptable to God. The Apostle Paul writes, “you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, [Christ] has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 1:21-22).
As priest, the Lord Jesus also makes our offerings of worship acceptable to God. In the Old Testament, the Levitical priests were responsible for presenting the people’s offerings in worship acceptable to God and would bear any sin in them. Exodus 28:38 says, “Aaron shall bear any guilt from the holy things that the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts.” Aaron, as the high priest of the people of God, was to bear any guilt in the holy gifts (offerings of worship) from the people of God. This is a type of what Christ would do in bearing all the guilt of our sin, including our remaining sin as believers. Because of Christ’s once and for all sacrifice, our offerings of worship to God, whether publicly/corporately or privately, which are still tainted with sin, are acceptable to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
And as priest, our Lord Jesus presents our prayers and petitions to God. This is why we pray “in Jesus’ name.” It’s not just a formality, nor is it a magical formula that makes our prayer answered. Rather, when we pray in Jesus’ name, we are cognitively confessing that we are coming to God in reliance on our great High Priest, the Lord Jesus.
So, it is because of our Lord Jesus Christ that we are forever holy and blameless and above reproach in God’s sight, because our acceptance before God is not based on our works but based solely on the all-sufficient work of Christ. Because Christ’s work is completely sufficient, he needs no supplement to his work from us or any man. And thanks be to God that our Lord’s priestly office is not only a part time job or only when we really mess up. Rather, as Hebrews 7:25 says, he always lives to make intercession for us. When do we need intercession? Always, because we are still sinful. But how often does Jesus intercede for us? Always!
Brian Onstead is pastor of Trinity Bible Church in Powell, WY (https://tbcwyoming.com/). He was born and raised in Omaha, NE where he was saved and met his wife Jackie. He then spent three years in San Diego, CA where he attended Westminster Seminary California and the Institute for Reformed Baptist Studies. After graduating in 2015, he moved to Montana where he pastored a church for 4 years. In 2019, he moved to Powell, WY where he currently resides. He and his wife have been married for 10 years and have two young children. You can find his sermons on sermon audio and follow him on Twitter (@brianonstead).