This Day in Presbyterian History:
Christ executes the office of priest
With little of Presbyterian history to interest us on this day of April 27, we turn to one of the three offices which Christ executes for His people. This office is so important to our Christian understanding of our redemption and sanctification. Shorter Catechism number 25 tells us that this priestly office is executed “in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconciling us to God, and in making continual intercession for us.”
The definition of a priest is one qualified and authorized to act in behalf of man with God. Certainly, Christ was over and over again in the Book of Hebrews identified as such a priest, whether we speak about specific references to Him or typical fulfilments of Him as a priest. Hebrews 6:20 tells us that Jesus has “become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (ESV)
The two branches of the priestly work of Christ falls into first, His sacrifice to satisfy divine justice. We need to remember that in this sacrificial work, our Lord was both the priest and the victim, and perfect in each. In comparing the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, the writer makes the contrast in Hebrews 9:14 by stating “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (ESV)
The object, and indeed the effect of this offering, was for the full satisfaction of divine justice. Jesus on the cross endured on our behalf the very punishment our sins deserved. He then reconciled us to God. Paul says it all in Romans 5:9, 10: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled by God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (ESV) Don’t just read this text without emotion! Rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, as Romans 5:11 charges the reader.
The second branch of Christ’s priestly work falls into the intercession which He makes daily for us now. He makes, in our Confessional fathers words, “continual intercession for us.” He appears in His glorified humanity at the right hand of God. He declares His will to be applied to believers on earth. He answers all accusations against us by that unholy trinity of the world, the flesh, and the devil. And the solid ground of this intercession is the merit of His perfect obedience and sacrifice during His sinless life and death, burial, and resurrection.
Christian reader, has it really grabbed you that Jesus is praying for you now and every day? Do you go on your way every day with that comforting truth in your head and heart? You can, because Christ is your personal priest.
Words to Live By: As priest, His mediatorship is upward from man to God. As the priest, He meets the problems of your guilt, supplying you with righteousness. Live in the light of this wondrous truth of the office Christ executes as a priest.
Through the Scriptures: Psalms 49 – 51
Through the Standards: Proof texts of Justification:
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NAS)
“being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” (NAS)
2 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” (KJV)
Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (ESV)