In the beginning was the Word, the Eternal Son, the High Priest of all creation. Being the Word through which the Father created and sustains everything, He is the fitting Priest, the fitting Mediator between God and Creation, through whom God reveals Himself to Creation, giving her being and life, and in whom she adores God and gives herself back to Him in glad worship and joyous sacrifice.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. He was like us in all ways, sin excepting, having been tempted in every manner just as we are, but without sin, and so He is able to be a fitting High Priest to His brethren, able to make those who have sinned to be without sin just as He is without sin.
Mankind was created, both man and woman, in the image of God – in the likeness of the Word, to be like Him, to share in His life, to approach God through Him and, through Him, to bring God to one another and to see God through one another.
Jesus is the Great High Priest. He is the One who reveals and brings God to all Creation. He is the One who is able to offer Himself – and all the Creation which is His – as a pleasing Sacrifice to God the Father. He is the One who is able to bring the Creation into union with God, who pleads on the behalf of His people, who intercedes and obtains grace for them.
It is our amazing privilege, it is within the gifts suited to our creation in the image and likeness of God, that we should, as we share in the life of the Incarnate Word, also share in His Priesthood.
“He has made them a kingdom and priests to His God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
“You are a chosen nation, a royal priesthood, God’s own peculiar people, chosen to declare the praises of Him who brought you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Through Jesus, we have direct access to God. Because of our confidence in our Great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, we can approach God’s throne of mercy with assurance to receive grace and help in our time of need.
“For there is one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus.”
Only through Jesus, because the curtain is torn and His broken body is the Way through the curtain into the Heaven of Heavens, the very throne of the Trinity, do we share in His Priesthood. In Him, we each stand, able to partake directly from His hand of His love and grace. He is near to us – nearer than our own hearts. No one, man or angel, nor anything, can come between Him and a soul. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons nor any other power, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“For them I sanctify Myself, that they too may be sanctified in Truth.”
“I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity.”
In Jesus, through His Sacrifice, we can offer ourselves to God: we were crucified with Christ, and His Sacrifice is ours. As He took on Himself our death, so His death belongs to us, for we have died with Him. With Him, we offer ourselves, body and soul, in life and in death, to God – a living sacrifice. He offers us with Himself to the Father’s will and pleasure, to be consumed with the fire of the Father’s Love, and with Him we offer ourselves.
“Where two or more are gathered in My Name, there am I in their midst.”
Jesus gloriously and intimately unites each of us to Himself. Where any two believers in His Name, confessing Him, gather, they are endowed with His own right to ask the Trinity to transform the bread and wine which they bring into the Body and Blood of their Lord, that His Sacrifice on Calvary may be so presented to them, that they may so feast on His Love, that they may so be joined to Him and to one another, sharing in His death and offering themselves to God with Him and in Him. He has promised us that, whatever we ask the Father in His Name, that God will do for us.
God made us to live in a world together, and through living with one another to know Him better and to more fully share in His life – to more fully share in the Priesthood of the Word. We are called to share in the Priesthood of Christ, interceding for one another, to pray for God’s grace to them. This is a privilege, an honor, which I do not think ceases in Heaven! We point others to Jesus, and by our fellow human beings are pointed to Jesus. Through us, God bestows grace on others, and through others He bestows grace on us. We see and know God uniquely, knowing Him as no other creature knows Him, and we have the privilege of sharing, in some measure, the revelation we have from God with others, that through us they may know Him as they never would have known Him alone. From others, we receive this same gift. (So many people are obsessed with the topics of equality and sameness, whether they tend one way or another, that I am, embarrassing though it is, compelled to write the following: I am not saying that we are all the same, nor that we all share in the Priesthood of Jesus the same. I am saying precisely the opposite. It is because we are each unique that we can share in His Priesthood in these ways. Nor, even on an obvious, superficial level, do all share in the Priesthood of Jesus the same; some may spend their lives in private prayer and intercession; some may devote far more of their time to making known what they have seen – and this is only the surface, what lies deeper I cannot say even what little I might venture to know. I say nothing about equality. I am not sure that, in this place, equality or inequality have any meaning. Asking about equality may be like asking which color of the rainbow is the tallest (even if one thinks of it as which one is at the top, remember the double rainbow: if one introduces the question of height, then the tallest is shortest and the shortest is tallest, but it is a meaningless discussion anyways. If you consider the colors in themselves, outside the rainbow, it is even more apparently meaningless). Do not interpret me to be saying either that human beings have an equal share in revealing Christ to others, or in His Priesthood, or that some have a greater share and some have a lesser share. I rather think it is a meaningless topic, and one which no one should even bring up.)
I want to note that it is not clear that only the Twelve Apostles were present either at the Last Supper or when Jesus breathed on them after He has risen, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Other disciples, among those gathered on Pentecost, may have been present both when Jesus gave the command, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” and “If you forgive men’s sins, they are forgiven them. If you retain men’s sins, they are retained.” (Additionally, nothing in the writings of St. Paul or anything else in the New Testament would suggest that such privileges were given only to the Twelve, even if only the Twelve were present. In fact, statements in the New Testament suggest that such privileges are gifts given to all Christians, when He who had descended ascended on high, leading captivity captive and giving gifts to men. Among such statements, is Jesus’ declaration that, “Where two or more are gathered in My Name, there am I in their midst,” and also that, “Truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My Name, He will do it. Ask, and you shall receive, and your joy will be made full,” as He says also, “If you ask Me for anything in My Name, I will do it, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”)
Copyright 2019 Raina Nightingale