Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Only Priest Needed

"But Jesus lives on forever and continues to be a Priest so that no one else is needed."--Hebrews 7:24

This morning I came across a splendid reading in the book of Hebrews. It explains, in the most direct way, how the lineage of priesthood among the Jews came to a halt with the coming of Christ. Up until that time, there were many priests and these priests were of the lineage of the Tribe of Levi (to the best of my understanding). During the time of Moses' leading the Jews across the dessert, it was the Levites who were responsible for carrying all the items of the Temple, and once stopped for a period of rest or by direction from God, they sat up the Temple and handled all matters holy. However, as with humans, they began to get a bit questionable in their practices. One thing about us...we're quite habitual and our habits of the bad type tend to return to us over and over and over again. 

As explained in Hebrews, Yes, the old system of priesthood based on family lines was canceled because it didn't work. It was weak and useless for saving people. It never made anyone really right with God. But now we have a far better hope, for Christ makes us acceptable to God and now we may draw near to him" (verses 18 & 19)

So now we have an ever-lasting Priest that speaks on our behalf to God--in Christ. He (God) says that Christ has the rank of Melchizedek, a sometimes forgotten but amazingly important person in our Faith. (The mystery of Melchizedek is fascinating and more than worthy of a meditation of its own, so I'll use this only at this time for a point of reference.) We need no other priests: "Under the old arrangement there had to be many priests, so that when the older ones died off, the system could still be carried on by others who took their places. But Jesus lives forever and continues to be a Priest so that no one else is needed. He is able to save completely all who come to God through him. Since he will live forever, he will always be there to remind God that he has paid for their sins with his blood" (verses 23-25)

Many people have become highly disillusioned throughout the ages when those in positions of leadership in the church fail to exemplify, through their daily living, the way of God. Even back in the time of Aaron (during the 40 years in the desert), Aaron himself had that weak moment and, before control could be regained, idols were appearing and people returned to their unsavory habits. Fast-forward to today--people see members of the priesthood, members of the clergy, high-ranking church officials failing to live their faith through example. As a result, the general population thinks what is good for the goose is good for the gander. And the "idolic" way of life returns yet again. How wonderful to read the words of Hebrews and know that all the human foibles of our earthly leaders and would-be leaders have little to do with our faith in daily life. As it is stated: "He is, therefore, exactly the kind of High Priest we need; for he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin, undefiled by sinners, and to him has been given the place of honor in heaven. Under the old system, even the high priests were weak and sinful men who could not keep from doing wrong, but later God appointed his Son who is perfect forever" (verses 26 & 28).

We have everything we need on this earth to help us to become people of Faith. And, through the reading of the book of Hebrews, we know we have the only priest needed.

May God be with you.