Priest role was crucial to God and his people during Old Testament time. The priest offers animal sacrifices to atone for the sin of their people. A person who has committed a sin must provide an animal that the priest would offer on his behalf. No sin was forgiven in the Old Testament without a priest offering a sacrifice to God.
Besides the routine sacrifices of priests, God also designated a special person with the title of “Most High Priest” to yearly offer a sacrifice to plead for the collective sins of his people. The Most High Priest has an obligation to rightly perform his task otherwise, God would reject it, and the priest may die for his sacrifice error.
The priest’s activity of animal sacrifice (and other sacrifices) have been discontinued during New Testament era; however, the priesthood office remains in existence. Some individuals still operate in priesthood office today. These are people who minister to God’s children through prayers and other related services. The New Testament priests teach the word of God; they pray for people and perform other charitable activities.
Today’s priests are clergies, and they bear different titles based on their church denominations or affiliations. They sometimes answer the title, priest, bishop, reverend, pastor, and others. For example, Catholic clergy answers priest, but Protestant and Pentecostal clergies answer bishop, reverend, and pastor.
Unfamiliar Most High Priest
The priest of Old Testament and New Testament serve God to the best of their abilities, but they are short of perfection! They could mediate between God and people through prayer and sacrifices, but their services have limitations. God overlook human sins as a result of their sacrifices, but he did not destroy the power of sin through their efforts!
Jesus Christ was an unfamiliar priest to people of his time. They did not consider him as a priest, but indeed, he was one! His action proved that he was God’s preordained Most High Priest. The Bible declares,
“… By two unchangeable things [His promise and His oath] in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled [to Him] for refuge would have strong encouragement and indwelling strength to hold tightly to the hope set before us. This hope [this confident assurance] we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it]—a safe and steadfast hope that enters within the veil [of the heavenly temple, that most Holy Place in which the very presence of God dwells], where Jesus has entered [in advance] as a forerunner for us, having become a High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:18-20 AMP)
Jesus Christ was a special messenger that did not operate as traditional priests of his time. Instead of slaughtering an animal for sacrifice, he allowed himself to be slaughtered as a sacrifice for human sins.
Once and for all, Christ sacrificed his life for all human sins! Bible reported how he spiritually outperformed his predecessors as a special priest of God-the Most High Priest. Upon his death on the cross, Christ’s power torn the temple veil into two! Bible reported,
“Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”… Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split” (Matthew 27:45-51 NKJV).
The Reasons Behind Jesus’ Priesthood Action
Jesus Christ, unlike any other priest, chose not to follow the cycle of offering bulls, lambs, goats, and other animals to sacrifice for human sins. Why? Animal sacrifice provided temporal relief since it only covers a sin, but did not remove it.
Also, animal sacrifice was expensive. A person who sacrificed an animal for his sin may soon find himself in the same sinful situation and be mandated to repeat the same process. In addition, a priest who carried out an animal sacrifice is also human, and may inadequately perform his service and render the whole exercise useless.
Besides, an animal sacrifice was not strong enough to destroy the power of sin. That is, God only pardoned a sin through an animal sacrifice, he did not destroy the power of sin for people.
With the complication process of animal sacrifice and its limitations, Jesus Christ chose to abolish the entire process and sought a permanent solution. Therefore, he offered himself as a sacrificed for human sins to earn them permanent forgiveness and freedom. Bible declares,
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’ ” (Hebrews 10:1-7 NIV).
Why Did Jesus Christ Sacrifice His Life?
Jesus’ decision to replace animal sacrifice with his own life was motivated by some special reasons. Why did Jesus sacrifice his life when other priests have not complained of their rituals?
- The Old Testament priests did not care beyond ordinary for the people they served. They were comfortable at offering animal sacrifice to provide a temporary solution for people.
- Jesus Christ cared for other people (the whole world); therefore, he was uncomfortable to provide a temporary solution for people. He sought to provide them a permanent solution.
- On a normal day, an Old Testament priest would say, “Bring me an animal, and I will sacrifice it for your sin!” Jesus disdained the status quo. His practical action could be translated as if he stated, “Don’t bring me an animal, I will sacrifice my life for your sin!”
Jesus Christ took the matter of sin forgiveness seriously, and he was willing to pay an ultimate price that will earn people permanent forgiveness for their sins.
The sacrifice of Jesus’ life immediately provided five major benefits for people:
- Opportunity to permanently receive forgiveness of sin.
- Opportunity to repair and restore the broken relationship between God and man (and woman).
- Opportunity to have power over sin.
- Opportunity to obtain eternal life from God.
- Opportunity to obtain earthly victory.
Since the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection,
- Humanity has an opportunity to permanently receive forgiveness of their sins.
- A human can have a mutual relationship with God.
- A human can also receive God’s strength to overcome the temptation of sin.
- Anyone who believes Christ can obtain the gift of eternal life.
- Anyone who believes Christ can live as an overcomer on earth!
It is important to testify that God crowned Jesus Christ with the highest honor in priesthood office after he sacrificed his life on the cross. God awarded him a title of the Most High Priest!
Perhaps, the best privilege that Christ-the Most High Priest earned for humanity is the fact that his followers will qualify for God’s kingdom! Anyone who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and accept him as his or her personal Lord and Savior will be raptured to heaven on the last day.
Everyone now has an opportunity to qualify for heaven through confession of faith in Jesus Christ. A person who confesses Jesus Christ as his or her personal Lord and Savior will not regret his decision. The person will receive God’s help in this life and also be blessed in heaven!
Make a decision that will forever change your life for good. Confess Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior to secure your place in heaven!
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James Taiwo is the author of [Bible Application] [Christian Principle] [Book of Prayer] Available at www.BibleLifeLesson.com
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