We’re talking about Jesus as a Priest this week. When you hear priest, you may think of Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican priests in modern times. But these are different from priests in the Jewish world of Jesus’ time. The fact we use the same English word does confuse this issue.
The Jewish priests stood in for the people of Israel, particularly the high priest who could represent the whole nation. He was the only one who could approach God’s direct presence in the temple, in a room called the holy of holies.
Once a year he could enter that room, and stand in God’s direct presence. He would push aside a heavy, magnificent curtain to do that. This was a tangible symbol of our separation from God, brought about by our pushing him out of our lives in sin. He could speak directly to God, ask him to give his nation a bit more time, and not destroy them but save them.
One of the reasons Jesus is called the great high priest is that he was in God’s presence like a high priest, but then did what no other human could. He stood in for not just Israel, but all of humanity, and by sacrificing himself and not just an animal, he bought us life not just for another year but all time.
When he did sacrifice himself in this way, dying on a cross, an incredible thing happened. The curtain tore in half.
No longer was the human race completely separated from God, with only one opportunity a year for one man to enter God’s presence. Now every human had the opportunity to know God personally, to have the guidance of his holy spirit, and to be saved from sin and death forever, because of this one man, Jesus.
Challenge: What is the curtain in your life separating you from God? Is it anger, pride, love of money, or something else? Write it on a sheet of paper, then rip it in half. This is what Jesus did on the cross, he made a way through that curtain for you to know God. Keep that ripped page somewhere as a reminder.
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]