One thing I love about kids is that there is not beating around the bush with them. Simply put, they tell it like it is. They may say “I’m hungry,” or “This tastes bad,” or “Why is he so ugly daddy?” and the like. We often like to think of ourselves as far more complicated or at the very least more mature. But I’ve heard it said that if you can’t take a concept and explain it to a three-year-old, then you probably don’t understand it.
For that reason, as we approach Jesus Christ as our priest, I would like to consult a children’s catechism. It asks the question: How is Christ your priest? Answer: Christ died for my sins, and continues to pray for me. It then has a follow up question: Why do you need Christ as your priest? Answer: Because I am guilty of breaking God’s law. In these two simple children’s catechism questions we find tremendous theological profundity. For this reason, we will focus in on the subject matter of these two questions.
In the Bible, priests had several roles. Firstly, they offered sacrifices to God on behalf of the people. Secondly, they offered prayers for the sake of the people. Overall then, we could say that their goal was to render the people of God acceptable to Him. God Himself established the priesthood under Moses, as well as all the details entailed in the priestly work. All of their work was meant in some way to handle the sins of the people. We think so little of sin, but we must remember that sin brought death to Adam and Eve and caused the death of the nations of Israel and Judah. We have to sit back and think to ourselves, “What sort of villain must sin be that it could only be defeated by the death of Jesus?”
We think too little of sin until we look at both its effects and its sole remedy. Sin therefore must be understood as an affront to the very character of God who is “of purer eyes than to see evil…” (Hab. 1:13a) The only means of removing sin’s stain is through the shedding of blood (Heb. 9:22). Hence, we find the sacrifices of the Old Testament. But those animal sacrifices were not an end themselves. Their efficacy or usefulness was only found in light of Christ’s work. They were then shadows pointing forward to what Christ would one day do. And when Christ offers the sacrifice of His own body and blood, perfectly, once for all as our great high priest, He sits or rests from His work. He sits because His work is complete. To echo His own assessment from the cross we recognize that the only appropriate analysis of the work of Christ is to say, “It is finished.” (John 19:30; cf. Heb. 10:12, 14)
The infinite value of the work of Christ comes from the person who was sacrificed, the God-Man, the eternal Son of God who veiled His glory in flesh for the sake of His Church. It was He who underwent shame and hatred and abuse for His people. The very God who created the wood upon which He would be sacrificed, came to bear every sin of every Christian who would ever exist. In short then, Jesus died so that we would not have to. Jesus took upon Himself the full wrath of God so that His people would never have to.
We know that Pilate sent Him to the cross, as did the Pharisees, the people and Judas Iscariot. But have you ever contemplated, O Christian, the truth that you sent Him there? You will never understand the greatness of the cross of Jesus Christ until you recognize your own responsibility for its necessity. Jesus died, O Christian, so that you would not have to. Jesus did not die for His sins, for He had none (Heb. 4:15). Jesus died “to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17 ESV). He died to satisfy the wrath of God against the sins of the Church. Until you come to terms with the evil of your own heart, your sin, and the unmerited grace of Christ as our Savior, as our final sacrifice in receiving what we deserve, and seeing what every private and public sin has warranted – How could you be a Christian? I pray that both the horror of your sin and the beauty of your Savior will draw your heart closer to Him in thanksgiving, joy, obedience, and love. For Jesus’ love has been made most apparent. How will you respond to such joy today?
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