“And you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall guard their priesthood. . .” Numbers 3:10
“But you are a CHOSEN RACE, a royal PRIESTHOOD, a HOLY NATION, a PEOPLE for God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9
I am a proud priest of God Almighty; my father was a priest and his father before him. We are direct descendants from Aaron appointed by God to serve Him and make Him known to the people. I treasure my priesthood and guard it carefully. As priests, we lead in the exact laws of worship revealed to Moses and laid out for us at Mt. Sinai. My life revolves around the daily sacrifices, the Feasts and Festivals, and the High Holy Days. I take seriously the sacred responsibility to protect God’s temple, to keep out those whom the law forbids entry, to protect against the profane. I revere the Law and take pride in my duties. The priesthood is a consecrated and orderly job, respected and admired by the masses, and I am comfortable in its predictability and preciseness.
At least I was. Until Jesus.
I was there on duty the day Jesus entered the Temple courtyards, drove out all those who were buying and selling animals for sacrifice, turned over the tables of the moneychangers, and denounced all of us. I still hear his loud, strident proclamation, “It is written, MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER, but you are making it a robber’s den.” He turned everything upside down that day, not only in the Temple, but in my life as well. The chief priests and Pharisees were furious, their faces red in indignation, their gestures wild in resentment. I hid behind a pillar, however, unsettled by Jesus’ authority, and remembering the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7) Of course I knew about Jesus. He was the source of daily whisperings among the priests. But now I wondered if the rumors I heard might be true and if what Nicodemus claimed could be right. Is it possible that Jesus really is the Messiah? My mind and my heart were as chaotic as the mess of broken tables, smashed bird cages, and scattered offerings that littered the outer courtyard.
I left my post that day in the Temple for the first and last time. I skirted the fringes of the crowds around Jesus the remainder of that Passover week, hungrily feasting on every word from his mouth. The more I heard, the more I wanted to know. My soul burned within me in awe and wonder until the horror of his trial and crucifixion left me ruined, on my face in the dust of Golgotha. I wandered aimlessly through the twisted streets of Jerusalem. I couldn’t go back to the Temple. There was nothing for me there anymore. But I didn’t know how to move forward. I had followed Jesus’ disciples to a home close to where they buried him, and I finally fell into an exhausted sleep outside this door. It was here that I first heard Peter yelling as he ran out the door toward the tomb, “He’s Alive! Just like He said!” Peter’s excitement was contagious, but I remained fearful and confused, wanting to believe, struggling to understand.
I decided to stay near Peter as much as possible while remaining in the shadows, trying to reconcile my priestly heritage with the undeniable truth of the crucified, resurrected Jesus. From Passover to Pentecost, I followed in silent contemplation. On Pentecost I was in the crowd and heard the violent rushing wind from heaven. I listened as Peter addressed the masses in Aramaic, and I stood amazed among the throng of people from Egypt and Rome, Libya and Mesopotamia, Cretans, and Arabs as they heard Peter and the disciples speaking in the tongue of each represented country. There was no language barrier that day to Peter’s authoritative proclamation of Messiah Jesus, His life, death, and resurrection, the perfect spotless Lamb of God who shed His blood for the forgiveness of sin. I received the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost when I repented and turned to Jesus for forgives of my sins. I joined 3,000 others who were baptized in His name.
My proud, blinded, repetitive, and routine life of duty yielded to radical and extraordinary clarity as the reality of Jesus’ identity opened my eyes to the truth of the Torah and the Prophets. For the first time I understood that everything points to Jesus! My priesthood had nothing to do with my Levitical heritage or my Temple duties. God called me out of the darkness of sin into His incomparable light of Truth, from the judgmental Law to the grace of Love. I realized the body of believers are His chosen people; we are the royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own possession. He forgave me not because of the sacrifice of bulls or lambs but because of the shed blood of His only Son; the sacrifice of Jesus saves me and cleanses me completely, once for all, from past, present and future sins. His sacrifice tore the veil in two, granting me free access to the holy of Holies. My heart is His tabernacle, where His presence dwells through the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Light of the World, the Menorah; He is the Bread of Life, the Shewbread. My prayers are the fragrant incense acceptable to God.
I recognized that my parents and my lineage have no bearing on my right standing with God. I am a vile sinner who could never keep the Law of God. The Law that I revered condemns me. Jesus alone completely fulfilled the Law, and His precious blood purchased my life. He saved me only by His grace through faith alone in Christ alone because of His great love. My life is His. My priestly duties now are pouring out blessings to others from a thankful heart, not pridefully condemning them with the Law. I want to make Jesus known, to introduce others to the life-giving, eternal relationship with Him that is available to all who call on His name. I want them to understand the purpose of the Law was always to point them to Jesus. I want both Jews and Gentiles to know that through Jesus they are no longer slaves to sin but consecrated to God, renewed, and sanctified by the indwelling Holy Spirit. I want them to understand that our bodies and our souls, our earthly delights and gifts and abilities are the sacrifices pleasing to God, given out of thanksgiving in worship and adoration. I want to share the truth of Jesus woven through God’s Word from Genesis to Malachi. I want to worship with abandoned joy, praise with exuberance, and serve Him in loving submission all the days of my life.
The proud priest and haughty keeper of the law is now a forgiven, grateful, and humbled servant of God Almighty and His Only Son, Jesus Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit. Now it is the priesthood of the Gospel of Jesus that I treasure and guard carefully.
Thank You, Jesus, for Your Grace, for calling me from darkness into light as part of Your Royal Priesthood, Holy Nation, and a people of God’s own possession. I am Yours, Lord Jesus, bought with Your precious blood. Help me faithfully guard the sacred trust of the Gospel and proclaim Your excellencies to everyone I meet.
- What does 1 Peter 2:9 mean to you specifically?
- How are you guarding your priesthood?
- Where do you struggle with the law instead of living in His grace?