1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NIV)
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV)
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
In Advent and on this Christmas Eve Day, we celebrate the birth of Jesus as the King of all Kings. But we must also pause to realize that in accord with the deep roots of his family story, Christ was born to us in another role as well—one that reaches back all the way to David, Jesse’s son. Born in the City of David, Bethlehem, we received not only the King of the World—we also received the Great High Priest of humanity (Heb. 4:14).
On that night so long ago, Jesus was born to be our Great High Priest, to mediate between us and the Father. As part of a long line of royal priest-kings, like his ancestor, David, Jesus reminded humanity of its highest identity as the beloved of God. As we descend into the nativity narrative of the Christmas story, we descend into the moment God is born into the world “like us” (Heb. 2:17).
In other words, he knows who we are, how we are, and why we are, because he is truly one of us. Because he became one of us, living his life from infancy to adulthood, we know that he can “empathize with our weakness” as he becomes the doorway to the Father (John 14:6). Biblically, the most important role of a priest was not to lord that role over others, but rather to show others how to become a place where heaven and earth meet. Our Great High Priest came to show us the way to the fullness of our human vocation as people in whom heaven and earth meet.
Jesus is the Son of Man and the Son of God, and we understand his nature to be fully God and fully human. As followers of Jesus, we too can understand ourselves to be of earth and of heaven, expressions of the Father’s heart carrying the Spirit of the Great High Priest within us. A priest mediates for others. A priest serves before God in worship. A priest teaches and reminds human beings where their dignity truly lies and in whom their identity is truly found.
Christ came to us in the incarnation, as our Great Mediator, to show us how to be a bridge for others, pointing them to him, the way to the Father, and to build bridges for people who struggle to walk toward God over the great chasms they face. The infant Jesus bridged the gap; so too we can bridge a gap for those to whom the Father sends to us.
Christ came to us in the incarnation, to show us how to serve before God in worship. You and I were not just meant to lead people in worship, as if the end goal of worship was the community. The priests ministered to the Lord himself, acclaiming him in public and in private because of their intimate communion with him.
That is where we learn to hear God’s voice, to perceive his movements, and to love his ways. Worship that has lost this central focus on ministering to the Lord, has lost its power. As a royal priest, we spend our lives, including our days, hours, and minutes, in the presence of the Lord—thanking him, blessing him, and praising him for who he is. Ministering to the Father is a ministry Jesus came to show us.
Christ came to us in the incarnation, to show us the way to teach others of their dignity and the dignity of other human beings, and to affirm each person’s unique identity as the beloved of God. Jesus took three decades to grow into the fullness of his ministry, he used the power of modeling, of story, of parables, and of compassionate instruction to help people find their way in a dignity-degrading, identity-confusing world. As Spirit-filled and guided royal priests ourselves, we have the mandate to teach and instruct, by all means possible, those who have lost their why and their way.
Jesus, the Lord of Advent, comes to us as the Great High Priest. And we, like him, are called to the ministry of healing in the world as he leads us and teaches us his way.
Jesus, our Great High Priest, this Advent I worship you for coming to us as our living reminder of what it means to be human—and to rehumanize others. I take up the calling to be one of the royal priests of the royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9), and to take my place as one who bridges the gaps for those far from God in my home, family, church, and city. In Jesus’ name, amen.
This past year, how have you been a bridge for others who were losing their dignity or forgetting their belovedness to Jesus? How can you be a more fully engaged royal priest of God in this year ahead?
For the Awakening,