Malankara World

Faith of the Church

Do We Need a Priest?

by E.S. John, Australia

Jesus cried out on the cross: "It is finished". Does it mean that the role of the priesthood also come to a stop by the redemption of Jesus' blood, as claimed by some Protestant churches? I received certain questions on this topic for my comments from an Internet writer. His questions have biblical references to: (1 pet 2:9); 1. Cor. 4:1: Mat. 27:51; Heb. 4:14-16; 1. Tim. 2:5; Heb. 7:23–28).

It is finished. Yes, the redemptive process of earning salvation by blood sacrifice is finished by the Calvary crucifixion, but that dawned the age of the Holy Spirit to continue the same in the NT period. It doesn't mean that the priesthood is abolished because the earning of salvation is a continuous process that goes till we come to the Last Judgement. Therefore, He abolished the first in order to establish the second covenant, Heb.10: 9.

1.Pet.2: 9, has a connecting reference to Exo.19: 6 and Rev.5: 10, where it says that Israelites 'is a kingdom of priests and a holy nation'. He formed the church as the "kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth", Rev.5: 10, certainly pertains to the church (holy nation, and its royal hierarchical priesthood'. Though it was a kingdom of priests, only the Levites were chosen as their priests, not from any other tribes in OT period. Similarly only the anointed one of the church from any tribe or place in the world is allowed to be the priests in the second covenant. Therefore, a way for everyone is opened to serve as a priest in the church, 1.Cor.4: 1.

Mt.27: 51 signifies that the wall of separation between the Father and His children is torn apart by the sacrifice of Jesus who opened the way to the Father, Jn.14: 6.

The confluence of the Melchizedekan and Aaronite priesthood was established 'to fulfill all righteousness', Mt.3: 15, at river Jordan.

This 'all righteousness' pertains to the eternal Melchizedekan and Aaronite union of priesthood. This was the reason for Jesus to receive the baptism from the Levite John the Baptist at the age of 30, just before commencing His public ministry. Jesus started His public ministry only after this recognition (High priestly consecration, Heb.7: 23-28) from above at the age of 30, just before He was led to be tempted by the Devil in the wilderness, Mt.4:1.

Treating this High-priestly consecration as an ordinary baptism, the Pentecostals don't accept the sacrament of infant baptism, thinking that the Pentecostal baptism in the creek at the age of 30, not at river Jordan, make a person of the high priestly order. Even Jesus, the High priest, received His baptism by a Levite priest. If Jesus had to receive the Aaronite priesthood before His ministry in this world, there is no meaning in the charismatic groups' shunning of the NT priesthood order, the essential ingredient for one's salvation. Jesus passed on this priesthood to His apostles who transmitted the same to the next successive anointing through the centuries.

The NT sacrifice is a bloodless sacrifice, the prologue of which was done by Melchizedek offering bread and wine to Abraham, Gen.14: 18; thereby the Father of faith promising to give the tithes to Melchizedek. This bloodless sacrifice was offered by the High Priest Melchizedek Himself, celebrated with bread and wine in St. Mark's mansion during His Last Supper with His apostles, just before spilling His blood at Golgotha . Key to the kingdom of Heaven

We need a priest because the priestly authority which forgives the sin of the repenting believers is the key to Heaven. This authority was first given to His apostle Peter, Mt.16: 19 (I will give you…) A resurrected Christ gave it to all His apostles by breathing on them, Jn.20: 21-23, 27; and by blessing by His hands, Lk.24: 50-51, Mt.28: 18-20. The bestowing of this priestly authority was culminated on the day of Pentecost. The tongue by which the confessor forgives our sins is the key to Heaven.

There was a mediator between man and God in OT period, Heb. 5. Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, between the OT and NT. There is a spiritual hierarchy in Heaven, so also on earth. Then, who is the mediator between Jesus and man? Because the Son of man finished His work on earth and given the overseering charge to the Holy Spirit who broods over the church from the day of Pentecost, the priest is the one who is in between man and Jesus interceding through the Holy Spirit.

If Jesus the Word Incarnate is the mediator between man and God, the mediator between the Holy Spirit and man is the anointed man, clerics like Aaron or the church hierarchy, the reason for the apostles to elect Deacons, priests and bishops to administer the sacraments to the people. Just as there was anointing in the OT, the Aaronite anointing continued from Moses and Aaron, the Levites, through the High priest Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist who passed it on to Jesus by baptizing Him at Jordan, and the Lamb gave it to His apostles and continuing till today by the successive generations of clerics by laying of hands and anointing with oil. These clerics are the empowered or authorized ones to work on behalf of the church to mediate between the Son of man and lay believers.

The sacrifice served by the clerics is accepted by the Savior for transmitting it to the Father. This acceptance is notified to the Holy Spirit by the Father that He has reconciled to the sinful humanity, Lk.11: 13. The prayer or the liturgy offered by the clerics go through the prayer of the incense of the saints, with golden bowls full of incense of the saints, 24 elders and living creatures, Rev. 5:8., before it reaches to the throne of the Lamb. Thus the cycle is completed just like a prick of the skin by a pin is communicated to the brain which gives consent for the hand to give protection to that part or the body.

Thus Jesus is the High priest who sits at the right hand of God to accept our supplications that are offered by His anointed representative for passing it on to the Father Almighty.

See Also:

Orthodox Spirituality
Orthodox Spirituality presents the process of a Christian’s progress on the road to perfection in Christ, by the cleansing of passions and the winning of the virtues, a process which takes place in a certain order. Spirituality describes the manner in which the Christians can go forward from the cleansing of one passion, to the cleansing of another, and the same to the acquiring of the different virtues.

The Principles Of Orthodox Worship
Ten principles of the orthodox worship are described. Orthodox worship is complete and is designed to invoke the whole human being (mind, body and spirit) and the five senses.  It also has a strong biblical basis.

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