Thursday, April 29, 2010

Christ's Priestly Office

I only had drunk one cup of Dark Magic coffee when I decided that I would stop yesterday's reading at the end of the sections on Christ's kingly office.  That made today's reading on Christ's priestly office only one section.  What I also didn't know was how rich this section is.  I am glad that I am covering it by itself this morning.  I could just quote the entire section to you, but I am afraid that the plagiarism police might come and get me.

At the very beginning of this section, Calvin quickly defines the purpose of Christ's priestly office, " a pure and stainless Mediator he is by his holiness to reconcile us to God.  But God's righteous curse bars our access to him, and God in his captivity as judge is angry toward us."  Sin separates us from God, but Christ is able to reconciles us to God.  Christ is able through his sacrifice to appease God's wrath and bring us to him.  The sacrifice was necessary because Jewish priests were never allowed into the Holiest of Holies without blood (Hebrews 9:7).  The priest who went before God in this way was an advocate for the people standing between them and God, because they could not appease God unless their sins had been atoned for.  Calvin writes, "To sum up this argument: The priestly office belongs to Christ alone because by the sacrifice of his death he blotted out our own guilt and made satisfaction for our sins."  It is through the blood of Christ that our sins have been forgiven.  Hebrews 9:22 reads, "And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission."  Calvin quickly mentions passages related to Christ being a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 5:6, 7:15).  Then he writes, "For, as has been said, we or our prayers have no access to God unless Christ, as our High Priest, having washed away our sins, sanctifies us and obtains for us that grace from which the uncleanness of our transgressions  and vices debars us."

Calvin calls Christ an "everlasting intercessor: through his pleading we obtain favor."  We rely on Christ for trust in our prayers and for peace in our hearts, knowing that God's mercy will be shown to us and that the Mediator is pleasing to God.  Calvin writes, "For we who are defiled in ourselves, yet are priests in him, offer ourselves and our all to God, and freely enter the heavenly sanctuary that the sacrifices of prayers and praise that we bring may be acceptable and sweet-smelling before God...For we, imbued with his holiness in so far as he has consecrated us to the Father with himself, although we would otherwise be loathsome to him, please him as pure and clean - and even as holy." 

At the very end of this section, Calvin hints at his theology concerning something particular in the sacraments.  The Catholic church teaches that Christ is sacrificed anew each time that the Mass is celebrated.  I am quite certain that we will read more of this later this year when we get to the sacraments.

Tomorrow's reading: 2.16.1-2.16.4

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