Focal Passage: Exodus 19:1-6
“Would you please pray for me, pastor? I’m not sure God is
listening to me.” “I’m sure if you pray, Reverend, we will see results. You
have a direct line to God!”
As a pastor, I sometimes hear such comments. Certainly some
of the comments are made in jest.
Still, I wonder how many people really do believe that the
prayers of a minister have a better chance of being heard and answered by God.
One of our Baptist distinctives is the priesthood of all
Simply, the doctrine declares that all of us, whether clergy
or lay, share in a calling by God to be priests. So, what constitutes being a
priest? In the Old Testament, the priests regularly made sacrifices on behalf
of themselves and the people they served. Once a year the High Priest (and only
the High Priest) would enter the temple and go behind a curtain to enter the
Holy of Holies. No one else was to enter this sacred space. The High Priest
then would make an animal sacrifice to atone for his sins and the sins of all
the people. He was the mediator between God and man. In the New Testament Jesus
is referred to as the Great High Priest. Jesus’ death on the cross as atonement
for all sin caused the temple curtain at the entrance of the Holy of Holies to
be miraculously torn in two.
Now, because of Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice, all believers
have access to God. We do not need a middle man. Through faith in Jesus, all
believers’ prayers reach the ears of God.
When Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the
Castle Church of Wittenburg on October
31, 1517, he was declaring war against the idea that God’s favor
was mediated through an ecclesiastical priesthood. Luther insisted that
everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ is a priest. God declares to Moses in our
text for today, “the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly
kingdom and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:5b-6a). As God’s priests in the world today,
we are to be for Him a priestly kingdom.
We are uniquely gifted and called by God for this task. When
we know ourselves — our spiritual gifts, talents, resources, experiences and
personalities — and surrender those to the lordship of Christ, we become the
most effective priests we can be. We are equipped to give ourselves as living
sacrifices to God so that others may know His love, grace, and mercy.