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TEXT: Hebrews 3:1
SUBJECT: Watson on the Offices of Christ #2
Tonight, with the Lord's help, we'll move on in our study of Thomas Watson on the Offices of Christ. To save us from our sins, Jesus Christ took up three offices: Prophet, Priest, and King. Last week, we looked at Him as a prophet-and more than a prophet, as
"The Prophet who is to come into the world".
In this role, He reveals the character and will of God as no other man has-or can. He not only completes the Word of God to man, but He also enables us to understand, believe, and obey that Word. That's the Prophetic Office.
Now we move on His saving work as Our High Priest.
WHAT IS A PRIEST?
Before we get to Watson on the topic, let's be sure we know what a priest is and how his work differs from a prophet. Both prophet and priest bring sinners and God together, but they do it from opposite ends.
The prophet brings God to man, i.e., he carries a Word from God to sinners. The priest, on the other hand, brings man to God, that is, he qualifies sinners to approach God.
WHAT DOES A PRIEST DO?
How does a priest make sinners acceptable to God? Watson says he does in two ways:
"What are the parts of Christ's priestly office?
Christ's priestly office has two parts-His
Satisfaction and intercession.His satisfaction
Consists of our guilt being transferred and
Imputed to Him and His suffering the penalty
Which was due to us".
PRIESTLY WORK, PART I
The first part of His priestly work took place on the cross. Just as the high priest of Israel would offer an innocent animal to God for the sins of his people, so Christ-the Lamb of God-offered Himself on the cross to bear the punishment of the elect. The classic formula is taken from I Peter 3:18,
"For Christ also suffered once for
sins--the just for the unjust."
The greatness of this work cannot be overstated. Think of Who died-The Son of God! Think of His innocence-"Holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners". Think of the wickedness of those who did it-envious rulers, jesting Pilate, fickle mob, cruel soldiers, and behind them all, Satan! Think of the benefits that we have from it-all spiritual blessings come via the cross. Take away the cross and you're left with, what? No forgiveness, no fellowship with God, no hope for heaven, no nothing!
Because we've heard of the cross so often, and seen in so many paintings, we tend to not feel the greatness of our Lord's pain. Watson reminds us of,
"The sufferings of His body. He suffered truly,
and not in appearance only.Christ suffered
in all His senses: His eyes beheld two sad
objects, His enemies insulting and His mother
weeping. His ears were filled with the revilings
of the people--`He saved others, Himself He cannot save.
His smell was offended when spittle fell upon
His face. His taste, when they gave Him
Gall and vinegar to drink. His feelings
When His head suffered with thorns, His
Hands and feet with nails.His whole body
Was one great wound."
Watson has said a lot of ugly and revolting things. But He hasn't come close to describing the physical beating our Lord took.for us.
And that's the lesser part of His suffering. The Puritan goes on the recall
"The sufferings of His soul. He was crushed
in the wine-press of His Father's wrath. That
caused the scream from the cross, `My God,
My God, why have You forsaken Me?'
How bitter was this agony! Christ felt the
Pains of hell in His soul".
Sacrificial beasts suffered on the altar, but their pain was short and, well, animal. The Lord's suffering was long and tortured, and He died as a Man rejected by men and under the curse of God.
The first part of His priestly work was His sacrifice on the cross-His once for all death-perfectly satisfying God justice and reconciling all believers to God.
PRIESTLY WORK, PART II
The second part of His priestly work receives far less attention in the Bible, but it too, is important, and demands we think about it-and praise the Lord for it! It's
"To intercede is to make request on behalf of
another. Christ is the great master of
requests in heaven.When Aaron entered
into the holy place, his bells gave a sound;
so Christ having entered heaven, His inter-
cession makes a melodious sound in the
ears of God. Though Christ be exalted to
glory, He has not laid aside His compassion,
but is still mindful of His mystic body".
Jesus Christ died for us once, but He prays for us every day in heaven. The New Testament says He
"Ever lives to make intercession for us".
If you're like me, you're happy to know that people are praying for you. On my way to school last week, I told my wife, "Pray for me; it's going to be a hard day in school". She said she would. When I got home I said, "You didn't pray for me, did you?" She hadn't-and I suffered for it. Now, I'm not singling her out-we've all done that a million times.
But what I'm saying is this-Jesus Christ does not forget to pray for us! He's busy in heaven, but He's not too busy to pray for us, by name and by need.
He's the best intercessor-Watson says-for three reasons,
"He is holy; He is faithful; He never dies".
If He's holy, it means He prays for the right things and has nothing in Him to make God say No to Him. If He's faithful, then He prays for us all the time and consistently well. If He never dies, it means He never quits praying for us. My mother prayed for me every day; how many temptations I got out of due to her prayers, I can't even imagine. But she's not praying for me any more. But my Savior is!
Few doctrines are less known and thought about than the intercession of Christ. But if we knew it better and felt it's truth in our bones, we'd be the better for it.
In his Memoirs, the Scottish saint and preacher, Robert Murray M'Cheyne said,
"If I knew Christ were praying for me in the
next room, I could suffer any temptation.
Distance does not matter. He is praying
What could you stay away from if you could hear Christ praying against it? What could you do if you heard Him praying for it? You can't hear Him pray, but He is praying for you. You have His word on it!
Because we know that Aaron never saved anyone and the blood of bulls and goats never remitted the sins of Israel, we tend to overlook the benefits that came from the priestly work done under the Old Covenant. But there were benefits-many valuable blessings came to Israel because of what Aaron and his sons did.
The people kept their land, won wars, enjoyed prosperity, good, health, long lives, and more-all because God accepted the sacrifices and the priestly prayers on their behalf.
Now, if the work of those priests brought blessings to Israel, how many blessings will the work of Christ bring to us?
The short answer is a lot. Watson fills it in a bit,
"What are the fruits of Christ's priesthood?
Justification, that is, guilt is remitted and
Righteousness is imputed. Christ says
To God, `These are the persons I died for,
Look upon them as if they had not sinned,
And repute them righteous'.
The unction of the Spirit.When the
Spirit touches a soul, it puts into it
A Divine nature-it makes it to be
Holy and to resemble God. The sanc-
Tifying work of the Spirit is the fruit
Of Christ's priesthood.
The purification of our holy things.
It is Christ's work in heaven, not only
To pray for us, but to make our prayers
And good works acceptable to God.
Access to the throne of grace.
Do you think it too much boldness
For sinners to come to God for pardon?
If we came in our own name, it would
Be presumption, but Christ bled for us
And intercedes for us. To be afraid to
Come to God in prayer is a dishonor
Sending the Comforter. Thank Christ that
The Comforter has come because He prayed
For it.`I shall pray the Father and He
Will give the Comforter'.
Perseverance in grace.It is not our prayer
Or watchfulness or grace that keeps us,
But God's care. But why does God preserve
Us? Because of Christ's intercession-
`Father, keep them'.
Absolution in the day of judgment.
Christ will judge the world. But will
He condemn those for whom He also prays?"
I'm not sure what I can add to this. Suffice it to say if it were not for Christ's priesthood-His death and intercession-we would be lost,
"Without God and without hope
in the world".
Watson closes the chapter with several uses. Here are the highlights:
"Is Christ our priest who was sacrificed for us?
If so, see the endearing affection of Christ
To us sinners. The cross was a pulpit in
Which Christ preached His love to the
World. Oh, the infinite and amazing love
Of Christ-a love that passes knowledge!"
If Jesus Christ is our priest, then He must love us more dearly than we can imagine. If you're like me, you often think of how little you love Christ-it shows in how you use your time, how you spend your money, and how slow you are to speak up for Him. How different I would be if I loved Christ more! Your love for Christ is worth thinking about.
But not as much as His love for you.
"And Jesus, having loved His own
who were in the world, loved them
to the end".
Never let the Priesthood of Christ be only a doctrine to you. His priesthood means He loves you,
"No greater love has any man than this:
that he lay down His life for his friend".
"Let us apply this blood of Christ. All the
virtue of a medicine is in the application.
Though the medicine be the blood of Christ
It will not heal unless applied by faith".
This is a point on which Reformed Christians are a little uneasy, at times. We wonder if it fits the System. Well, I'm not sure about that: But I know it fits the Bible! The blood of Christ is shed for His People. But it does not save them until they believe.
If Christ is a Priest, believe in Him and you'll be clean.
"The sacrifice of Christ may infinitely comfort us.
Oh, says the soul, my sins trouble me, but Christ's
Blood was shed for the remission of sin. Let us
See our sins laid on Christ and they are no more
Ours but His".
If Christ is my priest, then I can confess my sins to Him and have Him remove their guilt and stain.
"Bless God for this precious sacrifice of Christ's death".
This speaks for itself. How can you thank Him enough for what He's done for you-and still doing? No heart is too grateful; no voice is loud enough to sing His praises!
"Love your priest. Kindness invites love.
If an attorney pleaded for you in court
And brought you out of your troubles,
Would you not love that friend?
Christ is that friend! How our hearts
Should be fired with a love for Him!
Love Him with a sincere and superlative
Love. Our fire of love should be as
The fire on the altar-never going out".
Jesus Christ is a Priest. A priest able to save you from your sin and misery. A priest able to make you and your works acceptable to God. A priest worth loving with all your heart.
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