What does it mean for Jesus to be humanity’s cosmic priest? It means he intercedes on behalf of humanity and so much more! Through Jesus, God has forever included humanity into his own self. In this episode, join Tim and Jon as they discuss Jesus’ ascension and the eternal union of Heaven and Earth.
Because Jesus is the cosmic royal priest, what it means to believe in the Christian God is to believe that God has included within God’s own self a representative of the human plight, including our lack of wisdom, our inability to know what to do, our pain. These aren’t external to God. God doesn’t hear the cries of suffering humanity as something external to God’s own self. They are themselves a part of God’s own being in the person of Jesus, who is making intercession on behalf of confused, hurting humans in this present moment.
In part one (0:00-18:30), Tim and Jon revisit the topics of previous episodes in our royal priesthood series, outlining the office of priest as played out in the lives of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses and Aaron, David, and Jesus.
Jesus’ resurrection and ascension signify an important turning point in the royal priesthood theme in the Bible. Jesus becomes our cosmic royal priest who now works through an earthly royal priesthood: the people of Jesus, his body.
God’s ideal purpose is for creation to be a union of heaven and earth and for humans to be a union of divinity and humanity. The garden of Eden, the tabernacle and temple, and the royal priesthood all embody this reality.
In part two (18:30-23:00), the team touches on the duties of priests and how Jesus ultimately completes and fulfills humanity’s priestly office.
When humans act as priests within sacred spaces (like the garden or the temple), they perform specific functions: worship, representing God and humans to one another, interceding and taking action on humanity’s behalf, and acting as vehicles of God’s blessing.
Jesus presented himself as the ultimate royal priest, and also as the true temple. He claimed to be both the place and the person in whom heaven and earth are one.
In part three (23:00-31:00), Tim and Jon discuss Jesus’ claim that he is the true temple.
Because Jesus is both priest and temple, his followers are often also referred to as both throughout the New Testament.
As the true temple, Jesus is the reality to which the Jerusalem temple was pointing, one of many reasons why he stormed the temple in John 2 to “purify” it.
The Jews then said to him, “What sign do you show us as your authority for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. So when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
Throughout the story of the Bible, the tabernacle and the temple are continually used and abused by the increasingly corrupt Levitical priesthood. This creates an even starker contrast when Jesus arrives on the scene to bring a more perfect union of heaven and earth. Jesus is the divine glory, the temple presence of Yahweh dwelling in his “new temple”––his people (Matthew 18:20).
The ascension signifies a pivot in Jesus’ ministry, from launching the Kingdom of God on earth to reigning in the heavens as cosmic royal high priest.
In part four (31:00-43:00), Tim and Jon explore Jesus’ ascension, described by Luke in the book of Acts.
To these he also presented himself alive after his suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the Kingdom of God. … He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” And after he had said these things, he was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received him out of their sight.
This scene where Jesus is “lifted up” and “a cloud received him” evokes the same imagery as the enthronement of the Son of Man from Daniel 7:13-14 and the exaltation of the suffering servant in Isaiah 52:13-15. Luke intentionally chooses these images to cause his readers to link the underlying ideas. Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension are all part of his enthronement in the heavenly temple.
Because Jesus reigns as the God-Man cosmic priest, he reigns over and fulfills Eden, the place where heaven and earth are one and humans and God are united.
In part five (43:00-end), the team discusses Jesus’ work and duties as cosmic priest in the heavens, where he does what the priests did in the temple on behalf of all creation: worship, representation, intercession, and blessing (Hebrews 1:1-3, 7:23-27, 8:1-5; Ephesians 1:18-23).
Jesus is both the once-for-all atoning sacrifice and the once-for-all high priest, securing atonement for humanity. Because he reigns as cosmic priest at the intersection of heaven and earth, Jesus’ advocating for humanity and giving of priestly blessing continues into the present.
What it means to believe in the Christian God is to believe God has included within God’s own self a representative of the human plight. The suffering of humanity is not external to God but part of his own being, in and through Jesus and his intercession on behalf of humanity.
Show produced by Dan Gummel and Cooper Peltz. Show notes by Lindsey Ponder.
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