How much thought do you give to the Priesthood of Jesus? It seems to me to be a much neglected teaching. But it’s absolutely crucial, especially when thinking about mental illness.
What’s it all about? Well here’s Job, Paul and the writer to the Hebrews…
“Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend.” (Job 16:18-20)
“Christ Jesus… is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)
“Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)
According to the bible we have a Friend in high places. And He’s praying for us. Continually.
I remember speaking at a prayer meeting and beginning with these words “You’re all late to prayers.” One person who’d only just stolen in at the back spoke up sheepishly, “Sorry I had car trouble…” I said, “You’re not the only one late. I was late. Everyone was late. We are all always late to prayers. Before we ever think to pray, Jesus has already been offering up to the Father the perfect prayer, the perfect obedience, the perfect worship, the perfect love. He has been doing it in our place and on our behalf. And He always will. Any prayers we pray are just the Amen to His perfect prayer.”
In other words, Jesus is our Priest. And He will continue to be our Priest forever. Our whole lives are offered up to the Father perfectly by Jesus, no matter where we are or what we are doing.
That’s crucial when dealing with depression or with any kind of dark time. When it seems impossible to pray, when I don’t even want to pray, Jesus is praying for me. When my heart is as hard as nails towards God, Jesus is the true Man after God’s heart. When my internal world is completely chaotic, Jesus is my peace. And He always lives to intercede for me. My status before God is not me – it’s Him!
Therefore when times are hard and my heart’s a mess, my hope is not in sorting myself out. My hope is not in me rising above it all. My hope is seated far above my stormy circumstances and He is immovably secure.
Emma and I have a friend who wrote to us with a letter addressed to God. It was full of mixed emotions – wanting to serve God yet feeling completely unworthy. On the one hand she had great love for God but on the other, terrible anger and feelings of distance and loneliness. It was an unresolved tension throughout her prayer. Extremely presumptuously, I wrote a reply to her as Jesus. It was His Priesthood that I really wanted to communicate. Here’s what I wrote (in Jesus’ name):
I hear you. I know you. I’m for you.
In the midst of your darkness and pain and in the midst of your sin I hear you, I know you and I’m for you.
I have you on my heart before the Father and I pray for you. Constantly. However you feel and however you rebel, you are secure before the throne of God. I’ve got you.
I offer to God the perfect praise, the perfect sacrifice, the perfect obedience, in your name and on your behalf.
You are more than forgiven Lucy. Your sins have been covered, cleansed and removed as far as the east is from the west. My work on the cross was complete. There’s nothing between you and God now. Only me. And I am keeping you together. I will do that forever – I will never leave you or forsake you.
When you feel unable to pray – I am praying for you.
When you feel far from God – I am lifting you to Him.
When you wallow in the darkness – I’ve got you in the light.
When you sin – I am bearing the wounds of your forgiveness.
When you cut – I am robing you in righteousness and love.
I am yours forever,
Jesus, our great High Priest, lifts us out of ourselves and allows us to take our eyes off our own stuck-ness. Even if we don’t feel it, that’s ok. It’s true. Far above and beyond our own hearts it is true. So then, let’s allow ourselves to be told the truth:
Before the throne of God above,
I have a strong, a perfect Plea,
A Great High Priest Whose name is love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.