A Look at the (Biblical) Priesthood
I went to a funeral recently, and as I watched the service, I thought about this gentleman, a priest, that was doing the service. Like so many other priests, he was an older person, showing a certain amount of self-confidence, an attitude of importance, if you will, as he did the service. But that isn't too surprising, not when you consider that he has been a religious "leader" for many years. So let's see just what the Bible might say about priests.
Priests are: Official ministers or worship leaders in the nation of Israel who represented the people before God and conducted various rituals to atone for their sins. Priests officiated at worship by offering various offerings on behalf of the nation and by leading the people to confess their sins. In their function of offering sacrifices at the altar, the priests acted as mediators between man and God, offering sacrifices so that sin might be forgiven. (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
Notice how priests were for the Old Testament, namely Israel, and they were to be mediators, for the purpose of atoning for sins, between God and Man? However there are a few problems with this type of priest. First of all, as the Bible states, "And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood." (Hebrews 7:23+24) As you can see, there is no real need for a priest because Jesus took over that position as verse 27 tells us: "Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself."
Which leads us to the other point, the forgiveness of sins. Again, one only has to look at the Word of God. It says, "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Hebrews 9:28) What is this? Well, simply that Jesus took care of any sins that a believer has committed already and that, "But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." (Hebrews 10:3+4) Not only has Jesus taken care of the sins already, but furthermore, there is no need for a "mass" either, as we continue our look at priests and their roles. The tenth chapter of Hebrews tells us, "10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews 10:10-12,14) And the Bible clearly goes on to say that, "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin." (Hebrews 10:17-18)
Trying to be fair about the position of a priest, I thus went to a web site that promoted this to find what they might rationalize of this. It said that, "One fundamental idea is common to all religions: the priest is the person authoritatively appointed to do homage to God in the name of society, and to offer Him sacrifice." These web sites go further in that they claim that a priest can also "forgive sins" as well as their "Eucharistic" powers, two areas in which they've been deceived by not understanding Scriptures correctly.
But does any of this surprise you? The Bible tells us that, "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." (1 Corinthians 1:27) These men have no idea that they are lost sinners just as we used to be. Instead of trying to merit salvation through their own efforts, through the mass and sacraments, they simply need to know that they can have salvation by believing in what Jesus did at Calvary nearly 2000 years ago. Unfortunately, they've known all along that Jesus died for them, but they've been taught that wasn't enough and that they must still merit salvation for themselves as well as others. They simply must hear that we (believers) have already been bought, "purchased by the Blood of Christ," (Acts 20:28) and that the real Biblical priests are us, those whom believe. And as Peter writes, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light!" (1 Peter 2:9)
In closing, we reaffirm that our eyes should be on what Jesus did at Calvary nearly 2000 years ago, and what He "Finished." Our commission is to tell others about Jesus. Let us share the good news with priests as well.