You're a Priest
Video Courtesy of GotQuestions.org
"And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom..."- Matthew 27:50-51a (NASB)
The significance of the tearing of the veil cannot be overstated. It is perhaps the clearest picture, at least in my mind, of what was done for us through Jesus’ death on the Cross. The video on this page (which is not from Lord’s Army, it is from a great ministry entitled GotQuestions.org) does a good job pointing out that significance.
I once heard a sermon about this veil in which the preacher stated that the tearing of the veil signified the “elimination of the priesthood.” I do not listen to sermons trying to find things to nitpick, but the phrase “elimination of the priesthood” kept bothering me- and the phrase was used several times.
It is an understandable error. For centuries, the veil separated the public from the Holy of Holies. In the Holy of Holies, the High Priest would perform very specific work. With the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, the temple system was no longer needed. The old sacrificial system of temple worship was completely destroyed- this was likely the point that this preacher was trying to make.
However, the reason the phrase "elimination of the priesthood” bothered me so much is that it is just completely untrue. Far from eliminating the priesthood, the tearing of the veil actually extended the priesthood!
We often think about this wrongly ourselves. The tearing of the veil did not make the priests like everyone else, but rather it gave everyone else the ability to be priests. Did you catch that? It was not that the torn veil made the priests suddenly able to be unholy, but rather it now gave everyone the ability to be holy.
Indeed, Peter calls Christians “a royal priesthood” in 1 Peter 2:5. We have the Great High Priest in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16) and can therefore come to God directly.
We are now the priests- all believers who are born again in Jesus Christ. This means that we are a special people. The tearing of the veil absolutely demonstrated the end of the temple system… however; it also signified the beginning of the Church age.
We can sometimes become so focused on historical context that we forget the practical application of what this means. We are far closer to God today than any temple priest could ever have been.
It can be tempting to read the Bible with a sense of “I wish I could have been there for that.” However, the relationship we are able to keep with God today is so much better than what we find in most of Scripture.
You are a high priest. You are able to boldly enter into the throne room of God. You are able to do great works in God’s name and petition Him directly. You are able to do exactly what the Church needs you to do because God created you for exactly right now, and he placed you exactly where you are.
God’s workers did not disappear. The priesthood was not eliminated… far from it. Instead, the veil was torn and now you and I (yes, even us!) can enter in.