THE TRINITY (9); Christ our Priest in His Intercession

THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY (10)

Christ our Priest in His Intercession

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” (John 17:9)

When Aaron entered into the holy place, his bells gave a sound; so Christ having entered into heaven, his intercession makes a melodious sound in the ears of God” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity)

Christ’s Intercession is the one aspect of His work as our Priest, which is continual. On the cross he completed the work of propitiation in that He satisfied divine justice. On that basis He could therefore declare “It is Finished”. Subsequent to His ascension, however, Christ reached the right of God where He is characterised as our Great High Priest in making continual intercession for us:

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God,…” (Hebrews 4:14)

This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted…” (Acts 2:32-33)

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high…” (Hebrews 1:3)

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high…” (Romans 8:34)

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

Christ as our Great High Priest continues to act as God Incarnate. He remains the High Priest who “became us” (Hebrews 7:26) and as such He is “touched with feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore the doctrine of Christ’s Intercession is linked to the position that the Son of God holds within the Holy Trinity. He is qualified to mediate because He is God, perfect, flawless, without sin. As man, however, he empathises with us and in a human manner represents our interests in the throne room of eternity. His Priesthood would lose value and efficacy if Jesus Christ were not the Son of God.

While the Book of Hebrews and the Types in Leviticus certainly unfold the meaning of Christ’s Intercession, it is John 17 that this study focuses upon. This priceless chapter contains what is commonly called “Christ’s High Priestly Prayer”. From the lips of Christ, under the shadow of Gologotha we learn about the character of our Great High Priest and the contents of His intercessions at God’s Right Hand. Christ’s prayer for His people also teaches us what we should pray for in relation to the Church, because Christ’s prayers will always be in the Spirit and agreeable to the will of God

1: The Precedent

“I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4)

Christ’s intercession is preceded by and is therefore based upon Christ’s flawless life and propitiatory death.

2: The Priest

“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (John 17:5)

Christ, at the right hand of the Father is the highly exalted one, enjoying the glory that was His from eternity as the Logos, the eternal Son of God.

3: The People

“I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” (John 17:9)

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:20)

Christ prays for the elect, the people given to Him from before the foundation of the world. This includes those elect not yet born and who have not embraced faith; “all that the Father giveth me shall come to me…” (John 6:37).

4: The Preservation

“And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” (John 17:11)

I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. (John 17:15)

Not one of the elect will ever be lost because our Saviour is praying for our preservation.

5: The Peace

And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” (John 17:13)

Our High Priest is seeking His Father for our peace, that we will experience the joy of the Lord, which alone will be our strength in a troublesome world.

6: The Purification

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” (John 17:17-19)

The elect of God, who are yet in the world, are not sinless, however. We need to be sanctified and this will be effected only through the Word. Yet the Word is made effectual only through the righteousness of Christ. Our prayers cannot never be separated from our studies as we meditate upon the Word.

7: The Prospect

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)

Christ is praying that one day His elect people will be in glory where He is. Yet we are reminded, that the love that flows from the Father to the Son is basis of the eternal glory that the sons and daughters of God will enjoy.

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