Summary: The priesthood of all Christians is a result of God's new covenant of grace. A sermon set to help all believers see their role as priests in the Lord's Church today.
Some memberships come with privileges...
joke - 3 guys wanted to get in a watch the athletes that have gathered for the Olympics in Atlanta, but they couldn't get past the gate. Then, a guy with boxing gloves showed up. "Robertson -- boxing" Well, of course! All they had to do was pretend to belong with the athletes and they could get in. 1st guy found a long pole…"Wilson -- pole vaulting." 2nd guy found a smooth round rock…"Miller -- shot put." 3rd guy came up, all wound up with barbed wire, scratched bleeding…"Zustiak -- fencing."
Membership has its privileges!
OT priests had a pretty good setup. Being a priest came with a number of privileges:
• didn't get to own any land - didn't need it. Didn’t need to work a field or a vineyard - everything was provided for them
• Ate the showbread from inside the temple, and the meat from sacrifices.
• They had the privilege of handling the sacred things like the incense and anointing oil
• Their work uniform was provided – and it was a really nice one
• Never had to go to fight in the army
That's better than "clergy" parking! All of it, just because they happened to be born into the tribe of Levi. Being a priest was a pretty good deal – a lot of work and responsibility, but a pretty good deal!
Then Jesus came along and said (Mt 12:6), "One greater than the temple is here...!" Something better than the priesthood through Aaron and the tribe of Levi; than the OT law; than the sacrificing of bulls, goats, sheep and birds. Something better has happened, and that's what this passage is about.
There’s been a change -- something better has happened that forever changes our status, whether we happen to be born a Levitical priest or not.
The membership I want to speak of is being a member of the Body of Christ – not membership in a local church – that’s very minor by comparison. Instead I want us this morning to consider how belonging to God’s Family is something better than the OT covenant, better than organized religion, and better than what the majority of people around us are settling for.
I. A Better Temple
-When Israel first escaped Egypt, they had a 40 year tent-revival meeting in the desert! God had them build the Tabernacle - a mobile place of worship that could be taken down and set up wherever the Lord told them to move. 40 years in the desert, Israel's worship centered about that tent. It wasn't until they entered the Promised Land that Solomon built the new national center of Judaism in Jerusalem - the temple. 30,000 men prepared materials for the building. (I Kings 6). It took 7 years to complete it. Over 190 tons of gold, 375 tons of silver were collected for the temple work before it even began. It needed to be the best Solomon could make it. This was to be God's house.
-Imagine it - you could go visit the place where God was. God said, "I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there." That's where you went to worship, to give back to God, to sacrifice, to learn, to make vows, to experience His presence. The entire religious life of the Jew centered around that building.
-But something better has come. That temple was destroyed and rebuilt twice. Jesus said, "a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem." There's a new center of our relationship with God. There's a new place of worship, a new location where God has placed His name, His heart, and His eyes. v5 - "you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house..." The temple has changed!
-That new location is the body of every believer! "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the HS, who is in you, whom you have received from God?" (I Co 6) Worship of God isn't limited to a building. Instead, God has chosen for His HS to dwell in the heart of every one of His people.
-Ill – Sometimes when someone takes over a business they’ll hang a sign outside: "Under New Management." That's what happens when Christ takes over a life. It's literally "under new management."
Imagine what good news this was to people scattered all over the Roman world in the 1st century. Many of these people, like most of us, had never been to Jerusalem, never seen the temple. And now they're told that they're part of something better than the temple -- bigger.