A Kingdom and Priests
“And they sang a new song to the Lamb, saying,…by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”Revelation 5:9-10
Our pilgrimage is nearly complete. We have made it to Jerusalem. We are dwelling in Zion. We have come home to the Lord and now we are preparing to walk with Jesus in His way. And His way is the way of the Cross. His way takes us through Holy Week on the via Dolorosa, the way of sorrows, into the light, the joy, and new life in the Resurrection. In this final week of our Lenten pilgrimage, during this Holy Week, we will meditate on what it means for us as Christians to truly be residents of the New Jerusalem. What does the New Jerusalem look like? How do we make our home here? What does that home look like? It looks like Jesus. We make our home in Jesus. And He, by His blood, has made us “a kingdom and priests to our God, and we shall reign on the earth.”
We, the Body of Christ, become a kingdom when we are united in the King. We are made priests when we share in His High Priesthood. We have been made a kingdom and priests by virtue of His saving act in the Passion we observe this Holy Week. St. John relates to the seven churches in Asia the revelation given to Him by Jesus. He says to them, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:6). It is by the blood of Jesus that we were “freed from our sins…and made a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” But let this not go to our heads. We have no kingly authority, apart from the King. We have no priestly ministry without the Great High Priest. It is all about Jesus.
We have all heard, at one time or another, the saying, “How odd of God to choose the Jews.” God didn’t choose them, He made them. He covenanted with the Hebrew people, taking a wandering band of twelve tribes and uniting them as one people. God made them into His one chosen people at Sinai. In His covenant promise to them through Moses, He said, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’” (Exodus 19:5-6). And God eternally sealed this covenant in the blood of His Son, Jesus. So, when we pray for His kingdom to come, we are praying that His will be done in us, that we “will indeed obey His voice and keep His covenant.”
This is Palm Sunday. We have been exhorted throughout our pilgrimage to be different from the world. What we see on Palm Sunday is a prophetic parade announcing the arrival of an alternative empire—the kingdom of God. This kingdom, those who reign in Jesus, derives its power by embracing the cross and fulfilling the will of God. It is the only hope the world has for true liberation, freedom from exile in sin. It’s all about Jesus. Jesus the Way. Jesus the Light. Jesus, the One in whom we dwell. Jesus the New Jerusalem. Holy Week is Jesus.