In my study of the priesthood, that we are all priest of God who follow after Christ our high priest, it is imperative that we keep our eyes on Jesus to follow after Him. He is our life (Col. 3:3-4), and the life and head of the priesthood. He gives stability to the priesthood; He is our cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-8). Moreover, all that we are as priests are because of His life and work flowing through us; our compassion for others and our holy character is all from Him.
But to make certain that His power flowing through us and to have an effective prayer ministry we must obey Him and practice all the things that are required of a priest; for it is always through obedience that He shows us Himself and works through us (Jn. 14:21, Lu. 9:24).
But we should seek to go even beyond obedience. If we want to please Him and be a priest like Him, we should strive to be like Him and follow in His steps (1 Pet. 2:21), for He is the only priest that lived a perfect life and the only one that has given us a perfect example.
There are many priestly characteristics of Christ that we should seek to emulate. Here are three that we can start with:
1. He is compassionate. As I said earlier, it is required of priests that they be compassionate and sympathetic toward sinners. If we take a look at Jesus’ life in the gospels we will see His compassion for people (Mark 6:34-44). Also, in Hebrews 4:15 it says of Him, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
2. He is Holy. When we say that Christ is holy, we are saying that He is godly, perfect and pure. Holiness means all of these things. Perhaps the way we can begin to be holy, and to emulate His holiness, is by following His dedication to God—His being set apart to God. This I believe is the very basis of holiness. If we dedicate our life to Him for His service, He will make us holy and a fitting priest as He is.
3. He offered Himself as a sacrifice to God for others. In the words of David Levy, “The death of Christ was a priestly act. He did not offer gifts and sacrifices, but Himself as the spotless Lamb of God (1 Pet. 1:19) to atone for sin.”3
We also are to give our bodies to God—not dead but alive. We are to give ourselves as a “living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1). This is our priestly duty and holy service to God for others. With our bodies we are to perform the priestly service of prayer and good works.
3 David Levy, The Tabernacle: Shadows of the Messiah (The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc. Bellmawr, NJ, 1993), p. 190.