A Priestly Postscript
February 11, 2013
As the world now knows, Pope Benedict XVI has recently announced his resignation from the papacy, effective at the end of this month. Nicknamed "God's rottweiler" for his occasionally unpopular allegiance to Roman tradition on certain theological matters, Benedict's surprising announcement nevertheless included words that, in themselves, are enough to raise the eyebrows of Protestants worldwide: "...with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter."
Despite all hope to the contrary, however, the white smoke is likely to rise again from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. When it does, we would do well to remember the futility of all competing alternatives to the supreme and sufficient priesthood of Christ. He is a Priest who has been raised in imperishability, glory, and power (cf. 1 Cor 15:42-43). He will never die again (Heb 9:27-28), much less decline in health or renounce His office. He has dealt with our sins once and for all (Heb 9:26), has poured out His own Spirit upon His Bride (1 Cor 15:45; Acts 2:33) and, even now, sustains our eternal salvation in the heavenly sanctuary (Heb 9:12). And it is through Him, and not any other mediator on earth or in heaven, that we can confidently approach the throne of grace (Heb 4:16), since it is He who has learned what it means to obey sinlessly through suffering (Heb 5:8).
Is this pie in the sky? Hardly. It is the lifeblood of our redemption and the hope of hurting Christians.
"The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them" (Heb 7:23-25).