The Gift of Priesthood

John 11: 47-57

When Lazarus was resurrected, “some, seeing what Jesus had done, believed in Him” while others simply went ahead and reported Him “to the proper quarter” whose decision “from that day” was “to put Him to death”. This great miracle becomes for some a door to heaven, destroying the limits of the visible world. At the same time, there were people who managed to squeeze it into the limits of the ordinary and consider it as a trivial event, which may or may not be convenient, useful, etc. In this case, it was inconvenient: “This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.” Thus, the members of the council unanimously passed the verdict, and the high priest summed up the results: “You know nothing at all!  You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.”

However, the speech of the high priest is somehow not entirely logical. He seems to agree with the others, but at the same time, he kind of rebukes them: “You know nothing at all!” Paradoxically, he has no intention to protect Jesus, also considering His death a necessity. The Evangelist explains his further words as follows: “He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God.”

The fact is that, despite being a sinner and a future deicide, he is still a high priest with the inherent gift of prophecy. As a result, the sinner in him says one thing, but by God’s will another thing comes out. Instead of passing a death sentence on one Person, he utters a prophecy about the salvation of all people by this particular Person. He wants Jesus to die in order to avoid the death of the entire nation, and involuntarily predicts His death for the people, becoming an atoning sacrifice for all. And those who had ears may well have heard it.

This episode is not meant to justify unworthy clergy. Everyone will be fully responsible for their unrepentant sins. But there will always be a place on earth where everyone who seeks can find Him. And this place is not preserved by human righteousness, but by Divine ordinance. The Old Testament priesthood ends only when the new High Priest rises, and when He establishes a new priesthood on earth in order to spread everywhere the word of truth and the Blood of Christ, washing away the sins of the world.

The church believes that those who come here with a contrite heart, with faith of a child and true repentance, will never leave deprived of their due share. Their sins will be forgiven by God Himself (albeit by the hand of an unworthy priest) and they will commune of the Body and Blood of Christ. God Himself will put the right words into the mouth of the most inept preacher for those few faithful listeners (or perhaps, just one) who will understand their importance.

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

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