Desert Hills Bible Church | Christ As Prophet

Christ As Prophet

One of the great needs of the church is a richer understanding of theology. We serve a God who is beyond comprehension, and yet we often settle for only knowing Him on a surface level. That’s tragic because we miss out on so much in our relationship with Christ when we don’t dig deep into what He has told us about Himself in Scripture.

One of the theological truths we need to grasp is Jesus Christ’s threefold office as prophet, priest, and king. I want to examine each of these aspects of Christ’s office to better know Christ and His work so we love Him ever-more and learn to trust Him increasingly as we see His power and His love for us. So, we ask a very straightforward question: What does it mean that Jesus is our prophet, priest, and king? 

We first need to have a little background. Why do we say the threefold office of Christ is that of prophet, priest, and king? The answer is found in the Old Testament.

There were three primary offices of leadership in the nation of Israel. First, there were prophets, who were anointed by God’s Spirit to proclaim God’s Word to His people. Then there were priests. The priests were also anointed by God, but their function was not primarily to proclaim God’s words, but to mediate God’s presence. Lastly, there were kings, who enforced God’s rule.

When we come to the new covenant, however, these three functions are no longer carried out by three different people, but by the Messiah. Under the Old Covenant, someone was anointed to receive these offices, either by the Spirit, a prophet, or both. Under the New Covenant, Jesus is God’s anointed one to be the prophet, priest, and king for God’s people.

The Messiah also carries out these three functions simultaneously. For our study, we will separate these functions to better understand them, but we must never sever them from one another in the person of Jesus as if He is sometimes prophet, sometimes priest, and sometimes king.

I want to focus specifically on Jesus’ work as prophet, asking three questions to better understand the prophetic aspect of His office.

First, is it proper to speak of Jesus as prophet? 

Some get squeamish when the title prophet is applied to Jesus because they feel it demeans Him and His work. It is wrong to use the title prophet as something opposed to Jesus being the Son of God. However, if we use the title prophet as something He is while maintaining that He is also the Son of God, then it is scripturally true. The Scriptures highlight Jesus as prophet. 

Old Testament prophets did many things, but we can summarize their work by saying that  they brought God’s words to God’s people – sometimes predicting future events, sometimes bringing judgment and a call to repentance, and sometimes promising hope and salvation to those in distress. 

The first major prophet was Moses, who prophesied of a greater and ultimate prophet who would speak to God’s people. In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses says, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him….”

This promise is fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, certain people recognized He was a prophet. For example, the Samaritan woman said to Jesus in John 4:19, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.” After Jesus had raised a young man from the dead in Luke 7, the people exclaim, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” In Luke 24:19, the disciples on the Emmaus road said, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people.”

Then we have Jesus’ words about Himself. In Luke 4, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown.” When Jesus traveled to Jerusalem to be crucified, He refers to Himself as a prophet, saying, “Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside Jerusalem.” Jesus understood Himself to be the fulfillment of the Deuteronomic promise of the greater Moses. 

Second, how did Jesus fulfill the role of prophet? 

Jesus first fulfilled His role as prophet prior to the incarnation. In 1 Peter 1:10, Peter profoundly writes that God’s Son was, by His Spirit, inspiring the Old Testament prophets to write down the prophecies concerning His sufferings and His glories to follow. Jesus is the prophet behind all the Old Testament prophets. He is linked with them because they all spoke God’s words. But He is differentiated from them in that He stands supreme as the ultimate prophet.

Jesus also fulfilled His prophetic function in His earthly ministry. People ascribed to Him the role of prophet when they saw His works and heard His words. Jesus Himself testified that He was speaking God’s Words in John 8:26, saying, “I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.”

Before Pilate, Jesus referenced His role as prophet in John 18:37, stating, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth.” Here we see Jesus’ kingly function cannot be separated from His prophetic function. As king, He came to testify, to teach, and to proclaim the God’s truth as revealed by His Spirit – which is what prophets did.

Not only did Jesus teach with His words, but He also revealed God through His actions. Jesus’ earthly obedience became a testimony and divine revelation to us. Thus, Jesus fulfilled the role of prophet like none other ever has. He is not merely a prophet; He is the Prophet. 

Third, is there any continuing relevance to Jesus as Prophet? 

This is a very important question. Cults claiming the name of Christianity get this question wrong, and it steers them in terrible directions. So, what does Scripture say? 

Scripture is clear Jesus remains the Prophet for the church. Perhaps the clearest indication is in John 14-16, where Jesus comforts His disciples, telling them He will come to them in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will then take up the role of teacher and revealer of God’s word. Jesus said in John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” 

Notice how closely linked the Spirit’s revelation is with Jesus’ revelation in the incarnation. Jesus did not speak His own words but the Father’s. The Spirit also speaks whatever He hears from Jesus. He has a prophetic work in disclosing Christ’s word. Jesus thus continues to function as the prophet through the sending of the Holy Spirit and His written word given by inspiration of the Spirit through the Apostles. 

There are some practical implications of these truths about Jesus as Prophet. 

First, all divine revelation comes through Jesus. The Bible is insistent it is not the word of man, but the word of God. When we encounter Scripture, we encounter the person of Christ. 

Second, Christ is present to believers directly through the Spirit and the Word. Since Christ is our Prophet, we do not need men to mediate or reveal His word to us. John wrote in 1 John 2:27, “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” As the Spirit works through the preached Word, we experience the living God. This is why it’s vital for a church have a preacher who teaches the Word rather than his own opinions or imagination, so people can encounter not a preacher but Jesus Christ! 

Christ is our great Prophet. It is through Him we learn all we need to know about God and God’s will. What a great Savior we have!

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