Prophet, Priest and King
(Westminster Shorter Catechism Q:22-26)
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by Bob Burridge ©2011
We are surrounded by deceptions, delusions, and dangers.
We know there are deceptions all around us that call themselves different “versions of the truth.” If something is different than the way things really are, it is not a version of truth at all. It is a falsehood based upon misunderstandings, or maybe even intended lies. They can be very dangerous.
There are those who promise to solve our deepest fears and troubled conscience. We also know that deluded people offer solutions that will not help us. We are all imperfect. When we do wrong things the consequences and guilt do not just go away. There are no magical remedies, though many deceptive cures are offered to us every day. On the other hand, ignoring our guilt, or trying to adjust to it will not make it disappear. When people chase after restoration of their souls with rituals, rules, and good deeds, the haunting whispers of our conscience are not silenced for long.
There are also dangers that surround us. Self-serving people try to hurt others to get what they want. Some even get violent because they enjoy seeing others suffer.
Deep inside us, even in the lost and confused heart, we want these things that trouble us to be taken care of. We want someone who knows the truth to tell us about it. We want someone to make things right again when we have done wrong. We want someone who can keep us safe from those who want to hurt us.
That’s what Christianity is all about. It is about our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. He tells us the truth even when it is not what we want to hear. He can actually make us innocent from our guilt, deliver us from the wrong things we have done, and he can and will handle any enemy or obstacle that threatens us. We say he is the great Prophet, Priest, and King.
What Jesus Christ came to do is not well understood
in our biblically illiterate society.
He was not just a great teacher, martyr, or an example for us to follow. He came to do far more than the human mind can possibly imagine.
He was sent on a mission from God the Father to redeem his people. He told us eternal truths as the one who is the foundation of all that is really true. He provided all we need to be restored to fellowship with the one who created us. He takes away the weight of our guilt that makes us forget what we were created to be. He deals with those things that crush us, discourage and disable us, and tempt us to be dishonest with ourselves.
This is why he is called the Christ. The title “Christ” is from the New Testament Greek word Χριστος (Christos), which means “anointed one”. In God’s law, the prophets, priests and kings were anointed in a ceremony that set them apart for their office. The anointing demonstrated the authority God gave them to carry out their work. Jesus came to fulfill each of those offices for us in a special way, so he is the Anointed One. The Old Testament Hebrew word for anointed is משיח (Mashiakh), which is where we get the word Messiah.
Jesus the Messiah was miraculously born to Mary by the work of the Holy Spirit. That was when the 2nd Person of the Trinity took on a true human body and soul, but he did not inherit the guilt of Adam’s sin.
As both the Eternal God and a sinless man, he became, and always is, our perfect Prophet, Priest and King.
Today we don’t have prophets, priests and kings in the same way as before the 2nd century. So we do not always appreciate what those three offices mean. By learning about how Jesus Christ fulfills these roles, we can understand why God instituted these offices to begin with. They were part of God’s law to prepare us for what the Savior would be for us as his people.
We need someone who knows and tells us
the whole truth about what is most important.
Jesus Christ ministers to us as the Perfect Prophet.
In the time when God sent Prophets to his people, they were sent as truth tellers. Before the Bible was completed, God specially revealed his truths to the Prophets who were commissioned to tell others. They warned those who dared to attack God’s people, and who treated them as if they were not the chosen Covenant Nation. They told about the proper way to worship and the moral way of living. They told God’s truth to the people, and encouraged them with the hope of the Promised Messiah.
Now that God’s Bible is complete, there are no more prophets. There could not be, because our Bibles tell us all our Creator had to say for this era of history. Their purpose has been fulfilled and has passed into history.
The New Testament does not tell the churches to look for new Prophets as if more was yet to be specially revealed with equal authority as the Bible. Unlike the continuing offices of Elder and Deacon, there are no instructions about how to recognize people to fill the office of Prophet. The Bible is God’s prophetic word for us now. The Apostles prepared the early church for this transition in 2 Peter 1:19.
The Holy Spirit was sent in a special way by Jesus after his resurrection. He came to guide believers to understand and to trust in the truth that is in the Bible. Jesus said in John 16:13, “… when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; …”
Jesus was the one final and perfect prophet. He was God himself and at the same time he was the perfect man. He brought together the teaching of the Old Testament, and explained how he came to fulfill the ancient promises. He revealed God’s will to us by his Word, and gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us into its truth.
In Stephen’s defense before the council he said Jesus was the greater Prophet Moses promised. In Acts 7:37 Stephen said about Jesus, “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’
Hebrews 1:1-2 describes the prophetic mission of Jesus. It says, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;”
Jesus does not only tell us the truth. As God Eternal he is the very definition of truth. Truth is the way things are in the mind of God. He said directly in John 14:6, “… I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Do you want to know God’s truth about things? In John 5:39 Jesus told us to search the Scriptures to learn about having eternal life. He used the writings of the Bible all through his ministry and told others to do the same. Jesus completed God’s revelation to us.
After the New Testament was finished, Jesus continues to speak to us all through Scripture. He is the greatest of all prophets, the one Moses said would come long after him. All of the Bible points to Jesus.
We know that all Jesus tells us in the Bible is the truth. Every principle he explains, every warning he gives, and every promise he made is true. To know the truth about everything that is really important, study all that Jesus said.
We also need someone who can really
remove our guilt and make us right with God.
Jesus Christ ministers to us as the Perfect Priest.
He came as the Lamb of God to suffer and die in our place paying the great debt we owe. He was the only one perfect enough to present himself to God on our behalf.
Like the office of Prophet, there are no Priests after the death of Jesus Christ. The Priests of the Old Testament made sacrifices and did cleansing rituals to show us how God would one day rescue his people from their sins by the promised Messiah as our Redeemer.
We do not need them anymore because the Great High Priest has come. He did what the ancient Priests of Israel only represented.
Jesus Christ offered himself as the one true sacrifice for all the sins of his people. He paid for your guilt in your place. He clothes you with his own righteousness so that you stand as holy in the eyes of God.
His priesthood is superior and eternal. Hebrews 7:26-28 says, “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.”
He was a greater, more perfect temple and the great High Priest. That’s the message of Hebrews 9:11-12, “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
The sacrifice he brought was not just of animals representing what he would do. It was his own perfect blood offered once for all to secure an eternal redemption. He made the payment of sin in full, once for all.
Jesus continues to make intercession for you who are his people. He speaks out to defend your innocence forever. The post-resurrection Scriptures know and recognize only one Mediator between God and man. In Romans 8:34 the Apostle Paul wrote that Jesus is “… even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
1 Timothy 2:5-6 says, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
We need someone who can keep us safe
from all that threatens to hurt us.
Jesus Christ is our Perfect King.
God set up the world so that heads of nations would show the headship of God over his Kingdom. Humans who lead nations control armies. They influence laws being made, and therefore can manipulate the economy and the people under their authority.
Tragically, every human leader is flawed. There are things they overlook or fail to understand perfectly. Some rule for self-gain and power to do things their own way. No King, President, Dictator or Prime Minister can rule perfectly, or keep his people completely safe forever. Leaders and nations come and go. Economies grow, tumble, recover, and crumble.
No leader can keep natural disasters from destroying what he wants to build. They cannot keep enemies from hurting their people and attacking their cities. They cannot keep poisonous ideas from polluting the morals and goals of their nation.
For every important truth God tells us, Satan has his lies to confuse us. He even works to convince us creatures that God’s Kingdom is not the best idea.
Evil pretends that it is a Kingdom too, but its king cannot really do what he promises. It is a false kingdom where people think they can be captains of their own souls. They imagined that they, not God, could determine their future. They evaluate the rightness or wrongness of things by what would most please themselves, not by what would most please the Lord of Creation. They imagine they could be happier doing what they want instead of what God commands.
Of course God never really lost his absolute Kingship in the fall of Satan or in the fall of man. He only took away our awareness of his Sovereignty. As fallen creatures we are deceived about who controls everything.
Satan and sinners are always under the direct lordship of the Sovereign God. Neither the Devil, nor his followers, are able to do anything without the direct permission of God. Our Creator directs everything, even their rebellion. It all ultimately promotes his own glory and purpose.
We all know that verse in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
God is restoring the display of his Sovereign Kingship as he gathers his people into his church through faith in Jesus Christ, and as he lets the evil in men’s hearts destroy them and all they think they’ve accomplished.
Jesus Christ as God forever rules over all things perfectly to complete his perfect plan. No enemy can out-smart him, out-maneuver him, overcome him, or in anyway change his plans. No disaster comes along that he does not know about in advance and control completely. Nothing of his can ever be destroyed if God wants it to remain, and nothing he determines to end can continue for a nano-second beyond that pre-determined moment.
Through the hardest of times, in the most seemingly impossible situations that come along, our king gives us comfort and assurance. Our duty as his people is to trust in him and to abandon all our doubts about his ways and promises.
That is why we say that Jesus is the Perfect King.
When Luke started his report to Theophilus about the history of the Apostles, he had these comforting ministries of Jesus Christ in mind. In Acts 1:1-3 Luke said, “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”
Jesus was the perfect Prophet, Priest and King.
As the Perfect Prophet, Jesus taught the truth we need to know. The lies are easy to spot when we know God’s word well, when we know Jesus well. We do not need to look for comfort in the uncertain and always changing theories of lost men. What we learn in our Bibles gives us absolutely reliable principles to live by, and unchangeable facts upon which to build our lives with confidence. His word is there to guide all who read and trust what he said.
As the Perfect Priest, Jesus suffered, died and presented himself alive for us. He satisfied the demands of our guilt to make his people right with God. The cause of death was taken away. The sin that separated us from our Creator was paid for. He infallibly makes us right with God, not just for a few emotional moments, but forever. Nothing can ever condemn the redeemed. Nothing can ever separate us from fellowship with God.
As the Perfect King, Jesus taught constantly about God’s Kingship over all things. He rules over all he made, and over the nation of the redeemed in particular. He watches over us and directs everything that happens every moment of every day. In each situation we need to respond with trust in how he says we should deal with it. Even when things become overwhelmingly hard for us, Jesus is absolutely in control and shows us the way to comfort and security.
These words of our Prophet, Priest and King promise comfort. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (KJV)
Are there things that worry you? trouble you?
eat away at your conscience?
Come to the Savior and he will give you rest.
Do not count on your comfortable bed alone to give you a good night’s sleep, if you have not rested in the arms of the only one who can give you peace through the night.
Do not expect your medicines or doctors to heal all that discomforts and threatens you by themselves, if you do not come in trusting and obedient prayer to the Great Physician.
Do not put your confidence in armies, technology, wise investment brokers, gold, or education, if you are not looking for security above all else in the King of all kings.
Psalm 20:7 shows us where our trust needs to be, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”
The Lord our God is none other than Jesus Christ, our perfect Prophet, Priest, and King.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism summarizes the work and these offices of Jesus Christ in questions 22 through 26.
Question 22. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
Answer. Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin.
Question 23. What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer?
Answer. Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a Prophet. of a Priest, and of a King, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.
Question 24. How doth Christ execute the office of a Prophet?
Answer. Christ executeth the office of a Prophet, in revealing to us by his Word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.
Question 25. How doth Christ execute the office of a Priest?
Answer. Christ executeth the office of a Priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us.
Question 26. How doth Christ execute the office of a King?
Answer. Christ executeth the office of a King, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.
(The Bible quotations in this article are from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.)