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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Prophet, Priest, King

We know that Jesus is King (1 Tim 6:15; Rev 17:14; Rev 19:16). I mean, He said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." (Matt 28:18) We all get that. And Hebrews is abundantly clear that Jesus is our High Priest (Heb 2:17; Heb 3:1; Heb 4:14-15; Heb 5:10; Heb 6:20; Heb 7:26 ... well, you get the idea). He is vastly superior to human high priests because He is our perfect High Priest, sacrificing once for all with perfect effectiveness. We often miss, however, that Jesus is also called a Prophet (Luke 24:19). Promised to Israel way back in Deut 18:15, 18, Jesus perfectly fulfilled the role.

So, what's the difference between priest and prophet? True prophets are God's communication with Man. They speak the words of God. They proclaim "Thus saith the Lord" (and in King James English, of all things). When prophets speak, we had better listen because it isn't their own words; it is God's. Priests, on the other hand, are Man's liaison with God. "Every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins." (Heb 5:1) So while prophets tell God's words to humans, priests provide an approach to God for humans. Of course, human priests didn't quite achieve that task. First, they needed help themselves (Heb 9:7). Second, they offered only a symbol (Heb 9:9; Heb 10:4). Third, all of their work was temporary (Heb 10:1).

Suddenly the divinity and humanity of Christ become of ultimate importance. It stands to reason that God speaks best for God (John 12:49), making the Divine Jesus the perfect Prophet. On the other hand, a High Priest who is human but not guilty can best mediate between Man and God (Heb 4:15). Without both facts -- fully God and fully Man -- we don't have what we need. In Christ, of course, we do.

So, here we are, getting ready to celebrate the arrival of Christ. As Prophet, He spoke perfectly God's word -- He is God's Word (John 1:1) -- and declares us not guilty. As Priest, "by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." (Heb 10:14) (Think about that for a moment. We are "being sanctified" -- in process -- but we are also "perfected for all time" ... already.) And as King, He gets to declare the end of it. Nothing can touch us. Nothing can change it. He is the final authority (Rom 8:31-34). Now that is worth celebrating.

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