Theme: Prophet, Priest, and King
During this week leading up to Easter Sunday, we look at the story of Jesus’ coming into Jerusalem and learn about the nature of his kingdom as seen in his own suffering and death for sinners.
Scripture: Matthew 21:4-5
In thinking about how to summarize the person and work of Christ, the Protestant reformers used a very handy and concise tool for doing just that. It was comprehensive because the reformers were thoughtful men and they went back into both the Old Testament and the New Testament to do it. And it was biblical because it was expressed in the Bible’s own language.
The reformers said that when you talk about the ministry of Jesus Christ, you have to talk about Him, first of all, as a prophet. He is the prophet of God because He is the one who speaks the words of God to us. He’s the one who reveals God to His people. But they said in additional to that, you have to speak of Him as a priest because the Bible also does this. He is the one who intercedes with God for us. Besides that, He is the priest who offers up Himself as a sacrifice. Then they said that you mustn’t forget the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is a king. Thus they spoke of His threefold office, that of prophet, priest and king, and they pointed out quite rightly that these three offices in the Old Testament were the only three offices in the nation that were set apart by a special ceremony of anointing with oil. And since the Greek word Christ and the Hebrew word Messiah both mean the “anointed one,” this is a particularly apt way of speaking of His ministry.
The Gospel of Matthew is very strong about Jesus Christ being a prophet. As a matter of fact, in chapter 21, which contains Matthew’s version of the entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday, at the very end people are wondering who this is who is making such a stir? The crowd’s answer is that this is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. Even in the midst of the story of the triumphal entry, Jesus is identified by the term prophet. You find it elsewhere in Matthew’s gospel as well; in fact, there are more prophecies uttered by Jesus Christ in Matthew than in any other Gospel. He pronounces woe on the cities that have rejected Him. He speaks of the sign of Jonah which is given to this generation, a sign pointing toward His own death and resurrection.
Then toward the end of the book in chapters 23, 24 and 25 you have a lengthy prophecy as Jesus Christ speaks a message of woe upon His own people for their rejection, and then of the coming age when He will return again and what that is going to be like. Those three chapters in Matthew’s gospel correspond to those chapters in John’s gospel that we call the final discourses but which have an entirely different character. Matthew is very interested in this role of Jesus Christ as prophet, and also as priest as well. Jesus Christ is the one who goes up to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as the sacrificial lamb to die for the salvation of His people.
How did the reformers summarize Christ and his work?
Give some examples of how Matthew’s gospel speaks of Christ’s role as prophet?
Application: How do the three offices of Christ apply to you?