Jesus–The Ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministry of a Christ without a cross.” This quote penned from the hands of theologian Richard Niebuhr in 1937 could summarize the state of evangelical Christianity today. Could this possibly be a reality that we have a “Christ-less” and a “cross-less” Christianity in America today? While most conservative evangelicals would agree with the exclusivity of Christ as the only way of salvation and the blood atonement on the cross, how much preaching and emphasis is placed upon the wrath of God and the amazing grace found through the substitutionary atonement of His Son?

Often Jesus is presented more as a life coach–a therapist to help people deal with self-esteem issues or as a genie to be used to guarantee health, wealth, and prosperity. He has been reduced to a Galilean peasant with feathered back hair who wears sandals and gives pithy sayings and never really offends anyone. Where is the scandal of the bloody cross, the wrath of God being appeased in Christ’s sacrifice, and the transforming announcement that we can truly have peace with God?

First of all, Jesus is not a life-coach. He’s not a therapist. He’s not a cosmic genie. He’s not a wimp. He’s not just a great teacher. He’s not just one of many enlightened persons who have come upon the scene of history to provided direction for the aimless. In the introductory verse of Mark’s gospel, we find the true definition of Jesus.

Mark 1:1says, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The word “beginning” in the original language carries the idea of authority. God has spoken with absolute clarity and authority in His very own Son. This verse serves as not only the title and thesis of Mark’s gospel, but gives us the title of our Savior. If we carefully study these inspired words of Scripture, we find the true identity of Jesus.

The name “Jesus” means salvation is of the Lord. How often do we hear it as a cuss word and expressions of anger? His very name carries with it the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. The word “Christ” means “anointed One” or “Messiah”. In the Old Testament, three different types of persons were anointed and set apart for God’s special tasks—prophets, priests, and kings. Prophets came declaring the word of the Lord while priests were appointed to be mediators in bringing the people into the presence of the Lord. Kings were anointed to reign in the power of the Lord.

John Calvin in his “Institutes of the Christian Religion” was the first theologian to describe how Christ fulfills the consummate role of all three offices of Prophet, Priest, and King. As the Prophet, He is the living Word of God. He speaks with the authority of God as God in the flesh. As the Priest, He is the Mediator between God and man through His sacrifice on the cross. Hebrews 9:26says, “But as it is, he (Jesus) has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:5-6: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” As the King, Jesus reigns over the entire universe as the King of kings and Lord of lords. (Ephesians 1:20-23)

Not only is Jesus the Savior of His people and the anointed Christ as the pre-eminent Prophet, Priest, and King, but He is also the Son of God. This title means that He is absolutely the fullness of all Deity. He shares full equality and eternality with God as all of God. Christ is not just one of many earthly prophets, but is indeed God in the flesh who reigns in all power and authority.

This reigning Christ left the glories of heaven and became obedient to a cruel death on the cross to fully absorb and exhaust the wrath of God that stood against us as sinners. Our most dire need is to be reconciled to the Father through the cross of Christ. In our psycho babble, therapeutic, consumeristic, narcissistic, seeker-sensitive evangelical sub-culture, the church in America has lost focus on the power of the gospel. We no longer proclaim that man is dead in sin and needs absolute reconciliation and forgiveness from a holy and righteous God who should justly pour out his righteous anger on sinners. We no longer proclaim the absolute majesty of Christ as the Sovereign Lord who demands ultimate obedience and submission. We no longer proclaim the scandalous offense of the bloody cross and the glorious resurrection that God through His grace grants to undeserving sinners.

As Americans, we think we are pretty good. After all, God grades on a curve and will overlook our minor imperfections. What we need is a life coach to help us have our “best life now” so that we can “become a better me”. We need the American dream with a little bit of Jesus added on top as whipped cream. We need self-esteem, direction, health, wealth, and prosperity, but heaven forbid, we actually admit that we as guilty and vile sinners who stand condemned by a holy God need the substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross to bring us to the Father. My prayer is that God would raise up mighty men of conviction who will once again preach from their pulpits the wrath of God, the glories of Christ, the mercies of the cross, and the absolute sovereignty of our reigning King who has chosen to save ill-deserving sinners like you and me from eternal judgment.

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Beauty of “God With Us”

In times of personal failure sin, suffering, and hardships one of the greatest assurances of hope we can find as Christians is the promise that God is with us and that He has not abandoned us. Every true child of God longs to hear those words “ I am with you!”

Throughout the Scriptures, God has comforted His wayward people with these refreshing words. Jacob was a heel-grabbing liar who rebelled against God at every turn until he received these words at Bethel in Genesis 28:15 which states, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Joseph, who was left for dead and sold into slavery by his brothers, was falsely accused of rape by Potiphar ‘s wife and imprisoned. He experienced extreme suffering, but God’s presence was His comfort. Genesis 39:2: “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master.”

When Moses was commissioned by God to go to Egypt and lead the people out of captivity He heard these comforting words from the burning bush in Exodus 3:12, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

When Joshua stood on the banks of the Jordan to cross over and occupy the land, he was filled with fear and trembling at such a great task. He also heard these comforting words from the LORD in Joshua 1:5: “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”

When God told David that he would have an everlasting covenant and kingly dynasty, he heard these comforting words in 2 Samuel 7:9: “And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.”

And the ultimate culmination or expression of God being with us is summed up not only in Jacob who wrestled with God and was left with a limp, but the True Israel who suffered the wrath of God and was stricken for our sins.

And not only in Joseph who’s humiliation and sacrifice saved many people, but the ultimate Savior of His people who endured ultimate humiliation and sacrifice on a cross but was raised up on the third day to provide eternal salvation for His people.

And not only in Moses who ascended the mountain to deliver God’s law, but the second Moses who descended the mountain to not only preach but also to fulfill the law and live a perfect life of righteousness.

And not only in Joshua who led a military victory to conquer the land, but in the true Captain of souls who conquered the ultimate enemy of sin and death.

And not only in David, the King of Israel, but David’s true Son who know sits on an eternal throne.

This wonderful truth of “God with us” culminates in none other than Jesus Christ who at his birth the angel announced that He is the ultimate “God with us!” Matthew 1:23, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).”

And how did Jesus end the Great Commission before He ascended to heaven?

Matthew 28:20 “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 If you are a believe in Jesus, hold fast to the promise that God is with you and that He will never leave you nor forsake you. When Jesus died on the cross, He was abandoned and forsaken by His Father because He was bearing our sins. He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus was forsaken so that we would never have to be forsaken. Jesus was abandoned on the cross so that we would never have to be abandoned. Praise God for His unfailing love to sinners through His Son Jesus Christ.