Christ our Prophet
“A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your brethren like unto me : him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.” (Acts 3:22)
When the Son of God became the man Christ Jesus at His Incarnation He was qualified to mediate between God and Man in order that the elect might enjoy peace and forgiveness. When writing his Institutes of Christian Religion, John Calvin was the first Christian theologian to define Christ’s work as Mediator in terms of three offices; Prophet, Priest and King. Having introduced the work of Christ our Mediator in our last study, we shall now examine the first of these three offices; Christ our Prophet.
1:The Designation of Christ our Prophet
The primary work of the Prophet in the Scripture was to be God’s representative revealing His Word. The prophet therefore was a spokesperson and as such was a preacher. The prophet, while at times revealing future events, was more preoccupied with the present and the current needs of the people. Christ’s titles that are ascribed to Him in both the Old and New Testament are indicative of this prophetic ministry that He was called to exercise:
“his name shall be called…Counsellor… (Isaiah 9:6)
“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1)
“I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” (Revelation 22:16)
“…Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God:…” (John 3:2)
“The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.” (John 4:19)
2: The Representation of Christ our Prophet
When preaching to the Jews in Jerusalem, Peter appealed to Moses to claim authority for Christ’s position as the Prophet sent by God. His words are a quotation from Deuteronomy 18:15,18:
“The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken…I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.”
The Jews revered Moses as the greatest of the prophets but Peter, showed, quoting from Moses, that a greater prophet would arise, who like Moses would be sent by God. Therefore Moses is an Old Testament type of Christ in His prophetic ministry. Therefore Moses has much to teach us about Christ.:
A Both were intimate with God; “And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.” (Exodus 33:11)
B Both were characterised with faithfulness; “Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.” (Hebrews 3:2)
C Moses mediated between the people and God in bringing Him their words and vice versa; “According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.” (Deuteronomy 18:16-17)
D Moses authority was confirmed by miracles as was Christ’s; “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” (John 2:11)
E Moses sprang from the seed of Israel, as did Christ; “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 9:4-5).
3: The Function of Christ our Prophet
Answer 24 of the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Standards defines the Prophetic Ministry of Christ:
“Christ executeth the office of a Prophet, in revealing to us by his Word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.”
As regards the purpose that our Lord fulfils as Prophet the key words are; “the will of God.” As prophet, therefore, it is the function of Christ to reveal, to teach us the will of God. Herein we immediately understand why being a member of the Holy Trinity is a vital qualification of the Mediator between God and Men. The Prophet must know the mind of God and how can he know this unless he is the Son dwelling in the bosom of the Father. While there were prophets in the Old Testament, they were but shadows of the Prophet like unto Moses, who would fulfil the prophetic office perfectly:
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
As the one who had a fullness of the Spirit beyond measure (John 3:34) and with the fullness of the Godhead residing in His body, Christ was intimately acquainted with the mind and will of God as no-one else never had before nor since (Colossians 2:9).
The Shorter Catechism also teaches us the content of Christ’s revelation to mankind; “the will of God for our salvation.” As Paul wrote to the Hebrews, all that God says to us, He transmits through His Son. The message of salvation is the word that mankind must hear. There is nothing more important. It was Christ himself who uttered those memorable and often quoted words which are the heart of the Gospel, in John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Herein we learn from the greatest Rabbi, the will of God for our salvation. That we are a perishing people in need of this message. Christ came into this world as the sent one because God loved this rebellious and dying world of mankind. He was sent in order that we might enjoy everlasting life, this is the end, the purpose of salvation. He was sent, however, as a gift because God gave His Son, His only begotten son. The giving of the Son involved humiliation, pain, suffering because he died for us that we might have everlasting life. All who believe, who embrace Christ by faith, have the assurance that his life is theirs. The world needs to learn this central message in order that their eternity will be assured because John would later record in John 3:36:
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
4: The Implementation by Christ our Prophet
What means does Christ use, therefore, in the exercising of His prophetic ministry? Paul, again in Hebrews 1 and in the 3rd verse expounded that our continues to exercise His ministry of prophecy today:
“Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;…”
In the Old Testament Christ prophesied through the anointed Prophets. These were “messiahs” in their own right, because the word means “Anointed One” which is also the meaning of the name Christ.
As Moses was the greatest of the Prophets it is fitting that he above all should be associated with the Son of God.
When conducting His earthly ministry Jesus Christ was the Prophet directly, as He ministered to the people. Some were public discourses, the most prominent of these was the Sermon of the Mount, which sets the tone for the new Kingdom. Others were interviews, which John majors upon , such as those with Nicodemas and the woman of Sychar. His final discourse was to His disciples as a group when He shared with them His heart in The Upper Room, on the eve of the crucifixion. While Christ’s ministry was deep and profound (some of the most wonderful words in Scripture are found in John’s Gospel), it was also simple and earthy. He connected with His congregation through the use of parables. The sower, the shepherd, the woman losing her coin and the son who ran away from home furnished him with beautiful material as he constructed some of the most well known stories ever told.
After His Resurrection and Ascension, Christ continued to exercise His prophetic work to His Apostles to whom He promised:
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13)
This text brings together some of the salient features of our Lord’s prophetic ministry to His Church today. The Apostles were guided by the Spirit of God not just in their preaching but in their writings. They compiled the New Testament Canon under the supervision of the Divine Inspiration. We continue to benefit from the Apostles’ ministry today through the New Testament Scriptures. Therefore we learn that our Lord is our Prophet through the Holy Ghost and also through the Scriptures that He has given for our benefit and nourishment:
“And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)
It is because of the exercise of Christ’s ministry of prophecy that the preaching of the Word must be central in all worship. After the passing of the Apostolic Age the office of Teaching Elder or Minister rose in prominence because there must needs be those given over to the study and preparation of the Word of God, that believers might be built up in their holy faith. Therefore Christ as our Prophet operates through the Word; our reading of it and our attendance to it’s preaching. Our esteem of Christ will be manifested in our due reverence and submission to the Scriptures and it’s heavenly principles.