Summary: Three offices in the Old Testament required anointing: prophet, priest, and king. A unique characteristic of the Christ, is that he fulfills all three offices at once. Only Jesus holds all three offices.
(Other Scripture passages)
1 Kings: 17:17-24
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen. (Psalm 19:14)
Our readings today show three offices of the Messiah, or Christ. Both terms mean “anointed one” and there are three offices in the Bible in which the person fulfilling that role is anointed with oil.
Those three are prophet, priest, and king. The unique characteristic of the Christ, is that he fulfills all three offices at once. No one else throughout the Bible’s long history has held claim to all three offices except Jesus.
[Of High Priests: Ex. 29:7, 29; 40:13; Lev. 6:20; 8:12; 16:32; Num. 35:25; Psa. 133:2.
Of Priests: Ex. 28:41; 30:30; 40:15; Lev. 4:3; 8:30; Num. 3:3.
Of Kings: Judg. 9:8, 15; Saul, 1 Sam. 9:16; 10:1; 15:1; David, 1 Sam. 16:3, 12, 13; 2 Sam. 2:4; 5:3; 12:7; 19:21; 1 Chr. 11:3; Solomon, 1 Kin. 1:39; 1 Chr. 29:22; Jehu, 1 Kin. 19:16; 2 Kin. 9:1–3, 6, 12; Hazael, 1 Kin. 19:15; Joash, 2 Kin. 11:12; 2 Chr. 23:11; Jehoahaz, 2 Kin. 23:30; Cyrus, Isa. 45:1.
Of Prophets: 1 Kin. 19:16.]
In today’s Gospel reading from Luke, after Jesus brings the widow’s son back to life, a clear tie-back to the miracles of Elijah and Elisha, the townspeople proclaim Jesus as a great prophet of God.
Later in Luke’s Gospel (24:19), during the walk to Emmaus, two of Jesus’ many disciples describe him to the stranger walking with them, saying “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.”
Many of us may become powerful in word and deed before the people, but few become powerful before God. Prophets are determined by God, not us, and they serve as his “covenant enforcers.”
Think about the prophets and what they have done throughout the Bible. When God’s people wandered from the behavior he expects of them, heading toward great calamity, God sent them prophets to remind them of God’s will, and to warn them that their behavior has consequences.
When God told the Israelites about reward and repercussion for their choice of behavior, it was not the vindictive action of a vengeful God, like many people would have you believe.
Here is what he says in Deuteronomy (30:11, 14-18):
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. … No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed.
When parents tell their children not to play in the street because they’ll get hit by a car, the parents don’t get in their car and wait for the child to play in the street so they can run him over.
That’s a ridiculous image, yet it’s what we picture God doing when it come to blessings and curses.
A child playing in the street will eventually get hit by a car as a result of his own disobedience, not the action of his parents. God told us how to live our lives, and if we deviate from that behavior, we place ourselves in danger from the bad things that are in this world.
If we choose to have sex outside of marriage, we risk getting diseases that will kill us. If we choose a life of crime, we risk going to prison or brutal death by other criminals. Materialism and promiscuity are gods that we bow down to and worship.
God sends prophets to warn us about where our behavior is leading us. He sent Jeremiah to warn Israel about its destruction at the hands of the Babylonians. He sent Micah to warn about the results of injustice toward the poor and helpless. He sent Elijah to show the folly and danger of worshiping Baal and following King Ahab and Jezebel. And he sent Jesus to warn us of the everlasting results of our choices.
Each prophet of God was able to perform amazing miracles. And Jesus performed the same types of miracles that prophets before and after were able to do through the Holy Spirit, healing the sick, bringing the dead back to life, feeding multitudes — these were all done by prophets before Jesus. That’s why the Israelites recognized Jesus as a prophet, strong in word and deed before God and the people.