Summary: Jesus came to be our prophet, priest, and king.
THREEFOLD OFFICE OF CHRIST
Many notable people have commented on Jesus’ place as the most famous, important, and significant person in history:
• “I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.”—H. G. Wells
• “I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.”—Napoleon Bonaparte
• “Man’s ultimate destiny depends not on whether he can learn new lessons or make new discoveries and conquests, but on the acceptance of the lesson taught him close upon two thousand years ago.”—Inscription at the entrance of the Rockefeller Center, New York City
It’s Christmas time. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Why did the Son of God come to earth?
In the OT, there were three major offices in Israel: (1) prophet, (2) priest, and (3) king. The prophet spoke for God; the priest served for God; the king ruled for God. When a person was chosen for one of these offices, he was anointed with oil (e.g. David, 1 Samuel 16:13).
The NT presents Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ. “Christ” means “the anointed one.” Jesus once claimed that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1: “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” (cf. Luke 4:16-21). Jesus was not anointed with oil; He was anointed with the Holy Spirit. Oil is actually a biblical symbol of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was baptized, “the Spirit descended on him like a dove” (Mark 1:10). He was chosen by the Father to be the ultimate prophet, priest, and king.
The question “Why did Jesus come to earth?” can be answered this way: Jesus came to earth to be our:
JESUS THE PROPHET
The OT prophets spoke God’s words to the people. Moses was the first major prophet, and he wrote the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch. After Moses there was a succession of other prophets who spoke and wrote of God’s words. But Moses predicted that another prophet like himself would come. “The LORD said to me: ‘...I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him’” (Deuteronomy 18:18).
However, when we look at the Gospels we see that Jesus is not primarily viewed as a prophet or as the prophet like Moses. Often those who call Jesus a “prophet” know very little about Him.
• Jesus once asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” And they replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:13-14; cf. Luke 9:8).
• When Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain from the dead, the people were afraid and said, “A great prophet has appeared among us” (Luke 7:16).
• When Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well information about her past, she immediately responded, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet” (John 4:19). But she didn’t then know very much at all about Him.
• The blind man who was healed by Jesus declared: “He is a prophet” (John 9:17). It wasn’t until later that the man understood who Jesus really was (v. 37).
Therefore, “prophet” is not a primary designation of Jesus or one used frequently by Him or about Him.
But there was still an expectation that the prophet like Moses would come (Deuteronomy 18:5, 18). For instance, after Jesus had multiplied the loaves and fish, some people exclaimed, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world” (John 6:14; cf. 7:40). Peter also identified Jesus as the prophet predict ted by Moses (Acts 3:22-24, quoting Deuteronomy 18:15; cf. Acts 7:37). So Jesus is indeed the prophet predicted by Moses.
But the NT epistles never call Jesus a prophet. Why? Apparently because, although Jesus is the prophet whom Moses predicted, He is also far greater than any of the OT prophets in two ways:
(1) He is the one about whom the prophecies of the OT were made. When Jesus spoke with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, He took them through the entire OT, showing them how the prophecies pointed to Him: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). The OT prophets looked forward to Christ in what they wrote, and the NT apostles looked back to Christ and interpreted His life for the benefit of the church.