Summary: Jesus Christ, the One anointed to speak to us the Word of God, is to us a Prophet without parallel. If only we would see how it is to our profit to listen to his words!
First Presbyterian Church
Wichita Falls, Texas
April 10, 2011
THE PROPHET WHO SPEAKS GOD’S WORD
Jesus Christ -- The Center of Our Faith: Part 2
Deuteronomy 18:9, 14-20
9 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there....
14 The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so. 15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”
17 The LORD said to me: “What they say is good. 18 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. 19 If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. 20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.”
The anointing of a priest in ancient Israel must have been something to behold. Psalm 133 describes how the ‘precious oil [was] poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robe’ (v. 2). Aaron, of course, was the first priest in Israel. But it wasn’t just priests who were anointed. Kings were, too, and so were prophets.
The Hebrew word for anointing is mashach, and from that word we get the word messiah, which means ‘the anointed one.’ The Greek word for ‘messiah’ is Christ. So, Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One of God.
The oil of anointing, of course, represented the Spirit of God, who would empower God’s servant to fulfill his office, whether it be that of prophet, priest, or king. No one in the history of Israel ever held all three offices, although some, like Moses, held two. But our Lord Jesus is anointed to be not only Prophet but also Priest, and not only Prophet and Priest but also King. ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,’ he said, ‘because he has anointed me...’ (Luke 4:18).
John Flavel, a Presbyterian minister in the seventeenth century, once said, ‘If ever man [is to] be restored to...happiness, the blindness of his mind must be cured [by Christ as Prophet], the guilt of [his] sin [must be] expiated [by Christ as Priest], and his captivity to sin [must be] led captive [by Christ as King].’ We read in Scripture that our Messiah, our Christ, is a Prophet ‘powerful in word and deed’ (Luke 24:19), a Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:17; Psalm 110:4), and, of course, King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). So, over the next three weeks, we want to celebrate Christ in each of his ‘offices.’ In the Sundays ahead, we will look at what it means to see him as our Priest and King. Today, though, we begin our reflections by focusing on his role as the Prophet who speaks God’s Word.
In the book of Deuteronomy, God reveals to Moses how he will save a fallen humanity from sin. It will be through a Prophet yet to come. As we look at the words of God’s promise to Moses, we see how Jesus of Nazareth fits the description of each and every phrase. For example, God says, ‘I will raise up for them a prophet...’ (Deuteronomy 18:18). If we turn over to Luke, chapter 7, we will read there how Jesus brought the dead son of a widow back to life and how, when ‘Jesus gave him back to his mother,’ the people ‘were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people”’ (v. 16).
Again in Deuteronomy, God tells Moses, ‘I will raise up for them a prophet like you...’ (Deuteronomy 18:18). Was Jesus a prophet like Moses? Listen to what the New Testament says. In John 1:17, we read, ‘The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.’ And then in Hebrews, chapter 3, we read how Jesus ‘was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus,’ it goes on to say, ‘has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself’ (vv. 2f.).