The Offices of Christ: Prophet, Priest, and King
JESUS OUR PROPHET
In the OT, the prophet was a spokesman for God. Instead of speaking directly from heaven to the congregation, God put His words into the mouths of His prophets. The prophets’ messages were often prefaced by “Thus says the Lord…”
In the NT, we see that Christ is the Prophet par excellence. He did not just teach about the future or declare the Word of God; He is the Word of God (John 1:1), and He is the focal point of all the prophetic teaching of the OT. Jesus continues to be our Prophet by teaching us the truth and opening up our understanding to comprehend the Scriptures [Luke 24:45].
JESUS OUR PRIEST
Like the prophet, the priest was a spokesman, but he spoke for the people rather than to them. He prayed for the people and offered sacrifices to God for them. But before the high priest could make sacrifices for the people, he had to make sacrifices for his own sin. These sacrifices had to be repeated continually.
Jesus is the ultimate Priest. His priesthood is perfect. He did not have to make any sacrifices for His own sin. The sacrifice He offered was once for all, and it was not an animal sacrifice. Christ offered Himself, because “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Hebrews 10:4). Christ is a “Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4). He continues to intercede for His people in the heavenly Holy of Holies within the heavenly temple.
CHRIST OUR KING
In the OT, the king of Israel was to manifest the justice and rule of God. The king was a mediator in that he was under the law of God, yet he helped to establish and maintain the law of God to the people. Sadly, the history of the kings in the OT is filled with corruption and failure. Even David, the closest model to the ideal king, was himself corrupt. Yet David introduced the royal golden age in Israel, and after he died, the people longed to have a king like David once again.
In Psalm 110, God promised that His Son would be that King, and that He would reign forever and ever. So when Christ came, He was heralded as the newborn King. In fact, He was crucified because of His claims to kingship (John 18:36). God took Christ to His coronation and installed Him at His right hand as the ruler of the whole universe. Jesus is “our eternal King, who governs us by His Word and Spirit, and defends and preserves us in the redemption obtained for us” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q.31).
[Adapted from Everyone’s a Theologian by R.C. Sproul]