2006-04-28 - Prophet, Priest, King: 1
Psalm 110:4, "The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." (see also Hebrews 5:6)
In my church, we are in the process of memorizing a catechism called the Westminster Shorter Catechism. When it was written in the 1600s, it was designed for kids to memorize, but today if one memorized all 107 questions and answers, one would be defined as a budding theologian. A catechism is a series of questions and answers on a topic, generally on theology or the Christian life. It is used as a teaching tool. As a church we are now up to question 32 of the 107, and each week we add two. Believe me it can build on you fast, if you try to keep up with both the new questions and the previous questions. We are quizzed on them every week, so it pays to keep up and avoid looking like a fool. It is hard work, but little that is rewarding is easy, and I am glad to be doing it. In the catechism, questions 23-26 deal with the issue of the offices of Christ known as Prophet, Priest, and King. I thought I would take some time and look into these questions.
Question 23: What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer? Answer: Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a King, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.
Some of the verses used to back up the answer to this question are: Acts 3:21, 22, Hebrews 5:5-7, 7:25, Psalm 2:6, Isaiah 9:6, 7, Matthew 21:5, Psalm 2:8, 9, John 6:14, Psalm 110:4,
This is not an attempt to say that all Christ does and has done are summed up in these three "offices", but rather these are three aspects of Christ's work that sum up much of what He has done, and is still doing in us. His title as our Shepherd could be seen as a summation of all three of these offices. The designation of Christ as a prophet, priest and king are simply useful for our understanding, not exhaustive of Christ's work.
This answer ends with the statement that Christ executes these offices in both his estate of humiliation and exhalation. This simply means that Christ was our prophet, priest, and king while He was here on earth (humiliation) and still holds these offices now that He is in heaven (exhalation). One commentator I read on this question asked another question. He asked, why do we say that the mediatory offices of Christ are threefold? The answer is pointed and clear, "To answer his people's threefold misery, ignorance, guilt, and bondage. For, as a prophet, he cures our ignorance by his divine teaching; as a priest, he atones for our guilt by his sacrifices; as a king, he rescues us from bondage by his power, and settles us under a good government." (John Willison, An Example of Plain Catechising upon the Assembly's Shorter Catechism, 1832, p. 76)
There is a reason why understanding this aspect of Christ's redemption is important, and it is simple. How we view Christ is central to how we view the entirety of the Christian life and our belief system that goes with being a Christian. Many years ago, there was a discussion between two pastors Dr.. Channing and Dr. Mason. Dr. Mason suspected that Dr. Channing held to Unitarian views and denied the Deity of Christ. He asked Dr. Channing how long he had been in the ministry, and Dr. Channing replied 11 years. Dr. Mason then asked, "May I ask you once more sir, what are your views of the Lord Jesus Christ?" Dr. Channing hesitated and replied, "I have pondered the question deeply, but have not exactly made up my mind." With great emotion and amazement Dr. Mason replied, "What! Eleven years a preacher of the gospel, and not know what to think of Jesus Christ!" (John Boyd, On the Shorter Catechism, 1854, p. 68) It is important how we view Christ, His work for us and in us concerning our sin, and understanding these aspects of Christ's person and work will help define what it is we believe.
Please don't feel overwhelmed here, as we take a little time and look at Christ as a prophet, priest and king. Remember these questions were designed for kids to learn. These three short studies, I hope, will be helpful and serve to aid us in our understanding of, and growth in, the redemption offered in the atonement of Jesus Christ. I pray that these are useful to you to and that they may even encourage you to study these things deeper.
Soli Deo Gloria,