Thursday, 24 March 2011

Thinking Thursday: Jesus - Prophet, Priest & King

God promised Moses that he would raise up a prophet like him.
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.
When John the Baptist began his ministry people wondered.
John 1:21
And they asked him, "What then?
Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not.""Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No."
But when Jesus came, they knew.
John 7:40
When they heard these words,
some of the people said, "This really is the Prophet."

The priests were all from the tribe of Levi. On the Day of Atonement the High Priest had to offer sacrifice for his own sins before he could offer sacrifices for the people, and before going behind the veil to meet with God. Jesus was not descended from the Levites, didn't offer sacrifices, and didn't go behind the veil. But John the Baptist called Jesus the Lamb and he offered himself as the sacrifice.
John 1:29
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold,
the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"
And when he offered himself as a sacrifice, the veil was rent, so that man had direct access to God.
And Jesus
cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
Therefore Christ was the ultimate Priest. His sacrifice was such that he sat down, because after him there was no longer a need for any sacrifices.
And every priest stands
daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

God promised David that he would establish his kingdom, and there would be a king from his house forever.
2 Sam 7:16
And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.
Because of his sacrifice, Jesus was given all honour and glory as a king forever.
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death.

So Jesus is our Prophet, Priest and King, and he still works for us.
Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--
who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Since he is Prophet, Priest and King, you may wonder how he can sympathise with our weaknesses. As the scripture above says, he was tempted as we are. There were many occasions when he was tempted, such as when the people tried to make him king (John 6:15), but I want to mention three in particular.

At the beginning of his ministry, after 40 days in the wilderness, Jesus was tempted directly by the devil (Matt.4:1-11). Matthew Henry tells us that his temptations were: 1. To despair of his Father’s goodness. 2. To presume upon his Father’s power. 3. To alienate his Father’s honour, by giving it to Satan. In every case, Jesus refuted Satan by using the word of God, which is a good example for us. We can always find something relevant in scripture to help us when we are tempted.

At the other end of his ministry, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed to his Father to find another way so that he did not have to suffer, but bowed to the Father's will.
And going a little farther he fell on his face
and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."
If we are obedient, we may go through suffering, but it will always be for good.

Something I had not thought of until it was pointed out to me was the temptation Jesus went through at the Transfiguration. In order to come to earth, Jesus 'laid aside his majesty.' He was equal with God before.
Philippians 2:5b-7
Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
At the Transfiguration, Jesus regained his glory, and his body was changed.
And he was transfigured before them, and
his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.
And then the heavens opened and Moses and Elijah talked with him, and God spoke from the cloud (v.3 & 5). At that moment, Jesus could have stepped straight into glory without needing to die. He knew what was coming. He knew what he had to do, quite soon. He could have avoided it, but he resisted.
And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

These temptations were greater than any we may face. So whatever we go through, Jesus can indeed sympathise with us and help us to overcome it, as he did.

(With thanks to Pat Francis, Pantygwydr Baptist Ladies Fellowship, 16/3/11)

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