Matthew 16: 13-17 | "Christ": Prophet, Priest, King | Dave Lutz
Topic: Stand-alone messages
Turn to Matthew chapter 16, and we’ll be looking at verses 13 to 17 there. I need to say it is certainly a joy to be with you this morning and to look into the word of God with you.
Matthew, chapter 16, verse 13:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”
And we’ll stop there. This is certainly a key moment for the disciples of Jesus. He has taken them to Caesarea Philippi, about twenty-five miles north of the Sea of Galilee, away from the large crowds, for a much-needed rest. They’ve been with him now about two and a half years, witnessing his sinless life, his teaching, his miracles. These twelve have certainly seen and heard a lot.
And now, as one commentator points out, in a sense they’re ready to take their final exam, and it will concern the most important question, who is Jesus? Notice Jesus asks first about public opinion. Who do people say that the Son of Man is? What’s the buzz in the crowd?
Son of Man is the title Jesus most often uses for himself. Besides conveying something of his humanity, Son of Man takes us back to Daniel 7:14 and the heavenly figure there who is given dominion over an everlasting kingdom.
The disciples respond here in verse 14, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” A lot of people get that Jesus is a prophet. That’s a pretty common response.
So, for example, the woman at the well: “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet” (John 4:19). This was a big deal after four hundred years of no prophet. The man born blind after Jesus restores his sight: “He is a prophet” (John 9:17). Is he right?
Then in verse 15, Jesus narrows the question. “But who do you [you guys] say that I am?” Simon Peter, spokesman for the twelve, then makes this statement, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This is huge, and Peter nails it. These guys are often slow to understand some things, aren’t they? But they reach a point where they get this. God opens their eyes to it.
Now it’s this title Peter uses here, the Christ, that I want to focus on this morning. We see its importance in another key passage. Please turn to John chapter 20. John 20:30-31. This is where John tells us his purpose in writing his gospel and how to obtain eternal life. So this is a rather important passage. John chapter 20, verse 30: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these [the signs he did include] are written so that you may believe that Jesus is [here it is] the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Notice both of these passages have “Christ” and “Son of God.” Jesus is the Christ. Let’s think about this word Christ. We’re so familiar with it, aren’t we? It’s used about five hundred times in the New Testament. Do you know literally what Christ means? I think you’ll find that as we look into its background, this term Christ is very, very rich. And as we understand it better, our view of our Savior becomes elevated.
We may forget that Christ is actually a title. It’s not Jesus’ last name. So, Jesus Christ should be understood as Jesus, the Christ. It’s a title.
Christ is the English for the Greek word Christos. Christos is the New Testament equivalent of the Hebrew word mashiyach, which we pronounce Messiah. So Christ is equivalent to Messiah, which literally means anointed one. Messiah, mashiyach, comes from the verb, mashach, which means to cover or smear over something with a liquid. That came to be used for anointing with oil, typically olive oil.
In the Old Testament, anointing something or someone with oil symbolized being consecrated or set apart for service to God. So, for example, in Exodus 30 we find this: “With it [speaking of the holy anointing oil] you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, and the table … the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering … the basin and its stand. You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy” (Exodus 30:26-29).
Then we find certain people being anointed with oil, setting them apart for service to God. This happens for three offices in particular—prophets, priests, and kings.
It starts with priests. Exodus 28: “[You] shall anoint them [Aaron and his sons] and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests” (Exodus 28:41). Exodus 29, speaking of Aaron to be priest: “You shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him” (Exodus 29:7).
And we see prophets being anointed. 1 Kings 19:16: God tells Elijah, “Elisha the son of Shaphat…you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.”
And we see kings being anointed. For example, Samuel anoints Saul, Israel’s first king, with oil. Later, God directs him to anoint David to be king.
So we see God choosing and appointing people specifically to these three offices as anointed ones. You could say that they were messiahs with a small “m.” Now, normally, you didn’t serve in more than one of these three offices. So in the Old Testament we see many anointed ones in these different roles. But notice in Peter’s confession, you are the Christ, the Anointed One.
The people of Israel had to come to understand correctly from their Old Testament that these offices foreshadowed one ultimate Anointed One, one Messiah, Deliverer, who would be revealed in time. So Peter at Caesarea Philippi is saying to Jesus, we believe you’re it. Think about the gravity of that.
In the theocracy of Israel, theocracy meaning governed by God, prophets, priests, and kings functioned as mediators between God and his people, and their mediation was needed for more than simply governing. Think about it. Whenever we say we need to go through mediation, there’s some problem, right? Some way that we are apart from someone, some need to be reconciled, brought back together. That’s part of the mediation that these offices bring, and we’ll see that.
Now let’s take a close look at these three anointed offices and consider why they’re needed, how Christ fulfills them, and our response.
First, the office of prophet. What is a prophet? Well, the word prophet comes from two Greek words—pro, which means in front of, or in the place of, and phemi, which means to speak—so a prophet is someone who speaks in the place of someone else, a spokesman for someone. So a prophet of God brought his word to the people.
Now there is a sense in which any Bible preaching or teaching is prophetic in that it involves speaking forth the truth of God, but we’re going to focus on prophet in its primary sense, as in delivering new revelation from God. And by the way, we believe that we presently have the full, sufficient revelation from God, everything he wanted for us to know, in the Scripture that is complete, that is sufficient.
Now, think about it. Why did God even need to send prophets to us? Why do we as human beings need revelation from God? Well, if you go all the way back to the beginning, we find that originally man had a true knowledge of himself, of God, of creation, but when mankind fell into sin (Genesis 3), things changed quite a bit. Sin brought with it some rather marked consequences including a corruption in our thinking.
The first two chapters of Romans tell us that God has revealed things about himself in creation. Just look around. We can know things about God from creation as well as our conscience, our basic moral sense. We call this general revelation. Everyone has that.
The problem is, man by nature because of sin tends to suppress that truth. This actually goes beyond the intellect to the condition of one’s heart. Ephesians 4:18 says it this way: Speaking about people apart from God, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”
Speaking of people suppressing the truth about God, Romans 1:21 says this: “[T]hey became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” The rest of the chapter goes on to describe all kinds of sin that results from that. Verse 28 of Romans 1 says, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God [they didn’t want God in their thinking], God gave them up [gave them over] to a debased mind [or a depraved mind].” That’s literally a mind that doesn’t pass the test, a mind that’s faulty, doesn’t work right.
This is part of what we call total depravity—that is, sin has corrupted every part of us, mind, will, emotions, body. The truth is, apart from God, we end up with some faulty thinking on some very important matters including things of eternal significance. Therefore we desperately need a prophet to tell us the truth about God, about ourselves, and how to be brought into a right relationship with God.
As the Bible unfolds, through the Old Testament era—1,500 years—we see God bringing prophets to speak to his people, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Habakkuk, and on and on, bringing God’s word. Then, after the Old Testament closes, four centuries go by—the time between the testaments—when there is no prophetic revelation from God. Silence. But the people know from their Scripture that there is yet a Prophet to come. So they wait. And wait. Until, finally.
Turn to Luke chapter 4. The silence is actually broken by John the baptizer—his message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). The people wonder, is this the Christ? The Jewish leaders ask him, are you the Christ? Are you the Prophet to come? He tells them no. He’s pointing to introducing a greater Prophet.
In Luke 4 we read of Jesus’ first public sermon, starting in verse 16:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written [this is Isaiah 61, the first two verses], “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
He stops there, right before the next phrase of Isaiah that mentions the day of vengeance of our God. In his first coming, he’s come to save. At his second coming, he will bring judgment. Luke continues. Verse 20:
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down [the position of the teacher]. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
What will he say about this messianic prophecy? The people there understood that this is talking about the Messiah to come.
And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
In other words, the Messiah is here. You’re looking at him. Can you imagine being there in that synagogue?
Notice in verse 18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me”—there’s our term. Anointed by the Spirit. In Luke chapter 3 at Jesus’ baptism it says the “Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove” (Luke 3:22). Then the opening of chapter 4 says, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit … was led by the Spirit” to be tempted by the devil. And then in verse 14 he returns to Galilee “in the power of the Spirit.”
He says here in verse 18, he’s been anointed by the Spirit “to proclaim [or to preach] good news”—that’s literally, preach the gospel. Notice his passage describes Christ’s ministry to the poor, prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed. He’s come to save. As he says in Luke 19:10, “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Remember before his birth the angel said, “you shall call his name Jesus [why?], for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus, Yeshua, is literally, Jehovah saves, God is salvation. So the anointed one, the Christ, is a savior, and here we see him as a prophet who’s come to preach good news.
Turn to Deuteronomy 18 for a moment. An important passage regarding Christ as prophet. Moses, himself a prophet, says this to the people of Israel before they enter their promised land (Deuteronomy 18:15): “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen.” Now at that point there are prophets coming, but the New Testament confirms for us that ultimately the one spoken of here is Jesus.
For example, at Jesus’ transfiguration he’s there with Moses and Elijah, both of whom were prophets. Remember God himself then spoke and said “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matthew 17:5). That would take them back to Moses’ words in Deuteronomy, “it is to him you shall listen.”
We find further confirmation in the book of Acts. The preaching of the apostles in Acts is now filled with Old Testament references. That’s one reason we know that the Spirit had empowered these men. They really now understand their Old Testament. Their preaching is Christ-centered, and in Peter’s sermon in Acts, chapter 3, he actually quotes Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 18 as a prophecy fulfilled by Christ.
And then in Acts 7, Stephen’s great sermon, he also quotes Deuteronomy 18:15, again identifying Jesus as its ultimate fulfillment. So Jesus is that Prophet.
Listen to how the book of Hebrews begins, the first two verses: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” Jesus is different from other prophets.
For one thing, he’s the Son of God. Remember Peter’s confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus is God. He shares God’s essence, his being. He is truly God and truly man. He has a divine nature and took on a human nature, the divine and the human united in one person. Thus he is the perfect mediator between God and man.
As it says in 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” And part of his work of mediation is his work as the Prophet who has come to bring God’s word to us. Actually, he is called the Word. Amen.
Another key passage here. I’ll just read Colossians 1:15. “He [Christ] is the image [literally, icon] of the invisible God.” So quite simply, Jesus reveals God to us. He is our prophet.
And so the prologue of John’s gospel includes this: “In the beginning was the Word [that’s Christ], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:14, 18). Or as the NASB says, “He has explained him.” So again, Jesus, our Prophet, reveals God to us.
Question: What have you done with this Prophet, Jesus? Have you listened to him, embraced him? The Bible is clear that we become united to Christ by faith. Rejecting this Prophet will leave you under sin’s penalty and power with continued darkened thinking.
If you have rejected this Prophet, who are you listening to? Your culture around you? Your culture will be happy to tell you what life is all about—power, money, pleasures, the approval of the world, etc. Actually the world system apart from God reflects another voice out there. Evil has a voice that will lead you to doubt God’s word, reject him, and live ultimately for yourself.
If you have not given your life over to Jesus Christ, trusting fully in him to save you, I urge you to listen to all that he says, including this from John 14:6: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
For those of you who have trusted Christ, have said yes to the gospel, here’s a question for you. How are you doing listening to your Prophet? Are you listening to your Prophet? How do we listen to Christ? Well, we have his actual words, don’t we, recorded for us in the Scripture, especially the New Testament?
1 Corinthians 2:16 says, “we have the mind of Christ.” Let us never take that for granted. We need to be exposing ourselves on a regular basis to Jesus’ words, taking that in, applying it, doing what he says, asking for the Spirit’s help in that.
Jesus tells us the truth about God, about ourselves, and about what life is for. Folks, in his perfect time God has raised up a Prophet like Moses, actually greater than Moses, exactly as he said. Let us then listen to him and be doers of all that he tells us. Amen?
Next, Christ, God’s Anointed One, is our priest. He is our priest. Now, what do priests do? Do we need a priest? You may be thinking, we’re not in a Roman Catholic Church; we don’t need a priest.
We’ve seen that in the old covenant prophets brought revelation from God to the people. On the other hand, there’s a sense in which a priest brought people to God, worked to bring them into a right relationship with God, present them to God. We can break down the work of priests into three elements.
First, offering a sacrifice to God to make atonement for sin. So deal with sin. Hebrews 5:1 says this, speaking of old covenant priests here: “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.”
Remember the old covenant that we read about in the Old Testament had very detailed prescriptions for different sacrifices for sin, especially in those first five books of the law (read Leviticus, for example), including animal sacrifices. Killing those animals illustrated some things. The seriousness of sin, the penalty for sin (death), and payment for sin by a substitute.
However, the death of those animals never actually paid sin’s penalty, did it? It provided a temporary covering and looked forward to an actual atonement that would be effective, bringing the two parties, God and man, together. And so those animal sacrifices needed to be repeated over and over, year after year after year. Hebrews 10:4 puts it this way, speaking of the old covenant: “But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:3-4).
Well, finally in time, the old covenant gave way to the new covenant, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, acting as our priest, gave himself, gave his life as the perfect sacrifice that actually paid for sin, paid sin’s penalty. Jesus actually made a real, effective atonement for all who would ever believe in him. His sacrifice made propitiation, meaning it satisfied God’s righteous wrath against sin so that God’s wrath is turned away from all who are united to Christ. That’s really good news, isn’t it? This is how, in the words of Romans 3:26, God can be “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Hebrews 9:26 says this: “[H]e [Christ] has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Notice that says, “once for all.” That’s mentioned several times in Hebrews. Christ’s sacrifice does not need to be repeated. As it says in Hebrews 1:3, “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of [God] the Majesty on high.” He sat down because his atoning work was finished. As he said on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
One other difference to note here. The old covenant priests did their work in a manmade tabernacle or temple. In contrast, listen to this from Hebrews 9:24: “For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” So his is a heavenly priesthood.
As we’ve seen, Jesus not only offered the sacrifice; he himself was the sacrifice, and his was a sinless life. That was foreshadowed by Israel’s Passover lamb which was, remember, to be without blemish. So besides being our priest, Jesus is also the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
So the next time you read through the four Gospels and you see Jesus suffering there on our behalf—humiliated, scourged, crucified, cursed for our sin—remember, do not forget, in all of that he is working for us as our priest.
The second way Jesus works as our priest is by continually bringing us near to God. So here we’re talking about access. Romans 5:2 tells us, “we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand.”
This was dramatically illustrated at Jerusalem’s temple at the time of Jesus’ death on the cross. Remember that curtain, that veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place that symbolized the presence of God? What happened to that curtain when Jesus died? It was torn by God from top to bottom, illustrating access to God through Christ’s priestly work. Earlier we mentioned Jesus’ words in John 14:6, “I am the way …. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Access.
Turn to Hebrews, chapter 10. By the way, the book of Hebrews, you may have noticed, is probably your best place to see Jesus’ work as priest. In the old covenant, you didn’t dare get close to the Holy Place, especially the Most Holy Place. You would die. Only the high priest of Israel went there on behalf of the people once a year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, after making sacrifices for his own sin. It’s so different in the new covenant, isn’t it? We have this access. Hebrews 10:19-22:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
This is such a beautiful picture of spiritual cleansing here. We draw near through Christ our priest who cleanses us.
The third element of Christ’s priestly work is his ongoing intercession for us. Perhaps this is best stated in Hebrews 7:24-25, which says this: “[H]e holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” His priesthood is permanent. It doesn’t stop.
Romans 8:34 tells us that Jesus “is at the right hand of God … interceding for us.” This is Christ our mediator. And his intercession is a big reason why you, if you are a genuine Christian, will persevere in the faith. You will persevere to the end. Our priest prays for his own. We need to remember this, especially when we go through times of great difficulty.
Remember Jesus, speaking to Peter on the night before he was crucified about the trial that Peter was about to go through, “Simon, Simon, behold Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31-32). Would God honor that prayer? Jesus always prays according to the will of the Father. Peter did fall. Hard. But his fall was not full or final. Christ interceded for him.
There’s another term that applies here. The apostle John tells believers that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” That’s 1 John 2:1. An advocate acts like a defense attorney working for us. Christ is our advocate. Christian, does that make you thankful? Does that give you some assurance? Our priest is also our good shepherd who will lose none of his sheep. Praise God.
So we see these wonderful truths about Christ as our priest, providing for us atonement, access, and ongoing intercession. Question: Is Christ your priest? Are you united to this priest by faith? If you are not, think about the position you are in. For one thing, how are you doing without this priest? What do you do with your guilt? Do you think that you can pay for your own sins, make yourself right with God on your own? A lot of people think that way, live that way.
The religion of human achievement tells you that you can be good enough on your own to be right with God. If you are living under that idea, I plead with you to reconsider that. The clear teaching of Scripture is that you cannot make an atonement for yourself. You cannot make yourself right with God. You need a priest, one who is able to cleanse you from your sin, bring you into the presence of a holy God, with his righteousness covering you. You need that priest.
There is coming a day when all of us will appear before a holy God. There really is a judgment coming, and God really is perfectly holy and just. When that happens, do you want to stand before God on your own merit, as your own advocate? Or, do you want to stand before God on the merit of Jesus Christ, covered by his righteousness?
Now if Christ is your priest, you are a believer in Christ, first, live in continual gratitude. Remember, your salvation is entirely by grace, totally undeserved. Praise him, thank him always. Even in our praise, we see Christ’s priestly work. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through him [through Christ] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” So praise him.
And second, pursue the presence of God. Draw near to him through Christ’s cleansing work. On our part, spiritual cleansing involves the ongoing regular confession of sin that remains in us. We’re to confess that and repent, turn from that. 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Draw near to God in this way, and as James tells us, “he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). So pursue fellowship with God. You have access.
And Jesus has instructed us to draw near to God, through prayer, as our Father. People of that time didn’t pray to God as Father. That was revolutionary to them. But we’re told to come to him as our dear Father, Abba. And he is the perfect Father, yes?
Well, we’ve looked at Christ’s work as a prophet, and we’ve seen his work as a priest. Finally, let’s consider the work of Christ, Messiah, the Anointed One, as King. Now, you might find the idea of having a king to rule over you to be offensive, especially here in America, a nation that was birthed in part by the throwing off of the sovereign rule of a king. That’s not to defend the conduct of King George III—human kings in general don’t have a great track record—but the point is, we don’t do monarchy here.
- C. Sproul tells of an Englishman who came to America in the 1960s. While in New England looking at some memorabilia from the American Revolution, he noticed one particular signboard with this slogan: “We serve no sovereign here.” This man wondered, what do these people do with the sovereignty of God, the kingdom of God?
Commenting on this, Sproul writes, “The concept of lordship invested in one individual is repugnant to the American tradition, yet this is the boldness of the claim of the New Testament for Jesus, that absolute sovereign authority and imperial power are vested in Christ.”
Remember we saw from Romans 1 that the mind of man apart from God is depraved, corrupted. Well part of that depraved thinking goes like this: I won’t have anyone sovereign over me. I will rule over myself, thank you. I am the captain of my soul. Does that sound familiar?
In our fallen thinking, that’s how we tend to view freedom, and we love freedom. The problem is, we tend to confuse freedom with autonomy. The word autonomy is made up of two Greek words, autos (self) and nomos (law), so auto-nomy, autonomy, is literally self-law, self-rule, being a law unto yourself, accountable to no one. But think about it. For fallen human beings corrupted by sin, how does autonomy end up? How does that turn out? As my wife might say, how’s that workin’ for ya?
The Old Testament book of Judges describes a time in Israel’s history when people lived that way. It says, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Read what happens there. It doesn’t end well. Autonomy leads to anarchy, every man for himself, and that just doesn’t work well for people who still have sin in them.
At one point, Old Testament Israel rejected God’s direct kingship over them. Remember, they wanted a human king like the nations around them. God gave them over to what they wanted, which in the long run becomes a pretty sad story. But along the way, there were a few good examples of kings faithfully mediating God’s rule, at least for a time. And at certain points we see that Israel’s king pictured, foreshadowed, a greater King to come.
David, in particular, is often looked to as a type or foreshadowing of this ultimate King. Listen to the covenant that God made with David. This is 2 Samuel 7:12-13: “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you … and I will establish his kingdom … the throne of his kingdom forever.” Ultimately this goes beyond Solomon to be fulfilled in Jesus, David’s greater son.
And so the New Testament opens with these words: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David” (Matthew 1:1). Jesus is born in the royal line of David in Bethlehem, the city of David. All kinds of connections here. Did you know in the last chapter in the Bible, Revelation 22, Jesus refers to himself as the descendent of David? The New Testament actually refers to David about sixty times, connecting him to Christ.
And think about the similarities between David and Jesus. This is interesting. Both were chosen by God and ordained for service as king. Both had a heart like God’s. Both were anointed by the Holy Spirit. Both were shepherds. Both were celebrated as they entered Jerusalem; and remember, at Jesus’ triumphal entry, the people cry out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9). Both were also rejected by Israel. Both were acquainted with grief. Both offered a sacrifice at Jerusalem. And both did serve as the Lord’s anointed king.
So we see that David, sinful though he was, is a type or representation of Christ. And Psalm 110 looks forward to Jesus, a son of David, as David’s Lord, sitting at the right hand of God, the ultimate Anointed King.
Turn to Philippians 2 for a moment. One of the greatest passages on Christ’s kingship, showing us how he took on a human nature, then going from humiliation to exaltation, Philippians 2:5-11:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant [literally, slave], being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Right now there are many who do not bow the knee to him, but in time everyone everywhere will recognize his authority. We don’t see Christ’s kingdom now in an earthly, political realm. Remember, Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36), this realm. You can think of the kingdom of God now as the sphere of salvation over which Christ rules. He rules over his church, mainly through his word which is to be faithfully preached and taught and obeyed.
In the future, the King will come back to earth in a very visible, public manner, and there will be no doubt from anyone of his kingship. But he is in authority right now. Ephesians 1 tells us God has “raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Ephesians 1:20-21). That’s why he can say in his final words to his disciples before his ascension, “All authority in heaven and on earth [all authority] has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).
This King is sovereign over everything. We see that even during his incarnation, when he lived here. Sovereign over nature. Sovereign over the supernatural. Sovereign over death itself. That’s somebody you want to be together with, right? We need this King.
Christ, the Anointed One, is King of kings and Lord of lords. So I ask, who rules over you? Is Christ your king? Are you part of his kingdom?
Listen to what he says in Luke 9:23: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). The King sets the terms. You give up self-rule; you give yourself to him. That’s how you enter his kingdom. Rejecting this King will not end well.
Romans 10:9 becomes important here. It says, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” The terms king and lord are similar. They both basically mean one in authority.
The Greek word for Lord is kurios. We see that 747 times in the New Testament. It means one in authority with absolute right to rule. A lord, a kurios, in that New Testament time owned slaves. The Greek word doulos literally means slave, and it’s very often used in the New Testament to describe Christians. We are owned by our Lord, our kurios.
Just a side note here: This word doulos, slave, in most of our English Bibles is almost always translated servant, mainly because of the negative connotation that the word slave carries for us. People think of the cruelty often found in the human institution of slavery. In a way, translating doulos servant is unfortunate; it doesn’t give us the full impact of that word. A slave is owned. Now you may have doulos footnoted in your Bible as bondservant. That does signify ownership; that helps a bit, if you look at the footnotes.
But these terms, this metaphor of lord and slave, was picked up by the New Testament writers to describe the relationship between Christ and his true followers, and everyone in the New Testament era understood what those terms meant.
The truth is, Jesus is the best Lord there could ever be, amen? Think about it. He chose us. He purchased us, redeemed us out of our condition in sin. Under his lordship, we are slaves who have become friends (John 15), and we are adopted into God’s family. Thus we are co-heirs with Christ. We’ll share his inheritance. This just gets better and better.
Our Lord is the perfect protector, the perfect provider, the perfect savior. As Christians, we are no longer slaves to sin. We are willing and thankful slaves to Christ. It’s a paradox, but we find true freedom under the lordship of Christ. John 8:36: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Not autonomy, but real freedom as God intended for us.
We belong to Christ. He is our Lord. Christian, how are you doing in your obedience to your Lord, your King? Do you wake up in the morning and start your day with the thought, Lord, how would you have me live this day? How would you have me respond to the things I’ll face today, this person, that problem? Do you go through your day like that? That’s a beautiful way to live, isn’t it? Would you agree that’s the best way to live?
We love and honor our King as we come to know him better and obey his word, the Spirit of God using the word of God to work that in us. We call that sanctification. So church, pursue that. Pursue your sanctification. As Paul says in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Take it in. Meditate on it. Be transformed by the word of God.
And remember, again, one day you will stand before your King, your Lord. Think about getting to that finish line and hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It’s literally doulos, slave. We want to hear, “Well done.” Let’s honor our King, yes?
So we’ve looked at Christ the Messiah as the ultimate Anointed One operating as mediator in these three offices—prophet, priest, and king. Theologians throughout church history have recognized this threefold office of Christ. For example, the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, chapter 8, “Of Christ the Mediator,” says this: “It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son … to be the mediator between God and man; the prophet, priest, and king; head and savior of the church.”
So church, as you see the word “Christ,” think Anointed One; and on occasion remember his threefold office, prophet, priest, and king. Just think, one day we will be in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, the very presence. Then, like the hymn says, “We’ll join the everlasting song and crown him Lord of all.” Can you imagine?
But even now, in this life, in our response to Christ, let us listen to our Prophet and heed everything he tells us. Let us draw near to God the Father through our Priest, God the Son. And let us honor and worship our King, bringing him all of the glory that he deserves.
We join the apostle Peter, don’t we, in his confession at Caesarea Philippi, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” If that’s your confession today, so signify by saying amen. Let’s pray.
Father, we thank you for the glory of Christ revealed in your word. We thank you for how our great Prophet, Priest, and King has worked and continues to work as our mediator for us. May these precious truths increase our love for you and fuel our worship.
I pray now for this church, that in the days ahead these precious people would have a high view of their Savior, that the supremacy of Christ, the glory of Christ, would be not just some theory to them, but would sink deeply into their hearts and minds and transform them. And for this we will thank you and praise your name. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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