Classical theology has long referred to Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King. This provides a dependable and helpful outline to consider certain roles that Christ fulfilled. It occurred to me recently how strange these pictures are to us – or, how strangely we have come to construe these patterns. If we get these pictures wrong, we will have a faulty view of Christ. But we will also have a faulty view of our own discipleship, since we also are called to a fulfillment of these pictures, not in an ultimate sense, but functionally.
A Suffering Prophet
A prophet is a representative of some authority. He represents both in deed and in word. It would seem that a glorious authority would share his glory with his representative. In like manner, the scorn directed toward a despised despot would also be directed toward his prophet(s). We would have expected heaven’s representative to be highly revered. But because man is in rebellion against God, he actually responds with hostility against the Lord’s Christ, who is the perfect embodiment of the mind of God in both deed and in word, actually called “the Word” by John (1:1,14). We would expect God’s spokesman to have center stage, and to hold all people in rapturous attention. But we find Jesus on the edges of Galilean society, and only occasionally in the Judean Temple. He found little favor among the religious inner circle, though they claimed to know God’s word inside and out. But they proved that they did not when they rejected God’s living Word. Though charactized by surprising kindness and perceptive love, Jesus was hated. He was not what one would expect. He was the Suffering Prophet.
As you and I seek to accurately display the truth of the Gospel in deed and in word, we also should expect the same. People will not thank you when you kindly explain to them that they are sinners, and that they stand under God’s judgment nor when you make clear that they can not earn God’s favor, even though you are simply trying to relate the wonders of God’s grace. When you relate how you yourself have humbled yourself before God to receive the salvation that only he can give, they will often pity you and think you rather foolish. Aren’t we doing them a favor? That is not what we should expect.
Stay tuned for A Warrior Priest, and A Servant King.