When appearing to the shepherds that first Christmas night, the angel announced, “today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David” (Lk. 2:11). But who was this Messiah? Why did He come? And what should be our response?
“Messiah” is Hebrew for “anointed one.” It comes from the word mashach, which means “to anoint.” There were three kinds of people anointed by God in the Old Testament: the prophet, priest, and king. These were the three branches of government in ancient Israel, and each had a special duty to perform. The prophets were to be God’s spokesmen. The priests taught the law and oversaw the sacrifices. The king protected and ruled over the people.
At the outset of their ministry, these three offices would often be anointed with perfumed olive oil to publicly show they were appointed by God (sort of an inauguration ceremony). But more importantly, this oil symbolized God’s Spirit dwelling in them and empowering them for His special task. Jesus perfectly fulfilled all these roles as the true Messiah.
It is simply impossible to grasp the meaning of Christmas without some idea of these three messianic roles. John Walvoord explains:
Taken together, the three offices of Christ as Prophet, Priest and King are the key to the purpose of the incarnation. His prophetic office was concerned with the revelation of the truth of God; the priestly office was related to His work as Saviour and Mediator; His kingly office had in view His right to reign over Israel and over the entire earth. In Christ the supreme dignity of these offices is reached.
On Sunday, we began an advent series on this subject and looked at Jesus as Prophet. There were three points to our outline:
- Moses spoke of a coming prophet. As Moses’ life drew to a close, and Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, he warned them of dabbling in the occult and practicing witchcraft. Instead, they were to await another prophet “like him” whom God would send (Deut. 18:15-22). There were indeed many prophets in Israel’s history like Samuel, Elijah, and Jeremiah, but none achieved the status of Moses or mediated a new covenant with God’s people. Only Jesus could truly fulfill this prophecy.
- Many recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of this promise. After Jesus fed over 5,000 people, the crowds exclaimed, “This really is the Prophet who was to come into the world!” (Jn. 6:14). And after offering Himself as living water, the people said in amazement, “This really is the Prophet!” (Jn. 7:40). After the Apostle Peter healed a lame man in Jerusalem, he preached Christ crucified and risen. He warned of judgment and called the people to repentance and restoration. He clearly identified Jesus as the prophet whom Moses had foretold. (Acts 3:17-24).
- You are responsible to listen and obey His words. If Jesus is truly the prophet like Moses, what should our response be? We must listen to Him (Dt. 18:15), because we’ll be held accountable for what we do with His message (Dt. 18:19). If Jesus is the prophet, then we should thank God for revealing Himself to us in Christ (Heb. 1:1-2). If Jesus is the prophet, then we must believe every bold truth claim He has made (Jn. 14:6). If Jesus is the prophet, then we should do our best to study His word and know Him better.
Is Jesus more than a prophet? Yes. But He’s certainly never been less than one. This is one important facet of His work as the anointed mediator between God and man. Jesus was the Word who became flesh (Jn. 1:14). Only He could gives us the words of life, and perfectly reveal the Father to us. No wonder God said on the Mount of Transfiguration, “This is my beloved Son. I take delight in Him. Listen to Him!”
Questions for thought and discussion:
- What does it mean that Jesus was the “Messiah,” or “Anointed One”?
- What famous prophets can you think of from the Old Testament? How does Jesus resemble them?
- What is my duty to Jesus the Prophet? (Dt. 18:15)
- What is the result if I ignore Him? (Dt. 18:19)
- Who are the “prophets” or “experts” in society today that speak with authority? Do I trust them more than I do Jesus?
- How can I better honor and obey Jesus’ words?
- Does this apply to “red letter” words only? (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
- Is it enough to believe Jesus was simply a prophet?
Sunday’s sermons are usually uploaded to our weekly podcast, but we regret our CD recorder was not working this week.