By Peter Sanlon
Prophet, Priest, King
We are sustained on our pilgrimage by fresh glimpses of Jesus. Seeing different aspects of his work for us enable us to trust him for further steps in life.
One useful way of ordering and reflecting on the rich portraits of Jesus in scripture, is to see that Jesus holds three offices on our behalf: He is our prophet, priest and king. That all these roles are Old Testament offices which are fulfilled by Jesus, was realised by the early church. So Eusebius wrote, ‘Certain of the prophets themselves became, by the act of anointing, Christs in type, so that all these have reference to the true Christ, the divinely inspired and heavenly Word, who is the only high priest of all, and the only King of every creature, and the Father’s only supreme prophet of prophets’
At the reformation Calvin expounded Jesus’ work for his people by means of extended reflections on his ministry as our prophet, priest and king. As our prophet, Jesus brings to our hearts the knowledge we need. Calvin extolled the work of our prophet: ‘Outside Christ there is nothing worth knowing.’ As our priest Jesus brings us into God’s presence and cleanses us from sin. Calvin wrote, ‘Christ plays the priestly role, not only to render the Father favourable toward us but also to receive us as his companions.’ As our King Jesus exercises power for our good. Calvin noted, ‘Jesus rules more for our sake than his.’
Remembering that Jesus is our prophet, priest and king helps us discover spiritual treasures in the Old Testament stories – they come alive with power as we see how the offices so often described there, are fulfilled perfectly in Jesus.
The threefold offices of our Lord are however not merely a helpful guide to reading parts of the Old Testament. Much more than that, remembering that Jesus is our prophet, priest and king underlines that there is always another perspective and aspect to the beauty of what Jesus does for us. There is always more to see – a fresh encouragement that helps us keep trusting and following him. May we all be blessed by Jesus, our prophet, priest and king.
Rev. Dr. Peter Sanlon is rector of Emmanuel Anglican Church, Tunbridge Wells: www.emmanuelanglican.uk