Rev. Key is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Randolph, Wisconsin.
Christ “is ordained of God the Father, and anointed with the Holy Spirit, to be our chief Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption.”
Such is the teaching of the Heidelberg Catechism in Lord’s Day 12.
As we continue our study of the names of the Mediator, and particularly the name Christ, we must consider the threefold office Christ occupies as our Mediator—Prophet, Priest, and King.
Christ, the Messiah, was anointed by God a prophet.
That is what Peter testified in Acts 3. He pointed his audience all the way back to the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15ff. There Moses said, “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken. And the Lord said unto me,…I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.”
Those words of Moses, those words of the one whom the Jews considered a prophet to whom no one could compare, Peter expounded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit with direct application to Jesus Christ. He applied those words to convince the incredulous Jews that Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One in whose name the lame man had been healed, is the only and true Messiah, the great Prophet of the church, whose doctrine it is highly dangerous to hold in contempt.
His Prophetic Office
A prophet is one who speaks in the name of and on behalf of God.
There are several aspects to a prophet’s calling. The chief factor in the office of a prophet is that the prophet must know God. All else follows from that knowledge of the One whom he serves. (As a parenthetical statement of application, that same holds true for you and me. If we are to serve God in the office of believer as prophet, as all Christians are called to do, then we must know Him with the personal and experiential knowledge of faith.)
From that knowledge comes the calling to confess the name of God and to declare the will of God. That in its essence is the calling of a prophet.
We also were created prophets. That is evident already from the very first chapter of the Bible. Adam was created with the knowledge of God, in fellowship with God, to converse with God and to glorify God by his speech.
But sin messed up the entire relationship in which Adam stood as prophet of God. His knowledge of God became darkness.
The prophet became a liar. That is what we are today, by nature. We are all liars. Not in the sense that we corrupt the truth concerning various relationships between creatures. We don’t say, e.g., that two times two equals seven. We know many truths about the elements of the creation, and from those truths develop many inventions and conveniences for society. But spiritually we are liars.
Man knows that God is God, and that he must glorify Him as God. But he denies even that truth in his own mind. We do too. When we walk in sin, we lie to ourselves by saying, God doesn’t mind, or God doesn’t see, or God will forgive without demanding anything from us. We deny our own depravity and darkness.
We see the wrath of God directed against us in all creation. We see the punishment of death He has exacted from sinners. He kills us. That is what we know of God. We don’t know God as Savior—not as we stand by nature. And therefore we don’t want to talk about God and we cannot speak His praises and glory.
That is how we stand in Adam—fallen prophets.
That is why we must have Christ. You must have Christ.
He came. He came as the Prophet sent from heaven, God’s Christ. He knew the will of His heavenly Father. He knew it from eternity. But not only did He know; He spoke. Christ said in Psalm 40, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.”
And what did Christ do as our Prophet? He stood in the place of His people to glorify the Father. While we were yet enemies, lying in our sin and shame and death, Christ stood in our place, for us, for all His elect, as Prophet. He did that as Prophet during all His thirty-three years sojourning through this world in our flesh.
He instructed us in the knowledge of God the Father. That was His purpose.
That was His purpose in the Old Testament as He spoke through the mouths of His prophet-servants. The whole Old Testament is the teaching of Christ as our Prophet.
But when Christ came as the Word become flesh (John 1:14,18), then especially He instructed His people in the knowledge of the Father. “If you know me,” He said, “you know my Father.” In all His works He revealed the Father. That is what He testified when the Jews took up stones to kill him, according to John 10:32. As the Prophet sent from God, “Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?” His whole life from Bethlehem to His ascension into heaven is the revelation of the Father, the God of our salvation.
As Prophet He is and proclaims the gospel. In Christ Jesus alone is the original light and knowledge of the glory of God. He brought His doctrine from the very bosom of the Father. And He continues to teach you as the chief Prophet.
Do you hear His voice? So speaks the apostle in II Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Whoever would serve as God’s prophets must first be taught by Christ.
When we understand and confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, then we also see what is the significance of Christ’s prophetic office for us.
Until Christ spoke as our Prophet, you and I sat in the shadow of death. He was anointed to preach. In fulfillment of that prophetic announcement of Him in Isaiah 61, Jesus Christ was anointed to preach good tidings to the meek, and sent to bind up the brokenhearted.
You and I need this chief Prophet! You may have all confidence in your own knowledge. You may have a rather high place among men. But the simple fact is, “no man knoweth the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him” (Matt. 11:27).
Scripture says He spoke as one having authority. There was heat as well as light in His doctrine! And there is still, by the power of His Spirit, though His doctrine now comes through the mouths of weak, contemptible men, who are called to serve as His ministers. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:4,5). “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
He speaks. The mighty Prophet speaks from the splendor of His holiness, calling you and me to repent of our sins. There is a holy seriousness and majesty in all His doctrine, commanding our reverence. In our lives that are permeated with sin He leaves nothing uncovered. He makes the hearts of sinners to tremble. With His powerful voice, this mighty Prophet brings us down; He speaks the truth concerning our sin. But, wonder of grace, He does so in order to reveal to us the glory of His heavenly Father as the God of our salvation!
As Prophet, Christ works His salvation in us!
And the fruit of Christ’s work as our Prophet is that we also become prophets of the living God, confessing His name. We who are in Christ Jesus by a true and living faith are now prophets, as well as priests and kings. We are reflections of the glorified and exalted Christ who lives within us by His Holy Spirit. He who is the Christ has come and has realized His threefold office. He has realized it for us, and now realizes it in us by His Word and Spirit.
By the preaching of His Word the light of God’s glory shines upon us in the face of Jesus Christ. Some times more than others does it make deep impressions upon us; but when the Spirit works by that Word, we cannot escape the piercing brilliance of that light. The sheep hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:27).
Christ prophesies in such a way that He not only gives us understanding of the truth of the Bible, but He lays it upon our hearts, compelling us to speak and to sing the praises of our God. So it must be. Jesus says in Matthew 10:32,33: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”
Shall we not speak the praise of Him who gives unto us the words of eternal life?
Yes, I know, there is still much sin in us. There are many devils to fight. But Christ has spoken the powerful Word of salvation. Let us confess Him, shall we? Let us confess the name of our God, with our speech and by our actions. Then we shall have peace. Then, and then only, shall we receive the testimony in our hearts that we are indeed prophets in Christ Jesus who saved us.