Dear Church Family,
In our sermon this past Sunday from John 4:1-30, we saw how Jesus revealed Himself to the woman at the well to be a prophet, a priest, and a king. This understanding of the offices of Christ forms the basic content of the good news of the gospel. This is one of the reasons that the Westminster Shorter Catechism emphasizes these three offices when explaining who Christ is as our Redeemer: “Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation” (WSC 23).
To ‘execute’ these offices may sound odd to some, but it shouldn’t sound odd to Americans who know the Constitution or have observed the inauguration of a president. According to the Constitution of the United States, before the president enters on the ‘execution of his office,’ he shall take the following oath or affirmation: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” (Article II, Section 1, Clause 8).
There are obviously many differences between the offices of Christ and the office of the President of the United States. The offices of Christ are eternal, the President’s is temporal. And they each serve different purposes; the President is to defend the Constitution of the United States, Christ brings praise and glory to God by redeeming a people for Himself (Ephesians 1:12). There’s another major difference, as well. Whereas the President promises to faithfully execute the office (which he may do well or do poorly), Christ has already executed the offices as our Redeemer – and continues to execute those offices. The execution of Christ’s offices may include His promise to do so, but it is a promise that He has already kept and continues to keep.
Consider Christ’s office of a prophet. Our catechism explains how “Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation” (WSC 24). We have seen this truth explained in the Gospel according to John. In the opening verse of the Prologue, John tells us that “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18). Unlike earthly prophets who speak of earthly things, Jesus Christ is a different sort of prophet: “He who comes from heaven is above all. What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies” (John 3:31-32).
As a heavenly prophet – different from earthly prophets – Jesus speaks of what He has seen and heard in heaven. And, as He reveals the will of God for our salvation, Christ reveals to us that He is not only the giver of heavenly revelation, but also the content of that revelation: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).
We should remember, too, that Christ not only executed the office of a prophet in the past, but continues to execute the office of a prophet as He reveals the will of God for our salvation today. The Scriptures were written, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing we may have eternal life in His name (John 20:31). And, those who belong to Him (His sheep) still hear His voice calling to them in the reading and preaching of His Word (John 10:16).
In executing the office of a priest, Christ is both priest and sacrifice: “Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us” (WSC 25).
Though there were earthly priests in the Old Covenant, again the Scriptures elevate Christ above them, as the only one who could be both priest and sacrifice: “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13-14).
Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself was made on the cross at Golgotha, but the Scriptures speak of how Jesus Christ offered Himself to God ‘through the eternal Spirit.’ As our high priest, Jesus is the anchor of our soul and only hope; He has entered within the veil of the very temple of heaven as a forerunner for us (Hebrews 6:19-20). As the only high priest and sacrifice that we need, Christ is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him. And, He continues to execute His priestly office today: He always lives to make intercession for us before the throne of God (Hebrews 7:25).
With respect to how Christ executes the office of a king, our catechism speaks of the two objects of kingly rule: (1) His subjects, and (2) His and His subject’s enemies. “Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies” (WSC 26).
As the Son of God and royal king, Christ declared that He had brought the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 3:2). And, in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus speaks as the king who establishes and enforces the laws and regulations for living in God’s kingdom: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My father who is in heaven will enter” (Matthew 7:21).
In executing the office of a king, Christ subdues and rules His people. From those who were once His enemies, He takes them into captivity as a host of captives (Ephesians 4:8) and changes them to be a volunteer army who serve Him in holy array (Psalm 110:3). While we were still enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son and saved by His life (Romans 5:10).
And, in executing the office of a king, Christ conquers all of His and our enemies of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Christ has caused His people to be born of God and therefore to be overcomers of the world (1 John 5:4-5). Christ has suffered in the flesh (1 Peter 4:1-2) and by uniting us to Himself in His death and resurrection, He has done away with our body of sin and freed us from its slavery (Romans 6:5-7). And, through His death, Christ conquered the devil, rendering him powerless so that we need no longer fear him (Hebrews 2:14-15).
For those who believe in the Son of God and have eternal life, it is a great comfort to know that Christ as our Redeemer executes the offices of a prophet, a priest, and a king. In fact, He is the only prophet, priest, and king that we need. The declaration from heaven which the Apostle John heard in a vision, is the declaration which was made at Christ’s first coming: “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night” (Revelation 12:10).
Christ is our Redeemer. Let us praise and worship Him for all that He has done and continues to do as our prophet, priest, and king.
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch