|Volume 18 Number 3 March 2016||
Jesus Christ as Priest
What is the difference between a priest and a prophet? In college I heard someone put it this way: The duty of the prophet was to represent God to the people, whereas the priest represented the people to God. Prophets were sent to preach repentance, but priests were continuously serving in the Tabernacle and in the Temple. It was the priest who administered the sacrifices on behalf of the people. The priest, then, and especially the high priest, was a mediator to God for the people.
As Christ, this is another one of the major roles Jesus came to fill. He came to serve as our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; 12:24) and our High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; 4:14-15; 5:10; 6:20; 9:11). However, instead of offering sacrifices on a daily or on a yearly basis, He offered Himself once for all (Hebrews 7:27), having entered the Holy Place once for all. Jesus Christ obtained eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12). As Christ, Jesus is the perfect and eternal High Priest.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “prophet” or “prophecy”? You might think of a prophet as a teller of future doom, or a prophecy as a mysterious message filled with frightening and terrible imagery. When it comes to biblical prophets, this is not entirely accurate; yet, it is not too far off the mark, either. A prophet would occasionally tell of a future doom, but there was more to his message. The coming doom would be in response to the wickedness of the people. Therefore, the prophet, as God’s spokesman, would issue warnings either to submit to the coming enemy (as was the case in Jeremiah) or to repent (as was the case with Jonah). Sometimes the message would be veiled and elaborate (like Zechariah’s preaching), while at other times it was simple and straightforward (like Haggai).
Jesus fills the role of Prophet as God’s spokesman by declaring the will of God to us. He announced at His first coming that the kingdom of God was near and that it was time to repent (Mark 1:15). In His preaching, He also gave warnings concerning the future. He foretold that Jerusalem was to be destroyed, and He warned all who would listen to leave the city when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies (Luke 21:20). He gave another future warning, this one concerning eternity: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Since Jerusalem was destroyed some 40 years after He foretold its destruction, how much more should we consider His words concerning our eternal destiny?