Jesus The Prophet

Jesus the Prophet

John 1:1-5

 

 

            To say that Christmas is all about a baby born in a manger who came to preach love is like saying that Michelangelo slapped some paint on a ceiling in a small church in Rome. It does not do justice to the full depth and beauty of who Christ is and what he came to accomplish. Too often, Jesus is seen only as a babe in a humble manger.  This view of Jesus is safe, unassuming, and makes little demands upon our lives.  He came to save us from our troubles, bring social justice, and preach love and peace.  However, Jesus was much more than that.  Throughout scripture, we discover a far deeper and more meaningful view of Christ.  To understand who Christ is, we must know why he came.  To discover that, we need to go back to the Old Testament.  The Old Testament is more than just a historical account of Israel's national and religious growth.  The Old Testament is a theological primer pointing to the person and character of Christ.  The instruction of the law and the prophets was ultimately Christo-centric.  The message of the Old Testament pointed to the person of Christ and what he would accomplish.

            To discover the Christo-centric focus of the Old Testament, we must first begin with the role of the Prophet.  The Prophet was more than a religious leader; he was the connecting link between God and the people.  He served as the voice of God to proclaim God's message to the nation of Israel so that they might walk in obedience to God and the moral and spiritual law of God.   While the prophets might foretell future events, that was not their primary role.  Their primary responsibility was to proclaim the Word of God and call people to repentance and obedience to God.

             John begins his gospel with a theological affirmation of the nature of God.  While Matthew and Luke focused on the birth of Jesus, John starts with a description of who Jesus was.  Jesus came as the Word of God.  In other words, Jesus came as the complete revelation of God.  Jesus came as the ultimate expression of the prophetic word. 

            In the Old Testament, it was understood that the Messiah would be the fullest expression of the prophet.  When Moses proclaimed his final message to the Jews before his death, he foretold of another prophet who would come. He would communicate God’s message in the fullest (Deuteronomy 18:15-19 see also Acts 3:22, Acts 7:37).   Thus, it was expected that when Messiah would come, he would be a prophet who would communicate God’s message and call the people back to a life of obedience to God.

            Throughout the gospels, we see affirmations that Jesus was a prophet.   When John states that Jesus was the Word, he affirmed that Jesus came not just as a prophet but as THE PROPHET.  He was the final voice of God. The people recognized him as a prophet (Matthew 16:14).  This is affirmed in the book of Hebrews.  The writer of Hebrews delves deeply into the Old Testament law to show that Christ came as the fulfillment of the law and to establish the New Covenant. He begins his letter by affirming, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His son whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” 

            However, one fundamental difference existed between the Old Testament prophets and Jesus.  While Jesus was a Prophet, he was also God, come in the flesh. Thus, John affirms that Jesus was not just the Word, but he was God (John 1:2).  So also, the writer of Hebrews declares that Jesus “is the radiance of His (i.e., God) glory and the exact representation of His nature.”    Jesus was the ultimate expression of the prophet, for he was God himself communicating his word to us.  To respond to Jesus in the manger is to respond to Jesus the prophet.  It is to listen and obey his words as the prophetic voice of God.  To celebrate Jesus’ birth begins by obeying his voice. 

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