Father, we begin by coming to you in prayer, asking that you would help us to understand why Jesus came to the earth, why he came into human history. And God, for that to happen, we’re asking that the Holy Spirit would come and illuminate the scriptures, which he inspired to be written, so that we might understand the person and work of Jesus. And Jesus, as we look at your words and your works today, we ask that you would reveal yourself to us as prophet who speaks and priest who serves and king who rules. And so we ask that our time would accomplish those objectives as we seek to get to know you better. And we ask this in your good name. Amen.
Well, as we get into it, like I said, as we enter into the Christmas season, we are celebrating the coming of Jesus into human history. And the question that we will seek to answer today is well, why did Jesus come into human history? And to answer that, we’ll start with some words of Jesus from John’s Gospel where he is emphatic and clear that he has come into human history on a very particular mission. He says this many times. I’ll give you two examples from the Gospel of John 6:38. He says, “I have come down”, Jesus is saying that he is eternal God who has lived forever in heaven, and he’s come down from heaven “not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me.”
And then John 8:42 he says, “I came from God, and now I’m here. I have not come on my own, but he has sent me.” So Jesus taught on more than one occasion, I’ll just give you two examples, that he’s eternal God, lived in heaven, and that God the Father sent God the Son into human history to become a human being, and that he’s here as a missionary on a mission in human history. And that mission he summarizes in Matthew 5:17 and 18 saying that he essentially has come into human history on the mission of fulfilling everything that was promised about him in the Old Testament. He says it this way, Matthew 5:17 and 18, regarding the purpose of his mission: “Do not think that I have come – ” so why has he come?
Well, it says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets” or to get rid of or to dismiss or diminish or disregard the Old Testament. “Rather, I have not come to abolish them, but instead to fulfill them. I tell you the truth. Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter or the least stroke of a pen, not the crossing of a T or the dotting of an I will by any means disappear from law or the scriptures until everything is accomplished.” So those two pieces of information together give us some good insight into how Jesus perceived his role of ministry on the earth. “I have been sent by the father into human history as a human being to do his will. His will is that I would fulfill and accomplish everything that was promised and anticipated in the Old Testament scriptures.”
And so to understand why Jesus came, we have to connect his life and ministry as the fulfillment of the expectation of the Old Testament. And as we study the Old Testament, we see that there were three offices in the Old Testament that were very predominant and were foreshadowing the coming of Jesus. Those are the prophet and the priest and the king. And the prophet speaks for God. And the priest serves for God. And the king rules for God. And Jesus comes as the fulfillment of each of these three offices. As a prophet, as a priest and as a king. And so what we will do is we will look at the ministry of Jesus in light of these three offices, and we will examine the reasons for which he came into human history. And to do that, we’ll look at his words primarily so that we hear from his directly.
We’ll start with the prophet. When you think of the prophet, you tend to think of a person who is courageous, who’s bold, who preaches, who proclaims, who speaks the truth, who reveals the truth of the person and work and word and the will of God, the person who is very confrontational, the person that is very bold. And Jesus comes to us as a prophet. This was prophesied all the way back in Deuteronomy Chapter 18 by the great prophet Moses. And he prophesied that one day a greater prophet would come, and that that prophet would supercede his ministry. And we see in Acts Chapter 3 where Deuteronomy 18 was quoted that that was fulfilled by Jesus, that Jesus is God, so he is more than just a prophet. But he also has the ministry of a prophet. And he is greater than Moses. The fulfillment of the Old Testament coming of the promised prophet in Deuteronomy 18 that would be even greater than Moses who gave us the first five books of the Bible.
Now, something as well that makes Jesus a unique prophet is that in the Old Testament on 221 occasions the Old Testament prophets would say, “Thus says the Lord” or “Thus sayeth the Lord” or “The word of the Lord came to me.” They understood that the truth came from God to them, and they were simply to articulate, to communicate, to proclaim that to the masses. Jesus does something different, however. Rather than saying, “The word of the Lord came to me” or “The Lord has said to me”, Jesus says things like this in Matthew 5: “But I tell you this.” What Jesus is doing there is saying that not only is he the prophet who is speaking the truth of God, he is also God from whom the truth comes. Again, the truth would come from God to the prophet, to the people.
Jesus says, “I am God, so the truth comes from me. And I’m the prophet. I’m also speaking it.” And he would do that saying, “I tell you this, and I tell you that.” He was appealing to his own authority as God and his own person as the source and center and sum of truth, which is why Jesus tells us just in John’s Gospel alone more than 50 times “I tell you the truth. I tell you the truth. I tell you the truth.” Jesus relied on his own authority. And that’s why those who heard him said, “This man teaches different than everyone else (Laughter). He teaches as one with authority. He speaks of his own authority. He speaks from his own authority.” That’s because Jesus is a prophet, indeed, but not just a prophet. He’s also God. And so he speaks with that degree of a divine authority.
Also, one thing that distinguishes Jesus in addition to that first point from other prophets is his relationship with the word of God. And that is that Jesus doesn’t just speak the word of God, but that he is the word of God, that the word of God is written in scripture, but the word of God is living in Jesus. He is the living, incarnate word of God. And it says this in John 1. “In the beginning was the word. The word was with God. The word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” You jump down to Verse 14 in Chapter 1, and it says, “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. He came from the father full of grace and truth.’ So in the beginning was the word. The word was with God. The word was God. The word became flesh, Jesus Christ, came down to live here among us to reveal God and to bring us both grace and truth.
And so when we understand Jesus in that way, we see that scripture, written word exists to reveal Jesus incarnate word, and that the truth is both in scripture and in the life of Jesus. And they absolutely sing in harmony about the truth of God because one is the written word and one is the living word. That being said, as we get into the ministry of Jesus as prophet, the one who reveals the truth, the one who is God, the one who makes the truth known, the one who speaks altogether truthfully, we hear that Jesus himself saw himself as coming into human history with the prophetic ministry of preaching, and Jesus was the greatest preacher who has ever lived. He says this by way of example, Jesus’ own words in Mark 1:36 through 42: “Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else to the nearby villages so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’” One of the reasons that Jesus tells us that he has come into human history is to preach. “So we traveled throughout Galilee preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.” Okay?
How many of you are familiar with Jesus as truth-telling prophet? How many of you understand Jesus that way? He speaks the truth. And the result is, much like the Old Testament prophets, some people really don’t like what he has to say ‘cause usually it involves their sin. And it’s something like “Repent.” That is generally the theme of the Old Testament prophets. And then the Old Testament prophets ministry is to point out sin and error and folly and rebellion and hardheartedness in our life. And they do so courageously and clearly. They do so convincingly, and you become convicted. If you don’t understand Jesus in this way, you may be confused.
I was dealing with a new Christian recently, and they said, “Pastor Mark, I’m really struggling. I’m reading the Bible, but it’s not working.” I said, “What do you mean it’s not working?” They said, “Well, every time I read it, I’m hoping to be inspired to feel good. Every time I read it, I get depressed. The Bible makes me depressed. It’s a very depressing book, and it bums me out. I think it’s not working.” I said, “What do you mean it depresses you?” They say, “Well, I feel pretty good. And then I read it and I learn about God, and then I realize all the stuff that’s jacked up in my life, and then I get really depressed.” I said, “You’re not depressed. You’re convicted. And you don’t need a pill. You need to repent, and you’ll feel better. This is the Christian life. What feels like depression is sometimes conviction.”
I say, “So you feel badly?” “Yeah, I feel bad. It bums me out. I stopped reading it ‘cause I just get bummed out.” “Well, try to keep reading it and maybe do what it says. That might help with the emotional state (Laughter).” And he says, “Oh, really?” I said, “That’s repentance.” I said, “You’re not depressed. You’re a Christian.” Right? Right? Some of you are Christians. You get that joke (Laughter). The rest are like “Huh?” You’ll get it when you get saved (Laughter). It works this way: You read the Bible, you realize God is holy and good, and you’re not. And you feel convicted. And you’re supposed to then repent and confess your sins to God and then reorient your life toward God’s purposes and toward obedience and holiness. And that is how Jesus comes to us as a prophet. To confront us, to rebuke us, to call us to repentance, to put his finger on the dark parts of our life and say, “Go and sin no more. Knock it off. That’s wicked. That’s evil. This is urgent. God is not happy with your conduct. This is a serious matter.”
Jesus comes as preaching, truth-telling prophet. That is, indeed, true. But in addition to that, he also comes as loving, humble, kind, merciful, serving priest. I’ll give you some examples. Let me first explain what a priest is in the Old Testament. The priest is the one who mediates or intercedes between God and people. The priest would take the hopes, dreams, fears, sins, needs of the people, bring them to God as a mediator, as an intercessor through
prayer. And often times, too, what the priest would do is offer sacrifices because the penalty or wage for sin is death. So he would offer sacrifices showing that the peoples’ sin was real and death was deserved, but begging God for mercy and forgiveness. Jesus comes into human history as a priest. As a priest. And he becomes a human being so as to identify with us. And as both God and man, Jesus as priest is able to reconnect us to God and to represent us and God because he is God. But he also understands our humanity because he was a human being.
That’s why Paul says that there’s only one mediator between us and God, and that’s the man Christ Jesus. He’s the only mediator we have. And in the Old Testament the priest was the representative and the mediator between God and people. And Jesus has that priestly role. I’ll give you two places in scripture that speak of this, but if you want to get a good handle on this, what book of the Bible should you read? Hebrews. Hebrews is, in many ways, a book that is, in large part, about Jesus as priest and as sacrifice. Jesus is not only the priest in Hebrews. He is also the lamb who was without spot or blemish or sin who shed his blood to take away our sins and to give us peace with God. So Hebrews is, in large part, written to explain the priestly ministry of Jesus. I’ll give you two versus from Hebrew. Hebrews 9:26 say, “Jesus has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
So Jesus is priest who offers a sacrifice. And Jesus is also the lamb who was slain. He is the one who lays down his life, sheds his own blood for my sin, thereby appeasing the wrath of God, taking away my sin and making peace between me and God. But Jesus isn’t just a priest who serves me through his death. Jesus also rose, and he’s alive and well today, and Jesus has an ongoing priestly ministry, even at this very moment, whereby he is interceding for me between me and God the Father as my mediator. This is what it says in Hebrews 7:25: “Therefore, he, or Jesus, is able to save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them.” As priest, Jesus continues to intercede for me. He saved me through the sacrifice of his own life, the shedding of his own blood, the giving of his own self. But Jesus’ ministry didn’t end with his death. He rose, ascended, he’s alive and well today, and he continues to function in his priestly office as my living intercessor.
What that means is this: Jesus actually pays attention to me not ‘cause I’m a great guy, but because he’s a great God. And the Bible says that Jesus knows every hair on our head, he knows every day of our life. He knows our desires and our longings. He knows our fears. He knows our thoughts. What that means is that Jesus is actually paying attention. This is a wonderful truth, that Jesus didn’t go to heaven and then just sort of abandon us, but he is paying very careful attention to our life. And he is interceding for us, meaning in a prayerful way he’s bringing our needs and our requests to God the Father. They’re struggling, they’re hurting, they’re wandering, they’re tempted. Jesus has an ongoing prayerful ministry of intercession as our great high priest.
I want you to know when we pray, we pray through Jesus to God the Father. When we worship, we worship through Jesus to the Father. All right? That Jesus is our priest. He still goes between us and God the Father. He still intercedes and mediates between us and God the Father. And that Jesus actually has been paying very careful attention to your life and loves you very deeply and affectionately and tenderly and is, in every way, for you and wanting you to grow in holiness, in your understanding of who God is and what he has done and how you might have a more intimate, loving relationship with him. That’s how wonderful Jesus is as priest. When you think of priest, think of loving, think of merciful, think of compassionate, think of patient. Think of one who comes alongside as a friend to walk with you. The prophet is the one who says, “And here is what you must do”, which is true. And the priest is one who says, “And I will help you to do that.”
This makes Jesus different, friends, than every other God. Every other God has a prophetic edge to him, every other religion that invents a God. There’s only one God. Tell you what to do and not do. Only Christianity offers Jesus who gets off his throne, comes down into human history, humbly serves, loves you, befriends you, walks with you, gives you grace and mercy, and says, “Here’s what I demand of you, but I know you’re incapable of doing that, so I’m here to help. And with me, you can.” This is the priestly role of Jesus. I’ll give you some examples from his own life of how Jesus speaks in priestly tones. Luke 19:10, Jesus says, “For the son of man, a Messianic designation for himself out of Daniel, came to seek and to save what was” what? Lost. Jesus sees us as lost. And what does he come to do? He’s come to find us. That’s a loving, merciful, compassionate priestly function. “People are lost. I need to go rescue and find them.”
Matthew 9:8 through 14, this is a great example of Jesus’ priestly ministry. “As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collectors booth.” What’s Matthew’s job? Tax collector. Does anyone love Matthew? No. How many of you love the IRS? You say, “I need friends. I better go to the IRS (Laughter). Those people in cubicles, we need to be friends.” That’s not – people do not go fishing for friends at IRS headquarters, right? They don’t. They don’t like tax collectors. And the way it works for Matthew was, in that day, it was essentially extortion. You would collect the taxes for the government, and he’s collecting for the Roman government though he’s a Jew, so he’s a total traitor. But anything else he can get out of you, that’s his salary.
I mean, so this is a guy who rips people off for a living. This is like Guido the knee breaker, you know, from the Italian mob family. Or he’s the extra on The Sopranos. That’s this guy. If he comes to your house, it’s a very bad day at every level. He’s gonna tell ya what you owe, and then he’s gonna squeeze ya and get even more, and that’s how he makes his living. No one likes this guy. And where is he sitting? At his tax booth (Laughter). Extra hatred. Right? Who comes by? Jesus. “Follow me”, Jesus told him. Matthew got up and followed him. “While Jesus was having dinner” where? Matthew’s house. Do you think anybody ever went for dinner at Matthew’s house? He’s the reject, the outcast. He’s that guy nobody likes (Laughter). Nobody wants to hang out with Matthew. Jesus does. Jesus picks as a friend to have dinner with one of the most crooked, corrupt, lawbreaking crooks in all of town. And who shows up to have dinner?
Many tax collectors and sinners came and at with him and his disciples.
So now it’s the strippers are there and the drug dealers and, you know, the guys with the pants around their waist and, you know, the Glock in the front. I mean, this is a weird-looking crew. Right? I mean, this is bad. This is like the worst hip-hop video you’ve ever seen. There’s Matthew with gold
teeth and, you know, I mean, he’s got all the bling ‘cause he rips everybody off (Laughter). This is not good, right? There’s clear heels on women. This is not (Laughter) – this doesn’t look like a Bible study. That’s my big point. Okay (Laughter)? They’re all there. They’re all there at Matthew’s house for the party with Jesus. And (Laughter) – I love this – “When the Pharisees saw this”, the religious guys – don’t you love religious people? All right? Religious people do not get a very good presentation in scripture.
These are the worst kind of religious people. These are religious people who look down on others and make judgments, and they’re hypocritical and self-righteous. “When the Pharisees saw this, they asked the disciples ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners? Why does he hang out with all the sinners and the rebels and the lawbreakers and the freaks and the weirdoes and the wing nuts and the nut jobs and, you know – and the wrestling fans and – why (Laughter)? Why is he with those guys? Can’t he find some nice people like us to hang out with?’ On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.’” It’s like going to the hospital and saying, “What’s the doctor doing here?” “Everybody’s sick.” “ They need a doctor?” “Yeah. That’s why he’s here.” And why is Jesus hanging out with the sinners? ‘Cause they need salvation.
See, religious people stand back and like “Those people are messed up.” Right. So they need love and mercy and grace and friendship and encouragement and help. They need somebody who loves to go hang out and love them too so that God’s love could come through them to those people. Religious people sometimes don’t get that. “They’ll learn of what this means”, Jesus says. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice, for I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” So Jesus says, “Well, what?” Well, we’re sick and we’re sinners. So what does he give us? Mercy and friendship. That’s a priestly
function, right? Jesus didn’t go full on prophet at that dinner party. The prophet does not show up and say, “You guys are having a hard time. Be my friend.” That’s not the prophetic way to go. The prophetic way to go is “Repent, you brutal vipers. Your father is the devil.” That’s the prophetic road, right? And he actually reserves that, actually over in John 5, for the religious folks.
So sometimes Jesus is very prophetic, calls people to repentance, “Knock it off, stop, it’s urgent.” Sometimes he functions in a real priestly way. “You’re sick, you’re sinful. I’m here to give you mercy. I’ll be your friend. Let me walk with you. Your life will change if you hang out with me.” I’ll give you another example. Last one. Matthew 20:28, “The son of man did not come to be served, but to” what? Serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. That is most certainly a priestly function. He’s here to serve by dying, by shedding his own blood, by being the sacrifice for sin. How many of you know anyone that likes to serve? This is not popular. Most of us do not know a lot of people who like to serve. How many of you know more people that like to be served than serve? Right? I mean, how many of you are baristas, for example? Okay?
Let me just tell you what I’ve observed. I do not drink coffee, I do not like coffee, I don’t have anything against. It just – I don’t know. I don’t like it. But anyways, I like going to coffee shops ‘cause I like to see human depravity at its apex (Laughter). Okay? And here’s what I’ve seen. In Genesis 3 the lie that Satan gave was what? “You can be God.” And at Starbucks people act like that. Okay (Laughter)? They walk in and they treat the barista as part of their little kingdom, right? “The king is here. Needs a mocha whippa whatever the picka it is”, right? “And I want it 127 degrees. And you need to do a cartwheel and sprinkle some cinnamon on it (Laughter).” I mean, just weird stuff. It’s like, you know, “And I want it in two cups, and I want it in my left hand.” You know, I mean, just weird things (Laughter). People are so weird. But what they’re saying is “The king is here, and you little minions back there need to obey the orders of the king. Don’t you know who’s here? The Lord has arrived, the mocha Lord (Laughter).”
And it’s weird because people love to give orders, and they love to be served. “You did not do it right (Laughter).” And how many people are there that come to you say, “How can I serve you? How can I make your life better? How can I encourage you? How can I give mercy to you? How can I give grace to you? How can I make your life better?” Jesus is the servant. Right? That is priestly language. “I’ve not come to be served.” I mean, you want to freak a barista out at Starbucks, right, just walk up and say, “I’m a Christian. Should I pick up the trash? Do you need a break? Can I wash your car (Laughter)?” I mean, they’ll call 911. They’ll think something’s up, you know. “It’s a terrorist. It must be a terrorist. This must be a diversion.”
I mean, it is just (Laughter) – we’re not in a world where people serve, where people care, where people help, where people love, where people give, where people are patient and gracious and merciful and kind. And Jesus says, “I am. I’ve come to serve. I’ve come to help. I’ve come to die. I’ll give ya everything I’ve got. I’ll even give ya my life.” That’s a priestly function. Again, the prophet commands and the priest enables obedience to occur to that which the prophet has commanded. So Jesus speaks of us in priestly language as being lost and sick and sinful. He gives us mercy and service and friendship and help and grace and comfort and patience and kindness. And Romans says that “It’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance, that by understanding the priestly ministry of Jesus, it leads us to repentance, that Jesus takes our hand as a friend and he walks with us.”
And the verse that perhaps I love most on this is Hebrews 4:15. It says, “We do not have a high priest, Jesus, who is unable to” what? Sympathize. Jesus is sympathetic. You say, “I’m being tempted.” Well, Jesus was tempted. You can run to him, and he’ll help you. You say, “I’m feeling weak or I’m sick or I’m suffering or I’m disappointed or things have gone bad with family or friends. Or I’m confused. Or I don’t know what -” Jesus sympathizes. He came into human history, though he is God, and he lived a human life. He’s been tempted. He’s had friends betray him. He’s had family turn their back on him. He’s been flat broke, homeless, unemployed, rejected, lied about. He’s been sick. He’s died, he’s lost people that he loved. He sympathizes. The cool part about that is that Jesus isn’t a God that just stands back and gives orders and has no idea what it’s like to be in a sinful, cursed, fallen world. Jesus has come and humbly walked the earth and lived the life and understands where we are. And when we need him the most, we can run to him, and he sympathizes. And he gives us grace and mercy and forgiveness and encouragement and friendship and help and support and unbelievable patience.
So Jesus came to reveal to us himself as prophet who speaks, and we must listen and repent. But also came to reveal himself as priest who serves, who walks alongside, and who makes obedience possible. And his third ministry, his third office is that of a king. That his rule is over all peoples, times and places, cultures, kings and kingdoms, and every single aspect of our life. When we say that Jesus is Lord, that’s what we’re talking about. Jesus speaks of himself as a king in John 18. I’ll read it to you. Verses 36 and 37. He’s having a conversation with a king named Pilot. Jesus says, “My kingdom is
not of this world.” Well, if he’s got a kingdom, what is he? A king. A king has a kingdom. He said, “I’ve got a kingdom. I’ve got a heavenly kingdom. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews, but now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king then”, said Pilot. Right? Pilot’s a king. Jesus says, “I’m a king.” Pilot says, “You’re a king? That’s too many kings.” Right? “There’s only one king. I’m the king.”
Jesus answered, “You are right in saying, ‘I’m a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world.’” There’s our question again. Why did Jesus come? Jesus said, “I came into the world to reveal my kingdom and to reveal myself as the king over all the other kings and to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of the truth listens to me.” Jesus has a kingdom, and he is a king. And his rule and reign extends over all creation. And Jesus is the king of kings. And his kingdom is over all of the visible creation and all of the invisible creation, over the material and over the immaterial or supernatural spiritual world. He says this as well in Luke 11:19 through 21, “Now, if I drive out demons by Beelzebub or Satan, by whom do your followers drive them out so then they would be your judges? But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” Jesus says, “My rule is not just over the physical world. It’s also over the spiritual world. And I rule over all people. I also rule over all angels and all demons and all spirits.”
So Jesus has full complete total authority as king over everything visible and invisible, material and immaterial, all of creation and all beings, including Satan and demons. Furthermore, Jesus’ rule extends over all aspects of our life. All aspects of our life. I’ll read you this verse, John 10:10. He says, “I have come.” Why? That they may have life and have it to the full. One of the reasons Jesus came was as our king to give us life, a full life, and that full life is lived as Jesus, as king, rules over all of our life. What that means is this: Jesus as Lord means he rules and reigns over all nations and tribes and tongues and languages and cultures and religions and philosophies. He rules over physical leaders. He rules over spiritual leaders, demons. What that means, he also has jurisdiction over your Internet browser and your pants (Laughter). Right? Let me get real practical. And your alcohol and your diet and your debit card and your friends and your hobbies and your choice of entertainment and your job and your work ethic and your driving habits, though I hate to declare that publicly ‘cause now I’m accountable to it.
That he has jurisdiction over all. He rules and reigns over all. That there is no part of life for the Christian that can or should be lived apart from the rule of Jesus. You can’t go to – I’ll give this example. I had an argument with a guy not too long ago. He said he was a Christian, was, you know, a guy who went to church and some other things and had been cheating on his wife for years on the side, secret sexual addiction and alcohol abuse. And finally he got caught. I said, “Dude, what’s the deal? What’s the deal with like Christian sex addict, Christian alcoholic? Like, you know, what is the deal with that?” He said, “I don’t want to talk about it. That’s my personal life (Laughter).” I said, “You don’t have a personal life. You can’t stand before Jesus and say, ‘Hey, that’s personal.’ Right? ‘Actually, that’s mine. I’m the king.’ You can’t stand before Jesus and say, ‘Yeah, but you don’t rule over my pants. You’re king and Lord overall except for pants. Like pants are off limits. Pants are my jurisdiction. That’s – I have the pant kingdom. All the rest – you can have the demons, you can have the angels (Laughter), you could have China, but pants are mine. I’m claiming pants (Laughter).’” Right?
I mean, you see how – I’m making a silly point, but I’m making it in a silly way ‘cause it’s a silly idea. But functionally when we fail to see Jesus as king, we live that way. We have personal secret sin, duplicitous lives, hypocrisy, whole parts of our life that we think “That’s nobody’s business. That’s not Jesus’ business. That doesn’t come into the light. That stays in the darkness. It’s hidden. And that’s my private life. That’s my person life. This is my business. This is not God’s business.” And as Jesus is king, he demands obedience and loyalty, and he reigns over all aspects of life. So we see Jesus as prophet? He speaks to us, sometimes hard words of repentance and conviction. As priest he comes alongside to help and empower and enable and instruct and encourage. But as king, his rule is over all aspects of our lives, and there’s no aspect of our life that should not be submitted to him and is not to be rightly connected to him.
Now, in saying this, I wrote it this way, what I’m calling the tri-perspectival view of Jesus. You wanted a big word, there you go. As prophet, Jesus confronts us and calls us to repent of sin. As priest, Jesus comforts us and enables us to repent of Jesus. And as king, Jesus commands us to relinquish authority over all areas of our life to keep us from sin. So as prophet, he speaks. As priest he serves. And as king, he rules. Now, let me tell ya why this matters. This is a very common theological issue. Most all Christians I can think of agree with what I’ve told you, Jesus is prophet, priest and king, and he came into human history to reveal himself as our prophet, priest and king, and we need all three. Let me tell you now why I think it’s so incredibly, practically important. I didn’t know why it was important until Friday night on date night with my lovely wife.
We went out to dinner, and then we went to play a board game at a coffee shop not ‘cause I like coffee or board games, but I like her. And so that’s what I’m doing (Laughter). Not as often as I should. This was one of the rare occasions. And she picked Scrabble ‘cause it’s one of the only two games I’m any good at, and she lets me win ‘cause then it’s a better date, I guess (Laughter). But anyways, it was date night. And she said, “So where are you going with your sermon on Sunday?” I said, “I’m talking about Jesus as prophet, priest and king.” She says, “Well, where are you going with that?” I said, “I have no idea.” She says, “Well, it’s almost Sunday.” I said, “I know. But usually I figure it out in the morning service. That’s the rough one. After that it’s pretty good (Laughter).” Don’t tell them that. But anyways, she says, “Well, what do you mean Jesus is prophet, priest and king?” I said, “I don’t know where to go with that. I mean, it’s true, but I’m not sure where to go with it.” She says, “Well, how does this work in your life?” And she starts asking me these very good questions, my helpful wife.
And I started talking about it, and I told her how I first experienced Jesus and how I began my life as a new Christian, and how I came to understand these three aspects of Jesus’ ministry in college. So I’ll share the story with you and how I explained it to her. I grew up in South Seattle. Many of you know my story. Irish Catholic boy. I did not love Jesus. I loved baseball and girls and being left alone. That was my trinity (Laughter). And I was the moral guy. So I wouldn’t drink, I wouldn’t smoke, I wouldn’t do drugs. I was the moral – tried to be the good guy. And that was kind of my M.O. And not being a Christian, I didn’t really understand Jesus. And I’m not saying that Catholics aren’t Christians. There are some Catholics that love Jesus and are Christians. My mom was one. My mom was a Catholic who loved Jesus. She still loves Jesus. So I haven’t ruined it or anything, but you know what I’m saying (Laughter).
So I’m not speaking ill of Catholics. Some Catholics love Jesus. I just wasn’t one. And then in my teen years, I got bored. I said, “Ah, church. Ah, I’m not interested.” Stopped going to church. And then I graduated, got a scholarship, was going to college and though. “You know what? I’ve never really, you know, done what guys are supposed to do, drink beer and chase women and disobey the commandments, so I’m gonna do that. So what am I gonna do? Join a frat. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll join a frat, and I’ll be a frat guy. I’ll – you know, that’ll be my thing. I’ll drink and chase women and call that college. That seems to be what you do.” And so I joined a frat, and the first week we had the big blowout, welcome back to school frat party. My first frat party. And I’m looking forward to it. And, again, I’ve never drank, and I’m – this is gonna be a whole new world for me. So I’m excited to go.
I go into the basement, and they took out all the fluorescent lights and replaced ‘em with black lights, right? And really bad cheap beer and some bad rock on the house stereo. And despite the bad décor, the horrible music and the cheap beer, there are lots of young women. And they’re all wearing white T-shirts, and all the guys are being handed various color highlighters to write on the women’s beer-soaked white T-shirts so then they’ll glow in the dark underneath the lights. And I’m thinking, “This is brilliant. Really. I mean, I don’t know who thought this up (Laughter). I mean, you know, this is – I mean, this is genius, really, ‘cause even if you don’t have much game, your odds are good, you know. I mean, there it’s dark and everybody’s drunk and you’re writing on them. I mean, you know, this is a good start.”
So I’m standing – the door is open going into the frat party. And I’m standing there seeing all these young women, and here’s the beer, and I’m ready to enter – walk into literally a whole new life, one I’ve never been in. I’ve never been a party guy or anything. And I’m ready to go. And I didn’t know it was Jesus, ‘cause I didn’t know Jesus at the time, but it was Jesus. He came to me as prophet. He didn’t speak, but I had this total knot in my stomach, and I knew I’m not supposed to go in there, that is not for me, I need to get out of here. And so I left. I never even made it to my first frat party. I never even had my first beer. I didn’t even doodle my first highlighter. Nothing (Laughter). And I left. And I’m like “What am I gonna do now? I joined a frat to drink and meet women, and for some reason I can’t go.”
So I went to the library. It was the only other thing open that I could find (Laughter). And in there were all these guys with real majors. ‘Cause I’m a speech-communications guy. Right? It’s like “I got to cram to talk.” Not really. You just sort of show up and talk, you know. I mean, if you could talk, you could get a degree. So I went for that degree. But anyways (Laughter), in there are guys that are like engineering degrees and math majors and, you know, I mean, these guys are legit. They can add and stuff. I mean, they’re a whole other breed of cat (Laughter). So they’re all in the library. And I’m sitting in the library going “What am I gonna do now? I – for some reason I don’t feel right about going to the frat and getting drunk and meeting girls.” You know, I’m thinking I’m not – I was thinking maybe there’s something seriously wrong with me, I needed professional help. And I realized at that time I got to move out of the frat. “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.”
So I stayed at the library till it was pretty late and the party had died down. I went home and just crashed in the frat. I got up early the next day to go for a walk and figure out what I’m gonna do. I got up when the sun was coming up. I go out to the living room. There’s a gal sitting there covered in a blanket crying, some gal I never met. Nobody else is awake. The sun’s coming up. And I walk out, I’m like “What’s wrong?” She says, “I drank too much.” Freshman like me, first week of school. “I woke up with somebody I don’t even know, and I can’t find my clothes.” I said, “Well, I’ll give ya some sweats.” I gave her sweats, pants and top and walked her home ‘cause it was still pretty dark out. And God came to me, Jesus did as prophet and just convicted me. “This is not what you’re gonna be doing.” Okay? Again, I’m not a Christian yet. I don’t know God. I believe God was pursuing me, but I didn’t have all of it worked out.
So I decided “Okay. That’s it. I got to move out of the frat. I’m not doing this. I’m not gonna be that guy.” The next week my pledge class got arrested and went to jail. I got out just in time (Laughter). And I’m sitting in the dorm. Now I’m in dorm world (Laughter). Dorm world. It’s like “Golly.” You know, dorm is the English derivative of purgatory from the Latin. It’s just – it’s horrible. You’re just trapped (Laughter). So I’m in dorm world. I’m sitting in dorm land. And all of a sudden Jesus starts coming to me, I didn’t know it was Jesus, as priest. And I get this desire to start reading the Bible, which I had no desire to read the Bible. Now I’m reading the Bible, and I start realizing who Jesus is and that I’m a sinner and that he lived and died and rose, and he’s God. And I started feeling convicted of sin and pride and desires in my heart. And okay. And I got saved. Jesus made me a Christian there. He was preparing me, working on me. He came to me as prophet, “Stop! Repent! Turn around! Get out! Danger! Go somewhere else.” “All right. Okay.”
And then he came to me as priest. “I’ll forgive you. I’ll change you. I’ll walk with you. I’ll give you mercy, encouragement, help. I’ll be your friend.” I mean, I didn’t have any friends. I didn’t know anybody. And all of a sudden Jesus comes alongside as a friend, as a priest to encourage. And I’m reading the Bible. Now I love reading the Bible, and I’m learning about Jesus. And then it started to dawn on me that Jesus is king. And I started thinking “Okay. What does this mean for my major? I’m a speech major. I guess I’m preaching now. What does this mean for my work ethic? What does this mean for my money? I need to start tithing. And what does this mean for my schedule? Now I need to go to church and get in a Bible study. What does this mean for my relationship?” Grace, who’s now my lovely wife, we met at 17 and at this time I was 19. And
I wanted to marry her. I loved her. Still do.
I thought, “Well, I got to – we need to have a Christian relationship, and I need to marry her, and I need to be a Christian husband. And then I want to make a lot of babies.” I love kids. “I want to be a Christian daddy. What does that mean?” And now I’m realizing this affects everything. My income, my work ethic, my sexuality, my friendships, my schedule, my dating relationship. It’s gonna affect my marriage, my kids, my politics, my ethics. Jesus is over everything. I got to look at everything in my whole life and figure out, ‘Okay, how does this connect to Jesus now that I’m a Christian?’” And that’s when I started finding people who understood Jesus is king and how to connect Jesus to all aspects of their life.
One of the first thing I did I found a guy who today has 13 kids. He has 11 daughters and 2 sons who probably have never seen a bathroom, as far as I can tell, in their whole life (Laughter). He was a great guy. Ran a bookstore. Still a friend. They came out to visit us this summer. A family who loves
Jesus. And I wanted to figure out how do you be a Christian daddy? I didn’t know how to be a – but I wanted to be a – how do you be a Christian husband and father? So I told this guy, I said, “Look. I know you can’t afford babysitting, ‘cause it’s like 100 bucks an hour for all those kids (Laughter). On Friday nights rather than going out to party, I’m gonna come to your house. And if you’ll let me have dinner with your family and I get to kinda see a Christian family, you know, and figure out what to do and not do, then what I’d like to do is babysit your kids, and you and your wife can go out on a date. And then I’d like to hang out with your family and see how I can learn how to be a Christian daddy ‘cause I want to be a Christian daddy.
So that’s what I did in college. I spent my Friday nights (Laughter) watching all these kids. Reading Bible stories and letting jump on the couch and stuff, and that’s what I did. And then I also volunteered. One of my first ministries was for a women’s Bible story. There was like 15, 20 kids who were all preschool age, two, three, four years of age. And I volunteered to be the teacher ‘cause they couldn’t find anybody to watch these kids. So I’m thinking, “I want to be a Christian daddy. I’ll go practice on their kids (Laughter), you know, sort of trial and error. And then some days I’ll get married and have my own kids. And got Christian friends and all these things. And started going to church and Bible study, trying to figure out Jesus is king, every aspect of my life. How does that connect to Jesus?”
And I guess why I’m telling you this is that I believe that you will not have, cannot have a full understanding of Jesus, a real healthy, vibrant, growing, life-changing relationship with Jesus unless you understand how he comes to you in these three ministries and offices. Right? That there are times when Jesus comes to you as a prophet to speak very pointedly, very truthfully, call you to repentance, point out your sin, and it’s very strong. If you’re repentant, Jesus comes along as priest to love you, to encourage you, you talk with you, to be your friend. To give you grace and mercy and patience and counsel and instruction and to enable you to live a new life of holiness and obedience.
And the more you walk with him, the more it goes from one issue to the next where you realize “Okay. Great. We’ve made progress here, me and Jesus, and now I see a whole other mess in my life (Laughter). And now I got to work in this area.” And then you make progress there. And then you realize “Oh, man, here’s a whole part of my life that I’ve not connected to Jesus, I’m not living with and for Jesus. And I’m not honoring Jesus. And now Jesus is speaking to me as a prophet, and he’s convicting me of that area of my life. He wants me to repent, and he wants to serve me in that area of my life as a priest to help clean up whatever that area of my life is.” And then once we’ve done that, then he reveals something else. “Oh, my rule is over here, and this aspect of your life now needs work.”
And what I have found is that this is the Christian life. There’s seasons of conviction, there’s seasons where Jesus is prophet. There are seasons of change and transformation where Jesus is priest, and there’s seasons of kinship where you see how Jesus is not rightly connected to an aspect of your life, and then he invites you to join him for work and transformation in that part of your life. And for me Jesus comes to me as prophet through scripture. When I read scripture, I always pray, “Lord Jesus, convict me of sin. Reveal yourself. Speak to me truthfully. I’m stubborn and hardheaded, so make it clear.” And he does. Right (Laughter)? And then when I’m hurting or struggling or frustrated or tempted or lost or sinned or, you know, in the fog, I pray to Jesus as priest, “Jesus, you’re my priest. Give me mercy, give me grace, give me counsel, give me comfort, give me help.” All right? “Be my friend. Walk with me. Get me out of this. Lead me. Tell me what to do.” Silence, solitude, prayer, fasting, the contemplement of disciplines. Just getting time with Jesus to come to him, to ask of him, “Jesus, I need you to serve me. I need your help. I need you to lead me. I need you to forgive me. I need you to change me. I need you to teach me. I need you.” And to come to him as priest.
And then as king, Jesus revealed to me the other areas of my life that need work. And the reason I’m saying this is I’m assuming that every one of us here has strengths and weaknesses in our understanding of Jesus in these three offices and roles. How many of you really get Jesus as prophet? All right? You don’t have to raise your hand, but “Yeah, the Bible’s true. Jesus speaks to me. He speaks the truth. He points out my sin. I get it.” How many you priest makes sense? “He loves me, he walks with me, he’s encouraging, comforting, he’s helpful.” How many of you get the kingship? “He’s over everything. It’s all about him.” The problem is that if you don’t understand all three, you will have a diminished view of Jesus that will then have devastating affects on how you live your Christian life.
I’ll give you three examples in closing. If you see Jesus as king who rules and prophet who speaks, but not as priest who serves, you will see Jesus as mean, as distant, as cruel, as a taskmaster. And sadly, this is the Jesus of sort of hardhearted, fundamentalism. It’s the Jesus of legalism. It’s the Jesus of moralism. It’s the Jesus who sits on a throne and yells at you, telling you what to do, but never gets off that throne to help you do it. The result of that view of Jesus is either despair or pride, but never worship because, let me explain this to you, if you see him as king who rules and prophet who speaks, telling you exactly what to do, you will try to live as he commands. You will either fail and become devastated, sad, grieved, or you will think you’ve accomplished, and you’ll become very arrogant and say, “I’m a good person. I obey God.” Neither of which leads to the worship of Jesus. Neither of which leads to humility. Neither of which leads to Godliness. Neither of which leads to joy.
Does that make any sense to anybody? That’s a trap. That’s the trap of religion. That’s the trap of religion. The distant God yells at you, you try. If you think you did a good job, be arrogant. If not, be depressed. Great options. The end game is depression or arrogance. You kill yourself or in self- righteousness, you kill someone else if you don’t understand Jesus as priest. He doesn’t just tell you what to do, he comes down and he enables you to do it, he empowers you to do it, he walks with you, he gives you grace that empowers and mercy that forgives and patience that endures, and by Jesus’ strength you’re able to be obedient, which means that leads to humility. Jesus enabled me. That leads to victory. My life is changing by Jesus’ enablement. And that leads to joy. “Jesus really does love me, and he really is with me, and he really does care, and he really is helping me, and I really am glad.”
If you see Jesus as prophet and priest, but not king, you will fall into the trap that is common among many Evangelicals. The sad legacy of many Evangelicals is this: They would agree to good sound doctrine, which we believe, but yet if you look at the life of the average Evangelical, drug abuse,
sexual addiction, divorce, all of these sort of sin variables, statistically, virtually indistinguishable from people who say they are not Christians. You say, “How can people say Jesus is Lord and then live a duplicitous, secret, hidden life?” Well, it’s because they get that Jesus is king and that Jesus is – rather that Jesus is prophet and Jesus is priest, but Jesus is not king.
“The Bible is true and God speaks to me. Jesus loves me, helps me, serves me, forgives me, but Jesus doesn’t rule over my life.” What that results in is “I rule over my life and when I need help, I come to Jesus and I read the Bible for truth. And I come to Jesus for forgiveness and encouragement and mercy and help, but I’m still in charge. He’s not in charge. I tell him what we’re talking about. He doesn’t tell me. And if I don’t see him as king, then I can live a completely bifurcated, hypocritical, self-righteous life where I have a Christian life and a non-Christian life to some degree where I can have – you know, go to church and Bible study identity, and then also have secret sin and hidden, shameful ways, not thinking that Jesus sees them, not thinking that Jesus knows them. Not thinking that Jesus has any right to put a finger on those places in my life because I’m the king, he’s not. He exists to serve me, not to rule over me. He’s welcome to help me achieve my objectives, but he is not free to tell me what to do.”
If you see Jesus as the prophet and the priest, but not the king, the result is a life of hypocrisy. A life of double-mindedness. Again, “The pants are mine, the alcohol is mine, the drugs are mine, the dating relationship is mine, the Web browser is mine, the debit card is mine. I’m the king, and I do with those things as I determine. And Jesus can help me and forgive me where I give him permission.” You see how devastating that is. No kingship. And lastly, the error or typical liberal Christianity is to see Jesus as king and priest, but not prophet. “Jesus is in charge, Jesus loves me, Jesus cares for me, Jesus walks with me, Jesus talks to me, Jesus empowers me, Jesus has affection for me, but Jesus doesn’t command repentance, Jesus doesn’t point out personal sin. Sin is systemic. It’s racism, classism, sexism. Sin is in other people. Sin is out there. I’m not personally a sinner. Jesus doesn’t call me to personally repent, and Jesus doesn’t call me to personally change. Jesus isn’t personally disappointed with me. Jesus isn’t personally saying an unkind word that I receive as negative.”
I got into an argument with a very liberal pastor recently, and he said, “I don’t think that Christians should ever say anything that offends anyone else (Laughter).” I said, “Why is that?” I was trying to learn (Laughter), you know, before we argued (Laughter). And he said, “Offense only happens when we speak out of pride. People only get offended when we speak out of a place of pride.” I said, “Sometimes people get offended when we speak out of a place of truth. Right?” I said, “Do you think Jesus was proud?” He said, “No.” I said, “Was anyone offended?” A huge crowd, “Crucify him (Laughter).” You see, you know, it seems like somebody was unhappy with the content of the sermon, right (Laughter)? I said, “Why do you think people hated what Jesus had to say? Do you think it was out of pride? Jesus was the most humble man who’s ever lived. It’s ‘cause Jesus spoke out of truth. He said what was true.” And I said, “Sometimes Jesus has hard words to say to us. Sometimes Jesus’ words sting. Sometimes Jesus’ words just slaughter us.” And that’s the prophetic function of Jesus. Right?
If Jesus has never said anything to you through his word or the Holy Spirit or a brother or sister in Christ or your own conscience that just devastated you because it was true, and it broke you, and it just absolutely revealed your sin, then you’ve not really understood the prophetic function of Jesus. And those who believe that he’s a king and believe that he is a priest, but don’ receive him as a prophet, they don’t have a real urgency to repent of sin. They actually start to tolerate sins and champion their tolerance as if it was love and diversity when, in fact, it is not true because they themselves don’t want to speak from a place of truth because sometimes the place of truth from which you speak is the place of the prophet. And sometimes people don’t like the prophet. And some people don’t like Jesus because he tells the truth.
Those of you who were raised in fundamentalistic backgrounds, here’s my fear for you: If you don’t see Jesus as priest, when you need him most, you’ll run from him, not to him. You’ll say, “I’m struggling, I’m tempted, I’ve sinned. Jesus will be very disappointed and he will yell at me. I must run.” No. you must understand him as priest, and you must run to him. Those of you who come from Evangelical backgrounds you may think that hypocrisy is completely acceptable because you’re the king and Jesus is the servant who comes to tell do what you tell him. And you don’t not understand the kingly nature of Jesus and his rule and reign over every aspect of your life. And my fear for some of you who have more liberal backgrounds, you may not repent of sin, you may not have a sense of urgency about life transformation. You may not rightly understand how offended God is by some of the things we say and do. And you may not have that kind of impetus to really be a person who lives a life of repentance and change with a sense of urgency and truthfulness.
But if you understand “Jesus is the prophet who sometimes has very hard words for me, but furthermore, Jesus is also the priest who comes alongside with love, grace, mercy and patience to enable me to live a life of obedience and he’s king, there’s nothing in my life that he can’t do this with, there’s no aspect of my life that he does not have jurisdiction over and a right to”, then you can live a free, full, joyous, loving, worshipful Christian life with Jesus. Why did Jesus come? As prophet to speak to us. As priest to serve us. As king to rule over us. That’s why he came. And he’s alive and well today, and he continues these ministries. Speaking, serving, ruling. And so what I need you to do, and I’m gonna hand it to ya now to get some time with Jesus, is to ask yourself where am I deficient in my understanding of the ministry of Jesus and why he came? And then ask him, “Jesus, I’m gonna start reading scripture. Reveal yourself to me as prophet. I don’t get that. Or reveal yourself to me as priest. I don’t get that. Or reveal yourself to me as king. I don’t get that.”
Pray before you read scripture, asking that Jesus would reveal himself to you through his word. And seek to grow in your understanding of all three of his offices and ministries. I assure you it will change everything. You’ll love him like you’ve never loved him, you’ll enjoy him like you’ve enjoyed him. And the times when you need him most, you’ll run to him, not from him because you will understand that he alone is able to help in your time of need, and he sympathizes. He sympathizes. And so he will receive you in love. Okay? For those of you who aren’t Christians, you become a Christian tonight. You repent of sin, give it to Jesus who died to take away your sin. He’s convicting you tonight as prophet. He will forgive your sin as priest. And you will leave here with him as king ruling over your new life.
For those of you who come to conviction tonight, pray that through with Jesus and ask him to reveal himself to you in the areas that you are weak. When you’re ready, partake of communion, remembering Jesus’ priestly sacrifice, giving his own life for our sins, his body and blood. We’ll give of our tithes and offerings when you’re ready, if you’re a Christian, communion and offering are just for Christians, as we help to fund the work of Jesus in our city and world. And when you’re ready, I want you to sing to Jesus. He’s alive and well. And tonight when you’re singing, I want you to focus on that aspect of his person and work that you’re weakest in. I want you to spend the time in worship to meditate on him as prophet or priest or king and you coming to him in song and in worship to grow in your understanding and your affection of that aspect of Jesus’ ministry for your life so that he might have the opportunity to meet with you tonight in a very personal way. And I believe he’ll meet everyone here who desires to meet with him in a very personal way in our time of worship. Does this make sense practically?
Let me pray. Lord Jesus, I love this church, I love these people. And I thank you for each who have gathered. Jesus, some need to experience you as prophet. They have lives of sin and unrepentance and folly and hardheartedness and secret sin and shame and double-mindedness. And Jesus, they need the stinging words of truth from you as prophet. Jesus, some need to encounter you as priest tonight. They’re beaten, they’re haggard, they’re worn, they’re sick, they’re tired, they’re frustrated, they’re tempted, they’re lost. They need mercy. They need grace. They need you to take their hand, to lead them, to guide them. They need you to extend patience and long suffering and affection to them. And so Jesus, I thank you that as priest you can and will. And Jesus, some of us need to grow in our understanding of you as king. Jesus, there are some of us who have secret lives and shameful ways and whole aspects of who we are and what we do that somehow we think are not under your jurisdiction, not under your rule, not under your reign. Lord Jesus, may we repent, may we walk in the light as you are in the light. May we acknowledge your rule over every aspect of our life. Jesus we thank you that you are a prophet that speaks. We thank you that you are a priest who serves. And we thank you that you are a King who rules. And we come now to worship you for all you are and all you’ve done. Amen.