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Prophet, Priest & King

Today, while listening/reading Mark Driscoll’s “Vintage Jesus” I had a revelation. Many threads from tough questions all wove together into a systematic whole. I am happy, but a little frustrated since, a) the ancients (specifically, John Calvin) seem to have “stolen” my thoughts here, and b) this “amazing solution” sounds strangely familiar…did I “learn” this in a class I wasn’t paying attention in?

All that work to end up on well-trodden ground. *sigh* Oh well – maybe that’s why orthodoxy is a path for the humble.

The solution is this: in understanding Christ’s role to us, it is not just that “Jesus is Lord,” as I had thought in a previous post: rather, Jesus is “prophet, priest and king.” Allow me to explain.

Jesus as Prophet:

As a prophet, Jesus stood up for truth, rebuked the pharisees, corrected Peter, slammed Herod and all around was a blunt, no-nonsense teller of truth. I like this role – it’s fun! Also, this is usually how I learn and grow in my walk – people being blunt and frank with me about sin and righteousness. Mark makes the point that in most religions, God plays the “prophet” role – that is, he sits up there on his throne telling people they are sinners. Jesus also does that: however, the difference with our God is that not only points out our sin, but actually comes down to help us with our situation, as our priest.

Jesus as Priest:

A priest is a mediator, the one who stands between sinful humanity and a holy God, and offers an appropriate sacrifice for the latter, thus restoring fellowship. As priest, Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “neither do I condemn you, now go and sin no more.” It’s not that Jesus is light on sin: when people are in denial about their sins, He definitely slips into prophet role. When they are finally brought to the place of repentance, however, He does not endlessly berate them or leave them to hang, but compassionately pursues them with a solution.

Jesus as King:

This last role is the role which I have felt the need to emphasize in my own thoughts of late. Jesus is King. He has a plan for the earth, and our role as Christians is to humbly pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!” We don’t call the shots, He does – He is our Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ. He is the boss, the king: at the end of the day, there are only two types of people in the word – those who are submitted to the Lordship of Christ, and those who are in rebellion against it.


1: Prophet + King – Priest = Fundamentalism

This is my tendency. I have no problem speaking the truth….it is the “in love” part that I often fumble. This is called “fundamentalism” – being hard on rules, loud on rebuke, short on love. This sort of attitude feels comfortable to those who have grown up in it, or who have stiff necks and need the truth communicated to them with a 2/4, but leaves many wounded and disillusioned in its wake. Mark is right to link modern fundamentalism with the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Just as those Bible characters evaluated their holiness by their ability to identify “sinners” and stay as far from them as possible, modern-day fundamentalists also spend much time isolating from, insulating against and condemning “those sinners” on TV, at the bar, out in society, etc., rather than doing what Jesus did, which is seeking out the lost sheep, spending time with the outcasts, and ministering to the physically and spiritually “sick.”

2: King + Priest – Prophet = Liberalism

Liberals don’t like fundamentalists, and vice-versa. They are the opposite and equal errors: whereas fundamentalists stress truth at the expense of love, liberals stress love at the expense of truth. Thus, the modern Liberal is fuzzy on Hell, open to rival opinions about God, and “welcoming and affirming” to sexual immorality of all sorts. When pressed on the discrepencies between Scriptural statements and their beliefs, they engage in a variety of evasive maneuvers designed to: a) change the topic, b) shame the person asking the question, and c) subtly downplay the importance of Scriptures, and up-play the importance of “cultural relevance.”

I don’t get along well with Liberalism. But then, you already know that from other posts.

3: Prophet + Priest – King = Evangelicalism

This point was highly illuminating. Driscoll believes that most modern Evangelicals (if you are reading this, you are probably in that camp) have no problem with Jesus as the prophet (telling them what is sinful and what is not), and are welcoming and grateful to Jesus as priest (forgiving their sins, allowing them into heaven) but have a hard time with Jesus as Lord. “What do you mean Jesus has a plan for my life? I thought I had the plan, and Jesus was supposed to help me by saving me from hell, giving me a better marriage/family/job/money, etc.?” No, actually, Jesus is your Lord. You join His team, not vice-versa. He becomes your boss, your parent, your king. If He decides it’s time to sell the house/car/big TV and move to Mexico, well….he’s got a right to do that. He’s the King – not you.

I still feel that I have a lot to learn in this regard – hence the emphasis on it of late.

Anyways, I feel as though Mark has handed me a very simple, balanced way of thinking about Christ. Prophet, priest, king. Very nice. Thank you, Mark!

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