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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:Jesus Christ: Our Perfect Prophet, Priest and King
Text:Hebrews 1:1-2:4 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God The Son

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

“Jesus Christ: Our Perfect Prophet, Priest, and King”
Hebrews 1:1-4
In his book, Personal Declension, Octavius Winslow outlines some of the ways that professing Christians decline in their spirituality. One reason why we may have a “personal declension” and decline in our relationship with the Lord is that we no longer truly appreciate Jesus.
At first thought we might think, “That can’t be the case for me! I really appreciate that Jesus saved me from my sin, imputed his righteousness to me so that I stand before him spotless and without blame – not because of righteous things I have done, but because of his grace, mercy and love expressed to me through saving faith in Christ alone.”
And while I hope and pray that that is true for each one of us – that we truly appreciate Jesus – we also recognize that in the rush of life we can so easily get caught up in the things around us that we forsake our first love – our love for the Lord Jesus Christ. You remember, I’m sure, those words of warning from Jesus, spoken to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2:4, Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.”
While all of Scripture should make us truly appreciate, worship and obey Christ, to the point of not forsaking our first love, these verses would be among the foremost on a Biblical list. In these opening verses of Hebrews 1 we have a vivid description of our Savior and Lord. These verses teach us that the Son of God is:
1) The Prophet who perfectly reveals the Father to us
2) The heir of all things
3) The one through whom the universe was formed
     4) The radiance of God’s glory
5) The exact representation of God’s being
6) The one who sustains all things
7) The Redeemer who has provided purification from sin
8) The ruler of all, seated at the right hand of the Father
The descriptions of Jesus fall into three distinct categories. They reveal his work as our perfect Prophet, Priest and King.
The Ultimate and Final Prophet
First, we see Jesus as the ultimate and final prophet from God. God’s revelation to us reaches its pinnacle in the revelation of his Son. As verse 1 and 2 point out, In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.”
God spoke through the prophets at many different times and ways because he revealed himself to us progressively. His Word to us is both progressive and organic. It is organic in the sense that it is one message delivered through 66 unique books of the Bible. It is progressive in that with the passing of time there was an ever-increasing revelation of Christ. The eternal Christ was and is the focus of all the Old Testament writers, as Peter declares in 1 Peter 10 and 11: “…The prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow.” 
Jesus is not only the ultimate prophet; he is also the final prophet. We need no further prophecy. Through the revelation of Jesus Christ “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14) and we have all that is needed for salvation for living as Christians. There is no need for another prophet. As F.F. Bruce points out: “The story of divine revelation is a story of progression up to Christ.  But there is no progression beyond him.” (The Epistle to the Hebrews, NICNT, pg. 3)
Here on earth, Jesus was a nondescript man. Recently there was an Internet reconstruction of Jesus as some scholars believe he really looked. The headline for the article pointed out that Jesus undoubtedly looked quite a bit different than those portrayals of him that are so popular. He is usually portrayed as a handsome man with long hair and a flowing beard, but in Isaiah 53:2 we are given this description of him: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”  
Although his earthly appearance was not attractive the way Saul, the first king of Israel was, Hebrews 1:3 reminds us that he is the radiance of God’s glory. The glory of God the Father is perfectly reflected in Jesus the Son. What better qualification could there for the ultimate prophet than being the radiance of God’s glory? Admittedly, sometimes the Lord masked his glory with his humanity, yet Jesus said to Thomas, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
The reason why Jesus would say that to Thomas – and to us – is there in verse 3 which tells us that Jesus is the “exact representation” of the Father’s being.  The word that the Holy Spirit uses in verse 3 is the same word for a mint which produces coins. I have in my pocket a quarter. It is the exact representation of the mint from which it was made. In much the same way, Jesus is the exact representation of his Father, not only in the sharing of his glory but in all things. As such he, and he alone, is the ultimate Prophet, the Word of God who became flesh and dwelled among us as our Immanuel – “God with us”.
Our Great High Priest
In addition to being the ultimate Prophet, the Lord Jesus is also our Priest. Every Old Testament priest had two main obligations: He had to offer sacrifices first for himself and then for the sins of the people, and he had to intercede on behalf of the people whom he represented.
As our great high priest Jesus Christ offered the perfect sacrifice. Verse 3 describes how “after providing purification for sins he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty…” Jesus is portrayed as sitting down to show us symbolically that his work of redemption is done. He has offered himself as the perfect and only suitable sacrifice to redeem sinners.
And that work, in his words, is finished. It is complete. He never had to offer a sacrifice for personal sins, as the Old Testament priests did, because he is eternally sinless. He is, in the words of 1 Peter 1:19, “a lamb without blemish or defect” and thus the only one able to cleanse us from our sin as he redeems us, not with silver or gold, but with his precious blood.
Although the first part of Christ’s high priestly work is finished and complete, the second part of a high priest’s work continues. He continues to intercede for us before his Father’s throne, and his intercession is so perfect and effectual that Hebrews 7:25 assures us, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
He is the perfect intercessor because he is at the right hand of his Father and he points to the completed work of propitiation – atonement – done on the cross, as the basis of his intercession on our behalf. He says, in effect, to the Father, “I know they are sinners, but I shed my blood for them. I know that they have no righteousness of their own, but I have imputed my righteousness to them. Accept them, forgive them, and sanctify them for my sake.”
In the Old Testament there were many shadows and types of Christ. All the bloody sacrifices prescribed in that era point to the shed blood of Jesus. All the times that God spoke to us through the prophets at many times and in various ways” he was pointing us to the only perfect Priest – our great High Priest, Jesus Christ. He offered himself on the cross of Calvary as the only sacrifice that can take away sin. And now that he has risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, he ever lives to intercede for all those who by his grace have saving faith in him alone.  In the words of the Heidelberg Catechism, Christ is “our only high priest who has set us free by the one sacrifice of his body, and who continually pleads our cause with the Father.” (Lord’s Day 12, Q&A 31)
The Kingship of Christ
Not only do these verses show us the priesthood of our Lord but also his kingship. Verse 3 describes how He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” He is portrayed as sitting down not just because his sacrificial priestly work is done, but also because he is enthroned as the eternal King over all kings and kingdoms. It is part of the fulfillment of Psalm 2:6 where the Lord declares: “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
Some kings are placed into office by ancestry, as was often the case with Old Testament kings; other rulers are placed into office by elections. But Jesus has the right to rule because as verse 2 points out he is the eternal Son of God, the “heir of all things”, and the creator of the universe.
We sometimes might think of just the Father’s work in creation, but the Son and Holy Spirit were also active in creation. Verse 2 points to the work of Christ in creation, through whom he made the universe.” And verse 10 adds, “He also says, ‘In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands…’”
It is precisely because Jesus was active in creation that he has a right to rule as King over what he created.  Colossians 1:15 and 16 serve as a commentary on this: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”
Jesus also has the right to rule because it is by him that all things are sustained. When we look at our world we would be filled with despair if it were not for the reminder of him who is in control, sustaining “all things by his powerful Word” (3c). As Colossians 1:17 assures us: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Jesus Christ also has the right to rule because he is the Redeemer of his people. Verse 3 describes how “after he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the majesty in heaven.”  Likewise, In John’s vision recorded in Revelation 5:10 he writes: “And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals’” – something that only the true King has authority to do – “because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.’”
Christ Followers as Prophets, Priests, and Kings
However, not only is Jesus our prophet, priest and king, but we who believe in him are also called to be prophets, priests, and kings. And at times, those roles intertwine; they are linked together, much as strands on a cord.
Whenever we witness to others we are serving as a prophet. We are conditioned to think of a prophet as a “foreteller.” But the Biblical use of the term includes being a “forth-teller”.   Anyone who speaks forth the Word to others serves as a prophet.  In 2 Corinthians 5:20 the apostle Paul says that we are “ambassadors for Christ.” If you and I believe in the Lord Jesus, then we are his ambassadors here on earth. Every time we witness to someone about the reality of Jesus Christ as prophet, priest, and king, we are filling that office of prophet.
The same is true when we speak to each other, in order to build one another up in our faith. 1 Corinthians 14:3 describes how “everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.”
Unfortunately, all of us fail in both areas. How many golden opportunities to present the gospel have come up suddenly in our lives, and we remained silent? I cannot speak for you, but in my life, there have been so many missed opportunities. In the same way, how many times has the door been open for us to encourage a struggling brother or sister in Christ? Yet so often the phone call of encouragement and concern, the card expressing our care and thoughts, and the hand on the shoulder and the prayer to listening ears pass us by. We so often fail to be the prophets we are called to be.
Each one of us who is a believer in the Lord Jesus is also to serve as a priest, interceding for others. In his first letter, Peter gives that beautiful description of who we as both prophets and kings – who we are as God’s redeemed people. 1 Peter 2:9 describes how we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
Part of our earthly priesthood is in the service that comes as we live our lives as a living sacrifice.  I'm thankful that we no longer have to offer the Old Testament sacrifices, whether of grain or blood or other ingredients with all their rituals. But we are still called to offer sacrifices to God, not as a ritual but as a total commitment of our life. Many of you are familiar with Romans 12:1, Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship.”
That is one part of the priesthood of every believer – offering ourselves as a living sacrifice of praise.  The other part of the priesthood that we have as believers is in praying for one another. One of the most important, most powerful, most loving and worthwhile things you can do for anyone else is to pray for them. And we are commanded to pray for each other repeatedly in Scripture. Ephesians 6:18 is one of many passages as it instructs to “Be alert, and always keep on praying for all the saints,” – meaning all believers.
We serve as prophets as we speak the word of God to others. We serve as priests by the way we offer our lives as a living sacrifice of praise to the Lord and as we intercede for others in prayer. And then, thirdly, we serve as kings. Sometimes it may seem as though we who are in a minority position within our culture could never rule as kings. Yet whenever we bring the light of God's Word into the darkness of our world, we are asserting the rule of Christ.
The Lordship of Christ is advanced, whether our witness is accepted or rejected. If it is accepted, others place their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. If our witness is rejected those who reject it will bow before the Lord Jesus on the last day and acknowledge that he was merciful and gracious to send the witness of his people to them. They will acknowledge that their condemnation is due to their own hardness of heart and will acknowledge the Lordship of Christ even as he consigns them to eternal condemnation.
Jesus put the importance of our influence in the world this way in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:13-16, he said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
    “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
But the office of king is not only exerted in this life, it will be exercised with perfection throughout eternity. Revelation 22:5 reminds us that we will reign with Christ forever over the new heavens and the new earth: They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” Just as Adam and Eve ruled over and cared for the Paradise of God, before the fall, so will we rule and reign with Christ over the Paradise yet to be revealed – the new heavens and the new earth.
Octavius Winslow's book, Personal Declension is a real soul searcher. Each one of us has times of personal declension. The things of this world and all its enticements can make even believers like you and like me lose, at least for a time, our first love. The busyness of life and the allurements of this fallen world can derail our love, appreciation and worship of our Lord. It is tempting at times to just go through the motions of Christianity without truly appreciating Jesus.
But these verses, along with so many others, stress the greatness of our Lord. By God's grace, and through the sanctifying work of his Holy Spirit may you and I always focus on the greatness of our Savior and Lord and appreciate him for who he is: Our perfect Prophet, Priest and eternal King! And then may we show our appreciation by following his footsteps in being a prophet, priest and king in the realm where he has placed us. Amen!
Sermon Outline:
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation
of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He
had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of
the Majesty in heaven. – Hebrews 1:3
              “Jesus Christ: Our Perfect Prophet, Priest, and King”
                                          Hebrews 1:1-4
I. True appreciation for Jesus as “the radiance of God’s glory”, includes
    seeing Him as:
     1) Prophet (2a, 3a, b)
     2) Priest (3d, e)
     3) King (3e-4). He has the right to rule because as God’s eternal Son
         He is:
          a) Creator (2c, 10; Colossians 1:16)
          b) Sustainer (3c; Colossians 1:17)
          c) Redeemer (3d; Revelation 5:9)
II. Application: We are also called to serve as:
     1) Prophets – speaking the Word to others (1 Cor. 14:3; 2 Cor. 5:20)
     2) Priests – living our lives as a sacrifice of praise (Romans 12:1) and
          interceding for others (1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 6:18)
     3) Kings – applying Biblical principles to culture (Matthew 5:13-16)
          and ruling with Christ eternally (Revelation 22:5)



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2016, Rev. Ted Gray

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