His Name Revealed – Priest, Prophet

The Name 

Jesus is both Priest—the One who faithfully bears us into God’s presence by virtue of His self-sacrifice—and Prophet—the One who perfectly communicates God’s Word to us. We are called to listen to Him, to trust in His work, and to take our places as part of a kingdom of priests who in Christ Jesus offer ourselves on behalf of others. As you pray to Jesus as both Priest and Prophet, ask Him to help you understand the deep meaning of these titles so that you can live out their truths in your life.

Hebrews 4:14-16 – Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

Deuteronomy 18:15-18 – “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’ “And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 

Hebrews 1:1-3 – God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… 

Thank You, Lord, for understanding what it means to be weak and tempted, and thank You also for never giving in to temptation. You are the only One able to bring me to the Father so that my sins can be forgiven. Through Your life and through Your death You have told me who God is and what His plans are for me. Now I pray that You will help me to imitate You, so that others might know You as both Priest and Prophet. Amen. 

Understanding the Names

Prophet, priest, and king—these were the three major offices in Israel, titles also ascribed to Jesus. While the king governed as God’s representative on earth, the priest’s role was to represent the people to God by offering sacrifices, prayers, and praise on their behalf. Unlike kings and priests, which were normally hereditary offices held only by males, prophets had to be commissioned by God, and they could be either male or female. 

The role of the priest was to bring the people before God. Moses’ brother, Aaron, was the first Jewish priest. Thereafter priests were drawn from among his descendants, and they were given charge of worship, which eventually became centralized in the Jerusalem temple. Unlike worship in many churches today, Jewish worship primarily consisted not in singing songs and listening to sermons but in offering sacrifices as prescribed by the Mosaic law. The priest’s role was to offer sacrifices for his own sins and for the sins of the people. The animals killed in the temple served as a continual reminder to both priests and people that the penalty for sin is death. 

The priesthood consisted of three groups: the high priest, ordinary priests, and Levites. The Levites occupied the lowest rung of the ladder, taking care of the temple service. The priest, who alone could offer sacrifice, were next. At the pinnacle stood the high priest, the only one authorized to enter the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement. On His ephod (a garment attached to the breastpiece) were stones that bore the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, a physical reminder that the high priest was bearing the people into God’s presence. 

The New Testament identifies Jesus as a priest according to the order of Melchizedek (Melchizedek, a priest who was contemporary of Abraham, predated the Levites). This was a way of indicating that His priesthood was both different and superior to that of the Levitical priesthood. Though most priests in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus rejected Him, the book of Hebrews, emphasizing Jesus’ role as High Priest, may have been aimed primarily at priests who became believers after the resurrection.  The Greek word for “priest” is hierus. 

While the primary role of the priest was to speak to God on behalf of the people, the prophet’s primary responsibility was to speak to the people on behalf of God. The great prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures included Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, and Elisha. While prophets sometimes predicted future events, more often they called people to faithfulness. 

Jesus acknowledged that His cousin, John, was a prophet—and more than a prophet because He prophesied most clearly about the Messiah. Though the common people acclaimed Jesus as a prophet and though He seemed comfortable with this title, most of the priests rejected this title for Jesus. In a Jewish context, Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, when the Spirit descended on Him, would have been understood as a time of commissioning by God as a prophet. But unlike the prophets who preceded Him, Jesus would be the one Prophet who not only perfectly revealed God’s Word but who perfectly revealed God Himself.

The New Testament identifies several people besides John the Baptist as prophets as a people who prophesied at one time or another. These included John’s father, Zechariah; Anna; Simeon; Elizabeth; the high priest Caiphas; Agabus; and Barnabas. The New Testament also indicates that there were prophets in the early church and that prophecy was considered one of the spiritual gifts. The Greek word prophetes is found 144 times in the New Testament, which is proportion to its length, contains as many references to prophets and prophecies as do the Hebrews Scripture. 

Why do you think it is important that Jesus, as High Priest, is able to sympathize with our weaknesses? What about Jesus made him capable of sympathizing with us? Why do you think Jesus was more effective than the priests of the Old Testament? What do you think it means to say that “the Son is the radiance of God’s glory”? How has Jesus as Prophet revealed God to you?






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