The Offices of Christ
It was the Sabbath Day and as was the custom of the citizens at Nazareth, fathers, mothers, boys and girls made their way to the synagogue. But unknown to them at the time, this Sabbath was to be a special day. It was to be a day for which the ancestors of those making their way to the synagogue longed. This Sabbath the Messiah, the promised Christ, would break open in their hearing the beautiful Old Testament truth concerning Himself.
Jesus, the son of Mary, had returned home. Now a successful teacher (Luke 4:14, 15), He was asked to speak. Standing, He read Isaiah 61, which said that after the Babylonish captivity there would be still another witness to God's grace. It would be the evidence to which all other evidences pointed: the Christ. It said that He alone would be endued with the Holy Spirit and because of this He alone could perform and grant all the promised benefits.
When Jesus had finished reading, He sat down and taught: "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears" (Luke 4:21).
Jesus was saying that He is the Messiah — the Christ, the Promised One of God.
To call Jesus the Messiah or Christ is to use a term which has to do with anointing with oil.
Anointing with oil was commonly done in Old Testament times as a sign of friendship. Guests were anointed with oil. It was also used on the face for the purpose of beautifying and for health purposes.
For the Hebrews it also had a deeper meaning: one form of it had a profound religious symbolism 1 Samuel 16:13). An especially prepared oil was used. It was fragrant, glittering and very expensive. When used in the consecration of a man to a special task or office, through it God was saying that this man was being set apart for a special task and that the Holy Spirit would be given him so that he could perform the task.
This anointing was done to men entering upon three and only three offices. It was done to prophets (Elisha), to priests (Aaron and his successors), to kings (David). Receiving this anointing they were set apart for their particular God-given tasks and shown that they were given power by the Holy Spirit to act.
When Christ says "the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach..." He is saying that all these Old Testament offices pointed to His coming and were fulfilled in Him. This was God's plan from eternity (Psalm 2:2, 6; 45:7, 8; 89:20, 21).
While there is no record of Christ actually being anointed ceremonially with oil, He was anointed by the Holy Spirit. This was beautifully shown at His baptism (Matthew 3:13-17). Because of this anointing He was given power by God to do what I could not do (Acts 10:38).
"Office" may be explained as "God-given assignment." One in office does not act on his own initiative but fulfills a commission. And in this case it is a commission given by the Sovereign God. In general, the assignment God gave to the Second Person of the Trinity, and thus to Christ, is to serve Him in the friendship of the covenant so that He would act as our Substitute.
As our Substitute Christ functions as God's servant. He is always stating by word and action, "Lo, I am come to do Thy will." His calling is to know and to do what God has demanded. His calling is to love God with a true, full and complete love. His calling is to function not on His own behalf but as the servant of the living God.
These functions or offices of Christ are called prophet, priest and king. While these offices are often referred to as the Triple Office, they are in reality all part of the one office given to Him by the Sovereign God. These three functions correspond to the three aspects of man: his knowing, his willing and his doing.
You recall, of course, that Adam's sin brought total corruption and death to all men. Previous to the Fall, man being in the image of God, knew God and His will. With his head he served God. Having such knowledge he could give names to every living creature (Genesis 2:19, 20). But this beautiful life came to an end with the Fall. Through the Fall man's mind was darkened (Ephesians 4:18) and subjected to spiritual ignorance (1 Corinthians 2:14). The result was that no longer did man know and praise God.
It was necessary, therefore, that Christ come as our Vicarious, or Substitutionary, Prophet, or as the Heidelberg Catechism puts it: "our chief Prophet and Teacher" (q. 31). As servant of God. He knew and praised god in harmony with God's Law (John 17:4, 6) — something we could not and would not do on account of sin.
Second, Adam's status as priest was changed through the Fall. In the image of God he had been made in righteousness. With his heart he was receptive to the love of God. Does not the fact that Adam hid himself from God after the Fall (Genesis 3:8) imply that his heart had been receptive to God's love?
The Fall brought a change to this beautiful relationship. Man's will is now perverted — he no longer serves God (John 8:44). Instead, with his will he hates God and serves the Devil (2 Timothy 2:25, 26).
Thus, if we are to know redemption, Christ had to come as our Vicarious Priest, or as the Heidelberg Catechism calls Him, "our only High Priest" (q. 31). He had to do what we would not and could, not do. Again, He had to perfectly will to do God's will (Psalm 40:7, 8). To do this He had to make a perfect sacrifice for us (Hebrews 9) and through it all He had to be obedient in His suffering (Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 5:8).
Third, Adam was created, in God's image and thus as king. That is, he was created in true holiness. We see his whole-hearted service working out as he named the animals in the Garden (Genesis 2:19, 20). He ruled in creation but not for his glory. He ruled for the honor of the King of Kings.
This all was changed, however, through the Fall. With sin came the enslavement of his life (John 8:34; Romans 6:20; Titus 3:3). The result of this, of course, is that God's creation is used by sinful man for the glory of man (Romans 3:12).
Christ, as the Servant of God, is "our eternal King" (Heidelberg Catechism, q. 31). By His work He has vanquished both His and our foe (1 Corinthians 15:25). In so doing, He has snatched us out of Satan's hands.
Because He is THE CHRIST, the Anointed One of God, we for whom this God-given task was performed can bear the name Christian.
In Christ we are prophets, priests and kings.
As a prophet I am a confessor of His name (Romans 10:10; Matthew 10:32).
This means two things: First, I want to know God's will. I pray, "Teach me, O Lord, Thy way of Truth, that from it I might not depart." As a Christian I love His Word. I want to study it — and I do. I want to hear it preached — and I do. Second, to be a prophet unto God means that I speak in accord with God's revelation. I rejoice in telling of God's grace.
As priest I live in love for God. Wholeheartedly I present myself as a sacrifice of thankfulness to God (Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 2:9). My testimony is that of David; "I love thee, O Jehovah, my strength" (Psalm 18:1). This love streams through my heart.
As king I serve the Lord. Not only do I know in my head God's will, not only do I love God in my heart, I also walk before the Lord in life. I rule in His name in this life. I fight against sin and the devil (Romans 6:12, 13) and from Him I receive the power to so live (Philippians 2:12, 13).
Is it any wonder that John Newton, the converted slave-trader, having come by grace to know the wonder of the Savior, would write so we could sing:
Jesus, my Shepherd, Guardian, Friend!
My Prophet, Priest, and. King!
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End!
Accept the praise I bring.