Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
Jesus is the Prophet
The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear. Deuteronomy 18:15NKJ
Question 43 of the Larger Catechism asks, “How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?” It gives the answer, “Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in his revealing to the church, in all ages, by his Spirit and word, and in divers ways of administration, the whole will of God, in all things concerning their edification and salvation.” Last time we saw why our Mediator was called Christ. This week we consider how Jesus brings us the Word of God.
We might not readily think of Jesus as a prophet, but the Scriptures repeatedly teach that He was one. Three of the gospels record the account where Jesus, speaking of Himself, declared: “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country,” (Matt. 13:57; Mark 6:4; John 4:44). As a prophet, Jesus revealed God to His people, through His Word. But Jesus did not simply, on occasion speak the Word of God, as did all other prophets of God. Jesus was the Word of God incarnate! Everything He did, or said or taught was always, and was only, the Word of God. Jesus revealed God in ways that no other prophet ever did or could. As He taught in John 14:9, to see Jesus was to see the Father. Jesus was not just a prophet, He was The Prophet! Every other prophet served merely as a type and placeholder for Jesus who was coming.
However, even more than serving as a type, every other prophet was inspired and animated by the Spirit of Jesus. As the Catechism states it, Jesus, “in all ages” revealed to His church the Word of God. In other words, it was Jesus who spoke to the congregation, in the wilderness, through Moses. It was Jesus who warned the nation of God’s coming judgments, through prophets like Hosea, Amos, Zechariah, and Jeremiah. And it was Jesus who promised His own sacrificial death and atonement, through Isaiah. Every instance in the Bible where God spoke to man, He did it ultimately through His Son. Thus, the New Testament teaches: “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow,” (1 Peter 1:10-11). All of the prophets of the Bible prophesied by “the Spirit of Christ who was in them.” Ultimately, Jesus alone has seen and He alone has made known to mankind who God is (John 1:18).
The Catechism acknowledges the variety of ways in which Jesus delivered His Word to His people. In Scripture we find God speaking by means of prophets, angels, dreams, visions, a burning bush, a pillar of fire, a cloud, a hand writing on the wall, and even a donkey (see Num. 22)! All of these ways were anticipatory to the full and final revelation of God, which the Son of God would personally bring. To Him alone was the honor given to show the culmination and completion of all that had previously been given in part and in shadow. Thus, Hebrews declares: “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,” (Heb. 1:1-2). There is no encore to that. There is no other word to be given. In the teaching of Christ and His official witnesses, the apostles, the final word was given – all that we need for life and godliness. As the Catechism states it: “All things concerning [the church’s] edification and salvation” has been revealed by Christ our Prophet. Though He no longer brings new revelation, Christ continues to act as a prophet to His church through His quickening of the hearts of His people by His Spirit, illumining and enlightening them to savingly understand and believe in the Word of God. Praise God for His faithfulness in sending us the prophet who was both like Moses and yet far more than any mere man!