“It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest, and King….” Thus begins one of the longest chapters in the Westminster Confession of Faith, a chapter on the very essentials of Christ the Mediator, the Savior of His church. What pleases God as part of His eternal purpose is the choosing and ordaining of Jesus Christ as Mediator via the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King.
When Jesus was born into a world of sin and need, His very name signified that “He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Sadly, among the multitudes who celebrate the birth of Christ, there is an awesome ignorance of how He saves them from their sins. For many, Christ remains in the manger, and if He is thought of beyond this, it is as a “teacher” of salvation, not as Savior.
The answer to the world’s sin and need depends on Jesus executing these three offices. The Catechism for Young Children beautifully explains our need for Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King: “Because I am ignorant; because I am guilty; because I am weak and helpless.” We see here how comprehensive these offices are in revealing the work of the Mediator. Yet when the Incarnation is the topic of preaching, far too many sermons never get baby Jesus out of the manger and exalt the divine work He came to do.
Reflecting on Christ’s office of Prophet, we need to proclaim clearly that Jesus was born to reveal God to us. As the Prophet, He spoke as no man ever spoke. Moses was great, but Jesus is the interpreter and Savior of Moses (Acts 3:22–23). Christ Himself is the truth who fully reveals the Father. With Christ, God’s Word is complete, but without Him we remain in darkness. We must know who Jesus is in the totality of His person and work.
As the great Augustine affirmed, “Without true religion there is no true virtue.” This reflects the declaration of Hebrews 11:6: “without faith it is impossible to please [God].” Such faith, however, is defined Biblically as faith in Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, the sacrificial Lamb who died for the sins of the elect. It is not just about whether you are sincere in your belief, but whether your belief is in accordance with the truth. Christ as Prophet reveals the truth, and He also leads the child of God to see that truth correctly. As the children’s catechism truthfully declares, I need Christ as Prophet “because I am ignorant.”
Not unlike the Old Testament office of prophet, the office of priest and the whole ceremonial system wonderfully typified the work that Christ came to do. The Old Testament priest stood in the presence of God for those who could not themselves stand there, and he offered up sacrifices for the people. At the heart of the sacrificial system was the shedding of blood. May we ever correctly preach the Incarnation without boldly proclaiming that Jesus Christ was born to die?
There was no room in Bethlehem when Jesus was born, but there was room at Calvary. It could not be otherwise; that was why He came. Our great High Priest came “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26; cf. Matt. 20:28), thus satisfying divine justice and reconciling us to God. And while His sacrifice was “once for all” (Heb. 7:27; 9:12; 10:10), He lives forever to make intercession for us (Rom. 8:34). Do I need Christ as Priest? Indeed, “because I am guilty.”
Our Savior also fulfills the office of King. Jesus was born to reign. Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God. He accepted the role of King in its proper understanding. The placard over His cross, meant in mockery, was still a testimony of truth. Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings.
Our culture at times forgets our great need, and we may smile knowingly at the children’s catechism answer that we need Jesus as King because we are “weak and helpless.” But we are relearning our vulnerability. Terrorism is at our doorstep, anthrax is a household word, and almost anyone can find out almost anything about any one of us. We find a renewed interest in the answer to question 26 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Christ executeth the office of king, in subduing us to Himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all His and our enemies.” Precious as is the image of the Lamb of God, the gentle Jesus, we dare not forget that it is the conquering “Lion of the tribe of Judah” that “has prevailed” (Rev. 5:5). Christ Jesus was born to reign.
Surprisingly, some pastors express difficulty in preaching “doctrine.” No such difficulties should exist for this doctrine. How may one look seriously at any of these three divine offices, all essential to the only Mediator between God and man, and not find a wealth of practical, vivid, and compelling preaching themes? This is the Christ as it pleased God to reveal Him to us.
Not only may we see Christ fully in these offices, we must embrace the essence of the matter. If “it pleased God … to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus … the Prophet, Priest, and King,” there is no Gospel without Christ fulfilling these offices as the Mediator. Here are the three “Rs” of our salvation. Jesus was born to reveal, to ransom, and to reign! If it pleased God to ordain the Mediator in terms of these glorious offices, how can it not please His people so to receive Him? “Joy to the world … let earth receive her King.”