Yesterday morning, Dr. Tom Nettles preached on Melchizedek from Hebrews 7 at Grace, pointing out the significance of his name and offices. As a type of Christ, Melchizedek functioned as prophet (blessing Abraham), priest (of the Most High God), and king (of Salem). The offices of Christ and his role as mediator of the New Covenant is one of the richest topics for sustained meditation and gospel enjoyment.
But today, I thought about the spiritual perverseness of substituting myself in the role of being prophet, priest, and king of my own life. I know that sounds crazy, but if we are honest with ourselves, we are more prone to this manner of forgetting the gospel than we realize.
When I Am My Own Prophet
Jesus not only faithfully proclaims the truth, Jesus is the truth. Jesus not only gives us direct Word from God; Jesus is the Word made flesh. As the writer of Hebrews explains, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Paul Tripp rightly notes that no one speaks to you more than you do; therefore, no one has more influence over your thoughts than you. Each and every day, we have the option to have Jesus as our Prophet, or we can speak things into our own lives in our self-salvation project.
When I am my own prophet, I am willing to believe half-truths or complete lies rather than the what God says about me in Christ. Are Christ words not enough? In the words of Joel Osteen, is it that I have to declare things over me, or is not what Jesus declares sufficient? If I am in Christ, I am to be defined by the Gospel word, having the good news as the most important and constant message that shapes my identity. When I am my own prophet, I foolishly substitute counterfeit messages that might comfort for the moment but cannot heal, pacify but cannot bring peace, help you cope but cannot save.
When I Am My Own Priest
Jesus Christ is my Great High Priest, not only offering an acceptable sacrifice, but being for me an acceptable, perfect sacrifice for my sin. Through his atonement and intercession, His blood and His prayers continually speak for me forgiveness, acceptance, justification, peace, and love. As the writer of Hebrews says, “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). His sitting down speaks of the final, once-for-all atonement for my sin and God’s satisfaction of such a sacrifice. By faith, I rest in Christ and rejoice that I am found in Him.
When I am my own priest, I know that atonement has to be made. Sacrifices must be offered. Instead of appreciating the atonement made by Christ’s death, I seek to make atonement by the way I live–being religious, thinking that my spiritual performance (good works) can appease a guilty conscience, looking to address the restlessness of my heart with busyness in my doing, and attempting to anchor my acceptance in the vacillating nature of my efforts of being righteous before God. My sacrifices undermine the sacrifice of Christ, and in an effort to make atonement for a miserable day, I find reconciliation in what I can do to make my life better, rather than believe that Christ’s death gave me life abundant and everlasting.
When I Am My Own King
Jesus Christ is King of kings. All authority has been given to him. His kingdom endures forever, and those under His reign and rule experience the shalom this world longs for. His subjects declare, “Jesus is Lord,” with hearts of gratitude and joy. Because King Jesus as conquered all enemies arrayed against Him, He has rights to rule over all, and the domain of His dominion has no end. As the writer of Hebrews explains, Jesus has been “appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:2-3). Because this is true, I come to Jesus not only as my Creator but also Redeemer, in whose face beams the glory of God and brings me the grace I so desperately need.
When I am my own king, I convince myself that it is better for me to rule my life than Jesus. I calibrate my day with my agenda, not “your kingdom come, your will be done in my life as it is in heaven.” The domain of my existence does not declare, “Jesus is Lord,” through a life of repentance and faith but rather, “I’m in control” by my naive dictates. “If only I can have life the way I want it, then I will have the life I’m intended to have,” so I arrogantly argue. Little do I know that the more I am in control, the more chaos and brokenness I bring to my life. Having my life the way I want it, how I want it is a sure way to build a kingdom on sinking sand, leading to a wasted life.
I am grateful that God has given me in His Son such a wonderful Savior who is for me Prophet, Priest, and King. The challenge you and I face each day is whether we are to function in ordinary life like these offices will rest in the capable arms and complete work of Christ or in the feeble and foolish efforts of ourselves to do for us what we were never intended to do. God gave His Son as a substitute! We must be careful never to re-substitute ourselves for Christ. Jesus is enough, and when we realize that, we will exult with newfound affections in the life, death, and resurrection of our great and glorious King.