Three offices belong to Christ: prophet, priest, and king. When John the Baptist appeared, the religious leaders asked him whether he was "that prophet" (John 1:21). They meant the prophet that Moses predicted would come someday and proclaim a message from God, a message so important that God would judge people by the standard of whether they heeded the prophet's words (Deut. 18:18-19). The Jews in Jesus' day believed that this prophet was not Christ, but a separate figure who would appear in the end times. But the New Testament affirms that in the person of Christ the prophet like unto Moses had already come (Acts 3:20-23).
Christ's prophetic ministry had two main aspects. First, through His teaching He lifted men to a higher understanding of God's will and purposes, and He pointed the way to becoming right with God. Second, He performed supernatural works attesting the truth of His teaching.
The teaching side of His ministry is seen clearly in Old Testament prophecy, a notable example being the passage that Jesus read at the beginning of His ministry, when He was visiting His home town, Nazareth.
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
Isaiah 61:1-3 (quoted in Luke 4:18-19)
All the figures of speech employed here to describe Christ's message refer to the gospel. The gospel is the good tidings that shows people how they might escape from the grief in guilt, win freedom from the power of sin, and replace waste and sorrow with beauty and joy.
Another prophecy of Isaiah also foresaw Christ's work as a teacher.
1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.
3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
Isaiah 42:1-4 (quoted in Matthew 12:18-21)
This prophecy reveals that Christ's ministry before He died was only the beginning of His work on earth. Eventually, the whole world will wait upon the law proceeding from His mouth. Yet already, through the writings of the New Testament, His "judgment" expressed in all His wise teachings has gone to the ends of the earth and shaped the lives of countless followers among the gentiles as well as the Jews.
In the miracles He performed, Jesus followed in the footsteps of such Old Testament prophets as Elijah and Elisha, except that the miracles Jesus did were far greater. The clearest prophecy that Christ would be a miracle worker appears in the Book of Isaiah.
4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
In this passage, Isaiah foresees that God in the person of the Messiah would come twice. He would "come with vengeance," and He would "come and save you" (v. 4). Although mentioned first, His coming with vengeance is actually His second coming, His coming still in the future, when He will rid the world of evildoers and ascend His throne as world ruler. His coming to save us refers to His first coming, His coming in humility, when He gave His life for the sins of the world. The passage prophesies that "then" (v. 5) He would miraculously give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, agility to the lame, and speech to the dumb. "Then," in context, must mean at the time of His coming to save us.
Jesus Himself regarded His healing ministry as the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy.
The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
Another of Isaiah's prophecies also refers to the healings that Christ would perform.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
According to the Gospel writer Matthew, this prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus relieved of their afflictions both the sick and the demon-possessed.
16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
© 2007, 2012 Stanley Edgar Rickard (Ed Rickard, the author). All rights reserved.