Friday, December 19, 2014

Reflections on the Greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ by Hugo Bouter (Part 2)

The Great Prophet
Luke 7:16

No man ever spoke like this Man
During the time of Christ’s service as the Servant-Prophet here on earth, as He is depicted by Mark in particular, opinions on His Person varied widely. Some people rejected Him as a prophet. The Pharisees did not accept Him, for in their view no prophet had arisen out of Galilee (John 7:52). Simon the Pharisee said to himself that He simply could not be a prophet, for in that case He would never have allowed a sinner woman to touch Him (Luke 7:39).

Others, however, were more favourable in their judgment and did regard Him as a prophet. The Samaritan woman admitted: “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet” (John 4:19). Even large multitudes acknowledged Him as such. They considered Him to be a prophet, as there had been so many in Old Testament times (Matt. 16:14; Mark 6:15; Luke 9:8).

But Christ was more than one of the old prophets. He was a very special prophet. Many people acknowledged this and spoke about Him as the Prophet, the One whom Moses had already announced in Deuteronomy 18:15ff. So they recognized Him as the long-anticipated Prophet, and said: “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world” (John 6:14; 7:40).

John the Baptist was absolutely right in not claiming this honour for himself when people asked him: “Are you the Prophet?” (John 1:21). He was honest and told them that he was not. Then John told them of the One who was to come after him but was preferred before him. John himself was just the forerunner, the herald who prepared the way for Him. Christ was superior to him, and John effaced himself and said: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Indeed, Christ was the Prophet. He surpassed all other prophets, for “He who comes from above is above all” (John 3:31). He had descended from heaven and told them heavenly things, the things that He Himself had seen and heard with the Father (John 3:12,13,32).

Christ was also superior to Moses, who announced His coming as 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” (Deut. 18:15). This verse refers to Christ’s manhood: He was to be raised up from among the people. He took part in flesh and blood, for in all things He had to be made like His brethren, yet without sin. Although He came from above, He became truly Man, and in this humble form He addressed Himself to the people, speaking the words that God gave Him to speak.

As a Prophet He was unique, for He was the Word incarnate, the personification of God’s message to mankind. Previously God had spoken by the prophets, but now He has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, or literally “in [His] Son” (Heb. 1:1). This means that God Himself has spoken to us as a divine Person, and that Person is the Son!

He spoke the words of God
Therefore Christ is an unequalled prophet. He is the Son Himself, the Creator of all things and moreover, the Redeemer who is now seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:2,3). He is exalted above the angels, those mighty ministers of our God. He is superior to Moses, the man of God by whom the law was given to Israel (John 1:17).

So it is good for us to consider Him, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession (Heb. 3:1). By faith we see Him at the right hand of God, crowned with glory and honour. His voice is no longer heard on earth as it was at the time of His sojourn here. He has now spoken from heaven (cf. Heb. 12:25). The Lord has done so by the Spirit of truth, who has led a number of apostles and prophets to write the various books of the New Testament.

Whenever we pick up our Bible, we are sure that we have the complete Word of God before us. God’s Word was fulfilled, or completed by divine revelation to the apostles and prophets of the present dispensation of grace (cf. Eph. 2:20; Col. 1:25). In the Gospels we have the words which Christ spoke to His disciples here on earth, and which were brought to their remembrance by the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). The Acts and the Epistles present us with the ongoing testimony of the Spirit, the teaching of “all [the] truth” (John 16:13a), or “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

As John told us in his Gospel, the Holy Spirit did not speak on His own authority or initiative. The Spirit declared and disclosed the things that He heard from the exalted Christ (John 16:13-15). The Spirit, who descended on earth after Christ was received up in glory, disclosed these heavenly things to the instruments which He used for the completion of the Word of God. In this way He told them even “[the] things to come” (John 16:13b).

These things to come are largely found in the book of Revelation (cf. Rev. 1:19), which in many respects fits in with the prophetic books of the Old Testament which discuss God’s dealings with Israel and with the world. Of course the Scriptures are linked together in other respects as well, for the Old Testament points in many ways to Christ, while the New Testament shows the fulfilment of many prophecies concerning Him and His finished work. However, this falls outside the frame of our subject.

But what a tremendous assurance it is to have the complete Word of God in our hands, and to know that the Scriptures provide us with everything we need on our pathway to heaven. All this we owe to our great Prophet, the heavenly Man Christ Jesus. Through the Spirit He has revealed to us the deep things of God, the secrets of God’s heart, and has given them to us in the Scriptures of the New Testament in spiritual words (1 Cor. 2:6-16).

A Prophet mighty in deed and word
The account in Luke 7 tells us how Jesus was honoured as a Prophet. This is a lesson for us that we might also honour Him as such, for we have every reason to glorify Him as our great Prophet. We should be perfectly aware of His greatness, even more than the people of Nain. For them the raising of the young man was proof of His mission: “Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen up among us’; and, ‘God has visited His people’ ” (Luke 7:16).

If we just take these last words literally, they testify to the fact that God has come to man in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Christ is truly God. God visited His people when Christ came into the world. But He is also truly Man. His human nature is indicated by the first remark of the people: “A great prophet has risen up among us”. God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law (Gal. 4:4). So this verse in Luke 7 testifies to Christ’s greatness as God and Man in one Person.

As the Son of the living God, He gives life to whom He will (John 5:21). The young man who had just been raised from the dead was the living proof of this. Along with the daughter of Jairus (a child) and Lazarus (an adult), this young man is sufficient proof of Christ’s power over death.

And is this not valid in a spiritual sense as well for all those who have heard the voice of the Son of God? For He has authority to give eternal life to as many as the Father has given Him (John 17:2,3). And we know that He has raised us from the “grave” of our sins and our guilt, to enable us to walk with Him in newness of life. He has given us everlasting life, and we have passed from death into life (John 5:24,25). How great He is, our Prophet and Saviour, the Son of the living God! We are sure about His greatness, as we personally experienced His power in delivering us from the bonds of death.

Responding to the miracle that had happened, the inhabitants of Nain “glorified God”. This will also be our reaction, as we see the quickening power of Christ at work in people who are dead in trespasses and sins. Christ is indeed the great Prophet. Both His words and His actions show His unique mission and His lifegiving power, reaching beyond the grave. Along with those two disciples who were on the road to Emmaus, we can say as believers that He is a Prophet “mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Luke 24:19).

There is just no one like Him, the Prophet confirmed to the people by God with the accompanying signs and wonders (cf. Acts 3:22,23; 7:37). The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17). Therefore let us thank God for sending His Son, His Prophet, His Spokesman. For as we worship Him, we see the Father’s image in Him, full of grace and truth.

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