Christ the King of Nazareth

pexels-photo-131616In the United States, we don’t have a king who rules over us. In America, you don’t have to be a part of a certain family to lead the country one day. We have many leaders who help make, enforce, and interpret laws for our protection. We have a many people in our government who seek to rule and defend us. In fact, one of the main roles of the President of the United States is to defend the citizens as Commander-in-Chief. But a king is different. A king rules with absolute authority. No one can question or challenge the decisions of the king. This is why bad kings are so bad. They rule with total power, and no one can stop them. In a world filled with sin, kings with absolute authority are bad for the citizens of a country.

In the Bible, God was the rightful king of the people of Israel. But one day, they grew tired of God being their king. They wanted a human king like the other nations around them. God gave them what they wanted and from the first king until the exile, Israel experienced a succession of good and bad kings that at times led the nation in godliness and prosperity, and at other times in sin and destruction. The roles of these kings were to rule and defend the people from their enemies. But many of them failed to rule the people well. These kings led the nation into sin rather than holiness. They led the people away from God.

God is the eternal king of the universe because he is the creator of the universe. When Adam sinned against God, he rebelled against the King and his kingdom. Through sin, Adam refused to submit to God as King. God established kings once again when he allowed his people to be ruled by a king. King David was the closest thing to a godly king. But David failed to perfectly rule and defend his people. In fact, he even had one of his own people killed in order to hide his sin. David’s ultimate purpose was to point to a greater King who would come from his line to reign in a kingdom that will last forever.

As our King, Jesus rules over us and defends us against all our enemies. He has conquered sin, Satan, and death for us. And even now he guards our hearts from that which would do us greatest harm. He is a good king indeed. All who are in his kingdom must submit to his rule as King. In Jesus’ kingdom, no rebels exist. Jesus is a King who does not allow sin to reign over us. In the end, we can have one ruler, either sin or Jesus. Growing in Christ is a process of learning to walk in the way of the kingdom. The question for a Christian every day is: Will I submit to King Jesus or king self?


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their sons, Jude and Jack. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

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Christ the Priest of Nazareth

pexels-photo-131616I used to love sports video games as a kid. My favorite games were Madden and NBA 2K. Every year a new version of each game released. My friends and I would count down the days until we could have the new video game. Now, unlike my friends, I had to wait from the time the game released until my birthday before I could play it. For a few years on my birthday I would receive the same gifts each year: the new Madden and NBA 2K video games. My dad always teased me about my excitement for the new year’s game. He would say, “This game is exactly like last year’s game! What’s the difference?”

From a distance, he was right. From one year to the next there were few changes to the game. But for those of us who really played, we noticed every single difference. Even though, yes, there were many similarities between last year’s game and this year’s game, the differences were just enough to keep us playing for hours. The Old Testament prophets, priests, and kings are like last year’s video game. They are a little like the new, but once the new has come, there is no turning back to the old. We’ve said that as our Redeemer, Jesus performs the roles of a prophet, priest, and king. We are thinking this week about Jesus as our priest.

There were many priests in the Old Testament. In fact, if you read the book of Leviticus, you’ll learn a ton about these priests and all the things they had to do in order to atone for the sins of the people of Israel. The main goal of a priest was to stand between God and man as a mediator to atone for man’s sin against God, so their relationship may be restored.

The Old Testament priests accomplished this goal by offering sacrifices on behalf of the people to God. Priests offered sacrifices throughout the year. Once every year, on the Day of Atonement, the priest would offer a special sacrifice to God for the sins of all of God’s people (see Leviticus 19). Priests had access to the presence of God and atoned for the sins of the people so they could dwell in the presence of God. These Old Testament priests failed over and over to do their jobs. But Jesus is a far greater priest. Michael Horton writes, “Jesus in not just another high priest who serves in the Holy of Holies, but is one greater than the temple itself.”

When people were first created, Adam and Eve had unlimited priestly access into the presence of God. However, after sin entered the world, fallen human beings no longer had priestly access into God’s presence. Sin cut us off from God. When Jesus came, he perfectly fulfilled the role of a priest that Adam and the Old Testament priests failed to fulfill. As our perfect high priest, Jesus lived a sinless life so that he could not offer an animal sacrifice for himself or others, but instead offer himself as the supreme, spotless sacrifice to God for sin. And although Old Testament priests had to be replaced, through his work as our eternal priest, Jesus brings us into the presence of God to dwell forever.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their sons, Jude and Jack. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Throwback Thursday: John Owen on Christ’s Role as a Prophet

Throwback Thursday3On Wednesday nights, I am currently leading a group of children and students ages 5-18 through The Lighthouse Catechism. We have been looking at the doctrine of Christ since the beginning of August and have made it to our study of the offices of Christ. We are learning that as our Redeemer, Jesus Christ performs the roles of a prophet, a priest, and a king. Walking through these Christological truths has been an edifying journey not only for the students, but also for me. Learning about Christ as a prophet, priest, and king has given me deeper understanding of the purpose of the prophets, priests, and kings in the Old Testament, as well as a deeper understanding and appreciation of Christ’s work on our behalf.

Yesterday, I briefly reflected on what it means for Christ to be our prophet. In short, as our prophet, Christ reveals God’s will for our salvation, brings news of salvation and judgment, and continues to speak to his people. Christ is the eternal medium through which God speaks (Heb. 1:1-3). He truly is the first and final Word (John 1:1). We also have been sent out into the world as “little prophets” to bring good news of great joy and bad news of great judgment through our proclamation of the gospel. As we proclaim the gospel, God uses us to speak to his people.

What’s most interesting about Christ’s role as a prophet is its duration. How long will Christ communicate revelation from God? Is this something that will only last until final glorification? Will Christ perform the role of a prophet even in the new earth? The only way any of us can have any knowledge of God now is through Christ’s prophetic work. But according to John Owen, Jesus will mediate our knowledge and love for God even after glorification. The Puritan genius writes,

All communications from the Divine Being and infinite fullness in heaven unto the glorified saints, are in and through Christ Jesus, who shall forever be the medium of communication between God and the church, even in glory. All things being gathered into one head in him, even things in heaven and things in earth…this order shall never be dissolved…And on these communications from God through Christ depend entirely our continuance in a state of blessedness and glory. [Mediations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ in The Works of John Owen, 1:414]

God generally reveals himself in creation. God specially reveals himself in his Word–the 66 books of the Bible. And God specially and eternally reveals himself in his Son–the incarnate Word of God. God will never cease speaking to his people, and he will always speak to us through Christ. Even though Owen believed the offices of Christ would come to an end with the consummation of the new covenant with the return of Christ, he also saw that knowledge of God would forever be mediated to God’s people exclusively through the person of Jesus Christ. In one sense, Christ will forever be a prophet who reveals the knowledge of God to his own.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their sons, Jude and Jack. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Christ the Prophet of Nazareth

pexels-photo-131616Prophets literally spoke the Word of the Lord. As they spoke, they did so with divine authority. For example, Moses and Aaron are both referred to as prophets in Exodus 7 because they were sent by God to proclaim his message to pharaoh. Prophets were not fortunetellers. They did not only foretell future events. Prophets functioned as the mouth of God. The prophets were like microphones. God spoke through them and they amplified exactly what he himself has said. The role of the prophet in the Old Testament was to bring announcements of judgment and salvation on the people of God. And whatever the prophet spoke, God spoke.

A prophet is one who has the “very word of God on his lips.”[1] Deuteronomy 18:15-22 and Jeremiah 1:9-10 show that the words of the prophet are the words of God. This means that when prophets spoke, they did so with the authority of God. But Jesus is quite different. Although he is definitely a prophet, he carried an authority that was greater than all the prophets before him. The religious leaders around Jesus were amazed and offended at the authority with which Jesus spoke. Why would this be?

It cannot be because they didn’t think a man could speak with authority from God, for the prophets of old did that and they celebrated it. They were offended when Jesus spoke with authority, because of the way he did it. In the Old Testament, prophets spoke with authority from God. Their words were God’s words. But, they did so in a certain way. They usually began their prophecies with the phrase, “Thus says the Lord.” This was the prophets’ way of saying, “What I am about to say is coming from the mouth of God himself!” They did not claim to have their own authority in speaking. Their authority came from God.

However, Jesus did not speak this way. He never once said, “Thus says the Lord.” Instead, Jesus said, “I say to you.” Jesus spoke as a prophet with authority from God, but he assumed the authority was not outside of himself. The authority with which he spoke belonged to him! Jesus was no ordinary prophet—he was a divine prophet, much greater than all before him.

This authority that belonged to Jesus, also belonged to the Father. Jesus did not come to earth with a separate agenda from his Father. The message he brought was from God. The authority with which he spoke was from God. But at the same time, Jesus himself is the message. And Jesus himself has the authority to speak divine truth.

While the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders taught a message that was bogged down with tradition and personal preference, Jesus taught a message that was straight gospel truth. He revealed the will of God, and God himself through what he said, did, and who he was.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their sons, Jude and Jack. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

The Prophet, Priest, and King of Nazareth

In school plays, acting skills are limited. Many times, the best actor has to play multiple roles. He may play the role of the main character, but he also probably plays other roles in scenes that do not include the main character. The same is true for mediocre sports teams. When I played baseball in Little League, I played for a team that was so bad that only two of us could throw and catch without running all over the field after the ball. Because my friend and I were the only two players who could successfully throw and catch, we had two roles—pitcher and catcher. Whenever I pitched, my buddy would be the catcher. Whenever he pitched, I was the catcher. Our team desperately needed us to play these roles every game, or else we would lose by 20 runs instead of only 5.

As our redeemer, Jesus also plays certain roles that are crucial to the victory of his team—his people. In his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus performs the roles of a prophet, a priest, and a king. It feels strange to think of Jesus as a prophet, priest, and king because these are all roles that were played by people in the Old Testament, but not so much in the New.

In the Old Testament we learn about prophets like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. We learn about priests like Aaron and his sons. We learn about kings like David and Solomon. But when it comes to Jesus we seem to only think of him as a Savior. God’s people in the New Testament seem to be much different from God’s people in the Old Testament. The church, so it seems, doesn’t have prophets, priests, or kings the way Israel did. However, all of those prophets, priests, and kings were like shadows of the greatest Prophet, Priest, and King. They were like arrows pointing to Jesus who would be what all the prophets, priests, and kings of old failed to be.

For hundreds and even thousands of years, the people of God anticipated the coming of the Messiah, or Savior, who would perfectly reveal God’s will, provide for their sins, and rule over them. In Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection, he perfectly revealed God’s Word to us, offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins, and ruled over us in power. Jesus saves us by being a prophet who reveals God’s Word to us, a priest who sacrifices himself for us, and a king who brings us into his kingdom under his eternal rule.

The only hope my Little League team had for even smidgen of success was in the arms and gloves of my friend and me. We had to perform our roles perfectly or our team would lose spectacularly. In the Bible, there are many examples of cowardly prophets, impious priests, and rebellious kings. None of them adequately fulfilled the role to which they were called. The prophets, priests, and kings in the Old Testament are a litany of disappointments. But in Jesus we will never be disappointed. Jesus perfectly fulfilled the roles of a prophet, priest, and king, which is our only hope for knowing, loving, and living for God.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their sons, Jude and Jack. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Proper Posture and the Great Commission

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

This is the Great Commission of Matthew’s gospel, given by Jesus as a final command to his disciples. It is a command to make disciples and uses three participles to designate the manner that is to be accomplished: going, baptizing, and teaching. This passage is extremely integral to the church, since it is a command to spread the good news of Jesus so that it may save souls and transform lives by making men and women into disciples of Jesus Christ.

However important the contents may be for the commission, though, the authority given to it is what determines its importance. It may be a good command, but if there is no authority behind it, it is not as important of a command. For example, If a young child tells another child not to eat a lot of sweets, that child is not likely to obey that command. By the same token, if that same child’s mother tells him not to eat a lot of sweets, he is likely (or at least more likely) to abstain from them. This is why Jesus prefaces the Great Commission with, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” The weight of the command is determined and accentuated by the the magnitude of the greatness of the one proclaiming it. Therefore, since Jesus has been given categorically all power in heaven and on earth, his command bears immeasurable weight.

This is where the posture of the disciple’s heart enters consideration. Even if the weight of the command is immeasurably heavy, keeping it still requires submission. If a man desires discipleship under Jesus, he must submit himself humbly to Christ’s authority. I believe that the way a person submits to Christ is divided generally into two ways.

  1. Understand that Jesus is greater than you.

There are many people who treat Christ flippantly: “Jesus is my BFF.” “Jesus and I are tight.” This attitude shows a true disassociation with who Jesus is. He is God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity. He has been given all power in heaven and on earth. He will return to judge the entire world in absolute righteousness. He is mighty, and he demands worship. Yes, we have a friend in Jesus, but do not forget that he is God.

In Mark chapter 4, Mark writes of Jesus’ disciples meeting a great storm on the sea. They wake Jesus up, he rebukes the storm, and it ceases. The disciples respond thus: “And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’” They were filled with great fear. Jesus’ closest companions felt great fear when confronted with his greatness, yet we might have the audacity to treat him flippantly? God forbid.

This means you must realize that Jesus supersedes you. He is greater than you. He was sinless; you are sinful. He is powerful; you are weak. He is wise; you are foolish. If you want to fulfill the Great Commission, it is fundamentally true that you must submit to Christ and understand that he is greater than you.

  1. Value Jesus’ will as greater than your own.

This is an integral part of submitting to Christ. Valuing Jesus’ will this way is important, because it both reveals a true love for him (by keeping his commandments and valuing his word) and a respect for his wisdom by understanding the perfections of his will.

Submitting t0 Christ means surrendering your will, and Christ is clear about this. He says quite famously that anyone who loves their mother or father more than him is not worthy of him (Matthew 10:37). You must deny yourself of your own desires and your own view of perfection in favor of Christ’s. You cannot serve both yourself and Christ.

In fact, this is part of any real relationship. Wills between parties conflict in relationships, and part of the resolution to this conflict is that one party must show deference to the other. This is true of a Redeemer-redeemed covenant relationship too. Jesus’ words and ways will conflict with your will. Yet, this conflict is a true test of discipleship. Will you be stubborn, or will you yield to the immaculate Christ? If you will not, do not pretend that he is your God. Christ will not be bent to the will of men, perpetually permitting their behavior. If you will not bend to the will of Christ, he is not your God; he is an therapeutic idealization of a god, an idol of the mind.

Therefore, it takes both understanding Christ’s surpassing greatness and valuing his will over your own. If you do not think he is greater than you, his words are unlikely to inspire any real change in your thought or behavior. If you do not value his will over your own, you are unlikely to carry out any of those commands. But if you submit to him by realizing his greatness and valuing his will, his words will be like sweet honey and you will be in a great hurry to fulfill his commandments.

This summary returns us then to the Great Commission. It is obvious that there is a direct relationship between submission to Christ and following his commandments. This is a commandment of Christ. Now that you have evaluated your love for him and the value of his will, it is time to ask: Will you fulfill this commandment?


Avery Thorn is from Belmont, MS. He is a junior at Blue Mountain College, where he is a Biblical Studies major and a History minor. He is a member of Belmont First Baptist Church. He has a passion for preaching and studying Scripture. Avery’s hobbies include exercising, music, politics, reading, writing, and making and enjoying coffee. You can follow Avery on Twitter @Avery_thorn.