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.

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.