Thursday, January 14, 2010

Prophets, Priests, and Kings

Mark 1:1 - 4:25

Mark opens his gospel with the story of John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin. (The gospel of Matthew opens with the account of John's prophetic birth and specific anointing, and Mark's gospel opens with John's ministry.)
I'm reading this in The Message - by Eugene Peterson, and it strikes me that I really don't know anything at all about this "John the Baptist", except that he was a little off... he was different and a little wildish, and that he had this thing for dunking people in the River Jordan.

Mark 1:4-6 says, "John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life."

Isaiah said that JtB had come to prepare the way of the Lord. After 400 years of silence from heaven (the space between the Old and New Testaments in the Christian Bible) God sends one last prophet to Earth in John the Baptist. I'm so interested in this antiquated role that God gave specific people for specific times. These weren't just men who had the "gift of prophecy". They came with the voice, power, and authority of the Living God - in a different way then anyone after the cross.
I once heard a talk on Prophets, Priests, and Kings.  That in the days before the Christ, God assigned certain people to do His work here on Earth.  The role of the prophet was to speak FROM God TO the people. They carried the heart of an untouchable heavenly God to a world that did not understand Him. Prophets were God's ambassadors.  The role of the priest was to speak TO God FROM the people.  They carried the mantle of the sins of the nation of Israel before a Holy and terrifying God to seek atonement and blessing. They were sanctified (set apart) and considered "pure enough" to come before the presence of God and reunite Him to His people.  And Kings were set up with the Authority to rule over God's people, communicating God's will in the form of the practical and every day. They spoke to specific circumstances and worked to unify and expand God's people's territory.

JtB was God's last prophet, because with the entry of the Messiah, Jesus encapsulated all three rolls - Prophet, Priest, and King.  King David of the Old Testament (you know, David and Goliath) carried all three rolls as well (starts in 1 Samuel 16), but he carried them in the body of a fallen son of Adam. Jesus came as the perfect Son of God to carry these rolls without fault and usher in a new era of God's interaction with man. That is why David calls Jesus both Son and Master.

Ok, stick with me here, 'cause I'm really intrigued by this.
Here's what I'm curious about.  Sometimes it helps me to define my role on this planet - my global part of God's story - by looking at the rolls of other great people that God chose to further His kingdom. Obviously, I have not been called as the Messiah. There can be only One. (insert Highlander theme song)  But, like John the Baptist, I have been called to proclaim the way of the coming King.
I'm just different in that I am operating this side of the cross.

So I want to know,
1) Who is John the Baptist and what was the significance in his calling as a prophet of God?  JtB was a key player in the pre-Christian Kingdom, and I want to know more about him. Jesus described him like this:

Matthew 11:11-13 "I tell you the truth:  Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist... From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John." (NIV)
"But if you read the books of the Prophets and God's Law closely, you will see them culminate in John, teaming up with him in preparing the way for the Messiah of the kingdom." (The Message)

2) Jesus also says that "he who is least in the kingdom of heaven (the Christian Kingdom) is greater than he (JtB)". That's me...  So what does that mean for my role in preparing the way for the Return of The King? I wana study John the Baptist, and I wana study the commission of the early church, because I feel that God is calling us to ramp it up and speak out in a new and different way in these days.

Christ is coming back. What is my role in that?
Follow me, if you want, as I stumble through this discovery. :) And please contribute your thoughts and revelations!! I'm just a journeyman. Same as any other disciple. (And that's you...)

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