It is a common thing for Christians to speak about the work of Christ under the organizational headings of Prophet, Priest, and King. As a Prophet, Jesus brings us the truth of who God is, what God has done, and what God calls for us to do about it. As Priest, Jesus offers Himself as the sacrifice for our sins and intercedes on our behalf in the presence of God. As King, Jesus protect us, provides for us, and rules over us with His Omnipotent Love. In Jesus, our ignorance is informed, our guilt is atoned for, and our rebellious hearts are subdued.
Not only are these offices are tremendously helpful in thinking through the work of Christ for His people, they are necessary if we are to be completely saved. If Jesus is not our Prophet, Priest, and King, we cannot be saved in the ways we need to be.
Herman Bavinck explains…
[In order for Jesus to be] a mediator, to be a complete Savior, He had to be appointed by the Father to all three (Prophet, Priest, King) and equipped by the Spirit for all three offices.
The truth is that the idea of humanness already encompasses within itself this threefold dignity and activity. Human beings have a head to know, a heart to give themselves, a hand to govern and to lead; corresponding, they were in the beginning equipped by God with knowledge and understanding, with righteousness and holiness, with dominion and glory (blessedness). The sin that corrupted human beings infected all their capacities and consisted not only in ignorance, folly, error, lies, blindness, darkness but also in unrighteousness, guilt, moral degradation, and further in misery, death, and ruin. Therefore, Christ, both as the Son and as the image of God, for Himself and also as our Mediator and Savior, had to bear all three offices.
He had to be a prophet to know and disclose the truth of God. He had to be a priest, to devote Himself to God and, in our place, to offer Himself up to God. He had to be a king, to govern and protect us according to God’s will. To teach, to reconcile, and to lead; to instruct, to acquire, and to apply salvation; wisdom, righteousness, and redemption; truth, love, and power – all three are essential to the completeness of our salvation.
In Christ’s God-to-Humanity relation, He is a prophet; In His Humanity-to-God relation He is a priest; in His headship over all humanity He is a king…Scripture, consistently and simultaneously…describes Him as our Chief Prophet, our Only High Priest, and our Eternal King.
Though a King, He rules not by the sword, but by His Word and Spirit.
He is a Prophet, but His Word is power and [really] happens.
He is a Priest, but lives by dying, conquers by suffering, and is all-powerful by His love.
(Taken from Reformed Dogmatics, Volume Three: Sin and Salvation in Christ, p. 367-368)
In Jesus, we have a full and complete Savior for our head, our hearts, and our hands. We have One Who instructs us in the truth, Who serves us in our deepest needs, and Who rules us in righteousness. Kim Riddlebarger says it well, “This then, is our hope and our comfort-Jesus Christ is the final prophet, the great high priest, and the conquering king. There is a miraculous cure for the disease of ignorance, guilt, and pollution after all. It is…the triple cure.” In light of this, may we sing…
Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
O Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.