I Prefer A Prophet To A Saviour – What’s Wrong With That?
Many people are very curious about the future and how events yet to unfold will change their lives. There is a large interest in what the prophets make of all this, but then, is it only the future we need to know about? Maybe we need to be rescued from a terrible future! What if wind and solar power, sociologists and genetic engineers, new religions and New Atheists, the Green movement and the United Nations cannot prevent the final disaster, perhaps we need a Saviour as well as a Prophet?
- CLEAR PROPHECIES
As it happens, prophets come and go with unsurprising regularity. And as soon as a verifiable prediction fails, either a wonderful new spin is put on it, or they face a humiliating disgrace. Today, with anxiety increasing about the future, I need to point you in one safe direction – the word of God.
Here’s a little check to see who the Prophet really is. Early in the Old Testament Moses, himself a faithful prophet of the Lord, shared how, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers – it is to him you shall listen’ (Deuteronomy 18:15). Out of all the prophets who were later raised up, just one fulfils Moses’ prophecy – Jesus Christ.
Consider a few incidents from Jesus’ life to help confirm this. At the start of his public ministry Jesus gave the Scripture reading in a local synagogue, and read words uniquely fulfilled in himself; ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor’ (Luke 4:18). Here was a 700 year old prophecy in Isaiah that described how the great Prophet was the Christ, the One endued with the Spirit of God resting powerfully upon him to announce liberating news.
- CLEAR SPECIFIC PREDICTIONS
Unlike the religious leaders of his day, the crowds ‘were astonished at [Jesus’] teaching’ which came with ‘authority, and not as the scribes’ (Matthew 7:28-29). After the feeding of five thousand people from one boy’s packed lunch, the people saw this sign as authenticating Jesus’ identity, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!’ (John 6:14). Later, when the religious leaders saw their popularity Request prophetic word ebbing and sent officers to arrest Jesus, they returned empty handed, exclaiming: ‘No one ever spoke like this man!’
At times Jesus went out of his way to meet people in circumstances he had foreseen (see Luke 19:5 and John 4:4 & following). He knew what would happen to himself and taught his disciples how he ‘must suffer many things and be rejected… and killed, and after three days rise again’ (Mark 8:31). He also explained that he had come ‘to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45). This was not failure, but serving – rescuing those unable to rescue themselves.
- CLEAR FULFILMENT IN JESUS
Jesus’ teaching about his death sheds light on how the big problem has always been a moral one, and not merely environmental challenges. However, today people are being conditioned to think that the universe is a programmed machine and that we lack personal choice, individual significance and moral responsibility to our Creator. But Jesus’ life and death directly challenge the philosophy of the uniformity of natural causes in a closed mechanistic system. Confirming his supreme personal authority, Jesus taught that he is the final revelation of God: ‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9).
After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Peter powerfully explained how Jesus not only fulfilled Moses’ words about the Prophet, but that ‘all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days'(Acts 3:24).
- CLEARLY BOTH PROPHET AND SAVIOUR!
The New Testament shows how the Old Testament Scriptures have one central theme, salvation and the forgiveness of sins is God’s gracious provision through the final sacrificial Lamb of God, the Suffering Servant of the Lord, who will be vindicated and whose good news will reach all the nations of the world.
What did you say about preferring a Prophet to a Saviour? What if the final Prophet who reveals God’s best word IS the Saviour! That is exactly the case – Jesus is both. Now the rich promises of salvation given on the divine authority of the final Prophet, centre on himself as the final Priest who gave himself as the end-time sacrifice for sins, thereby becoming the Saviour of sinners – ‘for there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12).