[Matthew 2:1-12] … behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
Prophet, Priest, and King
If you were to ask people what their basic needs are, you might get a smattering of various answer. Some may be thinking in physical terms – food, water, shelter, physical safety.
Others may think in terms of emotional needs – a sense of security, joy, happiness. While others may list things like meaning, a purpose in life, identity. Or, the need to be something good – how can I be a good person?
As varied as the list might be, the ways of attempting to obtain these needs varies even more. Though you may be able to boil it down to the search for a prophet, a priest, and a king.
A prophet. A messenger. From advice and opinion columns, to the self-help section of the bookstores, to the ever-growing emphasis on education – to the many wild theories and conspiracy theories – to a person’s attachment to this or that talk radio or tv host.
The world fills its ears with prophets. Messengers to be a compass and give us an identity, something to believe – but let it be something that suits me! To satisfy itching ears [2 Timothy 4:3].
A priest. A spiritual connection. We sometimes think in terms of secular vs. religious. In truth, the world has always been overflowing with religions and spiritualities – organized and not. Mankind has always been very religious and still is – from spiritual practices or rules to charismatic personalities. Though none fits the bill of what we really need.
And a king. A ruler. A president. A party. That one man who will finally set the wrongs right. One who will give security and prosperity. One who will bring might to my side. Or one who will promise me bread and shelter. Or one who promises peace and civility. They disappoint and their goodness doesn’t last.
The world’s many options leave you grasping at an abundance of straws and standing on ever-shifting sand. On Epiphany, the Rock of our salvation, our bedrock on which to stand, was revealed to the nations.
Magi, the wise men – whether there were three or more – men of great learning from the “east”, came to worship this one newborn King. They brought to this child, Jesus, gifts fit for a prophet, a priest, and a king, and they worshiped Him.
Myrrh was used in anointing oils. The prophets of old anointed the kings of Israel and Judah. In this child is the one who is both prophet and the anointed king. Likewise, Jesus is both God’s messenger and the content of the message.
Jesus is the final prophet who proclaimed and fulfilled God’s promises. In Jesus’ words, actions, life, death, and resurrection, we see God revealed and proclaimed – shown forth – to the whole world.
Jesus is King. He inherits the nations. He saves all peoples. He is the one to whom all must look for both physical and spiritual security. He Himself is our fortress and provider who does not fail. He is the trustworthy one – the one in whom we really can trust – who will right all wrongs, with knowledge and justice.
And Jesus is priest. He is our One, last, final High Priest who fulfills our need forever. Jesus has reconciled God and man by offering Himself as the perfect and only God-pleasing sacrifice, once for all.
When Jesus gave Himself as sacrifice for all, He fulfilled our greatest need – He purified us from our sins and closed the gap between us and God. God and sinners reconciled by the one, final offering of Jesus on the cross.
And, as almighty God in human flesh, He conquered death, hell, and the grave. He secured eternal life for soul and body, rendered our graves temporary, and gave our bodies and souls life with God.
The nations seek after their needs. On Epiphany, the answer to all need and desire sat on His mother’s lap, received gifts, and was worshiped by those who sought Him. Other’s chose the unsure promises of what this world can offer.
“I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come” [Haggai 2:7 KJV]. “O Come, Desire of nations…” [O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, stanza 7, Lutheran Service Book].
The one thing needed [Luke 10:41-42] has come and remains yours today. Jesus remains your High Priest, forever interceding for us at God’s right hand [Romans 8:34].
Jesus remains your prophet – proclaiming His Word in Scripture, in sermon, in Bible Study – to be the message which guides you in truth. The way, the truth, and the life [John 14:6].
Jesus remains your King. “All authority on heaven and earth has been given to Me” – therefore, we go and “make disciples of all nations” [Matthew 28:18-20], revealing to others the One in whom all need and desire is met.
“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” [Psalm 118:8-9]. Don’t spin your wheels forever looking to what this world has to offer. Bow down, worship, and receive from Jesus Christ, who is the One thing needed. Amen.