Puritan Gems

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Law and Offices of Jesus Christ

“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.” (Matthew 2:11).
A reflection on the gifts of the magi can give one an understanding of the offices of Christ, as well as how the law relates to these offices.

Gold represents the Kingship of Christ. Christ is the Almighty King, superior to all others. “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:16). It is this particular office of Christ that is the most ignored today. If Christ is the Almighty King, then He should be obeyed. "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46). What a travesty it is that professing Christians view God’s law with distain, implicitly deny Christ’s reign over their lives. “…You are not your own, for you were bought with a price...” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The kingship of Christ flies right in the face of the spirit of our age, which focuses on the importance of self. Such self exaltation and self deception leads to antinomianism, and against such Christ duly warns us.
“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,” (1 John 2:3-4).
A call to obedience is not legalism. Obedience to God’s commandments is legalistic only when it becomes the grounds by which we consider ourselves justified. Therefore, reflect on the authority that Christ has in both heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18), and, as His subjects, give Him the honor and obedience due an Almighty King.

On this point, we turn to the frankincense, representing the high priestly office of Christ. Just as antinomianism denies the kingly Office of Christ, legalism denies His priestly office. As high priest, Christ is superior to all other priests. “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:23-25). However, the high priestly office of Christ only merits value to those who understand their miserable condition, who feel the burden of sin, and perceive its due justice. For that, the law serves as a mirror (James 1:23), showing us that condition accurately. It is then and only then that one tastes the sweetness of Christ, who administers His priestly duties through His once for all sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12) and His intercession (Hebrews 7:25).

The prophetic office of Christ is confirmed by the myrrh, a rather strange gift to give to a child. It was a burial spice, confirming the prophecy of Christ's death and burial (Isaiah 53:8-9). Christ was confirmed as the prophet promised in Deuteronomy 18:15 by Acts 3:22. It is a proper understanding of this office that undergirds the authority of the written word, as the words of the prophet were directly spoken from the very mouth of God (Deuteronomy 18:18). As Christ is the very God Himself, He is superior to all prophets. He is the end goal of all prophecy (Hebrews 1:1-2), and today administers His prophetic office by the written Word, being preached and expounded. "This is my beloved Son; listen to him." (Mark 9:7)

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