The Need for Jesus (Part 3): Both King and Lamb - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Biblical Wisdom
October 24, 2016

The Need for Jesus (Part 3): Both King and Lamb

After learning in part 1 that Jesus is much more than another David and we learned in part 2 that Jesus was not only a faithful leader or mediator among the peoples, but something even greater. Besides fulfilling Israel’s worship and its Mediatorial offices, Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic Covenant by bringing Israel’s calling among the nations to perfect completion. Israel was supposed to be a light to the nations, revealing the One True God to all people. Eight days after Jesus was born, Simeon took baby Jesus in his arms and, quoting Isaiah, called Jesus “A light of revelation to the Gentiles.” (Isaiah 42:6, Luke 2:32) In His last instructions before His ascension Jesus told His disciples that all authority in heaven and on earth was His. They were therefore to go teach all nations. (Matthew 28:18-20)

In predicting a Messiah the prophets and Psalmists promised a King Who would fulfill God’s Covenant with David. In foretelling a Suffering Servant Messiah who would die for the sins of His people, they also promised a Messiah Who would fulfill the worship and life of Israel under Moses’ Covenant. Through Jeremiah God made explicit the promise of a New Covenant to replace Moses’ Covenant. “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.” (Jeremiah 31:32, Hebrews 8-9)

At the Last Passover, the memorial of the Old Covenant, Jesus took bread and the cup, establishing the memorial of the New Covenant, the Lord’s Supper. He said, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” (Luke 22:20) (“New covenant” translates the Greek “kaine diatheke,” a rendering preferred in modern English translations, except that the familiar “New Testament” is still used to name the Scriptures written in connection with the New Covenant.)

Here is an irony of history. Jesus is both David’s heir and the fulfillment of sacrificial worship. In Jesus’ day His disciples were eager to call Him King. They had to be forced to see in Him the sacrifice for their sins. Today, it is sometimes the opposite. Christians are happy to have Christ be their priest and sacrifice. But they sometimes resist obeying Him as King. However, He is both King and Lamb. (Revelation 5:6) If a person will not have Christ as King, he will not have Him as sacrifice either. He is both.

But how does a sinner come near to God through Christ? Does he have to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses and also believe in Christ? Or does he only have to repent and believe in Christ? The early church debated and searched the Scriptures for the answer to that question. After God had sent Peter to Cornelius, the Holy Spirit guided the Apostles and elders to understand that Jesus’ fulfillment of Moses’ Covenant meant that sacrifice, the Temple worship, the sacraments of Passover and Circumcision, and the laws which separated Israel from the Gentiles, such as the dietary laws, were no longer necessary.

Does a person have to do the works of the Law in order to be saved? No, they concluded. The proof that God’s plan for salvation was always that it would be by faith in Christ alone is found in His Covenant with Abraham. Abraham, the Scriptures testify, believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6) Therefore, the just shall live by faith. (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17)

Notice that in seeing how Jesus fulfilled the prophesies about the Messiah, we have moved backward in time from the Covenant with David, to the Mosaic Covenant (which Jeremiah labels Old and which gives its name to the Old Testament Scriptures), and now to the Covenant with Abraham. At the same time we are moving forward in time with the disciples as they grew in their understanding of Jesus. First, they understood that He is the Messiah, the Son of David. Next they knew Him as the Suffering Servant who died as a sacrifice for their sins. Then they understood that Jesus is the One Seed of Abraham Who inherits the covenant promises made to Abraham.

-Dr. Bill Edgar, Geneva College Board of Trustees Member and Former President