Many people know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. But was He a prophet? If so, what key messages did He bring to us from God the Father?
In Moses’ parting words of instruction to the Israelites before his death and their entering the Promised Land, the highly venerated prophet delivered an intriguing prophecy. He told them: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear” (Deuteronomy 18:15, emphasis added throughout).
In the next verse Moses recalls the Israelites’ request that God not speak to them directly anymore after they had heard Him powerfully speak the 10 Commandments from Mount Sinai (verse 16; Deuteronomy 5:22-27). Moses then repeated exactly what God had told him.
God had said to Moses, “What they [the Israelites] have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him” (Deuteronomy 18:17-18). Incidentally, this passage also defines a prophet as someone who speaks on God’s behalf.
In the first century there was clearly an expectation that the Prophet spoken of by Moses would soon arrive. In addition to the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:15-18, the Jews may have seen an indication of the coming Messiah in Genesis 49:10: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” They may have also had in mind other portions of Scripture from the prophets and book of Daniel (see Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Daniel 9:24-27).
It is interesting to note the conversations of the men who would become Jesus’ disciples as they first learned of Him. Having seen the Spirit of God descending on Jesus after He was baptized, John the Baptist remarked, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36). After spending some time with Christ, Andrew told his brother, Simon Peter, “‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated, the Christ)” (verse 41). And after Christ invited Philip to follow Him, “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph’” (verse 45).
During His earthly ministry, Jesus did not deny that He was the fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy. To the contrary, He clearly said, “He [Moses] wrote about Me” (John 5:46).
Although the Jewish leaders rejected Christ, a number of people who witnessed one of His miracles concluded that He was the fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy. After He miraculously fed 5,000 men plus women and children with five barley loaves and two small fish, “then those men … said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world’” (John 6:14).
After Christ’s death and the establishment of the New Testament Church, the understanding that Jesus was the fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy continued as an important concept in the ministry of Jesus’ disciples. Peter explained that Jesus Christ was the One spoken of by Moses (Acts 3:22-23).
Similarly, Stephen, in his speech prior to being stoned, also referred to Moses’ prophecy (Acts 7:37). And, in his defense before King Agrippa, Paul said, “To this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come—that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:22-23).
Significance for today
There is one more aspect of this prophecy in Deuteronomy 18 that deserves special consideration. After God stated that this Prophet would speak all that He commanded Him, we read: “And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him” (verse 19).
James, Peter and John were privileged to see a vision of Christ in His glorified state. ... Apparently echoing the instruction in Deuteronomy for people to hear the future Prophet’s words, “a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’”Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus spoke God the Father’s words. As He told Philip, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:9-10).
Before Jesus’ crucifixion, James, Peter and John were privileged to see a vision of Christ in His glorified state. On this occasion, “He [Jesus] was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:2). Apparently echoing the instruction in Deuteronomy for people to hear the future Prophet’s words, “a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’” (verse 5).
Likewise, Peter, in a powerful message, urged his listeners to “hear that Prophet,” that is, Jesus Christ (Acts 3:23). The book of Hebrews also reminds us that the Father has “spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:2).
So what do we need to hear from Jesus, the Prophet, the Son of God?
While space does not permit us to cover every word of instruction given by Jesus from the Father, here are a few of His key messages:
- “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19). To learn more about God’s commandments, see the section “What Are the 10 Commandments?”
- “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). To learn more about the future God has in store for those who obey Him, see “The Kingdom of God.”
- “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14-15). For a better understanding of what God expects us to do, see “Repentance.”
Jesus Christ was and is the Prophet who was predicted in Deuteronomy 18:15-18 and in passages found in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel.
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For further study, see the articles in the section “Who Is Jesus?”