Jesus as Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher
Jesus as an Apostle
Christ was the great apostle. We might not usually think of Jesus as an apostle. But He was the greatest “sent one” in the history of mankind (missionary and apostle are very synonymous in meaning).
There are various Scriptures that reveal this to us take “Hebrews: 3: 1” for instance where it states – “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession”.
Most think of Paul in regards to an apostolic ministry. But Jesus was truly an apostle and, again, He was the greatest apostle that ever walked the earth.
I work in London quite a lot and there are many Church’s that have sprung up and the leaders in these Church’s all have a variety of titles with which they have labelled themselves.
Some are “Bishop, others Apostle and yet others Prophet” but to be able to validly carry the title there must be an indication in the ministry of the individual. It’s not enough to just walk around with a business card with the title, ‘apostle’, written on it. Evidence must accompany it. In the case of Jesus, we ask ourselves the question “What made Jesus an Apostle?”
The word apostle (Greek apostolos) simply means “sent one”. So many people have so many conceptions of what an apostle is, in its essence, the word simply means as I have stated “sent one” and the verb for sent, in the Greek, is apostello.
It is interesting to note also that the Greek word, apostolos, and the Latin word, missum (where we get our word missionary), mean exactly the same thing. They both mean “sent one”.
In a most simple understanding, apostle = missionary and missionary = apostle.
Whilst I have said that it would be remiss of me not to state that the simple understanding I have just indicated does not mean that every missionary who goes out into the World functions in an apostolic ministry.
In the case of Jesus, we see clearly that He was sent by the Father with a specific mission to accomplish. I do not intend to elaborate upon them but here are a few passages of Scripture that could be considered.
When Jesus was in Nazareth, He announced that He had been sent with the following mission: –
“Luke 4:18-19” – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent (apostello) me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
“Mark 9:37” – “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent (apostello) me.”
“Luke 4:43” – “But he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent (apostello) for this purpose.”
“John 3:34” – “For he whom God has sent (apostello) utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.”
He was faithful to the Father’s mission and knowing what the word apostle means (sent one), we can definitely concur that Jesus was an apostle.
So! We need to recognise that an Apostle, any Apostle, is only able to function as an Apostle because Jesus was the first and greatest Apostle. This will have important ramifications later on as we consider the Ministry Gift of an Apostle later on.
Jesus as a Prophet
Jesus Christ as the greatest prophet who ever walked the earth. If we think about it, that’s not too difficult of a proposition for us to accept.
Again, let’s take a look at some portions of Scripture that show this to us: –
“Matthew 14:5” – “And though he (Herod the tetrarch) wanted to put him (Jesus) to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet.”
“Matthew 21:10-11” – “And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
“Luke 24:17-20” – “And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.”
Another very relevant indication of a true Prophet is the recognition that they speak the very words of God and clearly Jesus did this J. B Phillips puts “John 3: 34” in this way “For the one whom God sent speaks the authentic words of God”. In like manner, we also recognise that the Scriptures speak of Jesus the very Word of God made flesh in “John 1: 1” it says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” referring of course to Jesus. Thus, I hope we can agree together that Jesus was the Great Prophet that was hoped for.
Jesus as an Evangelist
So, we have seen briefly that Jesus was The Greatest Apostle and the Greatest Prophet, but in like manner He was also the Greatest Evangelist.
In like manner as the word Apostle means “sent one” also the word Evangelist simply means “a bearer of good news”. The word evangelist is derived from the Greek word euaggelistes. The word gospel is derived from the Greek word euaggelion that simply means “good news”.
We see in the entire life and ministry of Jesus that He was definitely the good news bringer to humanity. Again, as we did before let’s just look at two Scriptures: –
“Mark 1:14-15” – “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
“Luke 4:18-19” – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
Jesus as a Pastor
Jesus was the Greatest Pastor, but the term can at times throw us off in our understanding. It is a sufficiently descriptive word, but a better word is – Shepherd. In fact, the Greek word that is utilised is poimen and that is literally what it means.
It is interesting to realise that in the King James Version of the Bible the Greek word only gets translated as Pastor once, and that is in the passage being discussed from “Ephesians 4” in all other areas it is translated as shepherd.
With the previous statement in mind therefore, and noting that poimen literally means shepherd, it is very clear how we can see Jesus as the Great Shepherd, or Pastor, of God’s people.
Scriptures again that reveal this to us are: –
“John 10:11” – “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep”.
“1 Peter 2:25” – “For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls”.
A Shepherd / Pastor are called to care for, feed and lead the sheep. Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, did exactly that and wonderfully still does today.
God, Himself, is shepherding His people through Christ. “Ezekiel 34:11-16” says – “God, the Master, says: From now on, I myself am the shepherd. I’m going looking for them. As shepherds go after their flocks when they get scattered, I’m going after my sheep. I’ll rescue them from all the places they’ve been scattered to in the storms. I’ll bring them back from foreign peoples, gather them from foreign countries, and bring them back to their home country. I’ll feed them on the mountains of Israel, along the streams, among their own people. I’ll lead them into lush pasture so they can roam the mountain pastures of Israel, graze at leisure, feed in the rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. And I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep. I myself will make sure they get plenty of rest. I’ll go after the lost, I’ll collect the strays, I’ll doctor the injured, and I’ll build up the weak ones and oversee the strong ones so they’re not exploited”.
Jesus as a Teacher
I know that if I had the choice to sit under the teaching of some iconic figure or that of Jesus, there would be no hesitancy because amongst other things Jesus is the Great Teacher. The Hebrew/Aramaic word many times used to describe Christ was Rabbi, which literally means Teacher.
Due to the fact that He was The Word Made Flesh and Taught the Very Words of God as we saw earlier in “John 3:34” you would I’m sure naturally expect Jesus to teach the truth of God with accuracy, authority and power. This is especially the case because alongside Jesus being “The Way and The Life” He is described as the truth “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life – “John 14: 6”.
To emphasis this even further there were lots of occasions when Jesus had finished teaching, that the crowds would respond with awe at the authority and wisdom by which He taught and again this is seen in “Matthew 13: 54” (J B Phillips) – “Here he taught the people in their own synagogue, till in their amazement they said, “Where does this man get his wisdom and these powers?” and likewise in “Mark 1: 22” (J. B Phillips) – “They were amazed at his way of teaching, for he taught with the ring of authority—quite unlike the scribes. Therefore, Jesus was definitely a Teacher par excellence, being Himself the Word and the Truth”.