Is Jesus Your Tyrant, Sissy, or Sweetheart?

Jesus biblically holds three offices for his people. Prophet, priest, and king.

Of course, these offices or roles have their understandings rooted in the Old Testament. Jesus is our prophet in that he is a truth teller. Christ said this – “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” He was going to be controversial, he was going to be divisive sometimes. Because just like the prophets of the Old Testament he was going to bring a bold and unpopular message that would tick some people off.

Jesus is our priest in that he is the mediator between us and God. In the Old Testament priests would make sacrifices to God on behalf of the people, standing between a holy God and a sinful people as a mediator. Christ, of course, was the perfect fulfillment of a mediator who indeed made a sacrifice, but instead of sacrificing a perfect lamb he was the perfect lamb. In this way, Jesus is our hero, our friend, our helper. He modeled the self-sacrificial love that he calls us to.

And Jesus is our king. A king rules over his people, bringing peace and harmony to his kingdom. He needs no permission to rule over all his kingdom – it’s all his. There are not parts of his subjects’ lives that he doesn’t have authority over. Jesus is our king in that he rules, over the earth but also over our individual lives. Thus, there is no part of my life that is “mine,” there is no part that I can keep him out of.

Mark Driscoll, in his Vintage Jesus video series, brings a lot of insight to what it looks like when people see Jesus as two of three offices, but not all three. I’ll share some of his thoughts here intermingled with some of my own.

Prophet + King – Priest: These are people that see Jesus as a bold truth teller, speaking authoritatively. He gets in your face when need be, proclaiming what the Lord says. He is also a king, he rules over everything, there is no part of your life that isn’t affected by your faith in Christ. But he’s not a priest, he’s not your friend, your helper, your mediator. His sacrificial love is relegated to the back burner and forgotten.

Driscoll calls this the Jesus of fundamentalism. I call it Jesus as tyrant. If this is how you tend to see Jesus you don’t really love him, you’re scared of him. You believe rightly that Jesus proclaims a bold and demanding message, and that his message applies to every single dark corner of your heart and life. But you tend to forget that he’s also the mediator that sacrificed himself so that you could be right with God. He’s the grace giver that makes it possible for your heart to be changed. He’s the comforter that is a helper and a friend.

Prophet + Priest – King: Others see Jesus as their bold, truth-telling prophet and as their humble, mediating, self-sacrificing priest, but not as their king. They know Jesus has an unpopular message which calls sin out. They have a Jesus who mediates for them. But they don’t worship a Jesus who is Lord and ruler over everything. This Jesus tells them not to cuss, not to have sex outside of marriage, and to attend church regularly…but their finances and business practices? That’s outside of his authority. That’s my personal life, that’s a little stronghold that he hasn’t got into yet, and quite frankly, he’s not invited there.

Driscoll calls this the Jesus of evangelicalism. I think it is Jesus as sissy. Jesus says some good stuff, even some hard stuff occasionally, and he his my helper and friend and comforter. But he’s not so bold as to butt his head into my business. He’s a little like the classic mom who is a great friend but a poor parent. He’s the person I can talk to when I need something or when I want to cry or get advice. He’s my friend and my confidant. But he’s not coming in my room when I don’t want him to because this is my territory, and he’s not going to ask me where I was and why I came home at 2 in the morning because that’s not his business.

Priest + King – Prophet: And finally, still others see Jesus as priest and king, their friend and their ruler, but not as their bold truth-teller. He rules over everything and is really powerful, he is my mediator who forgives and is my friend. But he doesn’t say mean words like “sin” and “repent.”

Driscoll calls this final category the Jesus of liberalism. I call it Jesus as sweetheart. In this view Jesus is a king and a priest but he wields no authority, he says nothing of substance. This is the “all roads lead to heaven” Jesus. He’s just a sweetheart of a guy who gets the most huggable award. This isn’t the Jesus that took a whip into the temple in fierce anger. This isn’t the Jesus who called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers.” So this isn’t the Jesus who will tell me I’m wrong and demand I change.

We’ll all tend to lean towards one of these, so I’ll leave you pondering – which do you tend to struggle with…do you see Jesus as a tyrant, a sissy, or a sweetheart?

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