Christ the Prophet
We read in Hebrews the following: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (1:1-2). Whereas in the Old Testament, the Word of God came to certain designated messengers who were charged with preaching to the people of God, now the Word himself, by whom the Father “spoke” the universe into being, has become flesh and spoken to us face to face. Jesus Christ is not just a prophet bearing the message of another, as God he is also the originator of that message. Through him we encounter the perfect disclosure of the Father. As St. John writes, “No one has seen God at any time [but] the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him” (John 1:18).1
During his earthly life, Jesus preached to the people by his own authority. His message of selfless love and mercy went beyond the requirements of the Torah. Rather than abolishing the Law of Moses, he filled it to overflowing, pointing us beyond the letter and to its spirit. As a teacher, Jesus often came down to the level of his audience, telling parables using familiar agricultural imagery. Yet when dealing with hypocritical religious authorities, his words were sharp, reminiscent of the Old Testament prophets. These hard sayings of Jesus continue to challenge the hearer and are meant to push us out of our comfort zone. Whether gentle or firm, the words of the Savior are a necessary balm intended to impel us towards salvation.
With the advent of the Messiah, we enter into the fullness of God’s plan for man. He raised up Adam and Eve so that in, in them, we may be restored to our true purpose. And by sending the Holy Spirit upon his disciples, he enabled them to understand and live by the “law of the Spirit” (Rom 8:2) which is now written upon the heart of each one of the faithful (see Jer 31:33). This signifies a radical change in life as he or she passes-over from slavery to freedom, from death to life, from darkness to light. The proclamation of our redemption therefore is “good news” (gospel), the only message worthy of spreading to the four ends of the earth. Our encounter with the incarnate “Word of life” (1 John 1:1) through our experience in his body—the Church—is a continuation of the words and works of our Lord, which are carried forth by the lips of his people.
The word translated “declared” in John 1:18 is exēgēsato, from which the English word “exegesis” (meaning “to interpret”) derives. So, the Son of God has literally “exegeted” the Father. In other words, we only know the Father as revealed through his Son. ↩