The OTHER trinity

Sculpture of Jesus as king

The word “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible and I am, frankly, unqualified to address the issue of what it represents theologically.

What I want to talk about in this blog is the OTHER trinity, (using the lower-case “t” here intentionally) which consists of the three different roles Jesus Christ fulfils in His Father’s kingdom. These three roles are as a prophet, a priest and a king.

As a prophet, he represented God to humanity, bringing a message of hope, love, compassion and mercy. As a priest, He represented humanity to God, offering His very own self as a sacrifice for all of us. But He was also a King. He was a King during His first visit to this Earth 2,000 years ago when he gave the foundational instructions for the setting up of His Earthly Kingdom and He’s going to be a King again when He returns, ruling and reigning from Jerusalem with what Revelation 19:15 describes as “a rod of iron” which sounds to me like a strict, though benign, form of dictatorship. It’s also worth mentioning that the Bible usually includes the role of “judge” in a King’s job description, giving Kings the authority to make laws AND pass judgement on those who violate them.

A major error committed by nearly every denomination, sect, sub-group and category of those who say they follow Him is to focus on one of those three roles and neglect, or even entirely dismiss, the others.

For example, the liberal Mainline Protestant churches have become almost solely focused on the “prophet” part of Jesus’ ministry. His words of compassion, caring for the poor and oppressed, mistreated, etc. are indeed very much a part of His message and instructions. But these liberal denominations have, on the one hand, adopted a deeply hypocritical and dishonest definition of the term “oppressed” and on the other hand, they’ve utterly cast aside the other two roles of Jesus, that of a Priest and King.

Ask any liberal, Mainline Protestant theologian if accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross is the only way for a mortal human being to come into a right relationship with God and they might be polite enough to not actually roll their eyes at you. But the lecture they will then deliver to you about how THEIR JESUS is “tolerant” and “inclusive” and not “judgemental” etc. is pretty much non-negotiable.

If you then ask why they “celebrate” people who are living a life of rebellion and sin against Jesus the King or if you tell them that the Palestinians aren’t “oppressed” by the Israelis but rather they are in the bad situation they’re in as a consequence of their own bad decisions, you’ll be lucky if they don’t make a report to the police about you for “incitement” and/or “hate speech.”

So much for the Mainline Protestants.

We Evangelicals (including Messianic Jews/Hebrew Roots folks) can’t be too smug about not falling into that error though, because we make our own mistakes.

The Bible has a lot to say about caring for widows, orphans, the poor and destitute, etc. Evangelicals haven’t always paid sufficient attention to that. The late Derek Prince mentioned this fact often, and he was absolutely right. The blessings of God that we’re always chasing after might come to us more speedily if we were simply more obedient in this particular area.

On the other hand, we also tend to focus too much on the judgements and authority Jesus has as King and neglect the areas of mercy and compassion, especially within our own community. I am the first one to admit that this is my biggest failing as a follower of Christ.

Then again, some in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements also have a deeply flawed vision of what Jesus will be doing when He returns to set up His kingdom on Earth. I once had an individual who described himself as a “Messianic student” tell me that he expects the first 70 years or so of the Millennium to consist mostly of men like himself “instructing all these Gentile Believers in Talmud and Mishna” under Jesus’ supervision.

This attitude, which in my observation is not uncommon in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movement, especially in North America and the UK, stems entirely from the kind of arrogant pride that the Bible says God hates and despises (Proverbs 6: 16-17). Frankly, if men like my friend even make it to the Millennium, I think they’ll be the ones who spend the first few decades being instructed and I don’t think they’ll like it much.

In any case, Jesus’ three roles, as Priest, Prophet and King, exist in a kind of tension that no ordinary, mortal human being could ever harmonize. Only God Himself could do it, and it’s yet another proof, in case anyone still needed it, that Jesus is God. Those of us who follow Him must do our best to live within the tension of these three roles as it appears in our mortal state of being, embracing all three and not neglecting any of them.