"'I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak - that prophet shall die.' " Deuteronomy 18: 18-20 NRSV
Before we look at what Jesus said about himself as a prophet, I think we should first understand more about what a prophet was and what a prophet did. This morning in my church, we heard from the Old Testament about prophets. Specifically, we heard from the book of Deuteronomy when God is speaking to Moses as he is preparing for death.
According to this scripture, there are seven things we must remember about a prophet:
1) It is God who calls prophets.
2) Prophets, like Moses, are called from among the people.
3) A prophet speaks for God - like a messenger.
4) A prophet speaks everything that God tells them.
5) Anyone who hears the prophet but does not do as the prophet says will be held accountable to God.
6) A prophet who speaks for other gods will die.
7) A prophet who presumes to speak for God a message not given by God will die.
These points are especially important for understanding the gospel of Matthew where references to the Old Testament are many and carry special meaning. If we take them seriously, we can better understand how Jesus was seen as a prophet. Jesus was called. He was a Hebrew from the lineage of David. He spoke for God everything that God told him - many times people were astounded at the authority of what he said. Others were accountable for listening or not listening to Jesus' words (think of the rich young ruler for example).
The sticky part is the rules about death. I guess I was thinking God would strike the prophet dead rather than the prophet would be killed. In fact that makes the most sense because often prophets were killed. Something to have in our minds as we turn to what Jesus has to say about being a prophet.
God, do you still call prophets today? What would or are you saying to us through the prophets in our midst? Give us hears to hear, Lord. In Jesus' name. Amen.