In seeking to understand the work of Christ on earth, one of the most helpful concepts is that of “munus triplex,” or the ’threefold office of Christ,’ first described by Eusebius and more fully developed later by John Calvin. “Munus triplex” summarizes how, during His life and ministry on earth, Jesus performed all three of those functions reserved in the Old Testament for separate parties – namely those of prophet, priest, and king. We see Jesus functioning in these three occupations from the very onset of His ministry in Matthew chapter 4, all the way until the end, described here in Matthew chapters 20 and 21.
Just as we saw this illustrated in Jesus’ ministry back in Matthew chapter 4, now, near the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, we once again find Him ministering among the people as prophet, priest, and king. First, in verses 29-34 of chapter 20, Jesus acts as the merciful priest as he heals two blind men. This will be the last public healing that Matthew reports in His gospel. In the beginning of chapter 21, Matthew reports the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem on a donkey, highlighting His kingly ministry on earth which ordered the adoration of His people. Thirdly, in verses 12-22 of the same chapter, Jesus exercises his authority as a mighty prophet, cleansing the temple by overturning the tables of the corrupt money changers and cursing an unfruitful fig tree.
As Jesus did not refuse to heal anyone who asked Him, no less does he turn away even the vilest of sinners; so today, as sinners bruised and broken by the fall, we have Jesus’ blood to heal us and make us whole. Even now, He is our faithful high priest, whose blood pleads before the throne, making intercession for us. As Jesus entered Jerusalem as a humble king, receiving the praises of His people, so today we as His people gather to worship Him as our great king. And just as Jesus acted as a prophet 2000 years ago in the temple courts, even today, His words continue to purify and speak authoritatively into our lives.
Jesus Christ is the only person who ever walked the earth and functioned in all three capacities of prophet, priest, and king; He could do so, because He was God incarnate. And He continues to minister to the church in these very same capacities to this very day as our mighty prophet, high priest, and great king.