Oklahoma Baptist University senior Michael Novotny challenged students to get to know Jesus as Messiah, teacher and prophet during OBU's weekly chapel service March 25 in Raley Chapel. The faculty of the Joe L. Ingram School of Christian Service selected Novotny, a philosophy major from Meeker, Okla., to deliver a message at the designated student preacher chapel service held annually during the spring semester.
Novotny opened by asking students a question: "How many of you have known someone who has not gotten 'it'?" he said, referring to the fullness of a truth. "I've known that person, and I have been that person. I've played that part and have known that part."
Novotny admitted that he has missed seeing Jesus in his entirety - that he did not always "get" the fullness of Christ.
"My whole Christian life growing up, I viewed Jesus in a naïve, one-dimensional sense," Novotny said. "Jesus was only Messiah to me. Yes, he was the Healer, he was the Great Counselor, he was all these other sort of things. But they were all wrapped up in the Messianic notion of himself."
"Thank you to Dr. Kelly's 'Life of Christ' class, I started to see that not only was Jesus the Messiah, he was also a rabbi," he said. "He was not just Messiah, he was also a teacher. That is another dimension of him that we just can't miss."
Novotny contended that many people, including himself, miss another key role of Jesus: Jesus as prophet. He said viewing Jesus as prophet would change people's view, as well as his own, of Jesus the Christ, his earthly ministry and a personal calling to him.
In the early chapters of Luke, Novotny said the Gospel writer beautifully set up Jesus as both Messiah and teacher. Luke 4 conveys when Jesus was in the synagogue reading from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Novotny explained that Jesus understood himself as a prophet and knew that the text was referring to him, indicating he needed "to preach good news to the poor."
"We must understand him completely in those three areas to get Jesus," Novotny said, referring to Jesus' roles as Messiah, teacher and prophet. "If we accept him in this tri-part role, we are called to live out this prophet ethic. Just like the prophets of old would preach and prophesy about things, they would expect people to follow and to repent from what they were doing. If we accept Jesus, we are called to do the same."
Novotny shared a story from his work at Good Shepherd Chapel, a local community ministry, and the moment he first completely understood the role of Jesus as prophet. He helped move a refrigerator for a woman who lived in a small, run-down house with little space and little food. He said it hurt to see the people who were oppressed, and at that moment he experienced Jesus as prophet and finally "got it."
"I charge you with this: go in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, love him and do his good works," he said. "Spread the good news of Jesus our Messiah. Instruct in the teachings of Jesus our Rabbi. And live out the ethics evangelized by our great prophet Jesus Christ."