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Center for Action and Contemplation
The Prophetic Path - Summary
The Prophetic Path - Summary

Jesus as Prophet

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

CAC teacher Brian McLaren reminds us of the power of knowing and following Jesus as a prophet: 

The understanding of Jesus as a prophet in the rich prophetic tradition of the Christian religion has been minimized. I bet many of us have never even heard a sermon or a talk about Jesus as prophet. Instead, we talked about Jesus as the Son of God, the Third Person of the Trinity, the Savior, and the sacrificial atonement lamb. We became very obsessed with talking about Jesus in some ways, but we minimized his work and life as a prophet. Of course, we’re welcome to understand Jesus as more than a prophet, but we should never understand him as less than a prophet. It should be the core and the baseline of our understanding of who Jesus is….

If we let Jesus’ prophetic identity be eclipsed by other understandings, Jesus is reduced and so are we, because Jesus was interested in us and his followers becoming like him. You’ll remember that Jesus says to the disciples, “Greater things you shall do” (John 14:12), and “As the Father sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21). He is telling his followers, “You’re going to be persecuted the way the prophets were before you. You’re fulfilling and falling into their movement. My movement is a prophetic movement. When you join my movement, you’re in that line of work.” Of course, in all of this, he’s echoing the prototypical prophet Moses’ words: “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that God would put God’s spirit on them” (see Numbers 11:29)….

In all the ways we talk about Jesus, I hope we can get back the understanding of Jesus as prophet and let that revolutionize us. The prophet is not just somebody who reads a book and repeats what they have learned. The prophet is somebody who goes deep into themselves to hear the message that’s being birthed in the midst of their pain and their burdens and their frustrations and their sufferings and their questions and their perplexity and their disillusionments. In the foment and ferment of that inner journey, something begins to emerge, and they bring it out and they say, “I can’t just say these words. I have to demonstrate them. I’ve got to find two or three other people who see what I see so that we can do something about it.”…

I think there’s a movement that’s happening in the world. It’s happening across religions. It’s happening with secular and religious people. It’s bubbling up in the hearts of people in pain. When people who are motivated by revolutionary love in the prophetic path of Jesus come together, knowing the pain of our planet and knowing the agony of the poor, to work for peace and against injustice and racism and hate, they can transform a broken world toward beloved community to the glory of God.


Adapted from Brian D. McLaren, “Jesus as Prophet,” Living School Symposium (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2022). Unpublished transcript.

Image credit: Madison Frambes, Untitled 8 (detail), 2023, naturally dyed paper and ink, Mexico, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.

The prophetic path is a daily choice to walk along an ever-unfolding landscape.

Story from Our Community:  

Years ago, I lost a baby in a very late stage of pregnancy. For months, I felt out of kilter with what was going on around me. I remember saying to a friend that emotionally I felt like I had thin skin. In reflecting back on that time, I realize that the grief and hardship created a sacred space within me. It has become a reference point that still resonates with me today. I now see that time as hallowed period in my life. —Lynn M.

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