The Messiah! God’s Means of Salvation
“For just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive.”—1 COR. 15:22.
1, 2. (a) How did Andrew and Philip respond upon meeting Jesus? (b) Why do we say that we have more evidence of Jesus’ Messiahship than did first-century Christians?
“WE HAVE found the Messiah,” Andrew told his brother Peter, convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was God’s Anointed One. Philip was persuaded and sought out his friend Nathanael, telling him: “We have found the one of whom Moses, in the Law, and the Prophets wrote, Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”—John 1:40, 41, 45.
2 Are you thoroughly convinced that Jesus is the promised Messiah, Jehovah’s ‘Chief Agent of salvation’? (Heb. 2:10) Today, we have much more evidence of his Messiahship than his first-century followers had. From Jesus’ birth to his resurrection, the Word of God gives conclusive proof that he was the Christ. (Read John 20:30, 31.) The Bible also shows that Jesus would continue to fulfill from heaven his role as Messiah. (John 6:40; read 1 Corinthians 15:22.) In a spiritual sense, you too can say that you have “found the Messiah” today. But first consider how those early disciples rightly concluded that they had found the Messiah.
“Sacred Secret” of the Messiah Revealed Progressively
3, 4. (a) How could first-century disciples ‘find the Messiah’? (b) Why would you say that only Jesus could fulfill all the Messianic prophecies?
3 How could Jesus’ first-century followers say for sure that he was the Messiah? Through the prophets, Jehovah had progressively revealed the identifying marks of the coming Messiah. One Bible scholar likened this process to the assembling of a statue made of individual pieces of marble. Imagine that many men who had never communicated with one another each brought a piece of marble into a room. If those pieces fit together to form a perfect statue, you would logically conclude that there must have been someone behind the scenes who had drawn the specifications and sent to each man his part. Like each piece of the statue, every Messianic prophecy would provide a vital piece of information about the Messiah.
4 What, then, would be the likelihood that all the prophecies about the Messiah might be fulfilled by coincidence in one person? One researcher said that the odds that a person could fulfill all the Messianic prophecies by chance would be “so astronomical” that it must be ruled out. “Jesus—and only Jesus throughout all of history—managed to do it.”
5, 6. (a) How would the judgment against Satan be executed? (b) How did God progressively reveal the line to the promised “seed”?
5 The focus of the Messianic prophecies is a “sacred secret” with many facets of universal importance. (Col. 1:26, 27; Gen. 3:15) Included in that secret was the judgment against Satan the Devil, “the original serpent,” who plunged humankind into sin and death. (Rev. 12:9) How would that judgment be executed? Jehovah foretold that a “seed” to be produced by a “woman” would bruise Satan in the head. The foretold “seed” would crush the serpent’s head, eliminating the cause of rebellion, sickness, and death. However, by God’s permission, Satan would first inflict a symbolic heel wound on the woman’s “seed.”
6 Jehovah progressively revealed who the promised “seed” would be. God swore to Abraham: “By means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves.” (Gen. 22:18) Moses foretold that this One would be “a prophet” greater than Moses. (Deut. 18:18, 19) David was assured, and prophets later confirmed, that the Messiah would be a descendant of his and would inherit the Davidic throne forever.—2 Sam. 7:12, 16; Jer. 23:5, 6.
Jesus’ Credentials as the Messiah
7. In what way did Jesus come forth from God’s “woman”?
7 God sent forth his Son, his first creation, from His wifelike organization of spirit creatures in heaven to be the promised “seed.” This required that God’s only-begotten Son ‘empty himself’ of heavenly life and be born as a perfect human. (Phil. 2:5-7; John 1:14) Mary’s being ‘overshadowed’ by holy spirit guaranteed that what was to be born would “be called holy, God’s Son.”—Luke 1:35.
8. How was Jesus fulfilling Messianic prophecy when he presented himself for water baptism?
8 The Messianic prophecies indicated where and when Jesus would appear. Jesus was born in Bethlehem as foretold. (Mic. 5:2) In the first century, the Jews’ expectations ran high. Anticipating Messiah’s appearance, some asked about John the Baptizer: “May he perhaps be the Christ?” But John answered: “One stronger than I am is coming.” (Luke 3:15, 16) By coming to John in the fall of 29 C.E. to be baptized at 30 years of age, Jesus presented himself as the Messiah right on time. (Dan. 9:25) He then began his eventful ministry, saying: “The appointed time has been fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has drawn near.”—Mark 1:14, 15.
9. Though not having full details, Jesus’ disciples had what firm conviction?
9 People’s expectations, however, needed to be adjusted. Jesus was properly hailed as King, but that his rule would be future and from heaven would only later be fully understood. (John 12:12-16; 16:12, 13; Acts 2:32-36) Nevertheless, when Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” Peter unhesitatingly answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:13-16) Peter answered similarly when many turned away, stumbled over a teaching.—Read John 6:68, 69.
Listening to the Messiah
10. Why did Jehovah emphasize the need to listen to his Son?
10 In heaven, God’s only-begotten Son was a mighty spirit person. On earth, Jesus was “the Father’s representative.” (John 16:27, 28) He said: “What I teach is not mine, but belongs to him that sent me.” (John 7:16) Confirming Jesus’ Messiahship during the transfiguration, Jehovah directed: “Listen to him.” (Luke 9:35) Yes, listen to, or obey, this Chosen One. That required faith and good works—both absolutely essential to please God and gain everlasting life.—John 3:16, 35, 36.
11, 12. (a) The first-century Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah for what reasons? (b) Who put faith in Jesus?
11 Although Jesus had overwhelming credentials proving that he was the Messiah, the vast majority of the first-century Jews did not acclaim him. Why? Because they had their own preconceived ideas about the Messiah, including that he would be a political messiah who would liberate them from Roman oppression. (Read John 12:34.) Thus, they could not accept the Messiah who fulfilled the prophecies that said he would be despised, avoided by men, meant for pains and for having acquaintance with sickness, and finally killed. (Isa. 53:3, 5) Even some of Jesus’ loyal disciples were disappointed at his not providing political deliverance. But they remained loyal, and in time, accurate understanding was given them.—Luke 24:21.
12 Another reason why people rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah was his teachings, which many found hard to accept. Entry into the Kingdom would require ‘disowning oneself,’ ‘eating’ Jesus’ flesh and blood, being “born again,” and being “no part of the world.” (Mark 8:34; John 3:3; 6:53; 17:14, 16) The proud, the rich, and the hypocritical viewed these requirements as too difficult to fulfill. However, humble Jews accepted Jesus as the Messiah, as did some Samaritans who said: “This man is for a certainty the savior of the world.”—John 4:25, 26, 41, 42; 7:31.
13. How did Jesus experience the symbolic heel wound?
13 Jesus foretold that he would be condemned by the chief priests and be impaled by Gentiles, but on the third day, he would rise. (Matt. 20:17-19) His affirmation before the Sanhedrin that he was “the Christ the Son of God” was judged to be blasphemy. (Matt. 26:63-66) Pilate found in him “nothing deserving of death,” but because the Jews charged him also with sedition, Pilate “surrendered Jesus to their will.” (Luke 23:13-15, 25) They thus “disowned” and contrived to kill “the Chief Agent of life,” despite the overwhelming proof that he was sent by God. (Acts 3:13-15) The Messiah was “cut off” as foretold, being impaled on a stake on Passover Day of 33 C.E. (Dan. 9:26, 27; Acts 2:22, 23) By this cruel death, he suffered the “heel” wound foretold at Genesis 3:15.
Why the Messiah Had to Die
14, 15. (a) For what two reasons did Jehovah allow Jesus to die? (b) What did Jesus do after being resurrected?
14 Jehovah allowed Jesus to experience death for two vital reasons. First, Jesus’ faithfulness unto death resolved an important aspect of the “sacred secret.” He proved to the ultimate degree that a perfect man can maintain “godly devotion” and uphold God’s sovereignty despite the severest of tests imposed by Satan. (1 Tim. 3:16) Second, as Jesus said, “the Son of man came . . . to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matt. 20:28) This “corresponding ransom” paid the penalty for sin inherited by Adam’s offspring and made it possible to give everlasting life to all who accept Jesus as God’s means of salvation.—1 Tim. 2:5, 6.
15 After three days in the grave, Christ was resurrected, and for 40 days he appeared to his disciples, proving that he was alive and giving them further instructions. (Acts 1:3-5) Then he ascended to heaven to present to Jehovah the value of his precious sacrifice and await the appointed time when his presence as Messianic King would begin. In the meantime, he had much to do.
Completing His Role as the Messiah
16, 17. Outline Jesus’ role as the Messiah after his ascension to heaven.
16 Throughout the centuries since his resurrection, Jesus has faithfully supervised the activities of the Christian congregation over which he has been ruling as King. (Col. 1:13) At the appointed time, he would start wielding his power as King of God’s Kingdom. Bible prophecies and world events confirm that his presence as King began in 1914, as did “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matt. 24:3; Rev. 11:15) Shortly thereafter, he led the holy angels in casting Satan and his demons from heaven.—Rev. 12:7-10.
17 The preaching and teaching work that Jesus began in 29 C.E. is nearing its grand climax. Soon he will judge all the living. He will then tell sheeplike ones who accept him as Jehovah’s means of salvation to “inherit the kingdom prepared for [them] from the founding of the world.” (Matt. 25:31-34, 41) Those who reject Jesus as King will suffer destruction when he leads the heavenly armies against all wickedness. Then Jesus will bind Satan and cast him and his demons into “the abyss.”—Rev. 19:11-14; 20:1-3.
18, 19. What does Jesus accomplish in fulfilling his role as the Messiah, bringing what results for obedient mankind?
18 During his Thousand Year Reign, Jesus will fully live up to all his titles, such as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6, 7) His Kingdom rule will lift humans to perfection, including those resurrected from the dead. (John 5:26-29) The Messiah will guide willing humans to “fountains of waters of life,” enabling obedient mankind to enjoy a peaceful relationship with Jehovah. (Read Revelation 7:16, 17.) After the final test, all rebels, including Satan and his demons, will be “hurled into the lake of fire,” the crushing death blow to the head of the “serpent.”—Rev. 20:10.
19 How wonderfully and flawlessly Jesus fulfills his role as the Messiah! A paradise earth will be filled with redeemed humans, who will live forever in perfect health and happiness. Jehovah’s sacred name will have been cleared of all reproach, and the rightfulness of his universal sovereignty fully vindicated. What a grand heritage lies just ahead for all who obey God’s Anointed One!
Have You Found the Messiah?
20, 21. What reasons do you have to tell others about the Messiah?
20 Since 1914 we have been living in the period of Christ’s pa·rou·siʹa, or presence. Although his presence as King of God’s Kingdom is invisible, it is obvious from the fulfillment of prophecies. (Rev. 6:2-8) Nevertheless, just like the first-century Jews, most people today ignore the evidence of the Messiah’s presence. They too want a political messiah or at least one who will work through human political rulers. You, though, came to know that Jesus is now reigning as King of God’s Kingdom. Were you not thrilled to find that out? Just like the first-century disciples, you were moved to proclaim: “We have found the Messiah.”
21 Today, when you talk about the truth, do you highlight Jesus’ role as the Messiah? Doing so will enhance your appreciation for what he has done for you, what he is doing now, and what he will yet accomplish. Like Andrew and Philip, you no doubt have talked to your relatives and friends about the Messiah. Why not approach them with renewed zeal and show them that Jesus Christ is indeed the promised Messiah, God’s means of salvation?
Can You Explain?
• How could the first-century disciples find the Messiah?
• For what two important reasons did Jesus die?
• What will Jesus yet do in fulfilling his role as the Messiah?
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How could people in the first century tell that Jesus was the promised Messiah?
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When you talk to others, do you highlight Jesus’ role as the Messiah?