What Can Jesus Mean to You Now?
‘BUT what can that Jesus who lived and died in Palestine away back there in the first century mean to me now?’ you may ask.
Suppose he is not dead but is alive. Suppose that he now holds a more influential position than any man on earth. Suppose he is now the invisible, heavenly King of kings, who is waiting for God’s signal to destroy all oppressors of mankind and those who insist on pursuing an immoral way of life, and to begin a 1,000-year reign of peace with everlasting blessings in store for all those who genuinely want to be his subjects. Would that make him mean anything to you now?
To some, these statements may seem mere suppositions. But much is at stake if they are true.
While on earth Jesus repeatedly foretold that he would be killed but three days later would be raised again. (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34) His prediction about his death was fulfilled, but what about the parallel statement on being raised again? His sincerity and truthfulness, as well as the evidence of God’s backing in the miracles he performed, speak in favor of a fulfillment of that also. What happened?
On the third day after Jesus’ brutal killing, the tomb where he had been placed was empty. During 40 days thereafter he was seen and heard alive among his followers. All four Gospel accounts tell of the fulfillment of Jesus’ words that he would be raised on the third day. In fact, there were some 500 eyewitnesses to this. (1 Corinthians 15:4-8) If by the mouth of two or three reliable witnesses a matter is established as a fact, how well established is the fact that Jesus rose from the dead! Despite this you may wonder, How reliable were those witnesses?
It is a historical fact that there was a great upheaval in the Roman world as a result of the zealous proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus by these eyewitnesses. (Acts 5:28; 17:6) Their brave testimony exposed them to cruel persecution and death. If eyewitnesses to an event are willing to suffer like this for what they believe, what does it indicate as to the truthfulness of their testimony?
A world-recognized legal authority, the dean of the faculty of law at the university of London, Dr. J. N. D. Anderson, once noted concerning Jesus’ resurrection, as reported in the London Observer: “To consider the accounts of the six ‘New Testament’ writers as fabrication would really be an impossible position. Think of the number of witnesses, over 500. Think of the character of the witnesses, men and women who gave the world the highest ethical teaching it has ever known, and who even on the testimony of their enemies lived it out in their lives. Think of the psychological absurdity of picturing a little band of defeated cowards cowering in an Upper Room one day and a few days later transformed into a company that no persecution could silence! . . . It seems to me almost meaningless to talk about legends when you are dealing with eyewitnesses themselves.”
Additionally, what these sincere witnesses had seen was not only one proof or two; there were many. The book of Acts tells us that Jesus “was taken up, after he had given commandment through holy spirit to the apostles whom he chose. To these also by many positive proofs he showed himself alive after he had suffered, being seen by them throughout forty days.” How much more convincing could the record be—“by many positive proofs he showed himself alive after he had suffered”? This statement was made by an educated medical doctor, Luke.—Acts 1:1-9.
The conclusion is inescapable. There is good reason to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. And what does that mean? What did it mean to his thousands of dedicated followers at that time? Marvelous things. The fact that Jesus lived again gave them courage, something to live for, to look forward to—the fulfillment of his glorious promise that he, at God’s appointed time, would come back in royal power and glory and render judgment in order to cleanse the earth of all wickedness forever. Even if they were not to experience this in their lifetime, they knew he could make use of the “keys of death and of Hades” by opening the tombs of the dead and resurrecting them to heavenly life with him and making them priests and kings who would reign with him for 1,000 years. That heavenly government would bring in a new, righteous era during which the earth would be transformed into a paradise with everlasting blessings and life for all its inhabitants. The resurrected Jesus meant all of this to them.—Revelation 19:11-16; 1:18; 20:6; 21:1-5.
Jesus said: “I became dead, but, look! I am living forever and ever.” (Revelation 1:18) He is still alive! Not only was he then, but he is now! World events, particularly since the crucial year 1914, indicate that his promises are being increasingly fulfilled. In fact, Bible prophecy shows that the beginning of his Kingdom rule over the earth would be marked by a great upheaval among the nations. It shows that ‘when the kingdom of the world would become the kingdom of our Lord, Jehovah, and of his Christ,’ then the nations would become “wrathful.” (Revelation 11:15, 18) Also, it shows that his Kingdom rule would begin in the midst of his enemies. (Psalm 110:1, 2) These prophecies, together with Bible chronology, unanimously point toward the year 1914 as the time of the beginning of Jesus’ invisible rule over the earth. Soon the time will come when he will completely ‘subdue’ his enemies and usher in his glorious reign of peace.
Thus, not only does Jesus Christ live now—he is king! Yes, the King of kings. What does that mean for us living now? It means that we are living in the very days of grace, in a respite period that he has granted before the final subduing of his enemies on earth comes. In this period Jesus is having a global educational work carried out. It gives people everywhere the opportunity to learn about him and God’s established kingdom and to demonstrate whether they want to be its earthly subjects.—Matthew 25:31-46.
The very fact that you are holding this magazine in your hand and reading this article is in itself a tangible proof of the carrying out of this educational work. For many years, in over 100 languages and now with a combined yearly printing of over 400,000,000 copies, the Watchtower magazine and its companion Awake! have proclaimed the established kingdom of God with its King Jesus Christ on the heavenly throne. Millions of Bibles and Bible educational books and brochures have also been spread throughout the world by Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Jehovah’s Witnesses have literally covered the earth with their witnessing,” writes a history professor. Never before in history has so much been printed and said about God’s established kingdom as has been done since 1914, due to their zeal for the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophetic announcement in Matthew 24:14: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”
Of course, there are many leaders and members of religious organizations in the world today who claim to believe in Jesus, even hailing him as the greatest man in history. But Jesus himself made it clear in that famous Sermon on the Mount that he was not going to accept any people as his followers other than those who obediently and sincerely did what he said. Not all professed disciples of his do that in our time. Often their lives belie their claim. Therefore, Jesus gave the clue as to how to identify those who were not his true disciples, saying: “By their fruits you will recognize [them].”—Matthew 7:15-23.
There are millions of persons around the earth who, as true disciples, are learning to imitate the qualities of Jesus. If you want to identify them you must first acquaint yourself with their great example, Jesus Christ, his qualities, his way of life, his teachings. You can do this through a regular Bible study. Any of Jehovah’s Witnesses will show you how to study your Bible most effectively. Then you will be equipped to identify the true disciples of Jesus. When you are convinced as to who they are, you will be spurred to associate with them and adjust your life to follow the same great example that they follow. Then you will find that following Jesus Christ is the very best way of life. A life in harmony with the example set by the greatest man in history must be the best life to live. Can you meet the challenge of conforming your life to that example? And, remember, such a life now opens up a marvelous future of life in happiness under his Kingdom rule forever.
[Blurb on page 12]
God’s heavenly government under Christ will bring in a righteous era that will transform the earth into a paradise
[Blurb on page 13]
The year 1914 was the time when Christ’s invisible rule over the earth began
[Blurb on page 14]
Jesus showed how to identify his true followers from the false: “By their fruits you will recognize [them]”
[Box on page 12]
1914—THE TURNING POINT
Many historians and others agree that the year 1914, with the start of World War I, was the great turning point of modern times.
• “It is indeed the year 1914 rather than that of Hiroshima which marks the turning point in our time.”—Rene Albrecht-Carrie, The Scientific Monthly, July 1951.
• “Ever since 1914, everybody conscious of trends in the world has been deeply troubled by what has seemed like a fated and pre-determined march towards ever greater disaster. Many serious people have come to feel that nothing can be done to avert the plunge towards ruin.”—Bertrand Russell, New York Times Magazine, September 27, 1953.
• “In 1914 the world, as it was known and accepted then, came to an end.”—James Cameron, 1914, published in 1959.
• “In 1914 the world lost a coherence which it has not managed to recapture since. . . . This has been a time of extraordinary disorder and violence, both across national frontiers and within them.”—The Economist, London, August 4, 1979.
• “Civilization entered on a cruel and perhaps terminal illness in 1914.”—Frank Peters, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 27, 1980.
• “Everything would get better and better. This was the world I was born in. . . . Suddenly, unexpectedly, one morning in 1914 the whole thing came to an end.”—British statesman Harold MacMillan, New York Times, November 23, 1980.
[Box on page 13]
PROPHECIES FULFILLED IN OUR DAY
The fulfillment of prophecies that Jesus gave show that we have been in the “last days” since 1914, and are now very near the end of this system of things.—2 Timothy 3:1-5.
• “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.” (Matthew 24:7) World War I involved 90 percent of earth’s population; over 8,000,000 soldiers and 12,000,000 civilians died. World War II, also global, took up to 60,000,000 lives.—Encyclopedia Americana.
• “In one place after another pestilences.” (Luke 21:11) In 1918 the Spanish influenza killed 21,000,000. (Science Digest) Now, heart disease, cancer, venereal disease and others are epidemic, taking millions of lives each year.
• “Food shortages.” (Matthew 24:7) United Nations World Food Council declares that each year about 50,000,000 people die from the effects of malnutrition.
• “Earthquakes in one place after another.” (Matthew 24:7) Before 1914, an estimated 1,800 persons a year died in earthquakes. Since 1914 the yearly average is 25,300.—Geo Malagoli, in Il Piccolo.
• “The increasing of lawlessness.” (Matthew 24:12) Crime is skyrocketing throughout the world. In the United States, the Justice Department says that one out of every three families are now victimized by crime, adding: “All Americans are at risk to an extent previously unknown.”
[Pictures on page 11]
In our day, Jesus is having a global educational work carried out that affects your life prospects