Jesus Christ, the One Through Whom God Blesses Mankind
1. In what is it absolutely necessary for us to have faith if we are to receive the blessings of eternal life?
HOW loving the provision that Jehovah has made through his Son for blessing persons of all races and nations! He has promised deliverance from oppression, sin and death. What a glorious prospect! It is vital for us to appreciate, however, that these blessings will come to mankind only through Jesus Christ. For this reason, God inspired the apostle Peter to say of Jesus: “There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:12) By gaining accurate knowledge of this provision and by exercising faith in God’s purpose in connection with Christ, you may put yourself in line for the grand blessings of eternal life.
2. (a) What promise of blessing did God make to Abraham, and who did his “seed” prove to be? (b) To whom did the priesthood and sacrifices under the law of Moses point? (c) How does the Bible show who would be king of God’s kingdom?
2 For thousands of years men of faith have awaited the fulfillment of this hope, and the promises of God gave them good reason for doing so. To the Hebrew family head Abraham, Jehovah made the promise that “all nations of the earth” would be blessed through his “seed.” That “seed” proved to be primarily Jesus Christ. (Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:14-16, 28, 29) God also provided for a priesthood and sacrifices under the Law given to Israel. These too pointed forward to Jesus. They directed attention to him as the great High Priest and to the sacrifice of his own human life as the means to take away sins forever and bring deliverance even from death. (Galatians 3:24; Hebrews 9:11, 12; John 1:29) Furthermore, Jehovah foretold that the one through whom eternal peace would come to humankind would be of King David’s family line and would become the king of God’s kingdom, ruling over the entire earth. The angel Gabriel, in announcing Jesus’ human birth, said: “This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father.” (Luke 1:32; see also Isaiah 9:6, 7; Daniel 7:13, 14.) Yes, the entire Word of God focuses attention on Jesus Christ as the one through whom Jehovah God will administer the blessings of eternal life to mankind.—Luke 2:25-32; Philippians 2:9-11.
3. (a) How is it that Jesus is God’s “firstborn” Son? (b) Why does the Bible say Jesus is God’s “only-begotten” Son?
3 Did you know that Jesus had a glorious existence long before he was born as a human here on earth? The Bible informs us that he is God’s “firstborn” Son. This means that he was created before the other sons of God’s family. He is also God’s “only-begotten” Son, in that he is the only one directly created by Jehovah God; all other things came into existence through him as God’s Chief Agent. Thus, before being born on earth as a male child he served in the heavens, where he was known as “the Word,” God’s spokesman.—John 1:3, 10, 14; Colossians 1:15-17.
4. What did Jesus say to bear witness to the fact that he had lived in heaven before coming to earth?
4 Jesus could therefore properly say: “Before Abraham came into existence, I have been,” and, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” (John 8:58; 6:51) Referring to the high position he had held in heaven, he prayed: “Father, glorify me alongside yourself with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was.”—John 17:5.
HIS LIFE ON EARTH
5. (a) When God’s time came for his Son to become a man on earth, how did God bring this about? (b) How could the child Jesus be born free from the sin of Adam?
5 In harmony with God’s purpose for blessing men of faith, the due time arrived for this heavenly Son to become a man on earth. This required a miracle of God. Jehovah, by his holy spirit or active force, transferred the life of Jesus from heaven to the womb of a Jewish virgin girl named Mary. Announcing this to Mary in advance, the angel Gabriel said: “Holy spirit will come upon you, and power of the Most High will overshadow you. For that reason also what is born will be called holy, God’s Son.” (Luke 1:35) It was well within the power of the Creator to do this. Certainly the One who formed the first woman with the ability to produce children could cause a woman to conceive a child without a human father, God himself being directly responsible for the life of the child. This child, Jesus, was not God, but God’s Son. He was a perfect human, free from the sin of Adam. How was that possible? Because, as the angel said, the “power of the Most High” was responsible; it even guided his growth while in the womb of Mary.
6. (a) As foretold in prophecy, where was Jesus born? (b) Why did Jesus get baptized?
6 As foretold centuries before, Jesus was born in King David’s city, Bethlehem of Judea. (Micah 5:2) He lived with his mother and his foster-father Joseph, working at the trade of carpentry until he was about thirty years of age. Then God’s time came for him to do other work. So he went to John the Baptist to be baptized or dipped completely under the waters of the Jordan River. This showed that he was presenting himself to God to carry out the work that God had sent him to earth to do. By submitting to baptism Jesus set an example for all who exercise faith in him, and later he commanded that all who became his disciples should be baptized.—Matthew 28:19, 20.
7. What did God do at the time of Jesus’ baptism?
7 However, something else happened to Jesus at the Jordan. The heavens opened, God’s spirit came upon him, and God himself spoke from heaven, saying: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matthew 3:16, 17) There was no mistake about it; this was the one whom all God’s prophets had foretold! There at the Jordan, by means of holy spirit, Jesus was anointed by God to be the foretold great high priest, the king of God’s kingdom, and to preach while here on earth. (Luke 4:16-21) There was work for him to do.
8. Did Jesus hold back from using the personal name of God or from speaking the truth? So what should we do?
8 For three and a half years he preached God’s Word throughout the land, and he taught his disciples to do the same. (Luke 8:1) Though others in those days superstitiously avoided using the personal name of God, Jesus did not hold back from making it known. (John 17:26) He always spoke the truth, whether it was popular or not. In what he did he provided an example that we should follow if we want to please God. But he also accomplished more than that.
RELIEF FROM SIN AND DEATH
9. (a) According to Matthew 20:28 for what other reason did Jesus come to earth? (b) What is the ransom price that Jesus paid to release us from sin and death?
9 Jesus knew that his coming to earth as a man was a direct part of God’s arrangement for releasing humankind from sin and death. So he said: “The Son of man came . . . to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Exactly what does that mean? Well, a ransom is the price paid to obtain deliverance from captivity. In this case, Jesus’ perfect human life offered in sacrifice was the price paid to obtain mankind’s release from bondage to sin and death. (1 Peter 1:18, 19) Why was such a release needed?
10. Why could we receive from Adam only an inheritance of sin and death?
10 This was because Adam, the forefather of us all, had sinned against God. Thus, Adam became imperfect and lost the right to life. As a willful violator of God’s law, he came under its penalty of death. God had also established laws of heredity, which assure that we all receive physical characteristics and other traits from our parents. According to these laws, Adam could pass on to his offspring only what he himself had; so we received from him an inheritance of sin and death. (Romans 5:12) All mankind therefore has been dying in payment of the penalty of sin. How could this death penalty be lifted and the requirements of justice still be met?
11. In providing relief for Adam’s offspring, how did God show due regard for law?
11 God did not weaken and compromise as to his own laws. This would have merely encouraged further lawlessness by a bad example. Yet he did not turn his back on mankind and leave them without hope. While sticking to his laws, God lovingly provided relief, not for the willful sinner Adam, but for Adam’s offspring, who, without any choice in the matter, suffered the effects of his wrong. God did this in harmony with a legal principle that he later included in the Mosaic law, namely, “soul will be for soul.” (Deuteronomy 19:21) Let us see how that principle applied in the ransom provided through Jesus.
12. Who only could provide the ransom price for what Adam lost? So why did Jesus have to be born as a human?
12 The “living soul” Adam, who forfeited life for mankind, was a perfect human. In exchange for what he lost, another human soul, equal to Adam, was needed, one who would offer his own perfect life as a sacrifice on behalf of mankind. (1 Corinthians 15:45) No offspring of Adam qualified for this, because all were born imperfect. As a result they all die because they are sinners, and they have no right to human life that they can sacrifice on behalf of others. (Psalm 49:7 [48:8, Dy]) So God sent his own Son to earth. Jesus was born as a human, because it was a human life that was required. But he was born without the aid of a human father, so that he would be perfect as Adam was. God alone was the Father of the human Jesus, as he had also been Adam’s Father. (Luke 3:38) Thus Jesus was fully qualified to offer his life as a “corresponding ransom.”—1 Timothy 2:6; Ephesians 1:7.
13. Why did Jesus willingly lay down his life and not resist?
13 On Nisan 14 of the year 33 C.E. Jesus’ enemies put him to death on a torture stake. He could have resisted, but he did not. (Matthew 26:53, 54) He willingly laid down his life in sacrifice for us. As his apostle Peter tells us: “He himself bore our sins in his own body upon the stake, in order that we might be done with sins and live to righteousness. And ‘by his stripes you were healed.’”—1 Peter 2:24; see also Hebrews 2:9.
14. What does the Bible at John 3:16 tell us about God’s love for mankind? So how should we respond?
14 That was indeed a marvelous expression of God’s love for mankind! The Bible helps us to appreciate it, saying: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) If you are a parent who has a dearly loved son, no doubt you can appreciate, at least to some extent, what that meant to God. It surely should warm our hearts toward him to realize that he cares for us so much.—1 John 4:9-11.
15. (a) Was Jesus resurrected with a human body? (b) After his resurrection, why did Jesus appear visibly to his disciples? (c) Was it necessary for Jesus to return to heaven? Why?
15 Jehovah God did not leave his Son dead in the grave, but raised him to life on the third day. He was not given human life again, because that would have meant that he was taking back the ransom price. But he was “made alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18) During a period of forty days after his resurrection he appeared visibly to his disciples a number of times, in materialized bodies, to prove that he really had been raised from the dead. Then, with the disciples looking on, he ascended heavenward and was caught out of sight in a cloud. He returned to heaven, there “to appear before the person of God for us” bearing the value of his ransom sacrifice as the great high priest. (Hebrews 9:12, 24) The requirements of divine justice had been met; relief was now available for mankind.
16. (a) Explain how we benefit even now from the ransom provision. (b) As we consider the future, what does the ransom make possible for us and for the dead?
16 Even now we may benefit greatly from the ransom. By exercising faith in it we can enjoy a clean standing before God and come under his loving care. (Revelation 7:9, 10, 13-15) When, due to imperfection, we commit a sin, we can freely seek forgiveness from God on the basis of the ransom, with confidence that he will hear us. (1 John 2:1, 2) Furthermore, the ransom has opened up the way for preservation through the end of this present wicked system of things. It makes possible the resurrection of the dead. And it provides the basis for gaining eternal life in God’s new system of things, where it will be applied to mankind in order to wipe away all the effects of inherited sin.—1 Corinthians 15:25, 26; Revelation 7:17.
RULER OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD
17. (a) To what did Jesus constantly draw attention, making it the theme of his preaching? (b) What did Jesus demonstrate by his miracles of healing and raising the dead?
17 During his earthly ministry Jesus constantly directed attention to the kingdom of God. He taught his followers to pray: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” And he urged them to “keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom.” (Matthew 6:10, 33) Many of his parables drew attention to the Kingdom. He made it the theme of his preaching. (Matthew 9:35) By his miracles of healing and raising the dead, he showed on a small scale what will take place on earth under the kingdom of God. At that time sickness will come to an end, blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, and crippled arms and legs will be healed. What a blessing that will be!—Revelation 21:3, 4.
18. (a) Did Jesus exercise kingly power as soon as he returned to heaven? Why? (b) According to Matthew 25:31, 32, what did Jesus say he would do when he returned with Kingdom power?
18 Jesus himself is the one anointed by God as ruler of the Kingdom. However, when Jesus returned to heaven it was not the due time for him to exercise that kingly power. He must await his Father’s appointed time. (Acts 2:34-36) Yet, he pointed forward to the time when he would return with Kingdom power, saying: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (Matthew 25:31, 32) We are living in that time of separating now. Soon Christ on his heavenly throne will use his kingly authority to destroy the wicked and deliver sheeplike ones who will inherit the earthly realm of the Kingdom.—Matthew 25:34, 41, 46.
19. To enjoy blessings through Jesus Christ, what must we do?
19 By means of Jesus Christ blessings are available to all mankind, but we must exercise faith in him in order to receive them. (John 3:36) We must become his disciples and submit ourselves to him as our heavenly king. Will you do that? There are opposers who want to hinder you, but if you put your full trust in Jehovah you will without fail receive the blessings that God has in store for those who love him.—Psalm 62:7, 8 [61:8, 9, Dy].