The Glorification of the Messiah
1. What did Jehovah inspire the prophet Isaiah (53:7-12) to say regarding what should precede the glorification of the Messiah?
BEFORE the glorification must come the suffering. This was to be the experience of God’s Messianic “servant.” In foretelling that this was the divine purpose respecting the Messiah, God inspired his prophet Isaiah of the eighth century before our Common Era to say:
“He was oppressed, though he humbled himself and opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb; yea, he opened not his mouth. . . . Therefore will I divide him a portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the mighty; because he bared his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”—Isaiah 53:7-12, JPS; Acts 8:32-35.
2. After hearing of John’s imprisonment, what message did Jesus take up?
2 Even the forerunner of the Messiah was obliged to suffer for his faithfulness to God’s law. After he had directed many baptized disciples to Jesus, he was imprisoned by the district ruler of Galilee, Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, and later, during a celebration of Herod’s birthday, he was beheaded. (Matthew 14:1-12) After Jesus heard of John’s arrest and imprisonment, he took up John’s message. “From that time on Jesus commenced preaching and saying: ‘Repent, you people, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’”—Matthew 4:12-17.
3. For preferring to be what did Moses suffer, and how should the experience of Jesus correspond with that?
3 Like John the Baptizer, Jesus was not preaching the earthly kingdom of the Maccabees, which many Jews wanted to be restored. He was preaching the “kingdom of the heavens,” the kingdom of God which had a relationship with King David of old. In his suffering he was not unlike the prophet Moses. As regards the strong faith of Moses, it is written in Hebrews 11:25, 26: “Choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin, because he esteemed the reproach of the Christ as riches greater than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward.” Since the Messiah was to be a prophet like Moses, and Moses suffered before and after being appointed (anointed) as Jehovah’s prophet, it was but in the proper order of things that the Messiah Jesus should suffer also. In fact, his sufferings should be greater than those of Moses.—Deuteronomy 18:15.
4. In whose name did Moses come to his people, and how does this correspond with the case of Jesus Christ?
4 It was in the name of God Almighty, Jehovah, that Moses was sent back to Egypt to lead his people out of slavery there. (Exodus 3:13-15; 5:22, 23) Just as Moses met with opposition, so his first-century counterpart did. To those who put no faith in him as the Messiah sent from God, Jesus said:
“I have come in the name of my Father, but you do not receive me; if someone else arrived in his own name, you would receive that one. How can you believe, when you are accepting glory from one another and you are not seeking the glory that is from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuses you, Moses, in whom you have put your hope. In fact, if you believed Moses you would believe me, for that one wrote about me. But if you do not believe the writings of that one, how will you believe my sayings?”—John 5:43-47.
5. Why should the Jews have believed that Jesus came in his heavenly Father’s name, and when did a crowd express such a belief?
5 We note how Jesus answered those who did not accept him as the Messiah and who said to him: “How long are you to keep our souls in suspense? If you are the Christ [Ma·shiʹahh], tell us outspokenly.” Jesus asked them to let his Messianic works speak for him, saying: “I told you, and yet you do not believe. The works that I am doing in the name of my Father, these bear witness about me. But you do not believe, because you are none of my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:24-27) But there were some Jews that believed that Jesus came in his heavenly Father’s name. So, five days before the Passover of 33 C.E., when Jesus, astride an ass, rode into Jerusalem in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, a crowd of them hailed him and cried out: “Save, we pray you! Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name, even the king of Israel!”—John 12:1, 12, 13; Matthew 21:4-9; Mark 11:7-11; Luke 19:35-38; Psalm 118:26.
6. In whose name did Jesus keep watch over his faithful apostles?
6 Finally, on Passover night, after celebrating it with his faithful disciples or apostles, Jesus prayed to Jehovah and said:
“I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have observed your word. . . . Holy Father, watch over them on account of your own name which you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are. When I was with them I used to watch over them on account of your own name which you have given me; and I have kept them.”—John 17:6, 11, 12.
So, in coming in Jehovah’s name, Jesus was a prophet like Moses.
IDENTIFIED ALSO BY MIRACLES AND PROPHECIES
7. Why did Moses perform signs before Egyptians and Israelites, and how do his signs compare in number with those of the Messiah?
7 Both to the Israelites and to the Egyptians the prophet Moses proved that he came in the name of the one living and true God by means of many miracles. These were God-given “signs” in proof that Jehovah had sent Moses. (Exodus 4:1-30; 7:1-3; 8:22, 23; 10:1, 2; Deuteronomy 34:10, 11) The ancient Israelites did not demand from Moses a “sign from heaven,” and accordingly the Israelites of the first century C.E. were out of order in asking for such a sign from Jesus. (Matthew 16:1-4) It is no discredit to say that the miraculous signs performed by Moses were far outnumbered by those performed by Jesus in proof of his Messiahship.
8. With what did Jesus begin his “signs,” and what effect did “signs” have upon his disciples and on Nicodemus?
8 Jesus did not do like Moses and turn water into blood, but he did turn water into the best of wine when supplies ran out at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. This was only the start, according to what is written in John 2:11: “Jesus performed this in Cana of Galilee as the beginning of his signs, and he made his glory manifest; and his disciples put their faith in him.” As regards the Passover of 30 C.E., the record tells us: “When he was in Jerusalem at the passover, at its festival, many people put their faith in his name, viewing his signs that he was performing.” (John 2:23) For example, the Pharisee Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews and member of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin, visited Jesus by night and said: “Rabbi, we know that you as a teacher have come from God; for no one can perform these signs that you perform unless God is with him.”—John 3:1, 2; 7:50, 51; 19:39, 40.
9. How did Jesus’ miracles compare with those of Moses in kind?
9 Did Moses cure leprosy? Jesus cured many lepers in the land of Israel. Did Moses divide the waters of the Red Sea for the saving of his people? Jesus walked on the waters of the Sea of Galilee and calmed its waters during a dangerous windstorm. Forty years the Israelites lived on manna from heaven in the wilderness and died thereafter. Jesus provided a manna from heaven in the sacrifice of his own perfect humanity, that all those eating of it by faith may live forever. (John 6:48-51) Moses never cured all the cases of sickness and infirmity that Jesus did. Moses never raised anybody from the dead. Jesus raised more persons from the dead than did the prophets Elijah and Elisha, one of these being Lazarus of Bethany, who had been dead and entombed for four days. (John 11:1-45; 12:1-9) Even Jesus’ enemies had to admit that he performed many signs, for they said: “What are we to do, because this man performs many signs? If we let him alone this way, they will all put faith in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”—John 11:46-48; 12:37.
10. How did Peter testify, both to Jews at Pentecost in Jerusalem and to Gentiles in Caesarea, about Jesus’ miracles?
10 Without overstating the case, then, the apostle Peter could say to thousands of Jews on the festival day of Shavuoth (Weeks) of 33 C.E.: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man publicly shown by God to you through powerful works and portents and signs that God did through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know.” (Acts 2:22) Some years later this same Peter, when stating the facts of the case, at Caesarea, to some interested Gentiles who were favorable to the Jews, said:
“You know the subject that was talked about throughout the whole of Judea, starting from Galilee after the baptism that John preached, namely, Jesus who was from Nazareth, how God anointed him with holy spirit and power, and he went through the land doing good and healing all those oppressed by the Devil; because God was with him. And we are witnesses of all the things he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.”—Acts 10:37-39.
11, 12. (a) What is the resemblance of Jesus to Moses as a prophet? (b) What about Jesus’ most extensive prophecy as to its undergoing fulfillment?
11 Was Moses a prophet? Yes, indeed! And so was the Messiah Jesus. He spoke many prophetic parables or illustrations. He foretold his betrayal by his own apostle Judas and how his own death would occur and by whom, and also that he would be raised from the grave on the third day of his death. He foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, that was to occur at the hands of the Romans in 70 C.E. His most extensive prophecy was that recorded in the accounts preserved in Matthew, chapters twenty-four and twenty-five, Mark, chapter thirteen, and Luke, chapter twenty-one. This prophecy was in answer to the question of his disciples as to when Jerusalem’s destruction with its temple would occur, and what would be the “sign” of his Messianic return and “presence” (parousia) and that of the “conclusion of the system of things.”
12 In testimony to the accuracy of this prophecy, features of the prophecy were fulfilled during that generation in the first century, and, more remarkably still, corresponding features and other details have been fulfilled upon our own generation since 1914 C.E., since which year we have had wars, food shortages, earthquakes, pestilences, persecution of his followers, worldwide distress, and an unsurpassed “great tribulation” is ahead.—Matthew 24:21.
13. How does Jesus compare with Moses as to having prophecies that foretold him and that were fulfilled upon him?
13 The prophet Moses had no prophecies foretelling him and fulfilled upon him. But in all the Hebrew Scriptures, from Genesis to Malachi, there are hundreds of prophecies that were fulfilled upon Jesus from his birth to his death and resurrection, to prove that he was indeed the Messiah, the “seed” that was to be bruised “in the heel” by the Great Serpent, Satan the Devil. He himself called the attention of his disciples to this after God raised him from the dead. The record in Luke 24:25-48 tells us:
“So he said to them: ‘O senseless ones and slow in heart to believe on all the things the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary for the Christ [Ma·shiʹahh] to suffer these things and to enter into his glory?’ And commencing at Moses and all the Prophets he interpreted to them things pertaining to himself in all the Scriptures. . . .
“He now said to them: ‘These are my words which I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all the things written in the law of Moses and in the Prophets and Psalms about me must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened up their minds fully to grasp the meaning of the Scriptures, and he said to them: ‘In this way it is written that the Christ [Ma·shiʹahh] would suffer and rise from among the dead on the third day, and on the basis of his name repentance for forgiveness of sins would be preached in all the nations—starting out from Jerusalem, you are to be witnesses of these things.’”
14. What did Moses write about curses upon Israel and about making a criminal something accursed to God? With whom in view?
14 In Leviticus, chapter twenty-six, and Deuteronomy 28:15-68 the prophet Moses wrote down all the maledictions and curses that would come upon the nation of Israel for not carrying out their Law covenant with Jehovah God. Moses also wrote:
“And in case there comes to be in a man a sin deserving the sentence of death, and he has been put to death, and you have hung him upon a stake, his dead body should not stay all night on the stake; but you should by all means bury him on that day, because something accursed of God is the one hung up; and you must not defile your soil, which Jehovah your God is giving you as an inheritance.”—Deuteronomy 21:22, 23.
This law was evidently given by God with his Messiah in mind. Why? In order for the nation of Israel to be saved from the curse coming upon it for the violating of its Law covenant with God, the Messiah must die on a stake as accursed in place of Israel.
DEATH AND GLORIFICATION
15. On Passover day of 33 C.E., what was done to have the Lamb of God executed by non-Jews?
15 On Nisan 14, Passover day, of the year 33 C.E., the Passover lamb was killed and prepared to be eaten, even by Jesus’ own apostles. (Matthew 26:1-30; Mark 14:1-26; Luke 22:1-39) But what about the one whom John the Baptist called “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world”? (John 1:29, 36) Late after the Passover supper that night he was betrayed by the apostle Judas Iscariot and was taken into custody by an armed group that took him and turned him over to the religious leaders of Jerusalem. He was put through a trial by the judicial Sanhedrin and sentenced to death according to their interpretation of the Law. In view of their limitations as to the execution of the death penalty, that judicial body turned the condemned Jesus over to the Gentile governor, Pontius Pilate, as a disturber of the peace and a criminal seditionist. The insistence of his accusers was on having him hung upon a stake to die.
16. Before Pilate, what did Jesus say about the kingdom and the truth?
16 When on trial before Pontius Pilate, Jesus pointed out that his Messianic kingdom was to be heavenly, not earthly at Jerusalem of the Middle East. When Pilate asked him: “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.” At this answer, Pilate asked: “Well, then, are you a king?” Jesus replied: “You yourself are saying that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone that is on the side of the truth listens to my voice.”—John 18:33-37.
17. How was Jesus then ‘counted with the transgressors,’ and what hope did he impart to one of the transgressors?
17 Unwillingly, Pilate yielded to the demands of the accusers for Jesus to be hung up on a stake. The place of execution proved to be at Golgotha (“Skull Place”), or Calvary, outside the wall of Jerusalem. He was hung up between two criminal evildoers, “transgressors.” Those who were versed in the Law of Moses looked upon Jesus upon the stake as “something accursed of God.” Although thus “it was with the transgressors that he was counted,” Jesus still held in mind the hope of an earthly Paradise for mankind under his future Messianic government. Consequently, when one transgressor, who came to realize that Jesus was an innocent man and a scapegoat for sinners, said to him: “Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom,” Jesus answered: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.”—Luke 23:39-43; 22:37.
18. How did Jesus make his grave with wicked ones and with the rich ones, and in what condition was he in Sheol?
18 About midafternoon of that Passover day, Jesus died. “He bared his soul unto death.” “He poured out his soul to the very death.” (Isaiah 53:12, JPS; NW) According to Deuteronomy 21:22, 23, he was buried that very afternoon. He was laid in a newly cut tomb belonging to a rich man, in this way making “his burial place even with the wicked ones, and with the rich class in his death, despite the fact that he had done no violence and there was no deception in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9) Thus, too, Jesus’ soul went to Sheol, the common grave of mankind. There it was true of the dead Jesus: “The dead know not anything . . . there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, whither thou goest.”—Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10, AS; RS.
19. When and how did Jehovah fulfill his own inspired prophecy in Psalm 16:10, and why did a question arise as to Jesus’ whereabouts?
19 However, King David had written prophetically: “For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol; neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; in thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:10, 11, AS; RS) True to this prophecy of His own inspiration, Jehovah the Almighty God raised up the Messiah Jesus on the third day, Nisan 16, the day when the high priest Caiaphas at the temple offered up to Jehovah a “sheaf of the firstfruits” of the barley harvest. (Leviticus 23:9-14; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23) True it was that the tomb in which Jesus had been put was found empty, but why was it that he was nowhere to be found by his own disciples? Why was it that during the forty days after his resurrection he would suddenly appear to them and as suddenly disappear, to prove to them that he was alive from the dead?—Acts 1:1-3; John 20:1-31; Matthew 28:1-18.
20. How does Peter explain Jesus’ resurrection, and how does Paul describe the corresponding resurrection of Jesus’ disciples?
20 The apostle Peter, to whom the resurrected Jesus appeared once privately, gives us the explanation for these materializations such as the spirit angels had made in the days of the ancient prophets. Peter says: “Christ also died for our sins once and for all. He, the just, suffered for the unjust, to bring us to God. In the body he was put to death; in the spirit he was brought to life. And in the spirit he went and made his proclamation to the imprisoned spirits.” (1 Peter 3:18, 19, NEB; RS; 1 Corinthians 15:5; Luke 24:34) At his resurrection it was done with him as it is foretold to occur to his faithful disciples at their resurrection:
“It is sown in dishonor, it is raised up in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised up in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one. It is even so written: ‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
“However, this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption. . . . For this which is corruptible must put on incorruption, and this which is mortal must put on immortality. But when this which is corruptible puts on incorruption and this which is mortal puts on immortality, then the saying will take place that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up forever.’”—1 Corinthians 15:43-45, 50-54.
“For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall certainly also be united with him in the likeness of his resurrection.”—Romans 6:5.
21. God resurrected Jesus to be what kind of a person, and so how was it that Jesus retained the merit of his human sacrifice?
21 Accordingly, the Scriptural evidence proves that Jesus Christ was resurrected as a spirit Son of God in immortality and incorruption. (Acts 13:32-37) So, at his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ did not withdraw his human body as a sacrifice off God’s altar by resuming his human body. (Hebrews 10:1-10) Just as on the annual Day of Atonement the bodies of those animal victims whose blood was taken into the Most Holy for sin were disposed of, so God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus’ human nature and disposed of Jesus’ human body. How? We do not know. (Hebrews 13:10-13; Leviticus, chapter sixteen) Although Almighty God did not resurrect his Son Jesus Christ in a human body, the resurrected Son of God did retain the value or merit of his human sacrifice, which was like the sacrificial blood that the Jewish high priest carried into the Most Holy of the temple so as to make atonement for sin.
22, 23. (a) As a spirit person by resurrection, what was Jesus now able to do as prefigured by the high priest on Atonement Day? (b) How was Jesus now in a stronger position for bruising the Serpent “in the head”?
22 As a spirit Son of God, Jesus Christ was able to ascend back to heaven on the fortieth day from his resurrection from the dead. A number of his faithful disciples were witnesses to that ascension. (Acts 1:1-11) Just as the Jewish high priest in the Most Holy sprinkled the Atonement blood toward the golden Ark of the Covenant, so Jesus entered into God’s heavenly presence and presented the value or merit of his perfect human sacrifice. (Hebrews 9:11-14, 24-26) Then the Most High God seated him at His own right hand as the “priest to time indefinite according to the manner of Melchizedek.”—Psalm 110:1-4; Acts 2:31-36; Hebrews 5:10; 10:11-13.
23 In this way the Son of God was rewarded with a heavenly position higher than the one he held before becoming a perfect man and being bruised “in the heel” by the Great Serpent. He resumed his prehuman name, Michael, so that again there was a “Michael the archangel” in heaven. (Jude 9; Revelation 12:7) The glorified “seed” of God’s “woman” was now in a far stronger position to bruise the Serpent’s head in God’s due time.—Genesis 3:15.
24, 25. (a) Jews and Gentiles can alike be glad that God’s Son is not what kind of a Messiah? (b) In Philippians 2:5-11, what mental attitude are we exhorted to have?
24 How thankful and glad all humanity, natural Jews and Gentiles alike, should be that God’s promised Messiah will be a deathless heavenly Messiah, and not a mere earthly human “anointed one” like King David! Under prophetic inspiration, David humbly acknowledged this highly exalted one as his Lord, and this should be our attitude also. We are exhorted to have this submissive mental attitude in the following inspired words:
25 “Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ [Ma·shiʹahh] Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God [yet he did not think to snatch at equality with God, NEB]. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake. For this very reason also God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ [Ma·shiʹahh] is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”—Philippians 2:5-11. See also 2 Corinthians 5:16.