Part 15—“Your Will Be Done on Earth”
About October 1, 2 B.C., the “king for enforcing the supreme will” was born, while the pagan Roman Empire was holding world domination. He was preceded on earth by a forerunner, John the son of priest Zechariah. The angel Gabriel appeared in the temple at Jerusalem and announced to aged Zechariah that he was to be father to this forerunner. During the sixth month of the pregnancy of Zechariah’s aged wife Elizabeth, the angel Gabriel appeared to the virgin Jewess Mary of the ancestral line of King David, at Nazareth. Gabriel told Mary that she had been chosen to become the mother of the everlasting royal Heir of King David. She would conceive the child by the operation of Jehovah’s holy spirit, so that the holy child born would be in reality the Son of God. Submissively Mary agreed to this divine arrangement.
5. What took place when Mary visited and greeted Elizabeth?
MARY immediately conceived God’s Son Jesus, because holy spirit now came upon her and power of the Most High overshadowed her. She hastened to tell her pregnant relative, Elizabeth the wife of priest Zechariah, who Gabriel said was pregnant with John. As soon as Mary greeted her, John in her womb leaped and Elizabeth became “filled with holy spirit.” She said to Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! So how is it that this privilege is mine, to have the mother of my Lord come to me? For, look! as the sound of your greeting fell upon my ears, the infant in my womb leaped with great gladness.”—Luke 1:39-44.
6. What acknowledgment did Elizabeth and unborn John thus make, and how was this in harmony with Psalm 110:1?
6 Here Elizabeth under the spirit’s operation acknowledged that Mary’s child was to be her “Lord.” Under impulse of the same holy spirit, Elizabeth’s yet unborn son John likewise acknowledged Mary’s child to be his “Lord.” Centuries previously, King David had made the same acknowledgment, in Psalm 110:1. Mary herself, under inspiration, magnified Jehovah God, the heavenly Father of her unborn son. She stayed with Elizabeth nearly till the birth of John and then returned to Nazareth.—Luke 1:46-56.
7. What prophecy did Zechariah make at his son John’s birth, and how was the carpenter Joseph encouraged to marry the pregnant Mary?
7 Elizabeth’s son was now born. Her husband called the boy’s name John and then, filled with holy spirit, he prophesied this about his son John: “But as for you, young child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will pioneer before Jehovah to make his ways ready, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender compassion of our God.” (Luke 1:57-78) In the meantime the carpenter Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant. Thinking that she had committed immorality, he was inclined to cancel the marriage engagement rather than make a public charge of fornication against her and have her stoned to death. But one night a dream came to Joseph, and with it an angel who said that Joseph should marry Mary. Why? “For that which has been begotten in her is by holy spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you must call his name ‘Jesus’, for he will save his people from their sins.” After waking up, Joseph obeyed and took Mary to his home.—Matt. 1:18-25.
8. What happened so that Jesus was not born at Nazareth, and how did shepherds become witnesses of the birth of God’s Son?
8 Jesus, the Son of God, was not born there at Nazareth. Before he could be born, Joseph and Mary had to go more than sixty miles to the south to Bethlehem, the birthplace of King David in the province of Judah or Judea. Caesar Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, decreed that all the inhabited earth under the empire should be registered at the place where each one’s family originated. So, about the middle of the Jews’ seventh lunar month called Ethanim, or about our October 1, in the year 2 B.C., Jesus the Son of God was born in Bethlehem. The winter rains had not yet begun and shepherds were still keeping their flocks out nights in the open fields around Bethlehem. There was a miraculous burst of light, in the midst of which an angel appeared and said: “Have no fear, for, look! I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have, because there was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in David’s city. And this is a sign for you: you will find an infant bound in cloth bands and lying in a manger.” Then suddenly the shepherds saw with that angel a “multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying: ‘Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of goodwill.’” The shepherds found the newborn babe and became witnesses to the birth of God’s Son. Then they bore witness of this to others, but not to wicked King Herod of Judea.—Luke 2:1-20.
9. Where, however, did Jesus grow up, and what work did John the son of Zechariah undertake, and why?
9 After being taken down south to Egypt till after King Herod the Great died, Jesus was brought back north to Nazareth. Here he grew and became a carpenter apprentice to his foster father Joseph. During this time John’s parents died, and according to God’s purposes John took up living in the wilderness of Judea. Here he grew to thirty years of age, living on insect locusts and honey. Then God sent John to begin baptizing and acting as the forerunner of the Son of God, Jesus, the Heir to the kingdom of David. (John 1:33, 34) So in the spring of the year 29 (A.D.), or in the “fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,” the successor of Caesar Augustus,* John began preaching in the wilderness of Judea and baptizing in the river Jordan the Jews who repented of their sins. John’s father, priest Zechariah, had prophesied concerning him: “You will pioneer before Jehovah to make his ways ready, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by forgiveness of their sins.” It was therefore appropriate for John to tell the Jews under the Ten Commandments to repent of their sins and to be baptized in symbol of their repentance.—Matt. 3:1-11; Luke 3:1-6.
10. The announcement of the coming of what did John make, and how did John know and show that he was the forerunner of God’s Son?
10 John also began announcing the coming of God’s kingdom. Did he say: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of David has drawn near’? Had John preached that message, the Roman emperor and also Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, would have got after John for stirring up insurrection and violating the law of laesa majestas (”injured majesty”). But what did John preach? This: “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Matt. 3:1, 2) God had told John that he was the forerunner of the Son of God and that he would have the privilege of identifying the Son of God, if not also baptizing him. John’s father, if not also his mother Elizabeth, had told John what the angel Gabriel had said inside the temple sanctuary, that John was to be a forerunner and, like the prophet Elijah, “get ready for Jehovah a prepared people.” Hence John was expecting Jehovah’s Son to come to him for identification. He told the repentant Jews: “I, on the one hand, baptize you with water because of your repentance; but the one coming after me is stronger than I am, whose sandals I am not fit to take off. That one will baptize you people with holy spirit and with fire.”—Matt. 3:11; Luke 1:17.
11. How did Jesus come to know his true relationship to Joseph and that he was the royal heir of the kingdom covenant with David?
11 Jesus was still carpentering with his mother and his half brothers and half sisters up in Nazareth. But Jesus knew that he was not to keep carpentering always. His mother had told him how he was God’s Son by means of God’s holy spirit that had come upon her for her to conceive him. Joseph his foster father had also told him that he, Joseph, was not Jesus’ father but that he had been begotten in Mary by holy spirit. Mary had also told him that the angel Gabriel had said that Jehovah God would give Jesus the throne of his earthly forefather David and he would be king over the house of Jacob (or Israel) forever and his kingdom would never end. So Jesus knew he was the royal heir of the covenant that Jehovah had made with David for the everlasting kingdom.
12. How did Jesus know when to make his appearance as kingdom heir?
12 But when was he to enter in upon his kingdom career? He was now in his thirtieth year of human life. He could not start out on his own accord. He had been told that the angel Gabriel said that John the son of priest Zechariah was to be his forerunner. So he must let the forerunner first appear and run on his mission for about six months, announcing the coming one. Then one day the news did come to Jesus at Nazareth that John had begun baptizing repentant Jews and that John was proclaiming: “The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” At that Jesus must have been stirred to the depths of his soul. Ah, now, the time had drawn near for him to appear as kingdom heir!
13. What prophetic week was then to begin, and where did Jesus go, and to have what done to him?
13 He was now reaching thirty years of age, the age of a fully mature man The sixty-ninth week of years, foretold by Daniel 9:24-26, was also coming to an end and the seventieth week of years counting from Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem was about to begin. Jesus here realized it was the due time for him to appear as the Messiah, the Christ, about whom the angel had made announcement at his birth in Bethlehem. Jesus laid down his carpenter tools. He left his shop and home. He headed southeast to his forerunner John, who was announcing there at the banks of the Jordan River the approach of the kingdom of the heavens. He would go, not to Jerusalem, the city of the great King Jehovah, not to the temple of Herod to be anointed as king of the Jews by the high priest, Annas. He would go to his forerunner, this priest’s son, not to be anointed with holy anointing oil as king over earthly Israel, but to be baptized in water.—Matt. 3:13; Mark 1:9.
14. Why was John backward about baptizing Jesus in water?
14 John the Baptist was glad to see Jesus. But why should Jesus ask to be baptized in water? John knew he was baptizing Jews who were sinners and who were repentant over their sins against the law of Jehovah God given to the nation of Israel through Moses. Jesus was no such repentant sinner. John knew that Jesus was holy, for he was God’s Son conceived in Mary by holy spirit. Why, John knew that when he was yet unborn in his mother’s womb he had leaped in her womb in acknowledgment of the then unborn Jesus as his “Lord.” So John tried to prevent Jesus from being baptized, saying: “I am the one needing to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me?”
15. How were John’s objections overcome, and after baptizing Jesus what confirmation did John have made to him?
15 How did Jesus overcome John’s objections? Jesus said: “Let it be this time, for in that way it is suitable for us to carry out all that is righteous.” Submissively John joined in doing what was suitable for them at that time. He baptized Jesus the Heir of the kingdom covenant, Jesus praying during this procedure, not confessing any sins. Then John had the identity of the Son of God confirmed to him, not an identification of him merely in a human sense but one of him in a spiritual sense, in a sense different from his being begotten in a human womb. What happened?
16. How did this confirmation come to John, and how did he know in what way to understand it?
16 “After being baptized Jesus immediately came up from the water; and, look! the heavens were opened up, and he saw descending like a dove God’s spirit coming upon him. Look! also, there was a voice from the heavens that said: ‘This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.’” (Matt. 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-23) This was the miraculous event that John later told his disciples he had been awaiting: “I viewed the spirit coming down as a dove out of heaven, and it remained upon him. Even I did not know him, but the very One who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘Whoever it is upon whom you see the spirit coming down and remaining, this is the one that baptizes in holy spirit.’ And I have seen it and have borne witness that this one is the Son of God.”—John 1:32-34.
17. (a) To what was Jesus thus begotten, and of what did he become the Heir? (b) In him what was now found in the midst of the Jews?
17 By this divine act Jesus had been begotten by means of God’s spirit, apart from Mary’s womb, to become a spiritual Son of God, a “new creation” with spirit life in the invisible heavens in view. By this act also he had been anointed, not by Israel’s high priest with a horn of oil, but by Jehovah God and with holy spirit. By his human birth into the family of King David and by being adopted by the carpenter Joseph who was in the royal line, Jesus had become the heir of King David, naturally and legally, according to Jehovah’s covenant for the kingdom. But now by his being begotten from heaven and being declared to be God’s Son and by his being anointed with God’s holy spirit, Jesus became God’s Anointed One or Christ. He became the anointed Heir to a kingdom grander and higher than that of King David’s earthly Israelitish kingdom in the Promised Land of Palestine. Jesus became the Heir of the heavenly Kingdom. Truly in him Messiah, “the anointed one, the prince,” had come in that year of 29 (A.D.), at the end of the sixty-nine weeks of years, in accurately timed fulfillment of Daniel 9:25 (AS). Truly in him as Kingdom Heir the “kingdom of the heavens” had drawn near; in fact, it was in the midst of the Jews.—Luke 17:21.
18, 19. Why did John not baptize Jesus in a symbol of repentance, and why, then, did Jesus come to be baptized in water?
18 What, then, had the water baptism of Jesus signified? Not that he was a repentant sinner, for he had kept God’s law perfectly. He did this in a way far better than the Jew did who wanted to inherit everlasting life and who told Jesus: “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth on.” (Mark 10:17-20) Recognizing Jesus as the holy human Son of God, John did not baptize Jesus in symbol of Jesus’ repentance over sins. What form of words, if any, John used when submerging Jesus beneath Jordan’s waters the Bible does not tell us. But Jesus knew why he had come to be baptized. It was to do his heavenly Father’s will on earth as well as in heaven.
19 Paul the apostle explains it, saying concerning his Master Jesus: “It is not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take sins away. Hence when he comes into the world he says: ‘“You did not desire sacrifice and offering, but you prepared a body for me. You did not approve of whole burnt-offerings and sin offering.” Then I said, “Look! I am come (in the roll of the book it is written about me) to do your will, O God.”’ After first saying, ‘You did not desire nor did you approve of sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt-offerings and sin offering’—sacrifices which are offered according to the Law—then he actually says, ‘Look! I am come to do your will.’ . . . By the said ‘will’ we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.” (Heb. 10:4-10) The apostle Paul was here applying to Jesus at his baptism prophetic Psalm 40:6-8.
20. What, then, did Jesus there symbolize, and what shows whether, at his baptism, his will died?
20 By Jesus’ water baptism he was symbolizing his dedication of himself, body and all, to do Jehovah’s will in a way more than the law given through Moses demanded. At his water baptism, at his being buried by John under the waters, Jesus symbolically died to his past situation in earthly life. His will did not die, for when he was lifted out of the Jordan he still had his power of will. He said after that: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” “I seek not my own will but the will of him that sent me.” “I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me. This is the will of him that sent me, that I should lose nothing out of all that he has given me but that I should resurrect it at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone that beholds the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life, and I should resurrect him at the last day.” And in prayer to God just before he was betrayed by unfaithful Judas, Jesus said: “My Father, if it is not possible for this to pass away except I drink it, let your will take place.” “Nevertheless, let, not my will, but yours take place.”—John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38-40; Matt. 26:42; Luke 12:42; see also 1 Corinthians 7:37.
21. Why was Jesus not a hypocrite when he taught his disciples to pray: “Let your will come to pass”?
21 Till the day that Jesus was actually baptized into literal death by impalement on a torture stake, he continually had to exercise his power of will in harmony with God his Father’s will. (John 21:22) He was not a hypocrite when he taught his disciples to pray to God: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will come to pass, as in heaven, also upon earth.”—Matt. 6:9, 10.
(To be continued)
Caesar Augustus had died August 19, A.D. 14. Hence the “fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” ended August 18, A.D. 29. Before that date John the Baptist, about thirty years of age, began preaching.