Part 16—“Your Will Be Done on Earth”
In providing the “King for enforcing the supreme Will” Jesus was born of the Jewish virgin at Bethlehem to become the permanent heir of the covenant that Jehovah God made with King David for the everlasting kingdom. Jesus grew to manhood at Nazareth. When his forerunner, John the Baptist, began preaching that the kingdom of the heavens was at hand, then Jesus knew that it was God’s foretold time for him to present himself as the heir of the kingdom. He went, not to the capital city of Jerusalem, but to John at Jordan to be baptized There John baptized Jesus, not to symbolize that he was a sinner repenting from his sins against Jehovah’s law, but to symbolize that he had come to do God’s further will for him. After his baptism he continually exercised his will power in harmony with God’s will.
22. A sign of what was John’s baptism generally, but of Jesus’ particularly, and so in behalf of what was Jesus dedicating himself to God?
22 This soul-stirring fact must be held in our mind: The water baptism that God began by John was a sign that the kingdom of the heavens had drawn near! John’s baptism of Jesus was an indication that the kingdom of God had drawn near; in fact, that kingdom came into the midst of the Jews at the descent of God’s spirit upon Jesus after his water baptism. There God himself baptized his Son with holy spirit. Jesus’ coming to the baptismal spot to do God’s will and his symbolizing that dedication of himself by a water baptism was a step of Jesus toward God’s kingdom. He had turned his back on carpentering in Nazareth. He had now come to serve the interests of the kingdom of the heavens, which John was proclaiming. He had dedicated himself to the interests of God’s universal sovereignty which was represented in that kingdom.
23. In what way was the baptism that was begun in Jesus’ case different from John’s baptism for repentant Jews?
23 The baptism that was begun in Jesus’ case was different from John’s baptism for the repentance of Jewish sinners against the Mosaic law. The water baptism that was begun in Jesus is the baptism of all believers in him and in his heavenly Father, believers who come in Christlike dedication to do the will of God. It is a baptism in recognition of or “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.” (Matt. 28:19) It is a baptism symbolizing the believer’s dedication of himself to the Universal Sovereign Jehovah God, to do his will as revealed in connection with his kingdom. It is therefore not out of the right course of things that Jehovah God should now revive among his witnesses on earth the full water baptism, with the dipping of the believer’s whole person under the water, as a symbol of his dedication irrevocably to do the will of God in imitation of his anointed King Jesus Christ.
24. With what knowledge, and under the enlightenment of what did Jesus turn down Satan’s offer of the kingdoms of this world?
24 From his water baptism and his spirit anointing onward Jesus, now Christ, lived for God’s kingdom of the heavens. Under temptation out in the Judean wilderness, Jesus refused the offer of Satan the Devil to give him all the kingdoms of this world and their glory if Jesus would fall down and do an act of worship to him as the “god of this system of things.” Jesus well knew he was the heir of the kingdom according to God’s covenant with David. He knew that he had just been anointed with God’s spirit to be the Heir of the kingdom of the heavens. So he turned down Satan’s cheap offer and commanded: “Go away, Satan! For it is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’” (Matt. 4:8-10) Jesus knew also, under the enlightenment of holy spirit, that he had been anointed to preach good news to the meek ones.—Isa. 61:1-3; Luke 4:16-21.
25. After John’s imprisonment, what did Jesus begin preaching, and what did he foretell as an evidence of the setting up of God’s kingdom?
25 After John the Baptist had been imprisoned and restrained from preaching and baptizing, Jesus Christ began preaching openly the Kingdom, saying: “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Matt. 4:12-17) He chose for himself twelve apostles whom he taught how to preach and whom he sent forth in twos to preach the good news of the Kingdom. He foretold the end of Satan’s world and the establishment of God’s kingdom, and foretold this as one of the evidences of of its establishment in heaven: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, and then the accomplished end will come.”—Matt. 24:14.
26. How was the kingdom issue made prominent at Jesus’ execution, and what occurred when he died?
26 Finally Jesus Christ died as a martyr, a witness to God’s kingdom, faithful to his dedication to God’s will, faithful to his anointing to preach the Kingdom. Before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate many Jewish priests at the head of a mob had rejected Jesus, saying: “We have no king but Caesar.” And when Jesus died on the torture stake, there was posted above his head the notice: “Jesus the Nazarene the King of the Jews.” (John 19:15, 19) This occurred on Friday, Nisan 14, A.D. 33, in the middle of the seventieth week of years that had been foretold in Daniel 9:26, 27. At the moment of his death there occurred an earthquake and the heavy double curtain of the temple sanctuary in Jerusalem was rent in two, from top to bottom.—Matt. 27:51.
27. Why was it in vain that Satan thus bruised Jesus in the heel, and how was Jesus now declared to be God’s Son?
27 That “original serpent,” Satan the Devil, had bruised the Seed of God’s woman in the heel; but in vain! Jehovah God could not break his covenant with David’s Heir, Jesus Christ, for the kingdom. He could not let his promise fail, that the Seed of His woman should bruise the Serpent in the head. He had also started Jesus toward spiritual life in the heavens by begetting him with holy spirit after his water baptism. He must yet bring his anointed Son to full birth in the heavens. Under no circumstances could God’s Son be held fast by death. At the exact foretold time, on the third day after his death, the heavenly Father raised him to life in heaven, “the firstborn from the dead,” so declaring him God’s divine immortal heavenly Son. “His Son, who sprang from the seed of David according to the flesh, but who with power was declared God’s Son according to the spirit of holiness by means of resurrection from the dead—yes, Jesus Christ.”—Col. 1:18; Rom. 1:3, 4.
28. To be what was Jesus made alive from the dead, and what did he then do?
28 By God’s irresistible power Jesus was lifted up out of his baptism into death in order to be able to do his Father’s further will for him in heaven. He became a “new creation” in every sense. He arose as a spirit person, with a spirit body, “he being put to death in the flesh, but being made alive in the spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:18) Because of this spiritual resurrection he could ascend into heaven on the fortieth day after his resurrection to appear in the presence of God in behalf of all his believers and to sit down at the right hand of God as David’s “Lord.”—Heb. 9:24; 10:12.
THE HOLY ONES WHO WILL GOVERN
1. How did Jesus get his first disciples, and what confessions did they make concerning him then?
JESUS CHRIST gathered his first disciples from among men and women whom John the Baptist had prepared for him. The angel Gabriel had said that John was to “get ready for Jehovah a prepared people.” (Luke 1:13-17) When the baptized Jesus came back from his forty days of fasting, studying and being tempted in the wilderness of Judea, John saw him coming and exclaimed: “See, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) The next day two of John’s disciples, Andrew and John the son of Zebedee, began to follow Jesus. Andrew found his brother Simon Peter and “said to him: ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means, when translated, Christ).” Simon Peter learned this to be true and began following the promised Messiah or Christ. Later Jesus found Philip of Bethsaida and said to him: “Be my follower.” Eager to spread the good news, Philip found Nathanael. Jesus showed miraculous foreknowledge of this Nathanael, who then said: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are King of Israel.”—John 1:35-49.
2. What confession showed that Jesus’ apostles were of the same conviction toward the close of his ministry, and what did Jesus then say to Peter?
2 It is evident that Jesus was recognized as the promised Christ or Messiah and as the Son of God by his disciples from the first. In fact, John the Baptist told his disciples there at the Jordan River that he had baptized Jesus and had seen God’s spirit descend in a visible manifestation upon Jesus, and he had thus been a witness to the fact that “this one is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-34) John’s disciples were believing this fact when John directed them to Jesus the “Lamb of God.” However, Jesus did not publicly announce himself to the people as being the Messiah or Christ, although he did speak of himself as the Son of God, with continual references to his heavenly Father who had sent him. Among the Jews who heard Jesus preach and saw his miracles, opinions differed as to who he was. But did his first disciples carry the same conviction concerning him as at the beginning? In the third year of his ministry, when up near Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked them: “You, though, who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus called Peter happy and told him that the heavenly Father had revealed it to him. Then Jesus added: “Also I say to you, You are Peter [Petros, Greek], and on this rock-mass [petra, Greek] I will build my congregation, and the gates of Haʹdes will not overpower it.”—Matt. 16:13-18.
3. Who is the rock-mass here mentioned as confessed by Peter himself?
3 Peter does not agree with Roman religionists who claim that Jesus here said that Peter was the “rock-mass” on which the spiritual house, the congregation, is built. In his first letter Peter disclaims being the rock-mass (petra) by referring to Jesus Christ and writing: “Coming to him as to a living stone, rejected, it is true, by men, but chosen, precious, with God, you yourselves also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:4, 5) Peter was just a living stone in that spiritual house built on Jesus Christ. In this fact Paul agreed with Peter, saying: “All ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they used to drink from the spiritual rock-mass [petra] which followed them, and that rock-mass [petra] meant the Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:3, 4) So Jesus Christ referred to himself as the “rock-mass” or petra; and it is upon himself as the “Christ, the Son of the living God,” that he builds his congregation, whom the gates of Haʹdes cannot overpower. Haʹdes, which is the common grave of mankind, did not overpower Jesus Christ himself, because, on the third day after dying and being buried, Almighty God raised him up to life.
4. What shows whether Jesus overthrew the synagogue in order to establish the Christian congregation upon himself?
4 Jesus did not overthrow the Jewish synagogue in order to found the Christian congregation upon himself as the symbolic rock-mass. He taught in many a Jewish synagogue. (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 12:9; 13:54) After being betrayed to his enemies and when standing before the Jewish Supreme Court of Jerusalem under the charge of heresy and blasphemy, Jesus said to the chief priest Annas: “I have spoken to the world publicly. I always taught in a synagogue and in the temple, where all the Jews come together, and I spoke nothing in secret.” (John 18:19, 20) Consequently, before his impalement and resurrection from the dead, Jesus did not organize his followers as a congregation, as a spiritual house or sanctuary of God.
“THE LORD’S EVENING MEAL”
5. Where and when did Jesus celebrate his last Passover supper, and why did he dismiss Judas Iscariot from it?
5 It was Thursday night, Passover night, the night of Nisan 14 of 33 (A.D.), the anniversary of the original Passover of the Israelites under Moses down in Egypt just before their deliverance. Jesus gathered his twelve apostles to himself into a large upper room in Jerusalem to celebrate. At the table he said: “I have greatly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it again until it becomes fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:14-16) That meant that this was the last literal Passover that he would eat as a natural Jew. In the course of this festival meal Jesus dismissed Judas from the room, thus freeing Judas to betray him that night.—John 13:21-31.
6. What new thing did Jesus start for his disciples to celebrate on Nisan 14 of each year, and how does Matthew describe it?
6 They finished eating the Passover lamb with loaves of unleavened bread and with wine, according to the requirements of Jehovah’s Law covenant with ancient Israel. Jesus now indicated that a new arrangement was to begin with Jehovah’s faithful worshipers. Jesus here mentioned to them a new covenant and a covenant for the kingdom, and he accordingly set up a new evening meal for celebration on Nisan 14 each year, Mosaic calendar. The apostle Matthew was then present and partook of this model meal, and he tells us what took place: “As they continued eating, Jesus took a loaf and, after saying a blessing, he broke it and, giving it to the disciples, he said: ‘Take, eat. This means my body.’ Also he took a cup and, having given thanks, he gave it to them, saying: ‘Drink out of it, all of you; for this means my “blood of the covenant” which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins. But I tell you, I will by no means drink henceforth any of this product of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom of my Father.’ Finally, after singing praises, they went out to the mount of Olives.”—Matt. 26:26-30.
7. To what body did Jesus refer by his words over the loaf of bread?
7 When Jesus told those remaining eleven apostles that the loaf was or meant his body, the apostles correctly understood that it meant Jesus’ own personal body of flesh and bone. Jesus had never told them that the congregation that he was going to build upon himself as a rock-mass would be his spiritual “body,” over which he would be the heavenly Head. In the four life-accounts of Jesus written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus is reported using the word “congregation” or “church” only in Matthew 16:18; 18:17; but not saying that it was to be a spiritual body under him as Head. So in his words, “This means my body,” he did not refer to the coming spiritual body which is the Christian congregation under him as its Head. He referred to his own body that he had got through the virgin Jewess Mary and that God had miraculously prepared for him.
8. What was to be done with his human body, and for what purpose?
8 What was to be done with this body? According to Luke 22:19, Jesus said: “This means my body which is to be given in your behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” This meant that his human body was to be given in an unrecallable, unrepeatable sacrifice in their behalf and in behalf of all humankind that should believe on him and accept his sacrifice. In proof, Hebrews 10:10 states: “By the said ‘will’ [of God] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.” His human body was acceptable in sacrifice to God because it was perfect, sinless, it being symbolized by the bread loaf with no leaven in it, as leaven was a Bible symbol of sin. (1 Cor. 5:8; Heb. 7:26-28) In his own body Jesus acted as a sin bearer for those of imperfect, sinful mankind who should believe in the value and power of his sacrifice. Peter reminds Christians: “Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely. He committed no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth. . . . He himself by imputation 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 Pet. 2:21-24.
9. What was to be done with Jesus’ blood, and why this?
9 This simple meaning of the unleavened loaf is upheld by the meaning that Jesus placed upon the cup of wine, the “product of the vine.” He handed it to them to drink, with these words: “This means my ‘blood of the covenant’ which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.” The wine thus was an emblem of his blood. While it was in the blood vessels of his human body it spelled earthly human life to him in its perfection. The Creator of Jesus’ body had said long ago: “The soul of the flesh is in the blood, and I myself have put it upon the altar for you to make atonement for your souls, because it is the blood that makes atonement by the soul in it.” (Lev. 17:11) Jesus’ blood being poured out would mean his death as a man. It was human sins that were here involved, and it was therefore necessary for the blood of a perfect human sacrifice to be splashed upon God’s altar, “for it is not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take sins away.” (Heb. 10:4) Jesus knew what he had to do with his blood, for he knew God’s rule: “Unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place.”—Heb. 9:22.
(To be continued)