Honor the Son, Jehovah’s Chief Agent
“He that does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.”—JOHN 5:23
1. How is Christendom’s belief in the Trinity a dishonor to Jesus?
TODAY many in Christendom claim to honor Jesus Christ, yet they do just the opposite. How? Well, many claim that Jesus is Almighty God, and that God, the Creator of all things, came to earth and lived and died as a man. This claim is embodied in the Trinity doctrine, which is the fundamental teaching of Christendom. But if the Trinity is false, if Jesus is, in fact, lesser than and subordinate to God, would not this misrepresentation of his relationship with God make Jesus unhappy? Indeed, he would consider such a misrepresentation a dishonor to himself and everything he taught.
2. How do the Scriptures clearly show that Jesus is a lesser one than God and subordinate to him?
2 The truth is, Jesus never claimed to be God, but he repeatedly spoke of himself as “God’s Son.” Even his enemies acknowledged this. (John 10:36; 19:7) Jesus was ever conscious of exalting the Father and subordinating himself to Him, as he confessed: “The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing. For whatever things that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner. I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative . . . because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him that sent me.” Again, he said: “I am a representative from him, and that One sent me forth.” He also said: “From God I came forth and am here.” (John 5:19, 30; 7:28, 29; 8:42) Jesus never even suggested that he was God or was equal to him. So to teach such a thing dishonors Jesus.
Other Ways Some Dishonor Jesus
3. (a) By denying what regarding Jesus do some in Christendom dishonor him? (b) What testimony did Jesus give as to his prehuman existence?
3 There are also, strangely enough, some in Christendom today who dishonor Jesus by denying that he had a prehuman existence. However, only if we appreciate that Jesus literally came down from heaven to earth can we properly begin to honor him. Jesus himself repeatedly said that he had a prehuman existence. “No man has ascended into heaven,” he said, “but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man.” Later he stated: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven . . . What, therefore, if you should behold the Son of man ascending to where he was before?” And again: “You are from the realms below; I am from the realms above. . . . Most truly I say to you, Before Abraham came into existence, I have been.” (John 3:13; 6:51, 62; 8:23, 58) Jesus also referred to his prehuman existence in his prayer to his heavenly Father on the night of his betrayal.—John 17:5.
4. (a) In what additional way do many dishonor Jesus? (b) What evidence should be sufficient to establish that Jesus really lived, and why?
4 Some in Christendom even go to the extreme of denying that Jesus was a historical person, that he ever lived as a human. If he did not actually exist, there would be no point in discussing why and how we should honor him. Yet the abundant eyewitness testimony preserved in the Scriptures should be evidence enough to establish beyond a doubt that Jesus really lived on earth. (John 21:25) Especially is this true since early Christians often taught about Jesus at the risk of their very lives and freedom. (Acts 12:1-4; Revelation 1:9) However, apart from what his followers wrote about him, can the existence of Jesus be demonstrated?
5, 6. What does historical evidence, apart from the Scriptures, show as to the actual existence of Jesus Christ?
5 The New Encyclopædia Britannica (1987) states: “Independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus.” What are some of these independent accounts? According to the Jewish scholar Joseph Klausner, there is the testimony of the early Talmudic writings. (Jesus of Nazareth, page 20) There is also the testimony of the first-century Jewish historian Josephus. For example, he describes the stoning of James, identifying him as “the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ.”—Jewish Antiquities, XX, [ix, 1].
6 In addition, there is the testimony of early Roman historians, especially that of the highly regarded Tacitus. He wrote early in the second century about “a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus [Christ], from whom the name [Christian] had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators.” (The Annals, XV, XLIV) Viewing the evidence that Jesus was a historical person as overwhelming, the French philosophical moralist of the 18th century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, testified: “The history of Socrates, which nobody presumes to doubt, is not so well attested as that of Jesus Christ.”
Reasons for Honoring the Son
7. (a) What Scriptural testimony obligates us to honor Jesus Christ? (b) How has Jehovah further honored his Son?
7 Now we come to the matter of honoring Jesus Christ. That his followers are obligated to honor him can be seen from his words at John 5:22, 23: “For the Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He that does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” Since Christ’s resurrection, Jehovah has honored his Son to an even greater degree, ‘crowning him with glory and honor for having suffered death.’ (Hebrews 2:9; 1 Peter 3:22) Basically, we have reasons to honor Jesus both because of who he is and because of what he has done.
8. Because of what unique facts regarding Jesus Christ is he deserving of honor?
8 Jesus Christ deserves honor because he, as the Logos, or Word, is Jehovah’s communicator par excellence. From the Scriptures it is apparent that the designation “the Word” applies to Jesus before he came to earth as well as after he ascended to heaven. (John 1:1; Revelation 19:13) At Revelation 3:14 he speaks of himself as “the beginning of the creation by God.” Not only is he “the firstborn of all creation” but as the “only begotten Son” he is the only one who was directly created by Jehovah God. (Colossians 1:15; John 3:16) In addition, “all things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.” (John 1:3) Therefore, when we read at Genesis 1:26 that God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness,” that “us” includes the Logos, or Word. Surely, the fact that Jesus in his prehuman existence had the marvelous privilege of sharing with Jehovah God in creation makes him worthy of great honor.
9. Why do we conclude that Jesus is the archangel Michael, and how did Michael honor Jehovah in connection with Moses’ body?
9 Jesus Christ further deserves honor because he is Jehovah’s chief angel, or archangel. On what basis do we reach that conclusion? Well, the prefix “arch,” meaning “chief” or “principal,” implies that there is only one archangel. God’s Word speaks of him in reference to the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. We read: “The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16) This archangel has a name, as we read at Jude 9: “When Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a judgment against him in abusive terms, but said: ‘May Jehovah rebuke you.’” In not running ahead of Jehovah by daring to bring judgment against the Devil, Jesus thus honored his heavenly Father.
10. (a) How does Michael take the lead in fighting in behalf of God’s Kingdom? (b) What role did Michael play in connection with the nation of Israel?
10 The archangel Michael fights in behalf of God’s Kingdom, taking the lead in cleansing the heavens of Satan and his demonic hordes. (Revelation 12:7-10) And the prophet Daniel says that ‘he stands in behalf of God’s people.’ (Daniel 12:1) It appears, therefore, that Michael is “the angel of the true God who was going ahead of the camp of Israel” and that he is the one God used to bring his people into the Promised Land. “Watch yourself because of him and obey his voice,” God commanded. “Do not behave rebelliously against him, . . . because my name is within him.” (Exodus 14:19; 23:20, 21) Without a doubt Jehovah’s archangel must have taken a great interest in God’s typical name people. Most fittingly he came to the aid of another angel that was sent to comfort the prophet Daniel, and who had been waylaid by a powerful demon. (Daniel 10:13) It may therefore be reasonable to conclude that the angel that destroyed Sennacherib’s 185,000 warriors was none other than Michael the archangel.—Isaiah 37:36.
11. For having pursued what course of life on earth is Jesus deserving of our honor?
11 Not only does Jesus Christ deserve to be honored because of who he is but he also deserves our honor because of what he has done. For example, he is the only human to have lived a perfect life. Adam and Eve were created perfect, but their perfection was short-lived. However, Jesus Christ remained ‘loyal, guileless, separated from sinners’ in spite of all that the Devil could bring upon him in the way of temptations or persecution. Through it all “he committed no sin, nor was deception found in his mouth.” He could rightly challenge his religious opposers: “Who of you convicts me of sin?” Not one of them could! (Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; John 8:46) And because of his keeping sinless integrity, Jesus vindicated his heavenly Father as the rightful universal Sovereign and proved the Devil to be a base and gross liar.—Proverbs 27:11.
12. (a) What kind of man was Jesus, and what did he do and suffer in behalf of others? (b) Why would you say Jesus deserves our honor because of what he did and because of what he suffered?
12 Jesus Christ deserves our honor, not only because he lived a perfect, sinless life but also because he was a good man, an unselfish, self-sacrificing man. (Compare Romans 5:7.) He tirelessly ministered to the spiritual and physical needs of the people. What zeal he manifested for his Father’s house, and what patience he manifested in dealing with his disciples! What suffering he was willing to undergo in doing his Father’s will! Of his ordeal in the garden of Gethsemane, the Bible says: “Getting into an agony he continued praying more earnestly; and his sweat became as drops of blood falling to the ground.” Yes, he “offered up supplications and also petitions . . . with strong outcries and tears.” (Luke 22:44; Hebrews 5:7) How accurately the prophet Isaiah foretold his ordeal at Isaiah 53:3-7!
13. What fine example did Jesus set for us in honoring his heavenly Father?
13 Jesus also deserves our honor because of the fine example he set for us in honoring his heavenly Father. He could well say: “I honor my Father.” (John 8:49) At all times he brought honor to Jehovah God by his words and deeds. Thus, when he healed a man, the Bible account says, not that the people glorified Jesus, but that “they glorified God.” (Mark 2:12) Therefore, at the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus could rightly say in prayer to his heavenly Father: “I have glorified you on the earth, having finished the work you have given me to do.”—John 17:4.
What He Has Done for Us
14. What did Jesus’ death accomplish for us that makes him deserving of honor?
14 And how greatly Jesus Christ is deserving of our honor because of all he has accomplished for us! He died for our sins so that we can be reconciled to Jehovah God. Jesus said about himself: “The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Thus his death made possible all that the Kingdom will accomplish for us humans: immortal life in the heavens for the 144,000 who constitute his bride and everlasting life in a paradise earth for millions of others who prove their faith and obedience under test.—Psalm 37:29; Revelation 14:1-3; 21:3, 4.
15. What is one example of Jesus’ revealing his Father’s personality to us?
15 Jesus Christ is also deserving of honor because, as the Great Teacher, he has perfectly revealed his Father’s will and personality to us. For example, in his Sermon on the Mount, he pointed to his Father’s bigheartedness in sending sunshine and rain on good and bad alike and then noted: “You must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”—Matthew 5:44-48.
16. How did the apostle Paul summarize Jesus’ honor-deserving course?
16 The apostle Paul well summarized Jesus’ honor-deserving course when he wrote: “Although he was existing in God’s form, [he] gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. 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.”—Philippians 2:5-8.
How We Can Honor the Son
17, 18. In what various ways can we bring honor to Jesus Christ?
17 Since Jesus Christ is without a doubt deserving of our honor, we come to the question: How can we honor the Son? We do so by exercising faith in his ransom sacrifice, and we prove that faith by taking the necessary steps of repentance, conversion, dedication, and baptism. By coming to Jehovah in prayer in Jesus’ name, we honor Jesus. We further honor him when we heed his words: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and continually follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) We honor Jesus Christ when we heed his instructions to keep seeking first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness, and we honor him when we heed his command to share in the disciple-making work. Again, we honor Jesus when we manifest the brotherly love that he said would identify all his true followers.—Matthew 6:33; 28:19, 20; John 13:34, 35.
18 Further, we bring honor to the Son by taking upon ourselves his name, calling ourselves Christians, and then by living up to that name by our fine conduct. (Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 2:11, 12) The apostle Peter said that we should follow Jesus’ steps closely. (1 Peter 2:21) By thus imitating him in all our conduct, we also honor him. And certainly, when we annually celebrate the Memorial of Christ’s death, we accord him special honor.—1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
19, 20. (a) What rewards does Jesus hold out to his followers for honoring him, now and in the future? (b) What confidence can we have in connection with the Son?
19 What rewards does Jesus hold out to his disciples for following a course that honors him? He said: “Truly I say to you men, No one has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the good news who will not get a hundredfold now in this period of time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, with persecutions, and in the coming system of things everlasting life.”—Mark 10:29, 30.
20 It follows that if we make sacrifices for Jesus’ sake, he will see to it that we are rewarded. Jesus assures us: “Everyone, then, that confesses union with me before men, I will also confess union with him before my Father who is in the heavens.” (Matthew 10:32) So just as the heavenly Father honors those who honor him, we can be confident that Jehovah’s only-begotten Son will imitate his Father in this respect, even as the Son does in other matters.
How Would You Answer?
□ How do many in Christendom dishonor the Son?
□ What testimony did Jesus give as to his prehuman existence?
□ What are some reasons we have for honoring Jesus?
□ What are some ways that we can honor Jesus?
□ Honoring Jesus Christ results in what benefits?