1. KNOWING JESUS THROUGH HIS MESSENGER
“See, I will send My messenger, who will prepare the way before Me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come
to His temple; the Messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty (Malachi 3:1).
The prophet Malachi gave God’s final promises of the Old Testament. One of the greatest of these promises is found in Malachi chapter three, verse one. God assured His people that He would send a messenger. This messenger would have a special task–“to prepare the way.” For whom? He “will prepare the way before ME,” said the LORD (Yahweh)!
VOICE IN THE DESERT
Also in the book of Malachi (4:5) God promised to send a prophet, “Elijah.” Elijah had lived in dry, desert places. An earlier prophet, Isaiah, had foretold the
A voice of one calling: “in the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our
God….And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken”
For over a thousand years, from Moses to Malachi, God had spoken often. He had sent many prophets to Israel. Their work had resulted in the Old Testament. But after the prophet Malachi there were about 400 years of silence–no recognized prophets spoke from God. There were no new writers from God for the Old Testament. God’s people wondered when God
would fulfill His promises. When would the messenger come to make preparation? When would God’s glory be revealed?
THE YEARS OF SILENCE
During those long years more and more people were hearing about God’s promises. New rulers captured the land of Israel. While some Israelites (by then called Jews) stayed in their homeland, others were scattered far and wide. In distant countries they told others of the one true God. They were able to use Greek, the language that many peoples shared at that time.
OLD TESTAMENT IS TRANSLATED INTO GREEK
About 150 years after Malachi the full Old Testament was translated from the Hebrew language into the Greek language. During the following 250 years, trained workers made copies of this Greek Bible. The copies were carried to many places. In their weekly meetings, Jews read the Old Testament aloud (Acts 15:21). Even some non-Jews came to believe in God’s promises. More and more people looked forward to the Lord’s coming.
GOD SPEAKS AGAIN
Then people in Israel began to hear of amazing events. A child named John was born to a couple named Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-24, 57-80). Yet Elizabeth was well beyond the age for giving birth! An angel, using words from Malachi 4:5-6, had announced,
He (John) will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous–to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:17).
John’s father, Zechariah, had also used words from Malachi 3:1. By God’s Spirit Zechariah prophesied:
And you, my child (John), will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare
the way for Him (Luke 1:76).
God’s promises, made through Malachi 400 years earlier, were coming true! God was ending His long silence! He was speaking again. Just as He promised, He was speaking through an “Elijah.”
THE NEW ELIJAH
John was not the Elijah of the past (John 1:21; Luke 9:30). But John was like that ancient prophet in many ways. Those who knew the Old Testament could recognize John, not only as a true prophet, but as a new “Elijah” (Matthew 11:7-14; 21:26).
Elijah spent much time in the wilderness — 1 Kings 17-19 John spent much time in the wilderness — Luke 1:80; Matthew 3:1
Elijah dressed in rough clothes — 2 Kings 1:8
Like Elijah, John dressed in rough clothes — Matthew 3:4
Like Elijah, John’s preaching was full of courage. He had “the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17). He spoke out against all sin, even the king’s sin (Luke 3; Matthew 14). John commanded the people of Israel to prepare for the Lord’s coming. John himself quoted from the prophet Isaiah (40:30),
I am the voice of one calling in the desert, “Make straight the way for the Lord” (John 1:23).How could they make the way straight? How could they prepare for the King?
JOHN THE BAPTIZER
John told them to prepare by repenting and being baptized.
In those days John the Baptist came preaching…”Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:1-2).
John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4).
“Repentance” is making up one’s mind to leave sin and to live for God. By repenting the people promised to do right in the future. Yet that decision alone could not change their wrongs of the past. For the pure and holy King there had to be FULL preparation. Even past sins had to be removed, by forgiveness.
Those who repented had to be baptized. John thus became known as “John the Baptizer,” or “John the Baptist.” (The word “baptize” comes from the Greek language. In that language it means to immerse or plunge under water. That is why John baptized “in the Jordan River” and there was “much water,” Mark 1:5; John 3:23).
Through baptism John separated the people. Those who wanted to get ready for the Messiah confessed their sins and were baptized. But others, especially the religious leaders, were too proud. They would not admit how sinful they were. They refused to be humbled by being dipped under the water. Baptism required simple obedience to God’s command. It meant trusting God for forgiveness. Their hard hearts had no room for such trust and obedience.
All the people, even the tax collectors… acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John (Luke 7:29-30).
ONE GREATER THAN JOHN
The leaders should have listened to John. He was “a prophet…and more than a prophet,” a truly great man (Matthew 11:9-11). Yet, as great as John was, the Coming One would be much greater. John him self said,
I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come One who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11).
John hardly dared to touch the shoes of the Coming One. John used water for baptism; the Coming One could do something far greater he would baptize using God’s Spirit! The Holy Spirit is part of God Himself. Who would be so high and exalted that He could use the Holy Spirit as John used water?
Yet this Coming One looked like an ordinary man. So John, by himself, had no way to recognize Him. God told John to look for this sign: The Holy spirit would take the shape of a dove and come down on the Coming One, the One about whom John preached.
THE BAPTISM OF JESUS
While John was prophesying about the Coming One, Jesus was over 100 kilometers (62 miles) away, at the village of Nazareth. He was a humble carpenter, helping to care for his mother, brothers and sisters.
Jesus then travelled to meet John and to be baptized by him. John knew of Jesus’ goodness. He did not want to baptize Jesus. John said,
“I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?”
Jesus had no sins to confess. He had no need of forgiveness. But He always fulfilled God’s righteous will. He commanded John to baptize Him (Matthew 3:13-15). When Jesus was baptized, the Spirit of God came down and settled on Him. A voice from heaven said,
“You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22).
John realized then that the Coming One was JESUS. The One for whom John had been looking had arrived!
…John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is
the One I meant when I said, ‘A Man who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’ I myself did not
know Him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this
testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Him. I would not have known Him, except that the One who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The Man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain
is He who will baptize with the Holy Spirit'” (John 1:29-33).
LISTENING TO JOHN
Isaiah and Malachi had drawn a picture of the special messenger who would prepare the way. John the Baptizer was the only one who fit that picture. John prepared for the Great One to come.
For whom did he prepare? Jesus!
John led all the people toward Jesus (John 3:22-36). John’s part is so important that it helps to begin each of the first four books of the New Testament — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Anyone who seeks to know the truth about Jesus should give careful thought to the report of John. For John too was a lover of truth.
John spoke the truth so boldly that he was later killed by King Herod (Mark 6:14-29). He was an eye-witness of heaven’s sign, which pointed to Jesus. Through John’s testimony we can be sure that the Coming One promised by the Old Testament is JESUS. John helps us to see the Light.
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that Light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the Light; he came only as a witness to the Light (John 1:6-7).
2 KNOWING JESUS THROUGH HIS WITNESSES
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.
Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are You staying?”
“Come,” He replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where He was staying, and spent that day with Him. It was about the tenth hour (John 1:34-39).
A “witness” is one who tells what he sees and knows to be true. When he gives his report of the truth, he TESTIFIES or gives TESTIMONY. John the Baptizer was such a witness (John 1:7).
“I have seen,” he said, “and I testify that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34).
John, when he saw Jesus, told the people, “Look!” Thus they too became eyewitnesses. Two of John’s followers wanted to know Jesus more fully. They were faced with the same problem that any ordinary person has. How does a common person come into the presence of a King?
COME AND SEE
Since these two were followers of John, they knew John’s great respect for the coming King. John was their leader, yet even he was not worthy to carry the shoes of the King (Matthew 3:11). Now, John had pointed to JESUS as that King. How could two ordinary men get close to this King? How could they come to know the high, exalted One of whom John spoke? (After all, have you ever met your nation’s highest ruler?)
When they spoke to Jesus, He invited them to come to His place! “Come,” He said, “and you will see.” The memory of that invitation was so bright that they remembered exactly when it took place – the tenth hour. (If counted in the Jewish way this was at 4:00 P.M., and evening was coming.) So they spent the rest of that day with Jesus. This King wanted to talk with them. More than that, He was willing to let them stay with Him!
THE OPENNESS OF JESUS
The first lesson the two disciples learned from Jesus was His openness. They were free to KNOW Him personally. He welcomed them. They could see Him, talk with Him, and be close to Him.
John the Baptizer was right about the high honor owed to Jesus. Yet Jesus’ greatness did not isolate Him from His people. In
this, He was different from most kings. He made Himself poor in earthly things (2 Corinthians 8:9). Sometimes He had no
proper place to sleep (Luke 9:58). He was among the ordinary people. He welcomed all, whether great or small. Even children
felt very welcome.
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have Him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus
saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for
the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God
like a little child will never enter it.” And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed
them (Mark 10:13-16).
JESUS WAS COMPASSIONATE
Sinful people found Jesus friendly. He had no sin (John 8:46; Hebrews 4:15; 7:26). He taught them to “repent,” to turn away from sin (Luke 13:3). Yet He made it very clear that He truly cared for them. He ate and drank with people known for their corrupt lives. He did the same for the government’s tax officials, whom most people treated as enemies. Jesus became know as the “friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners'” (Luke 7:34). Jesus was among the people because of His concern and love for them. This explains why He spent so much time helping each one who came. He helped them, regardless of how great their problems. He helped them even when he was very busy with other important matters (Mark 1:21-34; 2:1-13; 5:21-43; 7:24-30; 10:46-52).
TO BE WITH HIM
There is another important reason why Jesus worked so openly. The Christian faith would begin as a matter of public knowledge and public record. Since Jesus worked among the people, there were often many eyewitnesses to what He said and did. He had nothing to hide. As He said at His trail,
“I have spoken openly to the world…I said nothing in secret. Why question Me? Ask those who heard Me.
Surely they know what I said.” (John 18:20-21) When the apostle Paul was later tried in a royal court, he said,
“The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has
escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.” (Acts 26:26)
In this Christianity is different from other faiths based on claims of hidden events, and personal ideas or feelings. Such faiths have no way to prove to others that they are true. From the beginning Christianity was a matter of public and historical record, and could be fully examined. Today one can still find out whether it is true or false. Indeed, it demands such study. Christians invite people to check for themselves, to examine the facts. “Come and you will see!”
THE APOSTLES KNOW JESUS
One of the two disciples who met Jesus on that memorable day was named Andrew (John 1:40-42). He was the brother of Simon Peter. Their partners in the fishing business were Zebedee’s sons, James and John (Luke 5:7-10). Jesus chose these four, and eight others, to serve as His special messengers or APOSTLES (Luke 6:12-16). One of the main duties of the apostles was to be WITH Jesus.
“He appointed twelve — designating them apostles — that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to
preach.” (Mark 3:14)
Being “with Him” meant that they could watch him closely in good times and bad, happy times and sad, crowded times and lonely. They could see how He met every new challenge and trail. Many people are afraid to let others get close. Why? Closeness reveals one’s faults. Yet Jesus invited others to be near. By watching, listening and sharing in His life, the apostles could KNOW His true character. They could also learn how to become like Him. With the help of the Holy Spirit, they would carry on Jesus’ work after He left. They would be the Spirit’s way for others to come to know Jesus. Jesus made this clear in one of His prayers for the apostles.
“My prayer is not for them alone (the first disciples). I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their
message, that all of them may be one…(John 17:20-21).
WITNESSES FOR CHRIST
How would people in later years believe in Christ?
“Through their message” (John 17:20).
That is, through the report of those first disciples, especially the apostles. (“Apostle” is like the word “ambassador.” It means one who is sent with a special authority to pass on his leader’s message.) Jesus gave to them the task of being witnesses, to testify to the truth about Him (Luke 24:48; Acts 10:39-41). Just before He sent them into the world, Jesus said,
“You will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
However, at the time when this was said (the first chapter of Acts), one of the twelve was missing. Judas had betrayed Jesus, and then had killed himself. Another had to be chosen to take his place. The importance of finding a real witness was shown by Simon Peter’s words,
“Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out
among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:21-22)
Yes, Jesus wanted the apostles to be “with Him” so that they could be true WITNESSES. They were in the best place to see and know the truth about Jesus. They were the kind of witnesses that any good court of law would welcome.
Jesus’s witnesses were from ordinary positions in life. They had normal questions and doubts when they first heard about Jesus. Yet what they saw for themselves removed doubts and fears. The witnesses were many, coming from different backgrounds and interests. Like all witnesses, they stated their testimonies in different ways. Each spoke from his own viewpoint. When carefully compared these testimonies agree. There is nothing muddled or lacking. The apostles, and those closest to them, gave a full and clear report. They remained united, and true to this report, all of their lives. The collection of their reports and letters is called the New Testament.
As the apostles spread the Good News about Jesus, they reminded the people that they were true witnesses. See the following verses.
Acts 10:39, 41
They were not ashamed to speak in the presence of others who had been there. When Peter re-told the facts about Jesus, he added,
“…as you yourselves know.” (Acts 2:22)
Thousands in Jerusalem proved that they agreed with Peter (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:14). From the very beginning, the rapid spread of Christianity showed how many found the testimony to be true. Peter’s enemies did not show faults in his testimony. All they
could do was to try to stop him by threats (Acts 4, 5,12). Peter later wrote,
“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)
Peter said this when he knew he would soon be killed (2 Peter 1:14; John 21:17-19). What reward could there have been in dying for lies? If Peter was not telling the truth of what he saw, what did he think he could gain? The apostles did not become rich (Acts 3:6; 1 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 6:10). Instead of becoming famous they became INfamous – they were hated by the world. They suffered great losses and hardships for their message (2 Corinthians 1:9; 6:1-10; 11:23-31). Paul wrote,
“It seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the
arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe.. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world (1 Corinthians 4:9,13).
No, the apostles received no reward from this world, but only shame and pain. Why then did they keep telling the same story? For the simplest and best reason: They KNEW it was true. They had SEEN it with their own eyes. Their lives matched the honesty of their report. When threatened, they had to reply, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).
3 Knowing Jesus Through His Prophecies
“Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first
thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). . . . Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also
wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.'” (John 1:40-41,45)
God, through the prophets, had drawn a picture of the coming Messiah. Every Jew who heard readings from the Old Testament knew parts of this picture well. When Andrew and Philip met Jesus they began to see ways in which Jesus fit the prophetic picture. Believing Jews had waited centuries for this very moment. This kind of good news had to be shared! Philip soon told his friend, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote.”
THE NATION OF THE MESSIAH
PROMISES TO ADAM AND ABRAHAM
Moses, in about 1500 B.C., was the opening writer of the Old Testament. He recorded God’s first promise of hope for the sinful human family. God said to the snake:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you
will strike His heel (Genesis 3:15).”
From the beginning, the prophecies pointed to a male “offspring,” a male child. He would crush or destroy the snake, Satan (note Revelation 12:9). Satan would also give Him much pain.
Later, God spoke again of an “offspring” or “seed.” God chose Abraham, and God promised him,
“Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed Me.”
THE PROMISE TO ISRAEL
God repeated this promise to Abraham’s son Isaac (Genesis 21:12; 26:4).
God then repeated the promise to Isaac’s son Jacob (Genesis 28:14). Jacob was also called Israel, as we can read in Genesis 32:24-28.
Israel had twelve sons.
Which one of these twelve would God choose to carry on the promise of the blessing? Just before his death, Israel gave God’s blessings to each of his sons. Israel said to his son Judah:
“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until He comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is His.” (Genesis 49:10)
Israel’s son, Judah, would be the family line that would have the “scepter,” the stick of royal authority. Kings would come from the line of Judah. Many years after Genesis had been written, this prophecy came true. The kings of Israel did come from the tribe of Judah. Yet there was more to the prophecy. “He would come” the One to whom that ruler’s rod really belongs. He would be more than just Israel’s King, for He would be over “the nations.”
THE FAMILY OF THE MESSIAH
The first king from Judah’s line was David, in about 1000 B.C. God made amazing promises to King David (2 Samuel 7:8-29; Psalm 89:3-37; Psalm 132). These promises were repeated by the prophets (Isaiah 11:1; Amos 9: 11; Ezekiel 37:24-28). Jeremiah, for example, foretold,
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely
and do what is just and right in the land” (Jeremiah 23:5).
The New Testament was written over 600 years after Jeremiah. The book of Matthew begins:
-“A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matthew 1:1)
It is due to the fact that Israel’s laws about owning property that caused Jews to keep strict records of each genealogy.
Therefore it was well-known among the Jews that Jesus was from David’s family (Matthew 9:27; 15:22; Acts 2:22-36). Was it just by chance that Jesus came into that one nation, that one tribe, and that single family that had been predicted by God?
THE BIRTH PLACE OF THE MESSIAH
The number of places in the world is beyond counting. Who could foretell the exact place of the Messiah’s birth? Yet the prophet Micah made an amazing promise: The great Ruler would come from the home village (1 Samuel 16) of His forefather David.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me One who will be Ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
The mother of Jesus lived in Nazareth. Government rules forced her to travel many miles to Bethlehem. Her male child was born there, in the very village marked 500 years earlier by Micah (Matthew 2; Luke 2; John 7:42). Did this also happen by chance?
Andrew and Philip knew that only God could foretell and fulfill in such exact ways. They understood enough of the prophecies to be able to say,
“We have found the Messiah.”
However, some prophecies were more difficult to understand and accept.
MANY JEWS EXPECTED AN EARTHLY KING
Many Jews thought that the Messiah would be like other kings. They reasoned that if the Messiah would rule all nations, He would do so by armed force. So they looked for One to lead them in battle against their nation’s enemy, Rome (Acts 5:36-37). Seeing the great powers of Jesus, they wanted to force Jesus to become their king (John 6:15). They expected earthly Jerusalem to be His capital city. Later, when Jesus came to Jerusalem, large crowds shouted their greetings:
“Hosanna to the Son of David.” (Matthew 21:9)
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David.” (Mark 11:10) “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Luke 19:38)
The crowds were soon disappointed. Instead of joining in their happiness, Jesus wept over the city (Luke 19:43-44). He warned that Jerusalem would soon be destroyed by the Romans (Luke 21:5-24). Instead of marching against the Roman rulers, Jesus came before them as an accused criminal on trial (Luke 23). Many who had welcomed Him began
to call for His death. Nails were driven into His hands and feet to hold him onto the raised wood of the cross. There He was left to die slowly, in great pain.
THE SUFFERING OF THE MESSIAH
Neither the followers of Jesus, nor His enemies, expected that the Messiah would suffer in such ways. Great kings are supposed to be accepted by their people; Jesus was rejected by His people. Great kings have honor and respect; Jesus died in shame. Great kings defeat their enemies; Jesus was crucified by His enemies. His friends were confused and sad. They said,
“But we had hoped that He was the One who was going to redeem
Israel.” (Luke 24:21)
If they had looked more closely at the Old Testament prophecies, they would have realized that it foretold that the Messiah would be rejected. Before He died, Jesus often predicted that He would be killed by the Jewish and Roman leaders (Luke 17:25; 18:31-33; 20:9-15). In proof of this He quoted Psalm 118:22, which spoke of Israel’s leaders rejecting God’s chosen One. The prophet Isaiah (53:3) had also shown that God’s chosen One would be “despised and rejected.”
HOW THE MESSIAH WOULD SUFFER AND RISE
The Old Testament prophecies did not stop there. They went on to show exact ways in which the Messiah would be hurt. Here are a few, linked with passages in the New Testament:
* A close friend would turn against Him, betraying Him to His enemies (Psalm 41:9; Luke 22:47-48).
* The price to be paid for this betrayal was thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:14-15).
* His own followers would scatter, leaving Him alone (Zechariah 13:7; Mark 14:49-50).
* People would strike Him and spit on Him (Isaiah 50:6;Matthew 26:67).
* While treated in the most shameful way, He would endure it in silence (Isaiah 53:7; Mark 14:61; 15:5).
* He would be falsely judged and punished with criminals (Psalm 35:19; Isaiah 53:8,12; John 15:24-25; 19:18).
* He would be pierced, even in His hands and feet (Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10; John 19:18,37; 20:27).
* Those who pierced Him would also gamble for his clothes (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24).
* He would be killed – “cut off from the land of the living” (Isaiah 53:8; John 19:25-37).
* His death would be the “guilt offering” for removing the sins of us all (Isaiah 53:10-12; 1 Peter 2:24).
THE PROPHECIES FROM ISAIAH
Old Testament laws allowed only animals to be used as “guilt offerings.” Isaiah wrote in about 700 B.C. and he followed those laws. How then could Isaiah speak of this Human as the “guilt offering”? Isaiah 53 said other surprising things. It showed that after His suffering He would enjoy great satisfaction as a result of that suffering. It showed that after His death He would again “see the light of life” (Isaiah 53:10-11).
Some might ask, “Did Christians later write into Isaiah 53 their own ideas about the Christ?” No, this did not come from Christians. Remember that all the Old Testament was translated into the Greek language in about 250 B.C. Long before Jesus’ birth Isaiah 53 was already being read in many lands.
OLD MANUSCRIPTS OF ISAIAH
The oldest known Hebrew copy of Isaiah is one of the “Dead Sea Scrolls.” It was found in 1947 at Qumran near the Dead Sea, and has been kept in Jerusalem. Scientists have examined this Isaiah scroll. They date this scroll as having been penned over 100 years before the coming of Jesus. Yet this very ancient Isaiah scroll says the same thing in Isaiah 53 as your Bible says today. There is no doubt at all – Isaiah’s description of One dying for the sins of others, and then living again, was written long before Christianity began.
JESUS CLAIMED TO FULFILL PROPHECY
None of us chooses our own family line and place of birth. None of us can choose to return to life after dying. Yet Jesus boldly claimed to fulfill all Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. To His own followers Jesus said,
“How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to
suffer these things and then enter His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself . . . .He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24:25-27,44)
To the leading Jews He said,
These are the Scriptures that testify about Me . . . . If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. (John 5:39,46).
THE MESSAGE OF THE FIRST CHRISTIANS
The message that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies about the Messiah continued to be the message of the early Christians:
“Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days.” (Acts 3:24)
(See also Acts 10:43; 13:32; 26:22-23).
Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead.”This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ, ” he said (Acts 17:2-3).
4. Knowing Jesus Through His Signs
Jesus said to the servants,
“Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then He told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. . . . He said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but You have saved the best till now.” This, the first of His miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed His glory, and His disciples put their faith in Him (John 2:7-9,10-11).
Jesus gave much more than a gift at this wedding party. He gave a “sign” with important messages. The disciples had first believed through the witness of John the Baptizer. Their faith had grown through meeting Jesus personally. They began to see how He fit the old prophecies. Now, seeing His first miracle, they began to really trust in Jesus. They “put their faith in Him.”
A TRUE SIGN
The Bible first mentions such “signs” in Exodus 4. God used miraculous signs to prove the authority of Moses. Israel could be sure by the signs that God had sent Moses. Through that same Moses God promised to send a Prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:17-18). Some Old Testament prophets did work miracles. Yet none of them had used miracles as fully and powerfully as Moses had (Deuteronomy 34:10-12).
The last famous miracles of the Old Testament were in the time of Daniel. That had been over 500 years before the births of John the Baptizer and Jesus. If the disciples were not used to seeing miracles, what made them so sure that they had seen a real miracle at Cana?
John wrote as one who was present (John 20:30; 21:24). He knew the exact day of this first sign (John 1:43-2:1). Jesus came to join in blessing the newly married couple. What a blessing He gave them! There was nothing more for their guests to drink, and Jesus cared enough to solve their problem. He used the six large jars that were already there. John 2:6 says that each jar held about 20 to 30 gallons (75 to 115 liters) of water. This made a total amount of at least 120 gallons (450 liters). When they took some of the water to their leader, they found that it had become wine!
Could there have been some trick? Many were present to examine all the facts:
The wine had the finest taste – there was nothing poor or watery about it. All could test the wine’s quality.
They could also check that the large amount of water had been supplied only by the servants. The servants had filled the water pots to the very top (John 2:6). Nothing else could have been added.
In the same way, John’s report is clear and full. No room is left in John’s report for a mistake of memory or a trick. Nothing important has been left out. In nature God does use water to make grape juice. In the plant – the grape vine – water is slowly changed into juice with the help of sunshine, soil and air. What God does gradually through nature, He did in one moment through Jesus. Here was the power of God at work in a Man. Here was a true sign that only Heaven could give!
Messages Of Power
The miracle at Cana was just the beginning. For over three years Jesus did many miracles, showing powers that even Moses had not shown. Here are a few examples:
Jesus and His disciples were caught by a storm at sea. The boat seemed to be ready to sink. The disciples woke Jesus,
“Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of Man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!” (Matthew 8:26-27).
During another storm, Jesus came to their boat, “walking on the lake”(Matthew 14:25). When Peter was invited by Jesus, he also walked on the water. Then Peter looked at the strong waves and high winds, and he began to sink. Jesus rescued him and helped him back to the boat.
This happened soon after another memorable miracle. As the fame of Jesus grew, so did the crowds. They followed Jesus even to the lonely mountains east of Lake Galilee. Jesus told His disciples to find food for the crowds (Mark 6:38). Andrew came back and said,
“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish (John 6:9-11).
Armies use many supplies, many cooks and much money to feed such numbers. Jesus used just a handful of food to make enough to fully “satisfy” 5000 men, besides women and children (Matthew 14:21-20).
Honest eyewitnesses could not have been mistaken about such reports. Some ask, “Could Jesus’ followers have made up a false story?” Thousands who were there could have proved them liars. The whole Jewish nation would have laughed at such wild stories. The nation did not laugh. It took the reports so seriously that it divided over them (John 7:12,43; 9:16).
Many recognized the miracles as signs from God. Others saw the miracles as a threat to their own ruling positions. When Jesus raised the dead, they took the miracles seriously enough to seek the death of Jesus (John 11).
Messages Of Mercy
With such powers, Jesus could have become very rich. Instead, He lived and died with almost nothing. He never used His miracles selfishly (Matthew 4:1-10; John 4:3-8).
Some miracles of the Old Testament had destroyed people. Jesus came on a mission of mercy. “I did not come to judge the world, but to save it” (John 12:47). Thus His miracles did no harm, even to enemies. His miracles carried a clear message of love and help for all, especially for the needy and suffering. When the 5000 men followed Jesus east of Lake Galilee, He “had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14).
At another time, when Jesus fed over 4000, He said,
I have compassion for these people . . . I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.
He Himself was fully human, feeling much hunger, thirst, fatigue, sadness and pain. So He could feel with the pains and needs of others. Jesus often reached out and touched sick people (Mark 6:5; 7:33; 8:23; Luke 4:40; 13:13). Even those with the worst illnesses, and with diseases that can be passed to others, were not left out.
A man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged Him,
“Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him (Luke 5:12-13).
Knowing Jesus Through His Signs
Were these true miracles of healing? Take a closer look. Jesus visited a pool called Bethesda in Jerusalem.
Here a great number of disabled people used to lie – the blind, the lame, the paralyzed . . . . One who was there had been an invalid for 38 years. .. . Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked (John 5:3,5,8-9).
The best medicine could not have done what Jesus did. The man was so crippled that he had not walked in 38 years! Even if modern doctors might find a cure, they could never strengthen his leg muscles immediately. After the muscles were stronger, they would still have to help the man learn how to walk. Jesus healed and gave instant ability to walk. Here is a re- port from another visit to Jerusalem:
As Jesus went along, He saw a man blind from birth . . . . Jesus spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” He told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” . . . . So the man went and washed, and came home seeing (John 9:1,6-7).
Many knew this beggar who had been born blind. Jesus’ enemies had to admit that God’s hand had been at work (John 9:24). But they did not want to honor Jesus. So they tried to say that Jesus was a “sinner.” The healed man did not know Jesus well, yet to such things he replied,
“Whether He is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:25)
The healed man also said to them,
“Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where He comes from, yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does His will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.
If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” (John 9:30-33)
Some became upset that Jesus healed on the Jewish day of rest, the Sabbath. Jesus replied to them,
“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees his Father doing, because whatever
the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19)
Jesus’ miracles showed God’s own will and work. God cares for His people. He reaches out to meet their needs. Through Christ He sets right the things that are wrong.
Messages Of Faith
Jesus used many lessons to prove God’s willingness to help. He used examples of God’s care in nature (Matthew 6:25-26). He used examples of family love, showing “how much more” the heavenly Father cares (Matthew 7:9-11). He also used the
miracles themselves as examples for building faith in God’s power and kindness. He told a healed woman, “Your faith has made you well.” He told a soldier, “It will be done just as you believed it would” (Matthew 8:13).
When Jesus did an amazing miracle to a tree, He used it as an example for His apostles. Yet He used words showing that the basic lesson – “have faith in God” – was a lesson for all (“anyone”):
“Have faith in God . . . I tell you the truth, if any one says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you
ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:22-24)
The miracles served as spiritual windows. Through them people could look into the power of God at work in Christ. Jesus did not heal every ill person in the world, or even all the sick in the land of Israel. Jesus did heal every case of every kind of illness brought to His attention (Matthew 4:23- 24; 8:16; 9:35). He never failed. Thus He proved God’s power to help every person who comes to Him. Jesus used the healing of man’s diseased body to prove that He could also heal man’s sinful spirit (Luke 5:17-26). He used the healing of the blind to prove that He could give spiritual insight to all who are willing to learn (John 9).
He used the feeding of the 5000 to prove that He is “the living bread” for eternal life (John 6).
He cast out demons to prove His power to throw Satan out of any person (Luke 11). He raised the dead to prove that He has power to raise up the spiritually dead as well as all in earthly graves (John 5: 25-29; 11:1-45).
Jesus did not raise up every dead person in Palestine. He raised up enough to serve as clear examples. These and His other miracles were sufficient to make His message plain: Place your faith in God and in His Son, Jesus. God has the desire and power to help each of us who comes to Him through Christ. Jesus said to His followers,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me.” (John 14:1)
Messages Of The Messiah
When God promised to send the Prophet like Moses, God said, “I will put My words in His mouth, and He will tell them (Israel) everything I command Him” (Deuteronomy 18:18). When Jesus came, He kept claiming to speak as the Son faithfully speaking for His Father. He spoke only what God commanded Him.
“My teaching is not My own. It comes from Him who sent Me.” (John 7:16)
There is a judge for the one who rejects Me and does not accept My words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of My own accord, but the Father who sent Me commanded what to say and how to say it.” (John 12: 48-49)
Knowing Jesus Through His Signs
How could Jesus prove such great claims? The same way Moses did by great acts from God Himself! Speaking about the healing at Bethesda, Jesus said,
“The very work that . . . I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent Me.” (John 5:36)
Later He said, “The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for Me.” (John 10:25)
Many Jews began to understand the message of the miracles. Many in the crowd put their faith in Him. They said,
“When the Christ comes, will He do more miraculous signs than this Man?” (John 7:31)
“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a Man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know.” (Acts 2:22)
Jesus’ miracles had the same purpose as Moses’ miracles. They showed the right, given by God, to lead and to speak for God (Exodus 4:12-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 2:1-4). Yet, as great as Moses had been, he had never said, “Trust in Me.” Moses did not say anything like these words of Jesus:
“Believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father (John 10:38). Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father . . . . Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” (John 14:9,11)
Jesus’ miracles were greater, especially in giving life. He did “what no one else did” (John 15:24). Therefore His signs had a greater message. While proving that Jesus was the Prophet, they also proved much more. Jesus’ claims about Himself and His Father were not empty words. The disciples began to understand this message when Jesus walked on the sea.
Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).
After seeing the power of Jesus, Peter confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)
John also saw the signs of Jesus. Near the end of his report, John showed the message of the miracles:
“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are
written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
If God really did send Jesus, how could God prove that fact to men? By showing powers that only God can give. Jesus had those powers. He showed full control over every part of nature. He gave immediate healing from every sickness. He proved His complete power over death. Many witnesses saw and reported these signs to us. The signs have an important message for each one of us – Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Belief in Jesus leads to life.
5 Knowing Jesus As The Light
“. . . In the future He will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:1-2)
The prophet Isaiah knew that his people were in deep trouble for their sins. “All is darkness,” he reported (Isaiah 59:9). Yet God, in great mercy, promised to shine in a new and brighter way (Isaiah 60:1). God made the same promise through His prophet Malachi (4:2):
“The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.”
Who would see the dawn of this new day? Isaiah (9:1-2) pointed especially to the people around Lake Galilee! Since they were on Israel’s northern border they were often the first to be attacked by foreign (Gentile) armies. They lived under “the shadow of death.” Yet these people would be the first to be blessed by God’s great light.
LIGHT IN GALILEE
700 years later this prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus’ arrival (Matthew 4:13-17). He grew up, and did much of His work, in the region of Galilee. His hometown there was Nazareth. At the age of twelve Jesus visited Jerusalem (88 miles, or 140 kilometers, south of Nazareth). When the time came to return home His parents, Joseph and Mary, searched for Him. After three days they found Him at the temple. Teachers there were amazed by His knowledge. Jesus said to His parents,
“Didn’t you know I had to be in My Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). He returned to Nazareth with His parents and was obedient to them. There Jesus became known as “the carpenter” – likely doing wood work for furniture and houses. He helped to care for his family, including sisters and four brothers (Mark 6:3).
As is true for any young man, there were many chances to sin. He had normal needs and desires. There were pressures from the business world, from harsh Roman rulers, and even from normal struggles between family members. Friends His age were learning worldly ways. Yet Jesus did not go along with them into sin. He never gave in to the pressures. Luke sums up His youth in this way:
“Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke2:52)
THE PUREST LIFE
When Jesus was about thirty years old, He went to John to be baptized. John tried to refuse, saying,
“I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” (Matthew 3:14).
John’s whole life belonged to God. Yet John already knew that Jesus’ life was much better than his own. Soon after this John called Jesus “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29). Lambs used in sacrifice to God were free from any fault. John’s words suggested that Jesus was free from all sin. John also called Jesus “the Son of God” (John 1:34). This suggested that the character of Jesus was a true mirror of God’s goodness.
Satan used his strongest attacks against Jesus. One of these attacks came soon after Jesus’ baptism.
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days . . .” (Luke 4:1-2)
Satan tried to use Jesus’ hunger, His greatness and even His faith in God. Each time Jesus used God’s word, the Scriptures, to defeat Satan. Jesus was the first man until then (and since then) to win every battle against the devil. He was the only human over whom Satan had no power at all. “He has no hold on Me,” said Jesus (John 14:30; like 8:46). All the writers who knew Jesus’ life agreed with this.
The true Light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. . .We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:9,14).
“For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth. When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:22-23).
Satan was like “a strong man.” Yet Jesus claimed to be much stronger. He claimed to defeat Satan, and to take whatever He wanted from Satan (Matthew 12:22-29). How did Jesus prove this claim? By publicly defeating the forces of Satan! He could do this because “demons” – the evil spirits who serve Satan – were working in a very bold and open way. (Compared with the Old Testament, the New Testament shows much more visible activity from the demons.) Demons even forced themselves into some people. They caused much harm to those in whom they lived.
On the east side of Lake Galilee there is a place of caves and graves. There Jesus met a man called “Legion.” He was so named because “many” evil spirits lived in him. He kept crying out and cutting his naked body. The demons in him recognized and feared Jesus. They made the man shout,
“What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, don’t torture me!” (Luke 8:28).
Jesus ordered the demons to come out of the man. The demons obeyed at once. The local people were amazed when they saw the man called Legion “sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind” (Luke 8:35).
Jesus met many others who had demons. He always had mercy on them. He always healed them and forced the spirits to leave them.
All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power He gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!” (Luke 4:36). Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him (Acts 10:38).
Jesus shared with His followers the power to defeat Satan. He proved this by giving to those with Him power for miracles and casting out demons (Matthew 10:1; Luke 10:19; Mark 16:17). They too had the same success. (The disciples had only one failure, as recorded in Matthew 17:14-21. That was because of their own lack of faith. After that lesson, every other attempt
at working miracles was successful.) When seventy disciples came back from their preaching journeys, they joyfully said to Jesus,
“Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:17-18).
Now no force can control God’s people against their will. Nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). Christians continue to win their struggles against “the powers of this dark world.” They do this by using the mighty strength of Jesus.
This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).
“Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power . . . .Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:10,16)
"I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD"
Since Jesus came teaching and preaching about the Kingdom of God, He was often called “Rabbi” or “Teacher.” There were, of course, many others who claimed to be teachers. To other religious leaders Jesus said,
“You are not to be called `Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master . .. . Nor are you to be called `teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.” (Matthew 23:8,10)
He said the same thing in other ways:
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32).
“Whatever I say is just what the Father has told Me to say.” (John 12:50)
Others claiming to be “the Light” would be making empty boasts. But when Jesus made this claim, people had to pay attention. They were “amazed at His teaching, because He taught them as One who had authority, not as the teachers of the law” (Mark 1:22).
Jesus often used “parables.” These were usually stories from everyday life that taught spiritual lessons. Jesus’ teachings were more than just words. He always lived up to His great truths. He also proved His words true by the signs only heaven could send.
DARKNESS HATES LIGHT
The Jewish temple should have been the center for worshipping God. Yet people could hardly pray there. Traders were busy taking money from the worshippers. The temple became “a market” and “a den of robbers” (Matthew 21:13). Therefore,
“Jesus made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables . . . . He said, ‘How dare you turn My Father’s house into a market!'” (John 2:15-16)
Leaders of the temple became angry. (After all, this young man from Galilee had not even been to their special schools, John 7:15). They belonged to a religious group called Sadducees. This group did not treat Scripture with proper respect. For example, they did not believe passages about spirits, angels and certain miracles. They argued with Jesus about this. He proved
how little they understood. He said to them,
“You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).
A group of teachers named Pharisees also argued with Jesus. They were very strict about the law of Moses. They tried to keep it `safe’ by adding many laws of their own. Jesus did not fit in with these man-made rules and ideas. For example, He did not follow their rules about `removing sin’ by washing before eating. They accused Him of leaving the old ways, “the tradition of the elders.” Jesus replied,
Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“These people honor Me (the LORD) with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” (Mark 7:6-8)
“Hypocrites” means “actors.” Many were putting on an act of loving God. Beneath their masks they really loved earthly things. They chased after money and power (Matthew 23; Luke 16:14; 18:9-14; John 5:42-44). Their religious rules were a cover for looking good to others and for controlling others. Jesus’ pure light showed just how deep was their darkness, and how blind their leading.
This is the verdict: “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:19-20)
Light and darkness cannot be in the same place. The leaders hated the way Jesus uncovered their sinfulness. They became worried when many people went to hear Jesus. Soon they looked for ways to kill Jesus.
GOD'S OWN TESTIMONY
Jesus warned His followers that He would soon be killed by the leaders (Matthew 16:21). His closest disciples were saddened to hear such things. God chose this time to prove to them, beyond any doubt, the truth about Jesus.
“Jesus took with him Peter, James and John . . . and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” (Matthew 17:1-2).
Jesus was changed or “transfigured.” Though still a Man, He shone with glory beyond anything human. Even His clothing “became as bright as a flash of lightening” (Luke 9:29). You may have seen lightening, or looked into the shining sun. If so, you have an idea of the glory of Jesus’ body and face. This was what Peter meant when he said,
“We were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)
God had already shown Jesus to be the spiritual and moral “light of the world.”To this God added visible proof of Jesus’ own heavenly light. Then God gave His testimony from heaven. He sent Moses (the lawgiver) and Elijah (the great prophet) to appear in glory beside Jesus. Peter wanted to honor all three, but God honored Jesus.
While Peter was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5)
6 Knowing Jesus As The Life
All who ever came before Me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved . . . . The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full . . . . I am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me (John 10:8-10,14).
These bold words, spoken by Jesus, were like words found in Ezekiel (34:23;37:24). Ezekiel had spoken during dark days of slavery in Babylon. Many leaders then (as now) thought only of their own gain. They used and hurt people under them. At that time God made a prophecy through Ezekiel. God promised to send His “one Shepherd” who would truly care for His people. 600 years later Jesus came claiming to be the one Shepherd. All others who claimed to be the one Shepherd were false, He said. Jesus would gather together all God’s scattered people. He promised, “There shall be one flock and one Shepherd” (John 10:16; like 11:52).
Each Person Is Special To God
The life of Jesus was all about caring for people and bringing them back to God. He especially spent time helping those who knew they were trapped by sin and shame. The Pharisees complained, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).
In reply Jesus showed how He is like a shepherd. He does not want one sheep (one person) to be left in danger. Even if only one sheep is lost, He keeps searching for that one until He finds it (Luke 15:1-7). What about people who have willfully left God? Jesus told a parable showing that God is like a father. The father watches for his child who has gone away into a life of
sin. When the child comes home, the father joyfully welcomes him with open arms (Luke 15:11-24).
Shortly after saying this Jesus visited a chief tax-collector, Zacchaeus. Many people hated Zacchaeus. Forgetting that they themselves were also sinful people, they grumbled, “Jesus has gone to be the guest of a `sinner'” (Luke 19:7). Jesus showed Zacchaeus how to change his heart and life. He said,
Today salvation has come to this house . . . . For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost (Luke 19:9-10).
Power To Forgive
Jesus often stated the purpose of His mission. He told the people of Nazareth that He was fulfilling what Isaiah (61:1) had prophesied about Him:
The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, be cause He has anointed Me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed (Luke 4:18).
By saying that He was “anointed,” Jesus claimed to be the Christ. (Christ means “Anointed One.”) Israel’s ancient kings were anointed when oil was poured on them. Jesus received a far richer anointing – God’s own Spirit came down upon Him at His baptism (Matthew 3: 16; Acts 10:38). From that time Jesus began speaking out publicly about freedom from sin and suffering. While Jesus was visiting a Pharisee, a sinful woman came into the room. The Pharisee was upset. But Jesus made her feel welcome. He then said to her,
Your sins are forgiven . . . . Your faith has saved you; go in peace (Luke 7:48,50).
The people there asked, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” All sin is against God. Therefore the only One who can finally clear people of their sins is God. How could Jesus claim a right belonging to God? If God had given Jesus special power, how could people be sure of that fact? The answer is given in Luke 5. Jesus was teaching in a crowded house. A crippled man was lying outside. To get past the crowd, his friends carried him up to the roof. Through a hole in the roof they lowered the cripple to the floor in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven” (Luke 5:20).
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who
can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in
your hearts? Which is easier: to say, `Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, `Get up and walk’? But that you may know that
the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . .” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God
ERV for Luke 5:21: The Jewish teachers of the law and the Pharisees thought to themselves, “Who is this man? He is saying things that are against God! Only God can forgive sins!”
This healing miracle clearly proved that Jesus had special authority from God. Jesus could do impossible things that are seen. Therefore people should believe that Jesus also had authority to do impossible things that are unseen. If God gave Jesus power to heal the visible body instantly, then God could also give Jesus power to heal the invisible spirit instantly!
“I AM The Resurrection And The Life”
Listen to Jesus’ amazing claims:
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He is pleased to give it (John 5:21). For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself (John 5:26).
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25).
Jesus asked this last question (John 11:25) of a friend named Mary. Her brother Lazarus had died four days before, while Jesus was away. Knowing Jesus’ power, she could not understand why her brother had been allowed to die. This sorrow moved the spirit of Jesus deeply. “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Then Jesus came to the cave where Lazarus was buried. He ordered people to remove the grave’s stone cover. They obeyed, though they knew that the smell would be bad.
Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go” (John 11:43-44).
Jesus had also raised others from death (Luke 7:11-17; 8:41-46). Many had been present and had spread the news. Now many more became followers because of the raising of Lazarus. The Jewish leaders feared they were losing their power over the people. They plotted to kill both Jesus and the evidence of His power, the living Lazarus (John 11:47-52; 12:10). If they
had thought more clearly, they would have realized that if Jesus raised Lazarus once, He could raise him again. If Jesus could raise the dead, then He could keep Himself safe from any enemy!
"I Lay Down My Life"
Yet Jesus was soon taken and killed by the Jewish and Roman leaders. For thirty pieces of silver Judas, an apostle, led soldiers to Gethsemane, the garden Jesus often visited. They arrested Jesus and took Him away to be tried and executed (Matthew 26, 27). How could this happen? The passage about the Good Shepherd gives the answer. Jesus said,
I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:11). The reason My Father loves Me is that I lay down My life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father (John 10:17-18).
Jesus had often foretold that He would be killed by the Jewish and Roman rulers (John 2:19; Matthew 16:21; 17:9,23; 20:18-19). He assured His followers that His death would not be a failure. It would serve the greatest purpose of all. Listen to the things He said before His death:
I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world (John 6:51). The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).
The Lord's Supper
Christ’s life would be given as the “ransom,” the price to bring people back to God. Just before He was arrested Jesus ate the “Passover” with His apostles. This was the special meal Jews ate once a year. They ate it to remember how God used lamb’s blood to save them from slavery and death in Egypt.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgive ness of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28).
The Old Covenant (Old Agreement) had started with blood from animal sacrifices. The New Covenant between God and all who would come to Him would begin with the far better blood of God’s Son (Hebrews 9). As the prophet Jeremiah had foretold, this would be the better covenant in which all would know God. They could know Him because He would “forgive their wickedness and . . . remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12). That forgiveness was possible because Jesus took the full punishment that we should have suffered.
He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5-6). . . . He poured out His life unto death, and was numbered with the trans-
gressors. For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12).
ERV for Isaiah 53:5-6,12: But He was given pain to suffer for the wrong things we did. He was crushed for our guilt. A debt
we owed – our punishment – was given to Him. We were healed because of His pain. But all of us wandered away like sheep.
Each of us went our own way. The Lord put all our guilt on Him. . . . because He gave His life for the people, and He died.
People said He was a criminal. But He carried away the sins of many, many people. And now He speaks for people that have sinned. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds
you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24).
Jesus knew how much He would suffer in His death for men’s sins. After the meal, He went to the Garden of Gethsemane. In great sorrow He prayed,
“Father, if You are willing, take this cup (of suffering) from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” . . . . And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:42,44).
Jesus On Trial
As soon as Jesus had finished praying, the soldiers came to arrest Him. For many hours Jesus was put on trial (Matthew 26,27). He was tried first by the Jewish high priest, Caiaphas. Then He was handed over to the Roman governor, Pilate. Pilate did not like the case. He tried to pass it on to the visiting king of Galilee, Herod. That cruel king made the most of this chance to hurt and mock Jesus (Luke 23). Then he returned Jesus to Pilate. After more trial Pilate said to the Jews,
You brought me this Man as One who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined Him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against Him (Luke 23:14).
You brought this Man to me. You said that He was making trouble among the people. But I judged Him before you all. I found no wrong that He had done. Jesus is not guilty of the things you say.
Pilate offered a choice to the Jews. He would release one prisoner. It could either be Jesus or a well-known murderer and rebel named Barabbas (Mark 15:7). Urged by their leaders, the crowd demanded that Barabbas be freed. “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify Him!” (Matthew 27:22).
A riot nearly began when Pilate still refused. The leaders threatened to accuse Pilate of helping an enemy king (Jesus) against the Roman king, Caesar (John 19:12). So Pilate finally sentenced Jesus to die on a cross. But first Pilate washed his hands before them all, showing how he disliked killing a good man (Matthew 27:24). When the soldiers took Jesus they brutally whipped and beat Him. They dressed Him in a royal robe, pushed a crown of thorns onto His head, spat on Him, and made fun of such a `king’ (Matthew 27:27-30). Then they made Jesus carry His cross toward the killing place outside Jerusalem. Along the way they found another man, Simon from the African town of Cyrene. They forced him to carry the cross the rest of the way (Mark 15:21).
At about nine in the morning they came to the hill called in Latin “Calvary” and in Hebrew “Golgotha” (“The Place of the Skull,” Mark 15:22).
There they crucified Him, along with the criminals – one on His right, the other on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up His clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at Him. They said, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” The soldiers . . . said, “If You are the king of the Jews, save Yourself.” There was a written notice above Him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS (Luke 23:33-38).
One dying thief realized how foolish it was to insult Jesus. The thief said,
“We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this Man has done nothing wrong . . . . Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:41-43).
(“Paradise” is the place where the good go in death.) By now it was noon. Suddenly deep darkness covered everything, and lasted three hours (Luke 23:44). In His agony Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34). At the end Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), and “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!” With that He
stopped breathing (Luke 23:46). Jewish leaders wanted the soldiers to finish off the killing sooner, so they were breaking the legs of those on the crosses.
When they came to Jesus they did not break His legs, for they could see that He was already dead. Yet, just to make sure, a soldier drove his spear into Jesus’ side. Blood and water gushed out of the corpse (John 19:31-34). All who were present were witnesses to the fact that Jesus was dead.
The body of Jesus was taken down from the cross. Pilate allowed two wealthy Jewish leaders, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, to take the body. Jesus was placed into the grave owned by Joseph (Matthew 27:60). So was fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah (53:9) that His grave would be “with the rich.”
Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there (John 19:40-42).
Let's Sum It Up
The saddest chapter in human history was the murder of the one true Shepherd. Enemies accused, mocked, and beat Him through out a series of unjust trials. He died in great pain, nailed to a cross. To the end He showed love, even to His enemies. He was buried in a borrowed tomb. All of this was by “God’s set purpose and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23; : “God
knew this would happen. This was God’s plan. God made His plan long ago”). In God’s plan this was the real Passover, the sacrifice of God’s own Lamb. Jesus was taking the punishment for your sins and my sins. Through this death God removed the guilt and penalty of sin from us all, and placed it on Christ. Through the cross God now gives us complete forgiveness and “life to the full.”
7 Knowing Jesus As The Lord
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!” (Luke 24:1-6).
These women were followers of Jesus. They took spices to the tomb in order to give Jesus’ body a better burial. The two who appeared as shining men were angels (John 20:12). They were heaven’s messengers to tell the news that would forever change the world: Jesus is the Living One. He broke the power of death. As Peter later declared, “God raised Him from the dead,
freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him” (Acts 2:24).
Promised And Fulfilled
The two angels then reminded the women of Jesus’ own words. While He was still with them Jesus had said,
The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again (Luke 24:7).
Jesus often foretold His suffering and His resurrection on the third day (Matthew 12:40; 16:21; Luke 9:22). This was so well-known that His enemies worried. They made Pilate’s soldiers guard the tomb (Matthew 27:62-66). But these soldiers were useless to stop God’s power (Matthew 28:1-4).
One of the women who saw the empty tomb was Mary Magdalene. She hurried back to the other disciples. When Peter and John heard her news they ran to the tomb. They saw that the body itself was gone, though the burial clothes were still there (John 20:2-9).
After Peter and John left, Mary Magdalene arrived back at the tomb. While she was weeping there she saw a Man. Through her grief and tears, she did not recognize Him. Thinking He was the gardener, she asked where the body of Jesus had been taken. The Man said one word to her – “Mary.” She knew that voice. That voice had freed her from demons (Luke 8:2). That voice had taught her about God. She turned towards Jesus and cried out, “Rabboni!” which means “Teacher!” (John 20:11-16).
Unwilling To Believe
Jesus sent Mary to tell the other disciples, for they were still “mourning and weeping” over His death (Mark 16: 10). “When they heard that Jesus was alive and that Mary Magdalene had seen Him, they did not believe it” (Mark 16:11). Soon all the women came telling them that they had seen the angels and Jesus Himself (Matthew 28:9). “But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense” (Luke 24:11).
Simon Peter also struggled with doubt. While Jesus was on trial, Peter had three times denied knowing Jesus. Yet, when Jesus began to show Himself to the apostles, He chose to meet Peter first (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5). Jesus then visited two sorrowing disciples near Emmaus (Mark 16: 12- 13; Luke 24:13-35). These two hurried seven miles back to Jerusalem and told the others. Again the others refused to accept such amazing news. But their unbelief could not last long . . . .
While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were
startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your
minds? Look at My hands and My feet. It is I Myself! Touch Me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I
have.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, He asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate it in their presence (Luke 24:36-43).
At this meeting the apostle Thomas was not present.
So the other disciples told Thomas, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it” (John 20:25).
Many Convincing Proofs
A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”
A few, like Lazarus, had been miraculously brought back from death. Yet they had not raised themselves; and their return to earthly life was only for a while. They would later die like ordinary men. Jesus did what no man had done before (and what no man has done since). By the power of God He lifted Himself from death. He rose, never to die again (John 2:19; Romans
Disciples like Thomas doubted that such power was possible in a man. Their doubts and questions only added more strength to the evidence. For these men demanded real proof. Many of them had seen Jesus’ horrible death with their own eyes. They knew, beyond any doubt, that He was dead (John 19:33-35; Mark 15:44-45). Sorrow had taken away their hope. (Luke
24:17-21). Only by the clearest proofs did Jesus satisfy them that His dead body had truly returned to life. He even showed Himself to over 500 people at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6). In Galilee Jesus showed Himself often to the apostles.
After His suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared
to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). He said to them . . . “You will
receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The disciples’ complete change of heart, and their courage as witnesses, show how fully they were convinced. Jesus gave them full and firm evidence, so that all could believe through their reports. At the end of the forty days, Jesus went back to be with God. This was done in a way that removed any doubt about where He was going.
Jesus was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11).
No one knows when Jesus will return (Matthew 24:36). When He comes back, He will raise all the dead and judge all people (John 5:22,26-29). He will take His own people to live with God (John 14:1-3; Hebrews 9:28). His resurrection is the assurance that these promises are true (Acts 17:31; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26).
Thomas, when he saw the risen Christ, became sure that Jesus was his Lord his Owner and Ruler. Just ten days after Jesus was taken up to heaven, Peter spoke to Jews gathered in Jerusalem for their Feast of Pentecost. He showed them the proof of Jesus’ resurrection, and then he said,
Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).
The promises made by God through the Old Testament prophets had come true. According to the prophets the Christ had to rule on David’s throne at God’s right hand (Psalm 89; 110; 132; Luke 1:31-33). Peter showed that these prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus rising to reign at God’s side in heaven (Acts 2:30-33).
God raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church (Ephesians 1:20-22).
ERV: God used (great strength) to raise Christ from death. God put Christ at His right side in the heavenly places. God made Christ more important than all rulers, authorities, powers, and kings. Christ is more important than anything that has power in this world or in the next world. God put everything under Christ’s power. And God gave Him to be the head over everything for the church.
This was just what the prophet Daniel had foreseen. One as a “Son of Man” went to God “with the clouds of heaven.” There He was formally given kingly authority over all people, a kingdom that would never be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14). Jesus Himself said,
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me (Matthew 28:18). I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne (Revelation 3:21).
God’s throne is the highest throne. It is the throne from which Jesus now rules as Lord and King over all.
Thomas, when he first saw the risen Christ, had called Him, “My Lord and my God!” In that moment Thomas realized that Jesus, though Man, was far more than any man or angel. Yet who is higher than the highest man or angel? God alone. There is only one God. Jesus, therefore, had to be that same God in human form. The apostle John agreed with this. Guided by the Spirit (John 16:13), he wrote,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made (John 1:1-3). The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. . . . (John 1:14).
Jesus had often shown that He was one with God the Father (John 8:58; 10:30,38; 12:45; 14:7-9). He received “worship,” which belongs to God alone (Matthew 2:11; 4:10; 14:33; 28:9,17). He taught that all should “honor the Son just as they honor the Father” (John 5:23). Jews tried to kill Jesus because of His “claim to be God” (John 10:33), and for “making Himself
equal with God” (John 5:18). They should not have been so surprised at Jesus’ claims. Scripture had foretold that God Himself would come. The last prophet of the Old Testament had faithfully recorded Yahweh’s promise, “I will send My messenger, who will prepare the way before Me” (Malachi 3:1). Isaiah had foreseen “God” being “born” to rule.
For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace . . . He will reign on David’s throne . . . from that time on and forever (Isaiah 9:6-7).
This is the same Isaiah who assured us that there is only one God.
“Before Me no god was formed, nor will there be one after Me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from Me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:10-11).
This is what the LORD says . . . “I am the first and I am the last; apart from Me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6).
This is the same Isaiah (7:14) who foretold that “Immanuel” (meaning “God with us”) would be born of a virgin. According to the New Testament this prophecy was fulfilled through Mary, the mother of Jesus (Matthew 1:22-23). Before Mary was married God’s angel said to her,
You will be with child and give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David . . . His kingdom will never end (Luke 1:31-33).
Mary wondered how she could have a child. She had never had sexual relations with a man. The angel explained,
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35).
Jesus’ mother was a virgin. Therefore His fleshly life did not start through a sexual act of any kind. Jesus began His human life in Mary’s body only by a miracle of God’s pure power. Jesus’ divine life – His life as God – did not begin in Mary’s body. God is eternal, and has no beginning and no end (Hebrews 1:8). To the Almighty nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37); therefore God could certainly send a part of Himself, God the Son, to become flesh through Mary.
We may wonder how God can be One, and yet show Himself as two persons, “Father” and “Son.” This is not a new mystery. From the beginning of the Old Testament God showed Himself as two: LORD (Yahweh) and Holy Spirit (Genesis 1-3). In that same Old Testament, God revealed that He would be born as “Son” (Isaiah 9:6-7). In all of this God assured us that He is One. God surely knows how best to reveal Himself to us. Therefore we accept Scripture’s teaching that God is One, and yet is Father, Holy Spirit and Son. What do we mean when we confess that Jesus is “the Son of God”? We are saying that He is fully human (as to His birth on earth), and fully divine (as to His oneness with God).
God wanted people to know and honor Him fully. Yet their weak hearts failed to understand the far greater heart of God. How could God picture Himself to His people? Earthly images were so far beneath His glory that they were useless and forbidden. God told the truth when He said, “I am the LORD; that is My name! I will not give My glory to another” (Isaiah 42:8). The only One who could mirror or represent God properly was God Himself (for none else could begin to compare with God)! Therefore God took on the form of a Man (Philippians 2). Watching Christ, we can see how God really thinks, feels and works. We can escape false ideas and false gods. We can worship and love the true God, knowing Him for who He truly is.
Word was God . . . . The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only . . . No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known (John 1:1,14,18).
answered . . . “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father”(John 14:9). He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being (Hebrew 1:3).
Jesus, being divine, fully reveals what God is like. Being human, Jesus also reveals to us what man ought to be like. The world’s best people have faults, and so can never be complete examples for us. But in Jesus we see the perfect example. He shows us how godly people should think and live.
Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21).
Since Jesus is the way God speaks to us (Hebrews 1:2), we cannot know God unless we know Jesus.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5:11-12).
Jesus stated this same truth as He prayed to the Father,
Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent (John 17:3).
The apostle Paul (another witness of the risen Christ) said that “knowing Christ” sums up all of life’s purpose.
I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things (Philippians 3:8).
Because Jesus has been raised, we know that we too will be raised from death (Philippians 3:11,21). Yet we do not have to wait until then to know Jesus. He continues to live now, ruling at the Father’s side, and meeting our needs. So we can come to know Him now. He promises His followers,
Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
We know Him by believing and confessing the Good News that the Son of God has come, and has defeated sin and death (Romans 1,3,10). We know Him by turning away from sin, and being “baptized into Christ,” sharing in His death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6; Acts 2; 8; 22). We continue to know Him by walking with Him in His light (John 8:12, 31; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:5-6).
Coming to Christ is a matter of obedient faith (Romans 1:5; 16:26; Hebrews 3:14; 5:9). Therefore it is of the highest importance to know how faith obeys.
LORD: Father, Son and Holy Spirit! You have not left us in any doubt. Your greatness, Your power, Your wisdom – and also Your tender love for us have been shown in Jesus. To Your honor we confess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God! Please enable us to learn, without delay, Your will for coming to You through union with Christ . . . .
I learned the above from WBS, all glory goes to the Lord Almighty