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Monday, September 1, 2008

JESUS - Why He Is So Important?

FOR 2,000 years now, much attention has been focused on the birth of Jesus. According to the first-century physician Luke, a young virgin named Mary was told by an angel: “Look! you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you are to call his name Jesus.” What did the angelic messenger say about Jesus? “This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,” he said. “He [Jesus] will rule as king,” and “there will be no end of his kingdom.”—Luke 1:31-33.

Surely that is what mankind needs—a righteous world ruler to administer earth’s affairs in a loving way! Indeed, long before Jesus’ birth, the Bible foretold: “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 . . . Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.”—Isaiah 9:6, 7, New International Version.

A righteous government and peace—what glorious prospects! But note that this government was foretold to be on the shoulders of a prince—the “Prince of Peace”—revealing that the King over all, Almighty God, entrusts such rulership to His Son. So Jesus repeatedly called this government of which he would be Ruler “the kingdom of God.”—Luke 9:27, 60, 62.

Early in his ministry Jesus said: “I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.” (Luke 4:43) Jesus even taught his followers to pray for God’s Kingdom to come. (Matthew 6:9, 10) The journal Christianity and Crisis says that “the Kingdom was the dominant theme of [Jesus’] teaching,” adding: “No other subject was so much on his mind or so central to his message. It is mentioned over a hundred times in the Gospel narratives.”

Questions for Consideration

In what way do you think of Jesus today? Commonly at this time of the year, he is depicted as a babe in a manger. And it is true that he was briefly a helpless baby. (Luke 2:15-20) But is that how he should primarily be remembered? Think about it, Why was Jesus born as a human? Really, who was he?

“Was Jesus the Son of God, the promised Messiah of the Hebrew Bible?” the Encarta Yearbook of 1996 asked. “Or was he simply a man, an extraordinary one perhaps, but a man nonetheless?” Such questions deserve serious thought. Why? Because our very life and happiness depend upon how we view Jesus and act toward him. “He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life,” the Bible says, but “he that disobeys the Son will not see life.”—John 3:36.

No Ordinary Man

After describing Jesus’ activities at Jerusalem’s temple when he was 12 years old, the Bible says that he returned home with Mary and her husband, Joseph, and “[Jesus] continued subject to them.” (Luke 2:51, 52) But after Jesus grew up, it became clear that he was not an ordinary man.

When Jesus calmed a storm-tossed sea, a frightened friend exclaimed: “Who really is this?” (Mark 4:41) Eventually, Jesus was turned over to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate on trumped-up charges. Certain of Jesus’ innocence and moved by Jesus’ dignity in the face of cruel, unjust treatment, Pilate in admiration presented Jesus to the crowds, exclaiming: “Look! The man!” But the Jews replied: “We have a law, and according to the law he ought to die, because he made himself God’s son.”—John 19:4-7.

At hearing Jesus referred to as “God’s son,” Pilate was fearful. He had earlier received word of his wife’s dream about Jesus, whom she called “that righteous man.” (Matthew 27:19) So Pilate wondered who Jesus really was! Although knowing Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate asked: “Where are you from?” When Jesus refused to answer, the conversation soon ended.—John 19:9, 10.

Jesus clearly was a man, but he was unlike other men in that previously he had been a spirit person, known in heaven as the Word. Then his life was miraculously transferred by God to the womb of Mary. “The Word became flesh,” the apostle John testified, “and resided among us.”—John 1:1, 2, 14, 18; Revelation 3:14.

Why a Divine Origin Necessary

Before the first man, Adam, fathered children, he succumbed to sin. A rebel angel, who came to be called Devil and Satan, succeeded in causing him to disobey God. As a result, Adam lost his relationship as God’s son, as God said he would if he disobeyed. Thus, Adam suffered the consequences. He became imperfect, grew old, and eventually died.—Genesis 2:15-17; 3:17-19; Revelation 12:9.

Describing the effect that Adam’s disobedience had on all of us, his descendants, the Bible explains: “Through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) Sadly, we all inherited sin from our forefather Adam, along with its dire consequences, namely aging and death.—Job 14:4; Romans 3:23.

Release from such consequences could only be realized by having a perfect father, one who had not inherited sin and its dreadful consequences. Consider how that new father, comparable to the perfect Adam, was provided.

The Needed One Provided

The promised “Prince of Peace,” as you will remember, is also called “Everlasting Father.” (NIV) His human birth was foretold this way: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son.” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:20-23, NIV) Jesus did not have a human father, nor did Adam, the first man. In tracing Jesus’ lineage back to the beginning of human history, the Bible historian Luke shows that Adam came into existence as a “son of God.” (Luke 3:38) But, as we have learned, Adam lost that relationship as God’s son—for himself and for all of his offspring. So we all need, as it were, a new father who is perfect—one like Adam when he was created.

Why is Jesus called “the last Adam”?

God sent his Son from heaven to be that new Adam to replace the first one. The Bible says: “‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. The first man is out of the earth and made of dust; the second man is out of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:45, 47) Jesus, “the last Adam,” is like “the first man Adam” in that He was a perfect man, capable of fathering perfect offspring, who could live forever in perfection on earth.—Psalm 37:29; Revelation 21:3, 4.

Jesus, who fathered no children, remained faithful to God until his death, despite every attack of Satan. The perfect human life of integrity that Jesus sacrificed, or gave up, is called the ransom. “We have the release [from the sin and death inherited from Adam] by ransom through the blood of [Jesus],” the Bible explains. It also says: “Just as through the disobedience of [Adam] many were constituted sinners, likewise also through the obedience of [Jesus] many will be constituted righteous.”—Ephesians 1:7; Romans 5:18, 19; Matthew 20:28.

If we exercise faith in Jesus, he will become both our “Everlasting Father” and our “Savior.” He will exercise his princely rule in a marvelous way as he serves as Ruler of his Father’s Kingdom. Let us next examine what it will be like to live under that rule and consider when we might expect to realize such grand blessings.—Luke 2:8-11.

- Appeared in Awake! December 2006, WTB&TS