Israel has the distinction among all nations of having looked for the Messiah for nearly all her existence. It is a given that people under bondage, suffering torment and torture under slavery and many forms of political and social domination nearly always cry out for assistance. They will look for someone to remove the yoke from their necks and lead them to new-found and permanent ease and freedom and Israel was no exception. Moses was the great leader who gave Israel a deep sense of nationhood and freedom as he led them from Egypt to the Promised Land and he it was who promised Israel that God would "raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken." (Deuteronomy 18:15)
Several "anointed ones" were looked upon as the prospective Messiah but although some like David and Solomon brought peace and prosperity none brought the lasting peace and freedom associated with the eschatological Messiah. Many Israelites looked for this Messiah to be a super-Royal figure, a military super-hero who would beat their enemies into subjection and usher in a reign of unending utopia and Israeli dominance until the end of time.
Those who were more spiritually inclined, quite a tiny minority, took their soundings from the prophets and knew that the Messiah was not to be this super hero military figure. Rather he would be someone who would usher in the new Kingdom of God, would come with unmistakable signs and wonders and would change the tone and direction of the world forever. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus had no doubt that Jesus was the one and he proclaimed it loud and long on many occasions as we can see in John 1:29 where he said, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world".
As we reflect in this article on whether Jesus Christ is really the Messiah we are drawn to Matthew 11:1-6 where John the Baptist is in prison and he is having a temporary lapse of faith and so he sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he is really the Messiah or should John look for someone else.
Here we should pause and ponder some exceedingly important things.
Nearly all Christians from time to time have lapses of faith; this is not as it should be but is part of our fallible human nature.
Having a doubt and seeking to have it resolved, rather than letting it fester, is positive and commendable not just for John but for all believers.
When confronted with doubt we should seek the mind of God, let the Bible be our guide and source of spiritual information and not the thoughts of skeptics and the unconverted.
John the Baptist in this instance had a mighty problem with linking Jesus Christ to the Messiah and essentially it came down to a question of recognition. Today we know so much more than John ever did and so in our reflection let us see if we can help our Bro John, and doubters out there, recognize the Messiah and leave not a single doubt that indeed Jesus Christ is the Messiah.
First let us recognize Jesus Christ in creation
John the Baptist saw and heard much about Jesus Christ and yet he had a serious problem with recognition. Parents and teachers often say to youngsters, "Are you blind?" meaning that it is so obvious that anyone should see it. Many are the times you pass people in the street and for one reason or another you do not recognize them and sometimes they contact you and ask you what is going on. We need to recognize Jesus Christ whenever and however he is manifested beginning with his role in creation.
We see his mighty presence in creation
At the very beginning of creation, whenever that was and we have intense discussions whether it was millions of years ago or approximately six thousand years it was Jesus right there bringing things into being. The Bible tells us this, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) Some would argue that it was God (meaning the Father) and not Jesus but that would indicate a lack of knowledge of scripture. The Apostle John asserted that it was Jesus, "All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made." (John 1:3) In matters like these the Apostle Paul would have a weighty contribution and he does not disappoint. This same Paul in a delightful passage of scripture to the church at Ephesus writes, "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world had been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 3:9) As if to anticipate and then put a stop to this argument the apostle who outlived all the others put it like this, "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not" (John 1:10). This surely says it all and we can safely conclude that Jesus Christ can be recognized by his mighty presence in creation.
We observe his magnificent power in creation
Jesus did not just create a world and leave it to evolve aimlessly as some have suggested but created magnificence and structure, order and laws and specifics and I like how Paul put it in Colossians. "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether there be thrones, or dominions, or principalities or powers: all things were created by him and for him." (Colossians 1:16) Take your imagination for a ride and experience the awesome power of Jesus as he ministers to creation for the Bible tells us that "he spake, and it was done, he commanded and it stood fast." (Psalm 33:9)
See the power as from the mind of Jesus nature sprang into being following unerringly its pre-determined path.
Fell the emotion as formlessness and void are vanquished and replaced with super abundance and order.
Sense the awesome power displayed as Jesus went to work in creating the world. Little wonder then that God asked the important question "Is there anything too hard for me?" (Jeremiah 32:27) Truly magnificent!
We notice his marvelous purpose in creation
It has been truly said that the whole purpose of creation was for God to find a suitable companion, someone like himself, in his image, who can think and plan and make moral decisions. For those who think like this will find in Genesis some confirmation, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." (Genesis 1:26) Having created man in his own image God came down in the cool of the day and fellowshipped with him, "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day" (Genesis 3:8) This satisfies the first half of the equation as to God's marvelous purpose. Even today God still wants to have companionship and fellowship with mankind and Jesus says this, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)
Jesus' marvelous plan of fellowship and communion with us has not ended and today he is still seeking from us a positive response. The Bible puts it like this, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20)
Next let us recognize Jesus Christ in his incarnation
We marvel at the divinity of his birth
Jesus Christ as God the Son always was, as God the Father always was, as God the Spirit always was as John so clearly puts it, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1) But the Word (Logos) did not remain frozen in the distant past untouched and unconcerned with the tide of human history but took human form and came among us. The Bible describes the intervention like this, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (John 1:14.) Even as the Jews were caught napping, blinded by their own misapprehension and waywardness, others far beyond their shores were perceptive and engaged.
The three Wise Men, believed to be from Persia, as they followed that cosmic star and made their way to the cradle to present their gifts knew exactly whom they were honoring. "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him." (Matthew 2:1-2) The Apostle Paul concurred with this view and in his own inimitable style put it like this, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." (Philippians 2:5-7)
These scriptures, along with many others, alongside a raft of events surrounding this birth, including a celestial choir serenading the shepherds, attest to the divinity of Christ's birth.
We are in awe at the divine purpose for his birth
The will of God is complex and many sided but it is clear that God's sovereign will cannot be set aside or overridden and here we have an example of this. The Messiah was promised to come and do some divine things for mankind starting with his birth, "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." (Matthew 2:21) Jesus himself while ministering to lost mankind left us in no doubt as to his earthly purpose, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10) All through Christ's three and one half years ministry he never lost sight of the focus of his earthly sojourn and he let his disciples and the public know where he stood. As Jesus drew nigh to the end of his earthly ministry and as his Apostles were jockeying for favored status and position, Jesus calmly reminded them of his purpose, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28)
We should never forget the divine purpose of Jesus birth, his coming into this world and his mission to mankind; for to do so would be to loose all hope of everlasting life forever. Paul puts it like this, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." (1Corinthians 15: 19)
We are deeply touched by the dignity of his birth
The Messiah, despite the most humble and penurious surroundings of his birth, brings an aura and ethos of sublime dignity that marks the occasion spectacularly dignified. It was for good reason the Bible declares "Immanuel" which means "God with us" and henceforth heaven and earth mobilized to pay proper respect to supreme royalty. On this grand and dignified occasion supernatural wonders were taking place the likes of which the world had never seen. "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will towards men." (Luke 2: 13-14)
All royal births are by definition dignified but if you examine the birth of Jesus in the context of Jewish history and the context of the expected messiah then you will recognize Jesus' awe-inspiring incarnation.
Then let us recognize Jesus Christ in control
The world seems to be out of control and there seems to be nothing anyone can do. Humanity has been on this earth but for a short time and it appears that nature, which has been here from the beginning, can so overwhelms us that we feel useless and afraid whenever it unleashes its might. No one stands up against hurricanes and tornadoes and tsunami and earthquakes and the raw fury of nature in its many manifestations. To talk of someone controlling them would be madness. Except that person is Jesus Christ the Messiah and because of this unique ability we can recognize him.
He is able to control disaster
They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating and Jesus demonstrated who he was by various super-human acts. Jesus was on board a ship crossing the Sea of Galilee to the other side and disaster struck in the form of a vicious, life threatening storm. Nature was at its most deadly and Jesus was sleeping like a baby. "And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." (Mark 4:37-39) For very good reasons the disciples wandered aloud wondering what manner of man is this that even the wind and sea obey him.
The disciples were to witness other mighty acts of supernatural endeavor and they were convinced of who Jesus was and when asked the important question "But who say ye that I am?" Peter could answer for all the disciples, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16)
He is able to control difficulties
Where grown men would have panicked or get frustrated and overwhelmed with insurmountable difficulties Jesus smoothly took control as here feeding five thousand men, "One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here with five barley loaves and two small fishesAnd Jesus took the loaves and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples and the disciples to them that were set downWhen they were filledthey gathered up the fragments and filled twelve baskets full." (John 6:8-13) To take control of such difficulties and turn them into instruments to bring God glory is what being the Messiah is all about.
It was this same Jesus who as executive for the Holy Trinity controlled the furnace fire of the three Hebrew boys as described in Daniel Chapter 3.
And when the ferocious lions wanted to feast on Daniel, again it was Jesus the messiah who controlled the situation as described in Daniel Chapter 6. Jesus has shown he is able to control difficulties way beyond man's limitation.
He is able to control disease
We often refer to Jesus Christ as the great physician and so he is. Jesus was a mighty thorn in Satan's side and discomforted him at every twist and turn and demonstrated who was in control as he responded to John's inquiries. Jesus told John's disciples some revealing truths, "The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear" (Matthew 11:5a) Let me affirm that Jesus is in control. Some people claim that some of the ills Jesus dealt with were psychosomatic and not real physical ills but they err because psychosomatic ills are just as debilitating as real ills and also require resolution. In a momentous clash with the demons of ill health and insanity Jesus not only healed the demon possessed Legion but sent the terrified demons to a watery oblivion as told in Mark 5:1-13.
When you are afflicted with pain and ill health just remember "Jehovah Rapha" the Lord our healer and be assured that Jesus is in control. Many believers are alive today because they put their trust in Jesus and not in money-grabbing surgeons and physicians.
He controls death
Mankind was from time immemorial subject to many fears and one of the greatest fears had to do with Satan and death. Jesus Christ has clearly confirmed to the world that he, and not Satan as so many people feared, is the one who controls death and who holds the keys of hell and death. "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death." (Revelation 1:18) It is this same irrational fear that Satan controls death that has led some ancient people to sacrifice their children to appease him and so prevent him from killing them. This is the sub-text to all occult practices; the devils rule and you better fall in line or else. But Jesus Christ verified who really controls death.
He brought the dead Jairus' daughter back to life as recorded in Luke 8: 41-56.
He raised Lazarus to life after he was dead four days as John tells us in John 11:14-44.
He brought back to life the widow of Nain's only son having pity for her acute distress as told in Luke 7:11-15.
All of these examples show that it is Jesus the Messiah that controls death and you can be assured that your life and death are in God's hands.
Finally let us recognize Jesus Christ in celebration
The Messiah needs to celebrate in a manner and to an extent that all onlookers are convinced of his Divine standing. His triumphant victories must have past, present and future celebratory associations and Jesus Christ fulfilled all these criteria to the fullest extent.
We note his magnificent resurrection
Never in the history of mankind has there been such an unexpected, intense and prolong celebration as there is over Jesus' resurrection. Jesus rose from the grave with splendor and magnificence leaving awestruck the hordes of doubters and those employed to guard his tomb. This event was so joyful that the disciples could scarcely believe it but it was confirmed by angels, "And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen as he said. Come; see the place where the Lord lay." (Matthew 28:5-6) Believers have accepted the truth of this event and have been celebrating ever since and will continue to celebrate until Jesus' return because the evidence for his splendid resurrection is compelling.
He appeared and comforted the women as stated in Matthew 28:9.
He walked with and blessed the two on Emmaus Road as recorded in Luke 24:13-31.
He appeared and dined with his disciples and this is reported in Mark 16:14.
We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ as an annual event every Easter and this celebration will go on until Jesus comes again. Believers are not celebrating this as an event commemorating what was but as an existing reminder of the Messiah who lives and reigns above.
We await his marvelous return
When Jesus comes the second time he will do so in triumph at the head of a multitude of angels and the saints of God with him. Yes this same Jesus will be leading the charge, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (1Thessalonians 4:16-17)
The Lord's return, the Second Advent, is the greatest anticipatory celebration event imaginable. Even some early church believers could not wait and had abandoned their work and responsibilities and were waiting on the hillsides for Jesus' return. Paul had to correct them of this and asked them to return to normal living as shown in the book of 2 Thessalonians. We recognize Jesus in his supremacy as the Messiah as we anticipate the celebrations of his marvelous return.
We anticipate his majestic reign
The Bible tells us what Jesus' reign will be like. All monarchs reign with a degree of majesty for that goes with the position but Jesus as Lord of Lords and King of Kings reigns supreme with matchless and irreducible majesty for all eternity. "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down at the right hand of God." (Hebrews 10:25) Daniel had it exactly right when in interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's dream he said, "his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom" and the Apostle John agreed telling us that, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:15)
It is when we understand the scriptures and Jesus' reign as "King of Kings, and Lord of Lords" (Revelation 19:16) that we get the full impact of his role as the much looked for messiah.
What more can we say of the Messiah to convince you. Every requirement of the Messiah, as laid down by the Bible and required by cognitive analysis of reasonable people, was met by Jesus Christ. He has shown by many infallible proofs that he is the one promised from the beginning of time and without doubt he, the Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father is the Messiah.
Books by this author (non-fiction except indicated otherwise)
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BASTARD: A STORY OF REDEMPTION (fiction)
STAND UP TO THE DEVIL (5 Volumes)
Volume 1 You must first identify him
Volume 2 The Devil is not the boss
Volume 3 Let's start rumbling
Volume 4 Using the 4 silent weapons
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THINGS EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD KNOW (3 Volumes)
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ONE MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT ON GOD'S CLOCK
Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013
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