The Jesus of the Bible by Mervyn Aucott
It Really Matters
The Christian faith is centred on the life, work, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,
the Son of God. The Bible says quite categorically that it is vital for us to understand the true nature of Jesus if we want to have eternal life. So it clearly matters very much. What matters most of all is that we should be informed by what we read in God’s Word, not by what we read in other publications however well meaning they may be. That includes this publication, of course, which serves a helpful function only if its message is properly based on what the Bible teaches.
At the Centre
The Scriptures emphasise time and again how important Jesus is in the plan and purpose of God. Without knowledge of him and an understanding of what that means to us we would be helpless and hopeless. Let’s take the words of Jesus himself as our starting-off point:
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you, as you have given him authority over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent"
Here are several points to think about:
Jesus called God his Father
He referred to himself as God’s Son
He has the power and authority to bestow eternal life
It is important that those that believe know the real Jesus
God sent Jesus to the earth for a special purpose
Let’s now look at a short history of Jesus, and examine his true nature and humanity.
Christ’s Place in God’s Plan
The virgin birth of Jesus, as recorded in Luke’s gospel, is well known, but here are some of the relevant verses for your further consideration:
"Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and Yahweh God will give him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God"
Mary conceived while still a virgin through the influence of the holy spirit – God’s breath or power – acting upon her. Thus Joseph, to whom she was betrothed at the time, was not the true father of Jesus, and without the holy spirit’s interaction Jesus – the Son of God – would not have been born nor would he have come into existence. ...
Christ was in God’s plan and purpose from the very start. We can tell that because his coming and the work he would undertake had been long promised. Even in the Garden of Eden there were indications that one day a special child would be born who would be "seed of the woman", but not begotten of a human father (Genesis 3:15). God was to provide a Saviour Himself to bridge the gap (Genesis 22:8-14), which enabled the faithful of old to look forward in keen anticipation to that coming child (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7).
It was promised that a Son was to be born of a virgin and he was destined to be outstanding because he would be God’s own Son. So it was that Jesus came into existence physically through his birth of Mary and thus fulfilled the long-standing promises to the Jewish fathers. Now it was that God’s plan was wonderfully realised, as the New Testament fully recognises when reflecting upon the great events that followed his birth:
Consider the following:
Jesus was the central pivot of the gospel. He was "promised before by his prophets in the holy scriptures" (Romans 1:1-4).
Because he was to die, his status was less than the angels in his mortal life (Hebrews 2:7) – angels being immortal – for Jesus had to be subject to all the temptations that beset us (Hebrews 2:14; 4:15).
Because of his perfect life of obedience, Jesus was both resurrected from the dead by God’s power and exalted to glory and honour in heaven.
To summarise, Jesus was:
Because of his faithful obedience, Jesus was afterwards exalted to great honour both because he was God’s Son and because of his perfect obedience to his Father’s commandments (Philippians 2:5-11).
Promised in the Old Testament – his birth was a crucial part of God’s purpose
Created as a physical person through the virgin birth, and thus he became a descendant of King David – God being his Father
No wonder we are told:
"Neither is there salvation in any other : for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
He is "King of Kings"by Wendy Sykes
From the time of the French Revolution the world has seen monarchies replaced by republics. Presidents are preferred to Kings in many countries. But towards the end of the 20th century a movement started to reinstate some of these exiled royal families.
There have even been rumours that a member of the Romanov family - who were the Tsars in Russia -might be invited back.
Recently when the Taliband regime of Afghanistan was overturned a rather elderly ex-king of Afghanistan was put forward as a possible leader to reunite the peoples of that country.
In Europe several countries like Greece, Italy and Romania have allowed their ex-royals to return and,
With the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq there were suggestions that Prince Hassan of Jordan might be a possible leader of Iraq, as the Hashimite Kingdom previously ruled that area of the Middle East.
However, none of these 'kings' have been welcomed back to take up their thrones - they have no power or authority to offer their countries. If they are accepted back from exile, it will be as citizens of the democratically elected government, who will exercise the power of rulership.
King for Ever
The Bible tells us that God once promised King David that he would have a son who would reign over Israel for ever. That promised son was Jesus the Christ. Most people think of Jesus as a healer and teacher and of course he was. But the fact that he could properly claim the title "King of the Jews" is often forgotten. When Jesus was born the wise men asked Herod "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" Nobody laughed at their request. For the Jewish priests knew from the Scriptures that one day a King would be born in Bethlehem who would be God-provided, so it was to that little town the wise men were directed:
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to me the One to be ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting ... And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of Yahweh, in the majesty of the name of Yahweh his God; and they shall abide, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth" (Micah 5:2,4).
King of Israel
..When Jesus first encountered the men who were to become his disciples he met Nathanael who, after talking with him, said:
"Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (John 1:49);
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem the people shouted
"Hosanna! 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahweh!' The King of Israel!" (John 12:13);
When Jesus was brought before Pilate he asked him "Are you the King of the Jews?" to which Jesus replied "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world" (John 18:37). So it was that Pilate wrote a sign that was put on the cross - "Jesus of Nazareth -The King of the Jews" (John 19:19).
When Jesus was raised from the dead he spoke to his disciples about the things concerning the kingdom of God and their last question to him was "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6).
Now a kingdom, by definition, must have a King.
Not Then, ...
We know, because of the passage of time, that it was not God's will at that time for Jesus to become King over Israel. The Gospel had first to be preached to the entire world ... But that does not mean that Jesus will not be King over Israel. From the time of Zedekiah - the last King of Judah - right up to our present day, the nation of Israel has never had a king. But that doesn't mean that this will be the case in the future.
The Bible tells us that when Jesus returns his claim to the throne of his father David will not be like those kings we see in our world today - Jesus will have the authority and power to lay claim to the throne. The Bible tells us that the Jewish people will mourn because they will recognise that they failed to acknowledge Jesus as their King when he was with them 2,000 years ago. They will then be willing to accept him as their King and the question the disciples asked "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel" will then be fulfilled.
Consider the Facts
Look at this further evidence for Jesus' claim to be the King of the Jews:
Jesus is able to claim direct descent from King David through his mother's genealogy .
Before Jesus was born, his mother Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that she would have a son
"He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and Yahweh God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:32-33).
Jesus said of himself that he would rule over all the nations when he comes again.Please read Matthew 25:31-34.
How will the reign of Jesus be different from the rulers we see in our world today?
He will have power and authority from his Father so that he will be able to rule in righteousness, truth, justice, and mercy (Matthew 28:18; Philippians 2:9-11).
He demonstrated during his life on earth that he has the ability to understand what people are thinking and to see into their hearts (Matthew 9:4, Luke 9:47).
He will not be able to be bribed or corrupted; his judgment will always be true.
(See the temptations of Jesus Matthew 4:1-10.)
When the soldiers went to arrest Jesus, they returned empty-handed with the excuse "Never man spoke like this man". By the power of his words, everyone will know that Jesus always speaks the truth (John 7:46).
Jesus is immortal; so his rule will never end. Even though the Queen of theUnited Kingdom has reigned for over 50 years, she will die one day and her reign will end. Jesus the King of the Jews will never have to fear the assassin's bullet or the frailty of old age.
Real and Living Hope
What a wonderful hope these Bible passages give for our world. It will not always be in the sad state that we see today - where the power of the gun or the influence of corrupt rulers holds sway over millions of sick and dying people. The Bible teaches us that we can have that hope ourselves and that we will then have an opportunity to help Jesus when he returns. But we have to do something about it now. We need to understand, believe and be baptised, if we are to live forever with Jesus in the world to come, when he reigns as King. This is what the apostle Paul said right at the end of his life, when he explained what he was looking forward to. It was not to a life in heaven, but to a new life on earth - when he would be raised from the dead at the Coming of King Jesus:
"Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved his appearing"
(2 Timothy 4:8).
The Vacant Throne in Israel by Trevor A. Pritchard
Admittedly, the whole idea of Monarchy has become somewhat unpopular of late and many people think that kings and queens seem somehow to belong to the past. For example, the royal family in Great Britain has got itself into something of a mess. Not Her Majesty the Queen, it has to be said. She has faithfully fulfilled, and continues to fulfil, the obligations she undertook nearly 50 years ago, at her coronation in 1953.
However, most of her children have let her down badly, usually by contracting marriages that have proved unstable. Sadly, these younger people have become products of the age in which they live. Their lives and marriages have turned out like those of the majority of people in Britain today; the difference has been that everything they did - or did not do - was subject to intense public scrutiny.
The tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, brought an unprecedented outpouring of grief from people all over the world - particularly so in Britain. More recently, "Demos", the supposedly independent think-tank, has come up with a range of ideas that would strip the monarchy of almost all its constitutional powers. This produced a pro-royalist outburst in the "Daily Telegraph" newspaper of September 8th 1998, two of the letters that appeared reading as follows:
"I am reminded of the conclusion of a BBC programme on the Monarchy: it is not the power the Monarchy has, but the power that the Monarchy prevents others from gaining. Was there ever a better justification for the Monarchy?"
John Rees (London)
"For think tank read stink-tank"
Alan Russ (Leamington)
Things Move On
While some people remain ardent monarchists, that is no longer a universally held view. The world is a lot different now from how it was in 1953, when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned. And 50 years before that, things were very different. Attitudes and circumstances are changing all the time, not always for the better.
In 1997, "Time" magazine produced an edition entitled "Great Events of the 20th Century". The first such great event was a picture of the funeral of Queen Victoria, and there were two immediately striking things
The 20th century was the first to be recorded in photographs, and
There were many representatives of the famous royal houses of Europe at that time, which formed part of that cortege, and they were then still ruling over their countries.
Cast your mind back to what you know of the beginning of the last century, before the two World Wars that brought such changes. Then, there were the Hapsburgs, the Hohenzollerns, the Romanoffs, the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (which became the House of Windsor in 1917). All those royal houses have now gone, with the exception of the Windsors. The world is now vastly different and - to judge from the New Year statements made to herald in 2003 - it is a very dangerous and uncertain place indeed. With a possible war against Iraq pending, problems in North Korea, concerns about Al-Qaeda and anxieties about the economic slump, it might seem curious to some readers for us to be looking to a Monarchy, of all things, to get us out of the present mess. [NB: this article was written in 2003]
The thrones of the Hapsburgs, the Hohenzollerns and the Romanoffs are not vacant; they have gone forever. They are part of the pageant of man's history. And nobody is suggesting that if they could be re-introduced the world would be a better place. The vacant throne in question is King David's throne in Israel, which was once in place in Jerusalem.
One of the world's oldest continuous cultures - the Jewish culture - began in Israel, and is now approaching four thousand years of unbroken history. Its power and longevity are well expressed in this quotation from "Hansard" - the British parliamentary record of proceedings - when Lord Beconsfield was challenged about his origins by a fellow member of Parliament:
"Yes", he said, "I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the right honourable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown land, mine were priests in the Temple of Solomon" (Benjamin Disraeli 1804-81).
Past, Present & Future
Do you know what the Bible has to say about the history of this nation - its present and its future? In particular, are you aware of what the immediate future is destined to yield?
It all began in the Book of Genesis, where we read that the great God of heaven promised a particular land to the first of His chosen people, Abraham:
Now Yahweh had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great: and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
So Abram departed as Yahweh had spoken to him. (Genesis 12:1-3).
Later, Abraham's descendants escaped from that dreadful slavery in Egypt, under the leadership of Moses. God told them that there would come a time when they would want to become a monarchy, like the nations that would be their neighbours (Deuteronomy 17:14-20).
In course of time, that is exactly what happened, when the people of God rejected Him as their king. They wanted a human monarchy rather than a theocracy (read 1 Samuel 8:4-7). After the failure of the people's choice, Saul, God Himself chose them a man after His own heart - King David (1 Samuel 16:11-13).
Israel's Kings in Jerusalem
David was promised a great future, so great that he considered himself utterly unworthy:
"When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be my son" (2 Samuel 7:12-14, but read 7:12-29).
Sadly, the kings of the royal House of David were not all as God-fearing as their ancestor. The last of the line - King Zedekiah - was such a godless man that his contemporary prophet of God had some harsh and very dramatic words for him:
"Wow to you, O profane, wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose iniquity shall end, thus says the Lord Yahweh: Remove the turban, and take off the crown; nothing shall remain the same. Exalt the lowly, and abase the exalted. Overthrown, overthrown, I will make it overthrown! It shall be no longer, until he comes whose right it is, and I will give it to him"
That one "whose right it is" was born miraculously to a young Jewish lady - Mary - when God's country was under the heel of the mighty Roman Empire. The angel made it perfectly clear that the One to be born to Mary was to be a future king:
"Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest, and Yahweh God will give him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:31-33).
It is likely that all readers will know only too well what happened to
Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, under that powerful yet corrupt government, whose power was vested in the person of Pontius Pilate. As an early creed said, Jesus "suffered under Pontius Pilate".
But Christ is to be king in the future as the Scriptures affirm again and again (see, for example, Acts 2:29-32 and 3:13-26).
First, though, Jesus must return to this earth to judge this present evil world and set it to rights. As the apostle Paul declared.
"Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has appointed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom he has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).
His second coming will not be an event hidden in a corner - as was his first coming - but one of which the whole world will be aware, just as the prophets foretold. It will come at a time of great distress in the world, just as it is now, when all eyes will be focused on the Middle East and on Israel in particular (see Zechariah 14:1-4).
When the Lord Jesus delivers Israel from her troubles, he will come to fulfil an even wider remit. He is coming to reign from Jerusalem over a worldwide kingdom -God's Kingdom on earth. Here are just two of many Scriptures that make that promise:
"In that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur. And Yahweh shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be - 'Yahweh is one', and his name one" (Zechariah 14:8,9);
The seventh angel sounded, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever!" (Revelation 11:15).
Future in the Past
The prophecies and promises made by God Himself will then be completely fulfilled. Remember that these promises are nothing less than the history of the future written in the past. It is just a matter of time before they become a reality in the earth. Look for a moment at these words of one of those prophets, and consider your position:
"In the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever" (Daniel 2-44);
''...Then to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed"
Are you ready for such an event? Where will you be when it takes place? If this all sounds pretty dramatic, even apocalyptic, then be assured. It is! For the great climax of the ages is to be fulfilled when the Lord Jesus Christ - the King of kings - returns to earth in power and great glory. It is to be the most astounding event of future history. Are you ready for it?
Trevor A Pritchard