THE LIFE, MINISTRY AND SACRIFICE OF THE MESSIAH
You are welcome to another edition of Insights from God's Word, a Bible study programme that is committed to sharing God's Word by allowing the Bible to speak for itself.
In this edition, we continue with our series on The Plan of Salvation. The topic for this study is: The Life, Ministry and Sacrifice of the Messiah. In our previous lesson, we considered various Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament and how they were clearly fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. In this lesson, we are going to explore further into the life, ministry and sacrifice of the Messiah for the human race. The lesson has been divided into three sub-sections as follows:
1) THE LIFE OF THE MESSIAH
Concerning the Messiah, the Bible plainly declares the following:
"1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.
1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
(John 1:1-4, 14)
From the passage above, we learn that the Messiah was not a mere man. The One who God appointed to deliver the human race from the penalty of sin was also God (review John 1:1). We are told that all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made (review John 1:3). Our Messiah was actually the Divine Son of God. His decision to be our Redeemer meant He had to lay down His godly nature and take upon Himself the form of humanity (see Philippians 2:5-8).
As the promised Seed of the woman (see Genesis 3:15), the Son of God had to come into our world in the lowly form of a child born by a woman. Concerning the birth of the Messiah, an angel declared unto Mary the following: "And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
In the fullness of time, the Messiah of the human race was born by the virgin Mary in Bethlehem. Consider the One who had been equal with God appearing as a baby in a manger without any strength of His own (see Luke 2:1-7). As a baby, the Son of God had to rely on Joseph and Mary just as any infant would rely on his parents for every need. We are told that "the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him" (Luke 2:40; see also Luke 2:52).
As a child, Jesus was eager to learn from His parents the Scriptures that testified about Him (see SJ 30.5). As He grew older, He made the Scriptures His meditation and delight. As a young boy of 12, His wisdom and knowledge of the Scriptures surprised the doctors of the law in Jerusalem (see Luke 2:41-47). Jesus acquainted Himself with the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. In these prophecies, He could trace the work and mission that was cut out for Him to fulfill.
Jesus' realisation of the nature of the work that was before Him led Him to a life of earnest prayer to God for power and strength. And so it was that when John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah, cried in the wilderness (see John 1:19-23), Jesus, acquainted with the Scriptures, and mightily furnished through prayer, knew that His time had come (see Matthew 3:13-17).
2) THE MINISTRY OF THE MESSIAH
As the prophecies of Daniel had predicted (see Daniel 9:25), Jesus was anointed by God as the Messiah as He went through the ordinance of baptism in the Jordan. From the gospel account of Matthew, we read the following in relation to this point:
"3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
(Matthew 3:16-17; see also Acts 10:37-38)
Right after Jesus' anointing as the Messiah, we are told that the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (see Matthew 4:1). In this work of the Spirit is seen the same great controversy drama as chronicled in the book of Job (Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-7; see also Luke 22:31). Just as Satan had asked permission to assail Job with vicious temptations after God's high regard of the patriarch, so did he ask for an opportunity to assail the Son of God with vicious temptations after the Father's high regard of Him. It was the plan of Satan to destroy from the beginning the work of salvation that Christ had come to accomplish for the human race.
Cruel were the temptations that the Son of man had to endure from that serpent of old (see Matthew 4:1-10; Luke 4:1-13). However, where our first parents fell, Christ was victorious (compare Genesis 3:1-6 with Matthew 4:1-4). As the Son of God who had become the Son of Man haggard from severe weakness after His fierce battle with Satan in the wilderness, angels of God were sent from heaven to strengthen Him (see Matthew 4:11). After this experience with Satan, our Lord proceeded to begin His ministry without delay (see Luke 4:14-15). From the gospel account of Luke, we read the following manifesto from the lips of the Messiah to the human race:
"4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
4:17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
4:19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
4:20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
4:21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."
Jesus' words to the congregation at Nazareth on that Sabbath was a revolutionary one. Here stood One of their own who had claimed for Himself the prerogatives of the coming Messiah. The humble background of Christ, coupled with His lowly nature, made them to doubt the gracious words which had proceeded out from His mouth (see Luke 4:22). But right in their midst was the anointed Messiah of the human race. They would not have to wait long to hear and witness for themselves great and mighty deeds that He has promised to fulfill for mankind in His missionary statement to them.
Through numerous speeches usually interspersed with rich parables, the Messiah of the human race preached the gospel to the poor. Through His Spirit-filled messages such as the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7), the parable of the Pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46), the parable of the hidden treasure (Matthew 13:44), the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), the parable of the lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-14), the parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), the parable of the faithful servant and wicked servant (Luke 12:35-40), the absent householder (Mark 13:33-37), the parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30), the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-23) and many others, Christ sought to draw the attention of His hearers to the kingdom that God has prepared for those who love Him. His beautiful sermons brought hope to the hopeless, and courage to the faint-hearted. Above all, the sinner was brought to behold the virtues of a God whose heart was full of love, grace, mercy and forgiveness for all those who will approach Him with a contrite heart.
The Saviour's ministry was not only that of itinerant preaching about the kingdom of God. His preaching was also frequently interspersed with miraculous healings; for He had come to heal the broken hearted, and set at liberty them that were bruised of the devil (review Luke 4:18). His tender heart went out to the human race when He saw many that Satan has plagued with diverse forms of infirmities (see Matthew 9:36). The gospel records the account of numerous miraculous works that Jesus performed during His three and half year ministry for the human race. He commanded various diseases and infirmities to leave many sick-laden people (see Matthew 8:2-3; Matthew 8:5-13; Matthew 8:14-15; Matthew 8:16; Matthew 9:2-7; Matthew 9:20-22; Matthew 9:27-31; Matthew 12:9-13; Matthew 20:30-34). He set free many people that had been possessed by evil spirits (see Matthew 8:28-32; Matthew 9:32-33; Matthew 15:21-28; Matthew 17:14-18; Mark 1:23-28). He fed the hungry (Matthew 14:14-21), attended a funeral (John 11:18-21), wept with the mourners (John 11:35), and even raised the dead (John 11:20-45; see also Matthew 9:18-26; Luke 7:11-17).
Naturally, one would expect that a person who performed all these deeds for his people would be loved and cherished by all. But ironically, it wasn't so in the case of Jesus. The Scriptures make it clear that He was despised and rejected by His own people (see Isaiah 53:3; John 1:11). Many were those who chose to reject the light of God's salvation through Jesus Christ so they could continue to live a pleasurable life of sin (see John 5:38; John 6:36, 66). The religious leaders of the people who were expected to do better became alarmed when they realised that their influence over the people had waned because of Jesus (see Matthew 7:29). They envied and despised Him for His good works (see Mark 15:10). These religious leaders came to the point when their hatred for Jesus finally led them to plot His death (John 11:45-53).
3) THE SACRIFICE OF THE MESSIAH
The last few days of the life of Jesus were the most profound and dramatic. In Jerusalem and its environs, the Jews were engaged in earnest preparation for the Passover Feast (see Matthew 26:1-2; Mark 14:12-18). Moreover, the religious leaders continued with their secret plotting as to how they would eliminate Jesus (see Matthew 26:3-5). They were finally approached by Judas Iscariot, a member of the 12 apostles of Jesus who was willing to betray Him unto them for a fixed price. The religious leaders quickly seized this opportunity, and worked to bring about its desired end (see Mark 14:10-11).
As Jesus sat at the Passover Table with the disciples, He knew about Judas' plans to betray Him (see John 13:2, 21; Mark 14:18). Yet, infinite love did not cast him away. We can imagine how Jesus, in a special way, washed the feet of Judas, and prayed for the conversion of this hardened disciple. Yet Judas Iscariot, blinded by his love for wealth and worldly acclaim went out from the last Supper to betray Jesus unto His enemies (see John 13:21-30). Jesus left the Passover Table in a sorrowful mood. He knew that the time for His sacrifice for mankind had come. Yet He felt so inadequate to stand in as man's Substitute before God (reflect on Matthew 26:36-39).
In a quiet demeanour, He led the disciples to a garden in Jerusalem called Gethsemane. Here, the Saviour poured out His heart before His Father. The Son of God who Himself had taken the pledge to bear man's penalty of death now trembled as He contemplated what was just ahead of Him. Amidst the shadows of the coming night, Jesus prayed, asking the Father whether it was possible to relieve Him of the sacrifice that He had to go through for mankind. As our Lord prayed, He came to the realisation that without His atoning sacrifice, there would be no other way of salvation for the human race: for the plan of salvation could be carried forward only through His death. With this clear understanding, Jesus united His will with the will of the Father to die as a Substitute in place of mankind (see Matthew 26:36-45).
It wasn't long after Christ's struggle with the Father in Gethsemane that Judas Iscariot came with a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees to arrest Him. Christ's works before those who had come to arrest Him bore testimony of His divine nature and love for mankind. Yet blinded by Satan, this multitude of people ignored the miracles they had witnessed, and proceeded with their plans to take Him away (see Matthew 26:46-57; John 18:1-14). Terrible were the assaults that our Lord endured that Thursday night at the court of Caiaphas, the high priest. Our Lord was deprived of sleep that night as He was taken through the hostile procedures which had been arranged to ensure His certain condemnation (see Matthew 26:59-68).
Early Friday morning, the religious leaders prepared themselves to take Jesus to the judgement hall of Pilate (Matthew 27:1-2). Exhausted and weak from diverse forms of maltreatment, Christ was taken to Pilate's judgement hall. He was later taken to Herod, and then back to Pilate once again. Several were the charges that the Jewish leaders falsified against Him. Amidst the ongoing drama, Pilate could discern from the gentle demeanour of Christ vis-à-vis the hatred of the Jewish leaders towards Him that here was Someone who was been wrongly accused of the various crimes that were levelled against Him (see Mark 15:1-10; Luke 23:1-16).
The pagan Roman governor of Judaea sought to use his influence to release Jesus. But when the Jews threatened him that such an action would be used against him in regard to his political career, his just thoughts gave way to political convenience. Pilate slowly but surely gave the final verdict for Christ to be crucified. Now, sentenced to death as a common criminal, our Lord was subjected to several strokes of lashes at his back. After this brutal whipping, the soldiers took Christ to the common hall and sorely mocked Him, bowing their knee to Him as King of the Jews (see John 19:12-16; Matthew 27:11-30).
Wrongly accused, beaten, plaited with a crown of thorns, mocked, and spat upon, the Lamb of God was made to carry the heavy cross on which He will be executed. With the cross on His shoulders, the Messiah of the human race was then marched towards the road that led to Golgotha. Weak from lack of rest, food and diverse forms of torture, our Lord soon crumbled under the heavy load of the cross on which He would be crucified. The soldiers placed the burden of the cross upon Simon of Cyrene when they realised that Jesus could not carry the cross any further. Amidst the consternation and jeers from the Jewish people, Christ made His way to Calvary. There, our Lord was cruelly crucified and placed between two thieves (see Matthew 27:31-50; Mark 15:20-25).
Imagine the Creator of the universe hanging on a cross --- rejected, despised, and condemned because of our sins. But it was for such a time as this that Jesus had come into the world. His suffering and the death that will follow did not take Him by surprise. From the lips of the Saviour Himself, mankind was given the following precious words of hope:
"3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
Beloved, the entire life of Jesus, His ministry, and sacrifice had the sole purpose of redeeming the race of Adam from sin and its baleful consequences. It is comforting to learn that even though the sacrifice of Christ was made for all mankind, the Saviour calls each one of us individually to accept His precious gift of salvation (review John 3:16). It does not matter the sins that we have committed in the past. His sacrifice on the cross is enough to purge away all our sins. For me, making Jesus the Saviour and Lord of my life is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Jesus took me just as I was, forgave my sins, and turned my life around for the better. And I know for sure that Jesus is ready and willing to do same for everyone who will stretch out the hand to accept His precious gift of salvation. It is my fervent prayer that you will make a firm decision today to surrender your life to Jesus Christ.
You see friend, it is a clear fact that this world has disappointed us. Our greatest aspirations and hopes are always cut short by multiple forms of sorrow, sickness, and death. But all these will be a thing of the past for those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour today. For the Bible makes it clear that the Messiah who sacrificed His life for the sins of mankind at Calvary, now serves as High Priest in heaven's sanctuary, interceding and blotting out the sins of all those who will accept His atoning sacrifice (Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 8:1-2; Revelation 14:6-7).
Now, after the High Priestly work of the Messiah is over, He will come again to redeem from this earth all those who have hid their lives in Him (Revelation 22:11-12; Colossians 3:1-4). Beloved, it is interesting to learn that just as the Scriptures prophesied concerning the Messiah's first advent, so does the same Scriptures prophesy concerning the Messiah's second advent; a future event that will bring an end to sin, and usher God's people into a brand new world where there will be no more sorrow, suffering and death (see John 14:1-3; Revelation 21:1-4).
Exhortation: From the prophet Isaiah, we read the following concerning the sacrifice of the Messiah for the race of Adam:
"53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
53:12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
In our next study, we will consider the topic: The Prophecies of the Messiah's Second Advent. The Bible Study references for this study are Job 19:25-27, Psalm 102:16, Isaiah 25:8-9, Jude 1:14-15, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Hebrews 9:28, 1 John 3:2, James 5:7-8, 1 Peter 5:4, Revelation 1:7, Acts 1:9-11 and John 14:1-3. Please do well to go through these passages before the next study is released.
NB: If you need help to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, or to surrender fully to Him, please send the words SALVATION IN JESUS to any of the WhatsApp numbers: +23324305287 / +233553152250 / +233548697477, and we will be glad to assist you on this important subject. Do stay blessed and keep shining for King Jesus.
Powered by White Throne Ministries