ADVENT OF THE MESSIAH
The word "messiah" in Hebrew means the "anointed one", especially
signifying the king. The Israelites believed the Word of God that He
would send a king or Messiah to save them; this was the Messianic
expectation of the Israelites. In this sense, Jesus Christ came as the
Messiah, "Christ" meaning "Messiah" in the Hellenic language.
The Messiah must come in order that the purpose of God's providence of
salvation be fulfilled. Man needs salvation because of the human fall.
Therefore, we must understand the questions concerning the human fall
in order to solve the problems of salvation. "Fall" implies
that God's purpose of creation was left unfulfilled, so we must first
elucidate the purpose of creation before we discuss the questions
concerning the human fall.
God's purpose of creation was to be fulfilled with the establishment
of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Due to the fall of man, an earthly
hell was brought about instead of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Ever
since, God has continued His providence to restore the Kingdom of
Heaven on earth. Consequently, the purpose of human endeavor is to
restore the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. These questions have already
been discussed in detail (cf. Part I, Ch. 3, Sec. I-II--100).
SECTION I -
THE PROVIDENCE OF SALVATION THROUGH THE CROSS
1. THE PURPOSE OF JESUS' COMING AS THE MESSIAH
The purpose of Jesus' coming as the Messiah was to fulfill the
providence of restoration; his coming was primarily to save fallen
men. Consequently, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth should have been
established by Jesus. We may see this even from what Jesus said to his
disciples, "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father
is perfect." (Matt. 5:48). According to the principle of creation, a
man who has fulfilled the purpose of creation becomes one body with
God, possesses deity, and cannot commit sins. This kind of man, seen
from the purpose of creation, is one who is perfect as the heavenly
Father is perfect. Therefore, Jesus' words to his disciples meant that
they should become citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom, after having been
restored as men who have fulfilled the purpose of creation.
Thus, Jesus came in order to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth,
having restored fallen men as citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom. For
this reason he told his disciples to pray that God's will be
done on earth as it is in Heaven (Matt. 6:10). He also urged the
people to repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand (Matt. 4:17).
For the same reason, John the Baptist, who had come to prepare the way
of the Lord, also announced the nearness of the Kingdom of Heaven
What would the man be like, then, who became perfect as the heavenly
Father is perfect, having restored himself as the man in whom the
purpose of creation is fulfilled? Such a man would become one body
with God, inseparable from Him, living in accordance with God's will.
Feeling exactly what God feels, he would possess deity. This man is
not in need of redemption or of a savior, nor does he need the life of
prayer and faith required by fallen men, because he is without
original sin. Such a man, being himself without original sin, comes to
multiply children of goodness without original sin; in consequence,
his children are not in need of a savior for the redemption of their
2. WAS THE PROVIDENCE OF SALVATION FULFILLED THROUGH REDEMPTION BY THE
Since human history began, there has not been a single man, however
devout a saint he may have been, who has lived a life in complete
oneness with God. Not a single man has experienced God's own heart and
feeling, or possessed the same deity. Consequently, there has not yet
been a saint who did not need redemption from sin and a life of prayer
and faith. Even a man as devout as Paul was compelled to lead a life
of faith and tearful prayers (Rom. 7:18-25). All parents, however
devout, cannot give birth to a child without sin who may go to the
Kingdom of Heaven without redemption by the savior. From this, we
perceive that parents are still transmitting original sin to their
What does the reality of the life in faith of the Christian teach us?
It tells us straightforwardly that redemption through the
cross cannot completely liquidate our original sin, and that it leaves
man's original nature not yet perfectly restored. Jesus promised the
Lord would come, because Jesus knew he could not fulfill the purpose
of his advent as the Messiah through redemption by the cross. Christ
had to come again to fulfill perfectly the will of God, because God's
predestination to restore the Kingdom of Heaven on earth was absolute
Did his sacrifice on the cross then come to naught? Not at all (John
3:16). If it had, Christian history could not have existed. We can
never deny the magnitude of the grace of redemption by the cross.
Therefore, it is true that our faith in the cross can bring about
redemption. It is equally true that redemption by the cross has been
unable to remove our original sin and restore us as men of the
original nature who cannot commit sin; thus, it has been unable to
establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
Then, the question arises as to the extent of redemption by the cross.
The faith of modern men of intellect cannot be directed unless we can
solve this problem.
3. THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS
Let us first examine Jesus' crucifixion from the viewpoint of the
words and actions of the disciples that were recorded in the Bible.
There was one evident feeling common among the disciples concerning
Jesus' death. They were grieved and mortified by Jesus' death. They
were indignant at the ignorance and disbelief of the people who caused
the crucifixion of Jesus (Acts 7:51-53). Christians since have
commonly entertained the same feeling as did the disciples of Jesus'
days. If Jesus' death had been a natural result of God's
predestination, there would have been no reason for the disciples to
decry it, though it may have been inevitable for them to grieve over
his death. From this, we can ascertain that Jesus' having to
take the path of death was unjust and undue.
Next, let us further investigate from the viewpoint of God's
providence whether Jesus' crucifixion was a natural result of God's
predestination. God called the chosen people of Israel, the
descendants of Abraham; He raised and protected them, and at times led
them through the discipline of trials and hardships. He comforted them
by sending prophets who promised that in the future He would send them
a Messiah. He had the people erect tabernacles and temples in
preparation for the Messiah. He sent the wise men from the East as
well as Simon, Anna, John the Baptist and others to testify widely to
the birth and the appearance of the Messiah.
Especially concerning the birth of John the Baptist, all the Jews knew
that the angel appeared to testify to his conception (Luke 1:13); and
the signs which occurred at the time of his birth stirred all Judea in
expectation (Luke 1:63-66). Besides, his ascetic practices in the
wilderness were so impressive that the Jewish people questioned in
their hearts whether perhaps he were the Christ (Luke 3:15). Needless
to say, God sent such a great man as John the Baptist to bear witness
to Jesus as the Messiah so that the Jewish people would believe in
Jesus. Since God's will was thus to have the Israelites believe that
Jesus was the Messiah, the Israelites, who were supposed to live
according to God's will, should have believed in him as the Messiah.
If they had believed in Jesus as the Messiah according to God's will,
how could they have crucified him, after having waited for him for
such a long time? It was because, against God's will, they did not
believe that Jesus was the Messiah, that the Israelites crucified him.
We, therefore, must realize that Jesus did not come to die on the
Next, let us further investigate, according to Jesus' own words and
deeds, whether his crucifixion was truly the means to
fulfill the whole purpose of his coming as the Messiah. As the
Bible clearly states, Jesus expressed in both word and deed his wish
to have the people believe he was the Messiah. When the people asked
him what they must do to be doing the works of God, Jesus answered
them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom He has
sent." (John 6:29).
Jesus grieved over the treachery of the Jewish people; and finding
none to appeal to, he wept over the city of Jerusalem and even cursed
the city to be destroyed so utterly that not one stone would be left
upon another, not to mention the Israelites, the chosen people, whom
God had led in love and care for 2000 years. Jesus clearly pointed out
their ignorance, saying, "...you did not know the time of your
visitation." (Luke 19:44).
Jesus lamented over the disbelief and stubbornness of the people,
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning
those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered
your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her
wings, and you would not! (Matt. 23:37)
Jesus reproached them for their ignorance which kept them from
believing in him even though they read the Scriptures, which testified
to him, and he said in great sorrow:
You search the scriptures, because you think that in them
you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to
me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
Again, he said sorrowfully, "I have come in my Father's name, and you
do not receive me", and he went on to say, "If you believed Moses, you
would believe me, for he wrote of me." (John 5:43-46).
Jesus performed many miracles and signs in the hope that he might
restore the people's belief. However, they condemned him as being
possessed by Beelzebub when they saw the amazing works which Jesus
did. Seeing the painful situation, Jesus said, "...even though you do
not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand
that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." (John 10:38). On
another occasion, he even cursed them in great indignation,
prophesying that they would suffer (Matt. 23:13-36). Jesus himself,
through his words and deeds, tried to make them believe in him,
because it was God's will for them to do so. If the Jewish people
believed that he was the Messiah, as both God and Jesus wanted, could
they have crucified him?
From the above, we can see that Jesus' crucifixion was the result of
the ignorance and disbelief of the Jewish people and was not God's
predestination to fulfill the whole purpose of Jesus' coming as the
Messiah. I Corinthians 2:8 says, "None of the rulers of this age
understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the
Lord of glory.". This should be sufficient proof.
If Jesus' crucifixion had originally been God's predestination, how
could he have prayed even three times that the cup of death might pass
from him? (Matt. 26:39). In fact, he thus prayed desperately because
he knew too well that the history of affliction would be prolonged
until the time of the Second Advent if the disbelief of the people
should forbid the realization of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, which
God had endeavored to establish.
In John 3:14 we read, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the
wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up.". When the Israelites
were on their way from Egypt into the land of Canaan, they failed to
believe in Moses, and at that time fiery serpents appeared and began
to kill the people; then God had a bronze serpent lifted up
on a pole, and those who looked at it survived. Similarly, due to the
Jewish people's disbelief in Jesus, all were destined to hell; and
Jesus, foreseeing that after his crucifixion as the "bronze serpent"
only those who looked at him and believed in him would be saved, said
this with a deeply sorrowful heart.
Another way we may know that Jesus was crucified due to the disbelief
of the people is from the fact, as Jesus foretold, that the chosen
nation of Israel declined after his death (Luke 19:44).
Isaiah 9:6-7 says:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the
government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be
called 'Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting
Father, Prince of Peace.'. Of the increase of his government
and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David
and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with
justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for
evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
This is the prediction that Jesus would come upon the throne of David
and establish a kingdom that would never perish throughout eternity.
Therefore, an angel appeared to Mary at the time she conceived Jesus
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and
will be called the son of the Most high; and the Lord God
will give to 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 1:31-33)
From these passages, we can see plainly that God called the
Israelites, the chosen people, and had led them through afflictions
and hardships for 2000 years, in order to establish an everlasting
Kingdom of God on earth by sending Jesus as the Messiah.
Jesus came as the Messiah; but, due to the disbelief of and
persecution by the people, he was crucified. Since then, the Jews have
lost their qualification as the chosen people and have been scattered,
suffering persecution through the present day.
4. THE LIMIT OF SALVATION THROUGH REDEMPTION BY THE CROSS, AND THE
PURPOSE OF THE LORD'S SECOND ADVENT
If Jesus had not been crucified, what would have happened? He would
have accomplished the providence of salvation both spiritually and
physically. He would have established the Kingdom of Heaven on earth
which would last forever, as expressed in the prophecy of Isaiah (Is.
9:6-7), in the instruction of the angel appearing to Mary (Luke
1:31-33), and in Jesus' own words announcing the imminence of the
Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 4:17).
God first created man's flesh with the earth, and then He breathed
into his nostrils the breath of life and made him into a living soul
(Gen. 2:7). Man was created to have both spirit and body; his fall
also came about both spiritually and physically. Naturally, salvation
must include both spirit and body.
Since the purpose of Jesus' advent as the Messiah was to accomplish
the providence of restoration, he should have fulfilled the salvation
of both spirit and body. To believe in Jesus means to become one body
with him; therefore, Jesus likened himself to the true vine, and his
followers to its branches (John 15:5). He said, "...you will know that
I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you." (John 14:20). Jesus
said this because coming in the flesh, he wanted to save fallen men
both spiritually and physically. If they had become one with him in
both spirit and body by believing in him, fallen men could have been
saved both spiritually and physically. Because the Jewish people
disbelieved Jesus and delivered him up for crucifixion, his body
was invaded by Satan, and he was killed. Therefore, even when
Christians believe in and become one body with Jesus, whose body was
invaded by Satan, their bodies still remain subject to Satan's
In this manner, however devout a man of faith may be, he cannot
fulfill physical salvation by redemption through Jesus' crucifixion
alone. Since the original sin lineally transmitted from Adam has not
been liquidated, any saint, however devout he may be, still has
original sin and cannot help giving birth to the children of original
sin. To prevent the condition of Satanic invasion which constantly
comes through the flesh due to the original sin, we have to torment
and deny our flesh, in order to live a religious life. We must pray
constantly (I Thess. 5:17) in order to prevent the condition of
Satanic invasion that comes because of original sin, which has not
been annihilated, even through redemption by the cross.
Jesus could not accomplish the purpose of the providence of physical
salvation because his body was invaded by Satan. However, he could
establish the basis for spiritual salvation by forming a triumphant
foundation for resurrection through the redemption by the blood of the
cross. Therefore, all the saints since the resurrection of Jesus
through the present day have enjoyed the benefit of the providence of
spiritual salvation only. Salvation through redemption by the cross is
spiritual only. Even in devout men of faith, the original sin remains
in the flesh and is transmitted continuously from generation to
generation. The more devout a saint becomes in his faith, therefore,
the more severe becomes his fight against sin. Thus, Christ must come
again on the earth to accomplish the purpose of the providence of the
physical, as well as the spiritual salvation, by redeeming the
original sin which has not been liquidated even through the cross.
As mentioned before, even the saints redeemed by the cross have had to
continue to fight against original sin. That is why even Paul, who was
the center of faith among the disciples, lamented over his inability
to prevent sin from invading his flesh, saying, "...So then, I of
myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve
the law of sin." (Rom. 7:22-25). He said this to express the joy of
the fulfillment of spiritual salvation as well as to deplore the
failure to accomplish physical salvation. Again, in I John 1:8-10 John
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the
truth is not in us...If we say we have not sinned, we make
him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Thus, we who can gain salvation through the crucifixion of Jesus
cannot escape from being sinners because the original sin still works
5. TWO KINDS OF PROPHECY CONCERNING THE CROSS
What must be the reason, then, that in Isaiah 53 Jesus' suffering on
the cross is prophesied, if his crucifixion was not the result of
God's predestination? Until now, many people have thought that the
prophecies in the Bible about Jesus foretold only his suffering. When
we read the Bible anew with a knowledge of the Principle, we can
understand that, just as the prophet Isaiah foretold in the Old
Testament Age (Is. 9, 11, 60), and as the angel of God prophesied to
Mary, Jesus was expected to become king of the Jews in his lifetime
and establish on earth an everlasting kingdom of which "there will be
no end" (Luke 1:31-33). Let us then investigate why there were two
kinds of prophecies.
God created man to be perfected only by accomplishing his portion of
responsibility (cf. Part I, Ch. 1, Sec. V, 2.2--55). However, in
actuality, the first human ancestors fell without having accomplished
their portion of responsibility. Thus, man could either accomplish his
portion of responsibility in accordance with God's will, or, on the
contrary, not accomplish it against God's will.
To give an example from the Bible, it was man's portion of
responsibility not to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of
Good and Evil. Adam could perfect himself by obeying God's commandment
not to eat of the fruit; on the other hand, he could die by eating the
fruit, as actually happened. God gave the Ten Commandments to the
people of the Old Testament Age as a condition of man's responsibility
in the providence of salvation. Thus, man could be saved by keeping
the Commandments, or be ruined by not keeping them. It was the
Israelites' portion of responsibility to obey Moses' command on their
way from Egypt to the blessed land of Canaan. They could enter the
blessed land of Canaan by obeying Moses' command, or not enter it by
disobeying his command. In fact, God willed that Moses lead the
Israelites into the blessed land of Canaan (Ex. 3:8) and commanded him
to do so; but due to their disbelief, the people perished in the
wilderness, leaving only their posterity to reach the destination.
Man thus has his own responsibility to accomplish, and he may fulfill
it according to God's will or not fulfill it against His will, thus
resulting in only one of the two possibilities being realized.
Therefore, it was inevitable for God to give two kinds of prophecy
regarding the fulfillment of His will.
It was God's portion of responsibility to send the Messiah, but to
believe in him was man's responsibility. Therefore, the Jewish people
could either believe in the Messiah according to God's will
or not believe in him, against His will. Therefore, God had to give
two kinds of prophecy, thus providing for two possible results,
according to man's success or failure to accomplish his
responsibility. God prophesied both about what might happen if the
Jewish people failed to believe in the Messiah, as was written in
Isaiah 53, and about what would happen if they fulfilled His will in
glory by believing in and serving the Messiah, as was recorded in
Isaiah 9, 11, and 60, and Luke 1:30. However, due to the disbelief of
the people, Jesus died on the cross, and the prophecy of Isaiah 53 was
realized, thus leaving the others to be accomplished after the Lord's
6. BIBLICAL VERSES WRITTEN AS IF JESUS' CRUCIFIXION WERE INEVITABLE
In the Bible we find many verses written as if Jesus' suffering
through crucifixion were inevitable. One of the representative
examples of this is that Jesus reproached Peter, who tried to dissuade
him when he prophesied about his suffering on the cross, and said,
"Get behind me, Satan!" (Matt. 16:23). Otherwise, how could Jesus
reproach Peter so bitterly? In fact, Jesus was then resolved to take
the cross as the condition of indemnity to pay for the accomplishment
of even the spiritual salvation of man when he found that he was
unable to accomplish the providence of both spiritual and physical
salvation (Luke 9:31). In that situation, Peter's dissuading him from
taking the way of the cross was a hindrance to the providence of
spiritual salvation through the cross; so, he reproached Peter.
In the next place, when Jesus uttered his last words on the cross,
saying, "It is finished" (John 19:30), he did not mean that the whole
purpose of the providence of salvation was attained through
the cross. Knowing that the disbelief of the people was at that point
inalterable, Jesus chose the way of the cross in order to establish
the foundation of the providence of spiritual salvation, leaving the
providence of physical salvation to the time of the Second Advent.
Therefore, Jesus meant by the words "it is finished" that he finished
establishing the basis for the providence of spiritual salvation
through the cross, which was the secondary providence of salvation.
In order for us to have a right faith, we must first establish direct
rapport with God in spirit through ardent prayer and next, we must
understand the truth through correct reading of the Bible. This is the
reason that Jesus told us to worship God in spirit and truth (John
From the time of Jesus through the present, all Christians have
thought that Jesus came to the world to die. This is because they did
not know the fundamental purpose of Jesus' coming as the Messiah and
entertained the wrong idea that spiritual salvation was the only
mission for which Jesus came to the world. Jesus came to accomplish
the will of God in his lifetime, but had to die a reluctant death due
to the disbelief of the people. There must first appear on the earth
the bride who can relieve the humiliated and grieving heart of Jesus
before Christ as the bridegroom can come again--this time to complete
his mission with his bride. Jesus said, "Nevertheless, when the Son of
man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8) in lamentation
over the possible ignorance of the people, which he could foresee.
We have clarified the fact that Jesus did not come to die, but if we
ask Jesus directly through spiritual communication, we can see the
fact even more clearly. When direct rapport is impossible, we should
seek the testimony of someone with such a gift in order to have the
kind of faith that will entitle us to be the "bride", in order to
receive the Messiah.
SECTION II -
THE SECOND ADVENT OF ELIJAH AND JOHN THE BAPTIST
It was foretold by the prophet Malachi that Elijah would come again
(Mal. 4:5), and it was Jesus' testimony that John the Baptist was none
other than the second advent of Elijah (Matt. 11:14, 17:13). However,
John the Baptist himself, as well as the Jewish people in general, did
not know the fact that John was the second advent of Elijah (John
1:21). John's doubt of Jesus (Matt. 11:3), followed by the disbelief
of the people, finally compelled Jesus to take the way of the cross.
1. THE TREND OF JEWISH THOUGHT CONCERNING THE SECOND ADVENT OF ELIJAH
During the period of the United Kingdom, the "ideal of the temple" was
invaded by Satan, due to the corruption of King Solomon.
God set up the ideal of the temple the second time. In order to
prepare the people to receive the Messiah as the substantial temple,
He worked for the separation from Satan by sending them four major
prophets and twelve minor prophets. It was to stop Satan from
preventing the realization of this ideal that God had his people
destroy the god Baal by sending his special prophet Elijah and having
him fight against the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. However, Elijah
ascended into heaven without having fully accomplished his divine
mission (II Kings 2:11), and Satan's power was again rampant.
Therefore, in order that the ideal of the substantial temple, Jesus,
might be realized, there should first be the providence of having
another prophet succeed Elijah and accomplish the mission of
separating Satan, which he had left undone on the earth. Because of
this providential necessity, the prophet Malachi foretold the second
advent of Elijah (Mal. 4:5).
The fervent hope of the Jewish people who believed in these prophecies
was, of course, the advent of the Messiah. But we must know that they
nonetheless longed for the second coming of Elijah. This is because
God clearly promised the people, through the prophet Malachi, that He
would send the prophet Elijah prior to the advent of the Messiah in
order to have him prepare the way of the Lord (Mal. 4:5). Meanwhile,
the prophet Elijah had ascended into heaven nearly 900 years before
the birth of Jesus (II Kings 2:11), and we are familiar with the
occasion when he appeared to Jesus' disciples in spirit (Luke 9:31).
The Jewish people believed that Elijah, being in heaven, would come
from heaven in the same manner as he had ascended into heaven.
Therefore, the Jewish people of that time were waiting for Elijah to
come again, looking up into heaven in the expectation that Elijah
would come on the clouds.
However, there had been as yet no rumor of Elijah's coming as Malachi
had prophesied, when Jesus appeared, claiming to be the Messiah; thus,
great confusion was caused in Jerusalem. So, the disciples were faced
with an argument against Jesus' being the Messiah (Matt. 17:10): if
Jesus were he, then where was Elijah who was to come before him? (Mal.
4:5). The disciples, at a loss as to how to reply, asked Jesus
directly; and he answered that John the Baptist was none other than
Elijah himself, for whom they had waited (Matt. 11:14, 17:13). Jesus'
disciples, who believed him to be the Messiah, could believe without
question Jesus' testimony that John the Baptist was Elijah. But how
could the Jewish people accept it, when they did not know who Jesus
was? Jesus himself, knowing that they would not easily believe his
testimony, said, "If you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is
to come." (Matt. 11:14). The Jewish people could not believe Jesus'
testimony that John the Baptist was Elijah because it came after John
himself clearly denied the fact (John 1:21).
2. THE WAY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
Jesus said that John the Baptist was none other than Elijah, for whom
the Jewish people had waited so long (Matt. 11:14), while on the
contrary, John the Baptist himself had already denied the fact. Then,
whose words were they to believe and follow? It depended upon which of
the two appeared to be more believable to the people at that time.
Let us then examine how Jesus appeared to the Jewish people, from
their own standpoint. Jesus was a young man of little formal
education. He had been born and raised in the poor and lowly home of a
carpenter. This young man emerged unknown, calling himself the Lord of
the Sabbath, and yet violated the Sabbath which the Jews strictly
observed (Matt. 12:1-8). Therefore, Jesus came to be known as one who
wanted to abolish the Law, which was the symbol of salvation to the
Jews (Matt. 5:17). Therefore, Jesus was persecuted by Jewish leaders
and had to gather fishermen to be his disciples. He became a friend to
tax-collectors, harlots, and sinners, eating and drinking with them
(Matt. 11:19). More than that, Jesus declared that the tax-collectors
and harlots would enter the Kingdom of Heaven ahead of the Jewish
leaders. (Matt. 21:31).
On one occasion, a woman, weeping, began to wet Jesus' feet with her
tears, wipe them with her hair, kiss them and anoint them with a flask
of precious ointment (Luke 7:37-38). Such conduct would not be
acceptable even in today's society and how much more unacceptable it
would have been within the strict ethics of Jewish society, in which
they could stone an adulterous woman to death. Nevertheless, Jesus not
only accepted it, but reproached his disciples, who had rebuked the
woman; in fact, he also praised her (Luke 7:44-50, Matt. 26:7-13).
Moreover, Jesus placed himself on the same level as God (John 14:9)
and said that no one could enter the Kingdom of Heaven
except through him (John 14:6). He even said that people should love
him more than their parents, brothers, husband or wife and their
children (Matt. 10:37, Luke 14:26).
Because of the attitude which Jesus' words and actions seemed to
convey, the Jewish leaders derided him and accused him of being
Beelzebub, the Prince of Demons (Matt. 12:24). From all this we can
gather that Jesus was not accepted by the Jews of that time.
Next, let us investigate how John the Baptist appeared to the Jewish
people. John was born to a distinguished family as a son of Zechariah,
a chief priest (Luke 1:13). His birth greatly surprised the whole city
because of the miracles and signs surrounding his conception. His
father, burning incense in the holy place, saw the angel of the Lord,
who announced that his wife would conceive a son. Upon disbelieving
the angel's words, Zechariah was struck dumb, and his speech was
restored only upon the birth of the child (Luke 1:9-66). Moreover,
John led a brilliant life of faith and discipline, living on locusts
and wild honey in the wilderness, and he appeared so admirable to the
Jewish people that even the chief priests, as well as the people in
general, asked him if he were the Messiah (Luke 3:15, John 1:20).
Considering the above, when we compare Jesus and John the Baptist from
the standpoint of the Jewish people, whose words would they be more
likely to believe? It was only natural for them to believe the words
of John the Baptist. Consequently, they had to believe John's words
when he denied being Elijah more than they believed Jesus' testimony
that John the Baptist was Elijah. Since the Jewish people came to
believe the words of John the Baptist, Jesus' testimony appeared to be
false, and thus he was condemned as an imposter.
In this way, Jesus was condemned as a man of reckless words and his
manner was offensive to the Jewish people. Their disbelief
in Jesus became aggravated by degrees. Since the Jewish people
believed the words of John the Baptist rather than those of Jesus,
they had to think that Elijah had not yet come; accordingly, they
could not even imagine that the Messiah had arrived.
From this viewpoint, the Jews had to deny Jesus, who claimed to be the
Messiah, because, from the standpoint of believers in the prophecy of
Malachi, they could not believe that Elijah had come. Otherwise, they
would have to deny the Scriptures, which prophesied that the coming of
the Messiah would take place after the return of Elijah. In this way,
the Jewish people, who could not abandon the prophecy in the
Scriptures, were compelled to choose the way of disbelief in Jesus.
3. THE DISBELIEF OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
As already discussed in detail, the chief priests as well as all the
Jewish people of that time respected John the Baptist to such a degree
that they thought he might be the Messiah (Luke 3:15, John 1:20).
Consequently, if John the Baptist had declared himself to be Elijah as
Jesus testified he was, the Jewish people, who expected Elijah's
return before the coming of the Messiah, would have come to Jesus,
because they were accustomed to believing the testimony of John the
Baptist. However, the ignorance of God's providence on the part of
John the Baptist, who protested to the last moment that he was not
Elijah, was the principal cause blocking the way of the people to
John the Baptist once testified:
I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is
coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not
worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit
and with fire. (Matt. 3:11)
Again in John 1:33-34 he confessed, saying:
I myself did not know him; but he [God] who sent me to
baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the
Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the
Holy Spirit [Christ].'. And I have seen and have borne
witness that this is the Son of God.
In this way, God directly manifested to John the Baptist that Jesus
was the Messiah, and even John himself testified to him as such, while
in John 1:23 he said he came with the mission of making straight the
way of the Messiah. In addition, he declared in John 3:28 that he was
the one who had been sent before the Christ. Therefore, John the
Baptist should have known through his own wisdom that he was Elijah.
Even if John the Baptist had not realized on his own that he was
Elijah, he should have nonetheless declared that he was Elijah in
obedience to Jesus' testimony, since he knew Jesus as the Messiah
through the testimony from God (John 1:33-34), and he knew that Jesus
bore witness that John was Elijah.
However, John not only denied Jesus' testimony (John 1:21) from his
ignorance of God's will (Matt. 11:19), but he also deviated form the
direction of providence even after that. We can well imagine how sad
Jesus must have been when he had to regard John the Baptist in that
way, not to mention the sorrow of God, when He looked at His son who
was placed in such a difficult situation.
In fact, the mission of John the Baptist as the witness ended with his
baptizing of and testifying to Jesus. Then what should his mission
have been after that? His father Zechariah, moved by the Holy Spirit,
said about John, who had just been born: "we...might serve him without
fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our
life. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for
you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways..." (Luke 1:74-76),
thus prophesying clearly about his mission. John the Baptist should
have ministered to Jesus as a disciple, after having
testified to him. Nevertheless, he went about baptizing people
separately from Jesus, thus confusing the Jewish people (Luke 3:15),
even the chief priests (John 1:20). Further, the disciples of Jesus
and the followers of John quarreled about "purification" among
themselves, each saying that his own teacher baptized more people
(John 3:25-26). Besides, John 3:30 tells us eloquently that John the
Baptist did not bear the same fate with Jesus, who said, "He must
increase, but I must decrease.". How could he ever decrease while
Jesus increased, if he shared the same destiny with Jesus? In fact,
the gospel of Jesus should have been proclaimed by John the Baptist
himself. But through ignorance, he could not accomplish his mission,
and at last he degraded his life, which was to have been devoted to
Jesus, to a thing of practically no value.
John the Baptist knew Jesus was the Messiah, and when John was on
God's side, he testified to him. But when God no longer directly
inspired him, and John returned to his normal state, his disbelief of
Jesus became aggravated by his ignorance. John the Baptist, who did
not realize that he was Elijah, regarded Jesus from the same
standpoint as other people, especially after John's imprisonment.
Accordingly, everything Jesus said or did seemed, from the merely
human standpoint of John the Baptist, to be strange and
incomprehensible. Moreover, John himself could not believe that Jesus,
who had appeared before the coming of Elijah, was the Messiah. At last
John sent his disciples to Jesus in an attempt to remove his doubt, by
asking him, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?"
Jesus, so questioned, answered indignantly, with an air of admonition
(Matt. 11:4-10). John the Baptist was chosen by God while he was still
in his mother's womb for the mission of serving Him throughout his
life (Luke 1:76), and was trained in the wilderness, leading the
bitter life of an ascetic, in order to prepare the way of
the Lord. When Jesus started his public ministry, God first told John
who Jesus was, then had him testify to Jesus' being the Son of God.
When John the Baptist, who was failing to fulfill his mission and
blessing from heaven, asked Jesus such a question, Jesus did not
answer straightforwardly that he was the Messiah, which should have
been plain enough. He answered in a roundabout way, saying:
Go and tell John what you hear and see! The blind receive
their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the
deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have
good news preached to them. (Matt. 11:4-5)
Of course, John the Baptist was not ignorant of such miracles and
wonders done by Jesus. Nevertheless, Jesus gave such a lengthy
explanation in order to let him know who he was by reminding John the
Baptist of what he was doing.
We must understand that when Jesus said the poor had good news
preached to them (Matt. 11:5), he was indicating his grief over the
disbelief of the Jewish people, and especially that of John the
Baptist. The chosen people of Israel, especially John, had been richly
blessed with divine love and care. Nevertheless, they betrayed Jesus,
and he was compelled to wander about the seacoast of Galilee through
the region of Samaria to search among the poor for those who would
listen to the Gospel. The ignorant fishermen, tax-collectors and
harlots were such poor people. Actually, the disciples Jesus would
have preferred were not people of this kind. Jesus, having come to
establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, was more in need of one
person qualified to lead a thousand than one thousand following him
blindly. Did he not, therefore, first preach the Gospel in the temple
to the chief priests and scribes in search of those who were able and
However, as Jesus indicated in a parable, he had to call beggars
roaming about on the street to the feast, because the
invited had not come. Jesus, who himself had to go about bringing
in those who were uninvited, at last uttered bitter words of judgment
in deep lamentation, saying, "blessed is he who takes no offense at
me." (Matt. 11:6). Jesus predicted John the Baptist's destiny by
saying, indirectly, that one who took offense at him would not be
blessed, however great he might be.
On the contrary, it was John the Baptist who had offended Jesus. How
did John the Baptists offend him? John failed to carry out his mission
of serving and ministering to Jesus.
After the disciples of John the Baptist left him, Jesus said:
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has
risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is
least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matt.
indicating that, from the standpoint of his ministry, John the Baptist
had come originally as the greatest of all the prophets, but that he
was failing to accomplish his mission.
All those in heaven had once been born of women and lived their
earthly lives before they died. Therefore, it would have been natural
for him who was the greatest of all those born of women to be the
greatest also in heaven. Then, why was John the Baptist worse than he
who was least in the Kingdom of heaven? Numerous prophets in the past
had testified to the Messiah from a distance, looking forward to his
coming in the future. But John the Baptist came with the mission of
testifying to the Messiah directly. Since it was the mission of the
prophets to testify to the Messiah, John the Baptist, who was to
testify to the Messiah directly, was greater than any of the other
prophets, who testified to him indirectly. However, seen from the
point of ministering to the Messiah, he was the least one. This is
because the least in the Kingdom of Heaven recognizes Jesus as the
Messiah and serves him, while John the Baptist, who was called for the
mission of serving him closely in person (Luke 1:76), did not prepare
the way of Jesus and failed to serve him. Jesus went on to
say, "From John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has
suffered violence, and men of violence take it.". If John the Baptist,
who was chosen in the womb and trained in so difficult an ascetic life
in the wilderness, had only served Jesus as he should, he would no
doubt have become his chief disciple. But since John failed to
accomplish his mission of serving Jesus, Peter took the position of
In the passage, "From John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of
Heaven has suffered violence", Jesus was not referring to the failure
of people in general, but that of John the Baptist himself. If John
had acted wisely, he would not have left Jesus, and his deeds would
have remained for eternity as righteous; but, unfortunately, he
blocked the way for the Jewish people to go to Jesus, as well as his
Here, we have come to understand that the greatest factor leading to
the crucifixion of Jesus was the failure of John the Baptist. Paul
lamented over the ignorance of the people, including John the Baptist,
who crucified Jesus, saying:
None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they
had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (I
4. THE REASON THAT JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS ELIJAH
According to what we have previously stated (cf. Sec. II, 1--153), we
can see that John the Baptist came to succeed Elijah and accomplish
the mission which Elijah had left unaccomplished on earth. As Luke
1:17 says, John was born with the mission of going before the Lord in
the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to
the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, and to
make ready for the Lord a people prepared. For this reason, John was
the second advent of Elijah from the standpoint of their identical
mission. Details will be clarified in the chapter on
"Resurrection", but we know now that Elijah descended in spirit to
John the Baptist. By cooperating with John the Baptist he tried to
accomplish his mission, which he had left unaccomplished during his
physical life on earth, through the physical body of John the Baptist.
John the Baptist was in the position of representing Elijah's physical
body, making himself identical with Elijah from the standpoint of
5. OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD THE BIBLE
We have learned from our study of the Bible that the ignorance and
disbelief of John the Baptist brought about the disbelief of the
Jewish people, which finally compelled Jesus to take the way of
crucifixion. Since the time of Jesus until the present, no one has
been able to reveal this heavenly secret. This is because we have
hitherto read the Bible from the standpoint that John the Baptist was
the greatest prophet of all. We have learned from the story of John
the Baptist that we must abandon the conservative attitude of faith
which has caused us to be afraid to remove old traditional concepts.
If it would be unjust to believe that John the Baptist had failed to
accomplish his mission when he actually succeeded, it would also no
doubt be wrong to believe that he fulfilled his mission, when on the
contrary he had failed to do so. We must struggle to obtain the right
way of faith, both in spirit and truth.
We have now brought to light the true nature of the story of John the
Baptist as demonstrated in the Bible. Any Christian who, in spiritual
communication, can see John the Baptist directly in the spirit world
will be able to understand the authenticity of all these things.