Jesus The Messiah

Who is this child?

Forty days after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph brought him to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifice in accordance with Jewish Law. They were greeted there by an elderly man called Simeon, who took the baby in his arms and uttered this remarkable and beautiful prayer:

“At last, all-powerful Master, you give leave to your servant to go in peace according to your promise, for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared for all nations, the light to enlighten the gentiles and give glory to Israel, your people.” (Luke 2:29-32)

Simeon recognised the infant Jesus as the long expected Messiah of Hebrew prophecy, who would not only fulfil God’s promises to Israel, but would also enlighten the whole world with God's final and full revelation.

Simeon then spoke to Mary, prophesying that Jesus would be rejected and that great suffering must precede his final triumph. "This child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is contradicted—and a sword will pierce through your own soul also— so that the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed" (Luke 2:34).

The Hebrew scriptures are unique among world religions, because their primary focus is not on a founding figure in the past but on someone who is to come in the future. The Old Testament documents a relationship between God and his people stretching back to the dawn of time, but which will only reach completion in someone who will appear in the final age of the world.

The vision of exactly who and what this mysterious person is, is hazy to begin with. Then as more prophecies are added as the centuries unfold, the vision becomes clearer and the sense of expectancy ever more urgent. He is seen variously as a great king, a prophet, a priest, or perhaps all three. Expectations about his life, personality and mission are gradually spelled out in increasingly specific detail.

How long ago was he expected?

Where does this line of promise begin? The Jews look to Abraham as the father of their race. Their identity is not primarily genetic, however, but spiritual. Through Abraham's faith they are God's chosen people from among whom would come "The Messiah", a name that means "anointed one" in Hebrew ("christos" in Greek), because anointing was a particular sign of divine election and empowerment. Yet the Old Testament claims continuity with a tradition of revelation that even predates Abraham.

In the Book of Genesis, after the first human beings have fallen into sin through the temptation of the serpent, which represents Satan, God says to the tempter:“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” This is sometimes known as the proto-evangelium—the first announcement of the good news after the fall (Genesis 3:15).

The ancient rabbis saw in this passage one of the earliest prophecies of the coming of the Messiah[1]. It says that the child of another woman, a descendant of Eve, will defeat the evil one, but that he will suffer in doing so. In the midst of the crisis caused by the disobedience of our first parents, God gives a hint of his plan for the world that also gives hope of redemption. The perfect man who is to come at the climax of history will meet the spiritual enslaver of humanity in a dramatic and painful battle which will result in a decisive victory over sin and death.

However, the rabbis also found symbolic hints of the Messiah in the account of creation not only before human beings fell but before had even been created. They saw the Spirit of God hovering over the primal waters (Genesis 1:2) as the "Spirit of the Messiah" shaping the world in preparation for his own coming[2].

And they heard God's first creative command: "Let there be light" (Genesis 1:3), as the first announcement of the Messiah who enlightens all creation with the wisdom of God[3] and who would especially enlighten humanity, even the non-Jewish gentiles, with the true way of holiness. They also said that Adam, the first man, was created in the image of the Messiah who would appear at the end of history as the perfect Man[4].

They taught that The Messiah was actually God's first thought in creating the world and that his name was the first word God uttered when creating the cosmos, and that it will be his last word,  brings all God's works to completion. So, for the ancient rabbis The Messiah more than just a figure of hope for the Hebrew nation, they believed that the whole world was made for the sake of the Messiah[5].

Modern relevance: the context of the universe

But what is the relevance of all this to the modern world? How can we present a messianic religion to a culture where sceptical secularists dismiss anything from The Bible as primitive superstitions?

First we have to look at things in the wider context within which the Bible is written, the context within which human culture and religious traditions emerge, the wider context of human nature and history on planet earth, and ultimately the context of material existence and of the universe as a whole. For the universe as we experience and study it through scientific investigation does have a context, although it is one that is too often presumed and routinely ignored by those who are inclined dismiss God and religion out of hand.

We can actually demonstrate with greater clarity than the ancients that there is meaning and purpose written into every aspect of the cosmos. Through science, we discover patterns of elegant coherence which we can express in the mathematical language of the mind. We  find order, balance, proportion, and mutually defining relationships embedded in Nature and in the nature of things. Science progresses by working out the connections by which things cause and control  each other. We find that all these relationships of control and direction are linked across the vast space-time unity we call "the universe"[6].

The ultimate context of such cosmic coherence is Mind. For mind, as we know from our own creative use of the laws we discover, is the necessary condition of unity, meaning and purpose. A system only works because it means something to the mind that conceives it.

The Wisdom that frames creation

God is the transcendent Mind that spans all things. But we should not therefore think of God as somehow abstract and aloof, a disinterested academic. When we speak of The Mind of God we also mean infinite and personal Wisdom who embraces all things in a single act of knowing and willing, insight and intention, understanding and choosing for his own kind purposes[7].

God is ever present to his creation, sustaining it and drawing onwards and upwards to perfection and fulfilment. But can we ever know the full measure of this Wisdom? What is his final purpose? At the start of the last book of the Bible, God proclaims "I am the Alpha and the Omega[8] ... who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." (Revelation 1:8)"?  God  is the creator and completer of the cosmos, the foundation and fulfilment of all that exists. The culmination and fulfilment of his creative wisdom consists in the revelation and gift of himself to his creatures and his presence within his own creation in some way.

It is of no small relevance that towards the end of the same book of Revelation, Jesus who is also proclaimed as Messiah or "Christ" uses exactly the same words of himself, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End" (Revelation 22:13). In order to understand the full implications of this, we must continue to think through the great sweep of creation as it becomes history in the world of human beings.

The journey of matter from "the dust of the earth" (Genesis 2:7) to the formation of the human body is all contained within the one creative act of eternal Wisdom when God commanded: "Let there be light!" (Genesis 1:3). At every stage, the most fundamental law of created existence applies: that everything must be provided for by contact with something greater than itself, yet in a way that is suited to its nature. On the biological level, this means that organisms are locked onto and locked into their own environmental niche, for it is the environment which determines and enables the creatures potential to grow and to flourish.

Human identity and destiny

But this is only the prelude to the full and final perfection of God’s creation. The next chapter begins with Man, homo sapiens, people like us, creatures with spiritual souls as well as a physical bodies. And the soul is no mere add-on to the body. The human form can only exist as a meaningful entity in the world through the spiritual soul. It is required under God's Wisdom in perfect continuity with the Unity Law of Control and Direction that frames the whole of creation[9].

We are not just animals, but living spirits created in the image and likeness of God himself (see Genesis 2: ).But how does a creature that is simultaneously both matter and spirit in the unity of a single personality fit into God’s plan of creation? Where do we get our life-law from? In what kind of environment can we flourish and find our true happiness? What is our ultimate purpose and our goal?

The answer to all these questions can only be God himself. God is personally for us what the environment is for living things. Spiritual creatures, whether angels or human beings, cannot be neutral towards God nor find their identity and fulfilment without some degree of communion with the God who has made them in his own likeness. As St. Paul put it, quoting from one the poet-philosophers of ancient Greece: “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts17:28).

In creating human beings, God gathers up matter into the supernatural order, and therefore into personal relationship with himself. It is only in relationship with God, and therefore by the gift of his grace, that can we grow to our full potential. But we are not like the angels who are purely spiritual beings of concentrated intellect and will. God can communicate with them directly, mind to mind, heart to heart, spirit to spirit. However, our human bodies are an integral dimension of our nature and our personalities. We live, love, know and grow through things we can see, hear and touch. We are social creatures, born from parents into families and communities.

Messianic religion and the law of creation

We need God to teach us and touch our hearts in ways that are suited to our human nature which is both spiritual and material at once. If God is true to his own wisdom and the law of his own creation, we must expect him to draw human beings to himself through all these human means, and to do so by degrees throughout the stages of development of human culture.

The rise of religion, therefore, is part of the purposeful law of creation as it passes from purely material development into human nature which is made in God's image, and so with divine communion as its God-given goal. We must look to God to establish a religion which is under his supernatural authority and inspiration, but will also be marked by the down to earth character of human nature; simple and childlike at first, but leading deeper and higher as humanity matures and God's plan unfolds.

We must expect to find not just occasionally inspired spiritual leaders, but a continuous tradition of doctrinal and spiritual teaching that deepens through the centuries. And that is what we do find uniquely in one particular tradition which is already old by the time it bursts into writing after the Neolithic revolution in the Middle East.

It does not arise in one of the great empires of human power, such as Egypt or Babylon, but among a small group of tribes living within that cradle of human cultures and at the crossroads of those mighty civilizations. This people owe their identity as a nation entirely to God's choice and command. Their religious teaching does not begin among courtly intellectuals or hermit philosophers, but with God's personal call to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, a family line established by God's direct providence.

They become an extended family, a nation, then a kingdom united by spiritual bonds as well as by ties of flesh and blood. They are bound to God and he to them in solemn covenants of blessing and faithfulness. Their prophets struggle to preserve them from contamination by ideas and practices of a corrupt world, because the overriding purpose of this chosen people is to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. He will come from the royal family lineage of king David, who represents the golden age of Israel, although The Messiah, will, in fact, be greater than David (see, Psalm 110:1, Matthew 22:41-46).

This is the context in which The Bible appears on the pages of history. And it is not 'the book’, as such, that is considered divine or infallible—for a long time there is no single, collated book—but the living 'Word of the Lord' revealed to a people who have been specially appointed and formed by God as carriers and custodians of his promises.

The presence of God on earth

That divine 'Word' also came to be understood as the personal Wisdom of God who speaks to the hearts of those who seek him in holiness and prayer, and is also the same Wisdom that frames  the whole of creation. "The Lord made me the beginning of his ways[10], before his works of old; from eternity I was established, from the beginning" (Proverbs 8:22).

More than that, this eternal and personal divine Wisdom has a particular love for human beings and takes special delight in being with them on earth (Proverbs 8:31). The Israelites were deeply aware of this mysterious presence of The Holy One among them in physical as well as spiritual terms. They called it the "shekinah", which means God's "dwelling" or "settling down" among men. God was not just 'up in heaven', but had actually made his home among them on earth in some way.

The divine presence was first recognised in the "tabernacle" or "tent of meeting" where they kept the Ark of the Covenant at the centre of the camp during their travels through the Sinai desert after they escaped from Egypt. Later the place of God's powerful earthly presence was in the Holy of Holies at the heart of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Jewish feats of "Tabernacles" celebrated this earthly presence of the Almighty among his people.

This the religious tradition that looks forward to the coming of a Messiah who will not only bring about a kingdom of justice, peace, and holiness, but will establish heaven on earth by revealing the plenary presence and communion of God which perfects his creation (see Isaiah 9:6-7, 11:2-9 ).

Yet it is a religion marked by frequent human failures and betrayals too. From the start, God's covenants with the chosen people are broken and renewed time and again, with the promise that the Messiah will bring lasting redemption, reconciling human beings with their Creator and uniting heaven and earth in an unbreakable bond, an eternal covenant. So there are more than a few hints in the prophets that this will involve great suffering for God's chosen Servant.

Hopes fulfilled beyond expectation

However, the precise meaning of these prophecies and how they relate to the life of the Messiah and his true identity can only be clearly recognised in the light of the events which fulfil them. So what is the true identity of the Messiah? We find the most precise fulfilment of everything said so far in the first chapter of St. John's Gospel:

" In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it ... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father." (John 1:1-5 & 14)

This also tells us something dramatically new which none of the prophets had foreseen clearly,  that the Word of God who is also the personal Wisdom or creative Mind of God[11], and the longed for Messiah are one and the same person. The Messiah is God Himself who has come to share our nature, and so in him we are raised to union with God beyond anything that could have been expected or hoped for.

When St. John says that the Word made flesh "dwelled" amongst us, the exact word he uses means “he "tabernacled", or "pitched his tent" among us” (John 1:14). St. John is clearly telling us that God's eternal desire and plan to dwell among his people[12] is fulfilled in the tabernacle of Christ’s own humanity when the eternal Word became flesh. The "shekinah", God's earthly presence among humanity is made complete in Jesus. “For in him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and in Him too you find your own fulfilment, in the one who is Head of every Sovereignty and Power” (Colossians 2:9-10).

"Alpha and Omega": the beginning and end of all things

Jesus is the full manifestation of God's glory in creation. He is both the beginning and the end of all things, the “Alpha and Omega" (Revelation 21:6 & 22:13). He is the reason that anything was created at all[13], and he is the great "Amen" to the works of God (Titus 2:11, 3:4, Corinthians 1:20, Revelation 3:14) who completes and perfects all things to the praise of the Father.

This thought does not detract or distract from the crucial truth that God becomes man to redeem us from sin and death. God sees eternally that human beings rebel against him and answers it within the same mystery of love with which he laid out his creative purpose. In fact it is only Jesus who can be our Redeemer because the meaning, identity and eternal destiny of our human nature is founded upon him in the first place.

The Catechism of The Catholic Church tells us that "God created the world for the sake of communion with his divine life, a communion brought about by the convocation of men in Christ ... and God permitted such painful upheavals as the angels’ fall and man’s sin only as occasions to display all the power of his arm and the whole measure of the love he wanted to give to the world." (CCC 760).

This is the perspective found in the teaching of the Apostles throughout the New Testament. When St. Peter speaks of Christ making us “co-sharers of the divine nature” through the Incarnation, he says this was “foreknown before the foundation of the world, but revealed at the end of the ages for our sake” (1 Peter 1:20).

Similarly, St. Paul says that "according to (God's) purpose" we were “predestined before time began to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He should be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:28). This means that we are who we are as human individuals not primarily because we can trace our lineage through a family tree  that stretches back to Adam, but because we are made in and for Jesus Christ. "Before the foundation of the world he chose us, chose us in Christ, that we should be holy and blameless before him and to live through love in his presence; determining that we should become his adopted sons through Jesus Christ to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." ”(Ephesians 1:3-8).

God sees all things from an infinitely transcendent point of view which we cannot grasp, so he has taken account of the fall and of its remedy from all eternity. Within that same loving purpose we also have redemption “through His blood, such is the richness of the grace He has showered upon us” (Ephesians 1:6).

The absolute primacy of Christ

In the Letter to the Colossians, St. Paul sums up this magnificent vision once again: “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God and the first born of all creation, for in Him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible... all things were created through Him and for Him. Before anything was created. He existed, and He holds all things in unity. Now the Church is His Body, He is its Head” (Colossians 1:15-18).[14]

This passage from Colossians is thought to be an extended commentary on the first word of the Book of Genesis : “In the beginning” (In Hebrew this is a single word: b'reshith), so for St. Paul, and indeed for St. John (cf. John 1:1), “In the beginning” means "In Christ" through whom, in whom and for whom everything exists. The suffering, death and resurrection of Christ flow fittingly from his primacy over all things and from the fact that human nature, in particular, was destined to belong to God in the most intimate possible way and in Him to become the crowning glory of all God's works.

“As He is the Beginning, so He was first to be born from the dead so that He should be first in every way; because God wanted all perfection to be found in Him. And all things are reconciled through Him and for Him, everything in heaven and everything on earth, when He made peace by His death on the cross” (Colossians 1:18-20)[15].

God's free gift to us in The Beloved

So when we speak of Jesus as The Messiah, we are saying not just that he completes the prophecies of the Hebrew Bible, but that he unlocks the ultimate meaning of the laws of matter. He is God's gracious answer to human identity and destiny, as well as his merciful answer to human sin. This is absolutely God's "free gift to us in The Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6) and yet it is what our nature needs. Without him we would come to nothing, or worse, we would come to eternal frustration and grief. In fact, without him the whole material creation would be "subjected to futility" (Romans 8:20).

We have no other home, no other end, goal or fulfilment than in him. So our very being, identity and final happiness is dependent on his wisdom and charity. But that is a sure and certain hope, far greater than any law of nature. In fact, it is the culmination and final focus of the ultimate Law of Nature which we have been referring to as The Unity Law of Control and Direction. As St. Augustine wrote: "You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they rest in You"[16].

After his resurrection and ascension, the Apostles realised that the man they had walked and talked with, followed and loved, failed and then found again against all hope, is not only the Christ of prophecy but "the Word who is Life" (1John 1:1). As God the Eternal Word, Jesus is the personal source of enlightenment and eternal glory for all spiritual creatures. As The Word made flesh, he is the source of life in its fullness for human beings. As our crucified and risen Saviour, that redeeming grace is doubly undeserved, a mercy merited only by his supreme his sacrifice of love.  In all these things he is the keystone upon which everything in heaven and on earth, the whole edifice of creation and salvation, rests and holds together. This is the apostolic vision proclaimed and explained in The New Testament under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Prophecies fulfilled

By divine prompting St. Peter was the first to proclaim his faith in Jesus not only as Christ/Messiah but as "Son of The Living God" (Matthew 16:13-20, Mark 8:27–30 and Luke 9:18–20). This was impressed upon him, above all, by his experience of the Lord's transfiguration (Mark 9:2-50). Although Peter still struggled at that time to accept that Jesus must suffer and die before coming into his kingdom, he later wrote that the prophecies have indeed been confirmed in Jesus (2Peter 1:19). The whole of the Old Testament is prophetic about Christ  in one way or another; not just prophetic utterances, but events and characters, festivals, signs, symbols, and rituals which are later recognised as (proto-)"types" of the realities that complete them.

From the very start, the preaching and teaching of the Church was based on demonstrating that the Hebrew prophecies are fulfilled in the birth (e.g. Micah 5:2, Isaiah 7:14), life (e.g. Isaiah 9:1-2, 6:9-10), death (e.g. Psalm 69:21, Psalm 22:18), and resurrection (e.g. Psalm 16:10, Psalm 49:15) of Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospels, particularly Matthew, were largely written on this principle. Centuries of  study and scholarship have confirmed just how deeply and comprehensively the Old Testament writings apply to the events of the New Testament in breathtaking detail. Yet that first burst of insight did not come from centuries scholarship but from the Lord Jesus himself.

St. Luke records how, on the first Easter Sunday, the risen Christ appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus and opened their minds to understand how the whole of the Old Testament pointed to himself[17]. In the light of this experience,  the pieces of the prophetic puzzle fell into place and they could see clearly the mystery of God's eternal plan and why the Messiah had to suffer before entering his glory; and their "hearts burned within" them in awe at the wonder  and coherence of God's wisdom (Luke 24:13-35).

Jesus himself never said directly, "I am the Messiah", probably because there were so many misconceptions at the time about what it meant. But he clearly claimed to be, in himself, the true meaning and focus of the major liturgical festivals of the Temple in Jerusalem. His body is the true Temple of God's presence (John 2:21); his flesh is the true Bread that gives heavenly life on earth (John 6:55); and the shedding of his blood on the cross is the true Passover Sacrifice of redemption (John 1:29, Matthew 26:2).

Although he accepted Peter's affirmation of faith in him as Christ, he used other titles for himself which also relate to prophecies of the Messiah and clarify the true meaning of that role, such as "Light of The World", "Good Shepherd", "The Resurrection and The Life". The following three need a little more background explanation.

The Son and Heir

Jesus told a parable about a vineyard which a land owner let out to tenants who not only neglected it but abused the agents sent by the owner to collect his dues (Matthew 21:33-46). This is a reference to a passage in Isaiah (chapter 5) where Israel is compared to a vineyard that belongs to God[18]. In Jesus' parable the owner then sends his own son to them, but the corrupt tenants say: "... this is the heir, come on, let's kill him and take his inheritance". Jesus is clearly talking about himself. He is he not only claiming to be the God The Son come to us in human nature, but as such, he is the natural and rightful heir to The Father's works and the kingdom of God on earth.

Later, when he entered Jerusalem riding a donkey, he answered the religious authorities who criticised the ordinary people for welcoming him as Messiah, saying: "I tell you, if these were silent the stones would cry out" (Luke 19:40). He claims to be the heir to creation itself, the very foundations of matter being framed in expectation of his coming. It was all made as his inheritance and belongs to him as the Word made flesh. "He came into what is his own, but his own people did not receive him" (John 1:11).

The Bridegroom

Several times in the Gospels, Jesus also refers to himself as "The Bridegroom" (for example, Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19, Luke 5:34, and John 3:29). This draws on sayings of the prophets Isaiah, and Hosea (Isaiah 62:4, Hosea 2:16) which speak of the relationship between God and his People as a marriage union.

This is a very deep mystery with many implications. St. Paul tells us that the relationship between Jesus and his people is not just similar to a marriage, but that the union between Christ and The Church is the original template on which human marriage is based and which all Christian marriages share in (Ephesians 5:32).

God The Father decreed the cosmos and The Church as final goal of creation, as a Bride to be united both spiritually and physically with God the Son. When he becomes incarnate, he fulfils all the authentic hopes and longings of human nature. Every noble desire and desirable quality, all holiness and excellence, is found in him. He is the most faithful and perfect lover of humanity who brings Life  in its fullness to all who receive him.

And despite the fall and degradation of human beings, he still commits himself to buy back his Bride from slavery to evil and to purify her from the effects of sin through total self-sacrifice. Human nature is already gathered up into closest possible union with his own Godhead as he empties himself of his rightful glory and humbles himself to assume the human condition. But then he goes further and  gives everything for her sake on the cross (Philippians 2:6-11).

The Church becomes one Body with him as well as one Spirit and he communicates to her his own perfection and triumph over sin and death. All the graces, strengths and virtues of his own holy personality are made available to her through the sacraments. That final and everlasting rejoicing together in the life of the Blessed Trinity through our union with him which we call "heaven" is also called "The Wedding supper of the Lamb" in the New Testament (Revelation 19:6-9); and so is the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass, which is the foretaste of that heavenly feast.

The Son of Man

"The Son of Man" is Our Lord’s preferred title for himself (e.g. Mark 2:10-11, Matthew 26:64, Luke 9:22 and twelve times in the Gospel of John, see 5:27; 6:27). It derives from a messianic vision of the prophet Daniel which Jesus refers to explicitly when he is on trial before the high priest who asks him directly if he is the Christ.

Daniel sees "one like a son of man" who is "brought into the presence of the One of Great Age" and appointed as king with a universal and everlasting authority over humanity (Daniel 7:9-10). In Hebrew thinking, "The Son of Man" not only means that the Messiah is a human being, but is equivalent to saying that he is the man above all men, the head and archetype of the human race.

 Jesus not only identifies himself explicitly with this heavenly and yet also human figure, but adds that, despite being rejected and martyred (see Luke 9:22), he will eventually be seen "coming on the clouds of heaven" (Mark 14:62). The High Priest understood that Jesus was not only claiming to be The Messiah but almighty God too, which is why he formally accused Jesus of blasphemy.

In the Hebrew language "Son of Man" is equivalent to son of "Adam". In line with rabbinic thinking, St. Paul says that Adam "prefigures the one who is to come" (Romans 5:14), which means that Jesus is the true prototype of humanity. The first human was fashioned for Christ's sake and on the basis of his identity, not the other way around[19].

Jesus The Messiah

When we accept Jesus as Messiah, we have found the key to the meaning of all things:

“He has let us know the mystery of His purpose, the hidden plan He so kindly made in Christ from the beginning, to act upon in the fullness of time, that He would bring all things together under Christ as head, everything in heaven and on earth” (Ephesians 1:9-10).

And in him we find,

"... a man who spoke with authority, and 'not as the Scribes and Pharisees'. We find a man of prophecy, of prophecies which are astoundingly precise, and which are understandable only after the Incarnation and in the light of the Crucifixion of Christ. We find a man who wrought great miracles by His own power, whose claim is Divinity, and whose personality and character draws the souls of good men as their true magnet, in a tender and all-surrendering love. We find in Him every nobleness of character for which the souls of men long. We find Him calling Himself 'The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:6). We find Him stating that 'before Abraham was, I AM' (John 8:58). With this stupendous claim, here and elsewhere, to be God Himself, in the Person of God, and in the nature of a man, there goes also a sweetness, a wisdom, a merciful love, and a balance of sanity, which was and which today still is the confusion of his enemies and the glory of his disciples. Shall we not say indeed, 'Are you the one who is to come, or look we for another?' (Luke 7:9)." [20]

Come Lord Jesus!

As Christians, we can say with certainty and joy, like the Apostle Andrew, that "we have found The Messiah" (John 1:41). But this does not mean the Christianity, unlike the Old Testament, has become a backward looking religion. We continue to look forward to his final coming when he will be seen in his full glory as judge of the living and the dead. But unlike the Jews of the Old Testament, we wait for the second coming of someone we already know.

Even though we have not seen him, we recognise and believe in Jesus as Christ, our Lord and Saviour, because we have communion with him in the Church (see 1Peter 1:8, John 20:29). The mysteries of his grace— what he achieved  for us by his life, death and resurrection—are conferred upon us through the sacraments. His eternal Sacrifice is offered "from the rising of the sun to its setting" (Malachi 1:11) on earth in the Mass.

But we still yearn to see him face to face and know as fully as we are known (1 Corinthians 13:12). As yet, we experience these heavenly realities through signs and symbols. We are still awaiting "the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13) when his victory will be complete and all who belong to him will be liberated from the effects of sin and death to share his glory forever.

" He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming soon'. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20).

[1]"Our ancient Rabbis, as with one voice, have declared that by the seed of the woman, who was to bruise the head of the serpent, is meant the Messiah". Frey, Joseph Samuel, C.F., Joseph and Benjamin, (Jerusalem: Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 2002, p. 154-155)

[2]  Midrash B'reshith Rabbath 1:2, "this was the "spirit of the Messiah", as it is written in Is. 11:2, 'And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him'. also Leviticus. Rabbath 14.

[3]  Pesikhta Rabbati 62,1; Yalqut Shimoni 56.

[4]  Midrash B'reshit Rabba. 8, 1.

[5]  Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish, in B'reshit Rabba 2:4

[6] It does not matter whether it is a single universe or what has been termed a 'multiverse' of many universes. The multiverse theory was introduced in an attempt to escape the inevitable conclusion that the science points to the Mind of God. But even if it were true, a multiverse is just a bigger more complex unity which must still depend on transcendent Mind as its source of coherence and finality.

[7] See faith pamphlet: Can We Be Sure God Exists?

[8] These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet

[9] See faith pamphlet: What Makes Man Unique?

[10] This is what the ancient Greek version of the Old Testament (The Septuagint) says, although modern English Bibles often translate this verse in a way that could imply that the divine Wisdom was created by God before anything else. The Hebrew version of the text can be read  as: "he possessed me in the beginning of his way".

[11] The Greek word "Logos" used by St. John— from which we get our English word "logic" and the suffix "-ology" in words like "geology" and "theology"— means all of these at once.

[12] Rabbinic commentaries said that : “From the beginning of the world God desired to dwell among His creatures and this desire was fulfilled when the tabernacle was erected in the wilderness.” (Midrash B’reschit Rabba Berlin 1909 - in Levene, A., The Syrian Manuscripts on the Pentateuch in the Migana Collection, London 1951 p.134

[13] “From eternity God knew that He would make on innumerable throng of creatures ... and that He would communicate Himself to them. He saw that among all the ways of communicating Himself there is none so excellent as that of joining Himself to a created nature in such a way that the creature would be engrafted and implanted in the Godhead so as to become with it one single person.  After choosing for this happy state the sacred humanity of our Saviour, supreme providence then decreed that He would not restrict His bounty to the person of His beloved Son, for that Son’s sake He would diffuse it among many other creatures  Then having selected for this happiness the sacred humanity of our Saviour, the supreme providence decreed not to restrain his goodness to the only person of his well-beloved Son, but for his sake to pour it out upon divers other creatures, and out of the mass of that innumerable quantity of things which he could produce, he chose to create men and angels to accompany his Son, participate in his graces and glory, adore and praise him forever.” (St. Francis de Sales, Treatise On The Love of God, Book II)

[14]  The phrase “firstborn of creation” could be misunderstood to mean that Christ was the first creature to be created, which is what the Arian heretics of the fourth century said and what Jehovah's Witnesses still teach, citing this text and Proverbs 8,4 which underlies it. St Athanasius, the great champion of Christ's true divinity,  answered the Arians by saying it is not the person of Christ who is created but that His “work and office was appointed before the creation of the world” so the rest of the material creation is aligned on His coming “like stones cemented in form and order ... Therefore we can see the meaning of the Word taking upon Himself our mortal flesh and being created as a 'beginning' of God’s works... Before we were created, we had been elected in the predestined Incarnation of the Son, to spiritual and everlasting life and happiness. Our life was founded, it was established and hidden in Christ before anything ever was ... Thus all our happiness being connected with Him, we become sharers with Him in the everlasting joys of heaven.” (Athanasius, Orations Against the Arians 4, 63 & 76-77)

[15] St. Athanasius goes on to explain that when God the Son adopted our nature into “closest communion with Himself”, he also took with it "that sentence of death which had it had incurred... (thus)... from all eternity He provided first for our being and afterwards for our redemption.” (ibid.)

[16] St. Augustine, Confessions, Book 1.

[17] There are many lists available on the internet giving details of the many prophecies fulfilled in Jesus. Some of lists run into the hundreds. A core set can be found at:

[18] Isaiah's poem begins “My beloved has a vineyard on a fertile hillside" (Isaiah 5: 2). The expression "My beloved" is exactly how the heavenly voice of God The Father speaks about Jesus at his Baptism and Transfiguration.

[19] Iraeneus, Adversus Haereses 5,16, Tertullian  Adversus Praexeam 112,De Resurectione Carnis c.6 col 802. An ancient hymn still used in the Divine Office even says that the face of Adam was modelled on the face of Christ.

[20] Edward Holloway, Matter And Mind, A Christian Synthesis (Faith Keyway Trust, 2016), pp.192-193.


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