Handel's Messiah: The Person and Work of Christ

8. Jesus, The Only Fully Qualified Messenger

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
Only the Messiah is the fully qualified Messenger of both the Old and New Covenants.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part 8 of a series. Read part 7.

Only the Messiah is the fully qualified Messenger of both the Old and New Covenants. Why is that true? Why is it vital to Christians' salvation, and their future security?

The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant, whom you delight in; behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)

As we examined this great passage which is part of Handel's Messiah in our last article, we noted that Scripture makes it clear that the Messiah's title given in Malachi, "Messenger of the Covenant," has a twofold prophetic significance. We examined Jesus' work and ministry as the Messenger of the Old Covenant - the Law which required "personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience," an impossible standard of holiness for fallen mankind.

That message, delivered so forcefully in Christ's Sermon on the Mount, declares that all of mankind are sinners by nature in Adam; that we are also sinners by choice each day of our lives; and that violation of God's holy Law is not a matter of mere externals, but of the depraved condition of the heart.

The Only Perfect Keeper of the Old Covenant

Only Jesus the Messiah kept the holy standard of the Law absolutely perfectly. He was able to do this because He is the Last Adam:

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned - (for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.

Moreover the Law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12-21)

The Perfectly Qualified Messenger of the New Covenant

The Messiah was born under the Law (Galatians 4:4). But because He was supernaturally born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:27), He was not born with a sin nature. Jesus the Messiah's sinless perfection in both His nature and His life on earth qualified Him to be the Messenger of the New Covenant as well.

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

In John 8:46, Jesus the Messiah asked His Jewish hearers, "Which of you convicts me of sin?" A form of the word elencho (here translated "convicts") is also used in James 2:9-10, where the Holy Spirit declares to all men that "you are convicted by the Law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all."

The uses of elencho in John 8:46 and James 2:9-10 set up a marked contrast between the status of Jesus the Messiah and the status of fallen man. We stand convicted of the whole law. Jesus stands unconvicted, and indeed incapable of any violation. He was, as Hebrews 4:15 tells us, "in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." The word translated "tempted" (pepeiramanon) denotes being tried and proven, as well as being enticed. For man, temptation tests our obedience to our Lord. For Christ, temptation was the proving of His impeccability. The same word "tempted" is used in Hebrews 2:18. Linguist W. E. Vine, commenting on that passage, says that

the context [in Hebrews 2:18] shows that the temptation was the cause of suffering to Him, and only suffering, not a drawing away to sin, so that believers have the sympathy of Christ as their High Priest in the suffering which sin occasions to those who are in the enjoyment of communion with God; so in the similar passage in [Hebrews 4:15]; in all the temptations which Christ endured, there was nothing within Him that answered to sin.

For these reasons, Jesus the Messiah is the perfectly qualified Messenger of the New Covenant.

God's Open Declaration and Sure Promise

God the Father openly declared that the Messiah had fulfilled the requirements of the New Covenant, and had secured all of its present benefits and eternal glories, by raising Him from the dead:

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.

Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:20-28)

Exactly what is the New Covenant of which Jesus the Messiah is the Minister? This question requires careful examination, because there is a great deal of misunderstanding of the New Covenant in the visible church today. We shall take up this vital point as we continue.

 

Next: What Is the New Covenant?

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