Is Jesus Dead?
While Christians all over the world celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and is alive forevermore, the Watchtower Society teaches Jehovah’s Witnesses that the man, Jesus Christ is dead, forever. This belief began early in the Watchtower’s history as Charles Russell, the first president of the Society, wrote in Studies in the Scriptures, vol.5, 1899, p.454, “....the man Jesus is dead, forever dead....”.
In particular, the Watchtower teaches that before the man Jesus existed here on earth, Michael the Archangel was the Son of God in heaven. In order to redeem mankind from their sins, it was necessary for Michael to will himself out of existence, or annihilate himself, then Jehovah could transfer his life force to the womb of the Virgin Mary. The person who was born on earth, as a result of this, was a brand new creation- the man, Jesus. The Society further teaches that after the man, Jesus, died and was buried, his body was annihilated by Jehovah God. Then Jehovah re-created Michael the Archangel, and it was, in fact, Michael who rose from the dead as an invisible spirit creature, not the man, Jesus.
This teaching brings up 4 questions and concerns.
1) Where in the bible does it state that an angel, or anyone, can will themselves out of existence, thus annihilating themselves and ceasing to exist? Also, wouldn’t Michael be guilty of suicide which is a serious sin?
2) If the Watchtower is correct, and it was Michael who rose from the dead and later ascended into heaven, why do the New Testament inspired writers continually refer to the risen Lord, hundreds of times, as Jesus, instead of Michael? 1 Timothy 2:5 even states that the Mediator between God and mankind is the man, Christ Jesus. This is in direct contrast to the Watchtower’s teaching that the man, Jesus, is dead. In order to be in harmony with the Society’s belief, 1 Timothy 2:5 should read that the Mediator between God and man is the spirit, Michael the Archangel.
3) If the man, Jesus, is dead, as the Watchtower teaches, how can the re-created Michael be a compassionate and merciful high priest since he cannot personally relate to our sufferings? The book of Hebrews, chapter 4, says that Jesus is a sympathetic high priest who can relate to our weaknesses since He was tempted, on earth, in every way that we are. But how can Michael, allegedly now reigning in heaven, have any empathy toward us since he did not personally undergo trials here on earth like the rest of mankind?
4) Finally, if the man, Jesus, ceased to exist at His death, as taught by the Society, we have to wonder if Michael had a case of mistaken identity. Luke 24 tells us that when Michael appeared to the apostles after his re-creation, they thought that he was a spirit being. But he promptly corrected them regarding this by manifesting convincing proofs that he was really the man, Jesus, whose dead physical body was resurrected from the tomb. He said, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; feel me and see, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you behold that I have” (Luke 24:39). So, Michael was either confused about his identity and thought that he was the risen man, Jesus, or, worse yet, he deceived the apostles into believing that they were witnessing Jesus in a resurrected physical body.
In conclusion, the man, Jesus, is not dead. He rose from the grave in a tangible, physical body of flesh 3 days after his death. Jesus Himself has the strongest testimony regarding this. He said, “Destroy this temple and I will raise it in 3 days”. And in case there be any confusion, the gospel writer adds that, “He was speaking about the temple of His body” (John 2:19-21). Yes, Jesus is alive and it is Him, not Michael, who is seated at the right hand of the Father, ready and willing to give eternal life to all those who repent of false teaching and put faith in Him.