The One and Only Christ
Seven hours north of Tokyo is a small town called Shingo where you can buy biscuits, chopsticks, and postcards to commemorate your visit to the place where Jesus is buried. And you can visit 52-year-old Junichiro Sawaguchi who claims to be His descendant.
According to an article by Julian Ryall in the British Telegraph titled “Japanese who say they are the descendants of Jesus,” a Shinto priest in Japan found a document in 1935 purporting to be Christ’s will. It “bizzarely [sic] identified Shingo as his last resting place” and said the Romans mistakenly crucified Jesus’ brother.1 Then, wrote Ryall, “carrying his brother’s ear and a lock of hair from the Virgin Mary, Jesus fled across Siberia to Shingo, where he grew rice, married a local woman called Miyuko and had three daughters.”2 He died at age 106 and was buried in Sawaguchi’s yard.
Who actually lies beneath the dirt in the garlic-farming town of Shingo may never be known. But one thing is certain: It is not Jesus Christ. Jesus declared Himself God’s Anointed One, the true Messiah of Israel, and the Son of the living God (Mt. 16:13–17); and He authenticated His claims by the miracles He performed. Furthermore, He arose from the dead, leaving an empty tomb in Jerusalem, and will one day return to Earth in power and glory. Until then, Jesus warned that false messiahs will arise, but God’s people must accept no substitutes: “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ [Messiah],’ and will deceive many” (24:5).
He warned that many people in the future Tribulation will look like the Deliverer, but they will be frauds; and the concept of Messiah will become distorted and deformed in various ways: “False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand” (vv. 24–25).
But we need never be fooled. When Jesus returns, His entrance will be spectacular:
For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles [vultures, NASB] will be gathered together (vv. 27–28).
Just as you can see lightning when you’re not watching for it, so, too, can you see vultures gathered, indicating the presence of a dead animal. The point is that humanity will not miss the Messiah’s appearance. Jesus will return in power and glory, and all the world will know it.
Many have claimed to be the messiah. Junichiro Sawaguchi believes Jesus is buried in his yard. But the greatest deception is yet to come:
The Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life (1 Jn. 2:18, 22–25).
The English word Christ comes from the Greek word Christos. In Hebrew, “anointed one” is the word Mashiach, which is Messiah in English. This is not as much a personal name as it is a title. The prefix anti means “in place of,” “instead of,” or “substitute.” It has come to mean “opposing, against.” Antichrist means “a substitute for the Christ”—another messiah in place of the true one.
First John 2:18 foretells the coming of a personal figure, the final Antichrist, whose presence will be the final fulfillment of the many false messiahs who have pre-figured him for the past 2,000 years.
Christians should not focus on Satan’s imitators of Christ, but on Christ Jesus Himself. He alone deserves our devotion in a world of deceitful imposters. Believers must fix their gaze on “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2), as we look “for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Ti. 2:13).
- Julian Ryall, “Japanese who say they are the descendants of Jesus,” December 23, 2008 <telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/3920070/Japanese-who-say-they-are-the-descendants-of-Jesus.html>.