THE LIFE OF JESUS
Jesus Christ (Iesous, the Greek form of Joshua. or Jeshua, contracted from Jehoshua, meaning, help of Jehovah, or saviour; Christos, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, anointed).
A complete written record of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ is found in the collection of books known as the New Testament. It also contains an account of how his teachings spread far beyond Palestine to Rome itself. Just as the Old Testament predicted the coming of the Messiah, so the New Testament contains prophecies of His return and the establishment of the kingdom of the heavens with an end to wickedness and deception. These are also found in the last Book which is called the Revelation [Greek Apokalypsis (apocalypse ) meaning " Uncovering " or Unveiling ." ] (Revelation Chapter 6) .
Our information concerning Jesus is derived almost entirely from the accounts of his life written by the four apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and in other parts of the New Testament. For a detailed account of the life of, Jesus Christ we must turn to the four Gospels - the word literally means Good News. Matthew's Gospel is probably the first of the documents to have come down to us, tracing the ancestry of Jesus right down to Abraham . (Matthew Chapter 1 vs. 1 - 25 - Luke Chapter 3 vs 23 - 38)
The story that emerges from their writings is simple and profoundly moving. Matthew tells us that a carpenter called Joseph who lived in Nazareth, one night had a dream in which an angel told him that his wife to be, Mary, would give miraculous birth to a child, whom he must call Jesus. According to Luke (Chapter 1 vs. 26 - 35), Mary also had a vision that she would give birth to a child which had no human father and would be known as the Son of God .
Before Jesus was born the Roman authorities issued a decree for everyone to be taxed,with each person having to go to his own city to register. Joseph and Mary, belonging to the House of David accordingly left Nazareth and went to Bethlehem
It was there, in a manger, the inn being full, that Jesus was born, according to the received chronology in the year of Rome 754, but in reality it was earlier, that is, c. 2 B.C. He was born of the Virgin Mary, of the tribe of Judah, who was betrothed to Joseph, by occupation a carpenter. Many things happened that rendered his birth extraordinary, on the night of his birth an angel announced the coming of a Saviour to shepherds tending their flocks by night in the field. In Luke's Gospel Chapter 2 vs. 8 - 14 we read that neighbouring shepherds saw a vision of angels singing "Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men." Matthew (Chapter 2 vs. 1 - 23). On the eighth day he was circumcised according to the law of Moses. Soon after his birth he was hailed by the adoration of the Magi or wise men of the East, who were miraculously directed to the house where the young child was, and presented royal gifts.
Herod, was alarmed at hearing of the birth of one who was to be King of the Jews, he decided to destroy all the male children of Bethlehem and its vicinity, who were of the age of less than two years, for the purpose of effecting the death of Jesus.
THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT
But Joseph, was miraculously warned of the danger, Joseph and Mary decided to take refuge across the Egyptian border until the danger had passed.They remained in Egypt until the death of Herod, and this was a wise precaution because a number of babies born in Bethlehem and the neighbourhood were put to death. On their return, they went to reside at Nazareth in Galilee, hence Jesus was often called a Nazarene.
It is presumed that Jesus learned the trade of a carpenter whilst with Mary and Joseph, We have no further accounts of Jesus till his twelfth year, when his parents took him with them to Jerusalem. Here after being lost for three days he was found in the temple. He certainly made a startling impression, amazing the learned Rabbis by his knowledge of the Scriptures.
JESUS IS BAPTISED
Meanwhile, another prophet was proclaiming that a tremendous event had taken place. John the Baptist, had a considerable following, preaching in the desert and baptizing those who repented of their sins in the River Jordan. Continually repeating that he was the forerunner of one who would be baptized with the Spirit and not merely with water. No one knew to whom these mysterious words referred. At the age of about thirty Jesus greeted John he asked to be baptized at first John refused, protesting that he was unworthy but finally acceded. Having been baptized in the Jordan by John, who recognized him as the Messiah we are told that a voice from heaven was heard saying, " This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Luke Chapter 3 vs. 21 - 22) .
THE FORTY-DAY FAST
He then retired to the wilderness where he passed forty days in fasting, and meditation, he fully realised then that he was the Messiah, of whom the prophets had foretold. His temptations in the wilderness by the Devil suggest that an appeal was made to His human side to make use of power in order to demonstrate that He was indeed the Son of God. (Matthew Chapter 4) But he did not yield to this temptation and already foresaw the bitter ordeal through which was to come to pass.
JESUS SPREADS THE MESSAGE
He did not immediately make know, that he was the Son of God, there are three things to be considered, his doctrine, his miracles, and his life. His doctrine tends only to the glory of the Almighty God and the good of mankind, We find in his life an example of all kinds of virtues ; particularly, charity and humility; and a perfect indifference for the world.
His first miracle was the changing of the water into wine at the marriage in Cana, of Galilee; He cured by a word a nobleman's son lying ill at Capernaum; It is difficult to understand the miracles and momentous happenings described in the Gospels unless we accept Jesus had a pre human existence (Colossians Chapter 1 vs. 13 - 20 - John Chapter 8 vs. 23) viewed in this way they can become intelligible.
But he still received a scornful reception as a preacher, even in the city of Nazaareth on account of his humble parentage; His claim to be greater than the Prophets and to know the will of God better than the Scribes and Pharisees was considered blasphemous. He denounced them as hypocrites; and when he found that the temple in Jerusalem was used by some for transacting business, he drove the traders out of the temple with a whip. It is obvious that even his disciples were perplexed at first. Then Peter, a fisherman from Galilee, discovered the answer: " Thou art the Messiah! " he exclaimed. Jesus, at this point, warned them to keep it secret for the present. The time was not yet to announce publicly what he knew lay ahead, but he told his disciples that soon he would be arrested and put to death. They were incredulous.
Large crowds flocked to hear him, bringing their sick because of his reputation as a healer. Not wishing to appear only as a healer although the sight of suffering never failed to move him to compassion, Jesus began to preach, (Matthew Chapters 5 , 6, & 7) to them in simple parables, about Gods messianic kingdom. that everyone could understand, (the sermon on the mount) Even when John the Baptist was thrown into prison, later to be beheaded he continued healing the sick, the centurion's servant and the restoration of the widow's son at Nain to life; the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda;
Jesus made Capernaum, a town on the coast, the centre from which he spread his message throughout Galilee. He not only cured many who were sick, but preached beyond Galilee and Jordan people flocked to hear the message.Traveling with twelve of his apostles,(Luke Chapter 6 vs. 13 - 16) he would stop by the wayside or by the shores of a lake or on a hill to address the crowds. Jesus miraculous fed 5000 persons with five loaves and two fishes; calmed the tempest on the lake of Gennesaret; healed the Syrophenician woman's daughter of an unclean spirit; raised Lazarus at Bethany; cured blind Bartimaeus at Jericho;
What manner of man was this? The leaders of the Jews were disturbed by his popularity. It seemed to them he was teaching doctrines that were novel and dangerous. They kept scrupulously to the letter of the Mosaic law, but he flouted it by healing the sick, for example, on the Sabbath. (John Chapter 5 vs. 5 - 16)
The story moves swiftly to the terrible climax. Jesus could have saved himself by not going to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, but knowing his destiny he made the entry with triumph into Jerusalem riding upon an ass, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah. Enthusiastic crowds waving palms cheered him - soon they were to be demanding his death. The temple priests were alarmed. this was a direct challenge to their authority. They moved cautiously, however, because this rebel and heretic - as he appeared in their eyes - evidently had a popular following.
JESUS IS BETRAYED
The fourth feast of the Passover with his disciples is known as the Last Supper; Jesus said that one of them would betray him, but he mentioned no names. (John Chapter 13 vs. 21 - 28) After they had partaken of bread and wine, he withdrew to the garden in Gethsemane, and, although he shrank from the painful death that awaited him, he submitted to what he had realised from the beginning that he was the ransom sacrifice provided by God.
Judas Iscariot one of the disciples, betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Soldiers burst into the garden while it was still dark and Judas drew their attention to Jesus by kissing his Master . (Matthew Chapter 26 vs. 48 - 50) Subsequently, overcome with remorse, he hanged himself. ( Matthew Chapter 27 vs. 3 - 10 ) When Peter was asked if he was a follower of Jesus he denied it and afterwards wept bitterly because of his momentary cowardice.(Matthew Chapter 26 vs. 69 -75 )
THE TRIAL AND DEATH Of AN INNOCENT MAN
The disciples were dismayed for in spite of what Jesus had told them, it was hard to believe that if he were the Messiah he could end up like a criminal. The priestly tribunal (the Sanhedrin) to which Jesus was brought had no power to pass the death sentence, but condemned him. Jesus faced his accusers calmly and when they asked him if he was the Messiah, he quietly admitted it. (Luke Chapter 22 vs. 63 - 71) To the Jews this was blasphemy; but to the Romans the whole affair was still little more than a sectarian squabble. In order to interest the Romans, the priests charged him charged him against Roman law with being the " King of the Jews."
Pontius Pilate was the Roman procurator, he was impressed by Jesus dignity and plainly baffled by his silence.(Matthew Chapter 27 vs. 12 - 14 - Luke Chapter 23 vs. 20 - 25) He appealed to the mob, offering to release either Jesus or Barrabas, a notorious bandit, also under arrest. They requested that Barrabas should be freed and Jesus killed. The perplexed governor ceremoniously washed his hands to indicate that he took no responsibility for sentencing a good man to death. He dismissed the matter from his mind and Jesus was scourged, according to custom. then forced to carry the stake through the streets with his tormentors following, and left to die at Golgotha or Mount Calvary between two thieves, with a mock crown of thorns placed on his head and an inscription " King of the Jews " .
After a ministry of about three years of unparalleled purity among the Jews, they had tortured and killed him at the feast of the Passover.This seemed to be indeed the end, for how could the promised Messiah, the Son of God, suffer such a shameful death? The body of Jesus was taken down by Joseph of Arimathea, and placed in a tomb about which they set a guard. But it was only the beginning of a chain of momentous happenings that changed the course of history, on the third day, he rose from the dead . His disciples were astonished to hear that the tomb in which his body was laid was empty. ( John Chapter 20 vs. 11 - 18 )
He appeared to his disciples walking towards them, he was not only seen by the apostles but, according to Paul, by five hundred others. (1 Corinthians Chapter 15 vs. 1 - 28) Had he been taken down from the stake whilst still alive? Was it a mass hallucination? Those who witnessed God's greatest miracle had no doubts. The sacrifice on the stake is a prelude to the Resurrection, and is central to the Christian faith (John Chapter 5 vs. 26 - 30 - Chapter 11 vs. 38 - 45 )
Understanding the events in which they were involved came to the disciples in gradual stages. When they were companions of Jesus on his wanderings some of his sayings mystified them, and it was not until his death that at last they understood . Forty days after his resurrection Jesus ascended into heaven from where the Holy Ghost was sent to his Apostles upon the day of Pentecost. "the descent of the Holy Spirit" which is now commemorated at Whitsun. They were aflame to spread an account of the wonders they had been privileged to see. Having received the Holy Ghost the Apostles began to preach the gospel, and to do miracles, at first, they preached only in Judea, and to none but Jews. But as the Christian religion was to be taught to all men, they went on to preach the gospel throughout the world.
For a time the country was again ruled by a king, Herod Agrippa, AD. 41 - 44. He persecuted the Christians and put the Apostle James to death.Samaria became a Roman province under a procurator, who had his seat at Caesarea, and was subordinate to the prefect of Syria.
In AD. 65 a party of the Jews revolted from the Roman yoke and roused the whole of Palestine to insurrection. Vespasian was sent by Nero to suppress it, but before the war was finished was called to the empire and left his son Titus to concluded it. The result was the capture and destruction of Jerusalem, (A.D. 70) as prophesied by Jesus Christ (Matthew Chapter 24 - Luke Chapter 21 vs. 20-24) , an event that deprived the Jews of the centre of unity to which their national life had clung and the Jews dispersed.
The Christians went on to invite all without distinction to be baptized, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Namely, that there is but only one Almighty God, the creator of heaven and earth ; that this true God, sent his son Jesus Christ, who has risen after being put to death, the ransom and saviour of all men ;
The success of the Apostles preaching was such, that Christianity was established in the principal parts of the world in a short space of time.