The Birth of Jesus
God came down to earth in form of a man (Jesus) to pay for our sins, and this was prophesied in the Old Testament. Jesus was born approximately 6 BC. God chose a virtuous woman named "Mary," to be the mother of Jesus. She was a virgin and she was engaged to a good man named Joseph. Mary and Joseph were both descendants of King David of the Tribe of Judah. I have heard people say countless times that if it was not for Mary, Jesus would never have been born. This is wrong in every way because if Mary did not exist, God would have chosen another woman to be Jesus' mother. Jesus was going to come into the world whether Mary existed or not. It is extremely important that Mary never be worshipped or prayed to . . . only God/Jesus. The Angel Gabriel spoke to Mary, a virgin, and told her that God would come upon her. She would become pregnant with a boy, whose name was to be called Jesus. He would be the Son of God. This did not go over well with Joseph at first, since he thought Mary was a virgin. Although the law stated Mary could be stoned to death for becoming pregnant before marriage, Joseph was a righteous man and did not want her to be stoned to death. Joseph did not want her disgraced either, so he planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Matt 1:20-21 Jesus was born in Bethlehem because a census was being taken that required Joseph to leave Nazareth to return to his ancestral home of Bethlehem. You would think that the "Son of God" would be born in a palace and then placed in a cradle made of pure gold. However, this would then go against every reason why Jesus was sent to the world, which was to humbly serve mankind and then die for our sins. Jesus was born in a room where animals were. It was not a birth typically fit for a King, but Jesus proved to be "not typical" throughout His entire life on earth.
The Baptism of Jesus
The Bible states “Let it be so now, it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. Matt 3:15-16 This does not mean that Jesus needed to be baptized to become righteous, but to fulfill righteousness. John the Baptist was chosen by God to baptize Jesus. John had great favor in God's eyes and was called by God to warn people of the coming of Jesus. “Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist . . .” Matt. 11:11 Seven centuries before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah spoke of “the voice of one that crieth,” indeed, of him who would “prepare in the wilderness the way of Jehovah,” and “make level in the desert a highway for our God.” Isa. 40:3 John fulfilled prophesy and challenged people to turn away from their sin and become Baptized as a symbol of repentance. He spoke with great authority and truth and people flocked to come and see him and be baptized by him. Although John could have gotten caught up in how popular he had become, he never lost sight in what he was called to do . . . pave the way for the coming of Jesus Christ. The baptism of Jesus serves as an example to others. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19
Satan Tempts Jesus
After Jesus got baptized, the Holy Spirit led Him into the desert to fast for 40 days in preparation for His ministry. This is a very crucial time in His life that would have taken Him on a very different path had He been a mere man. First of all, Satan tempted Jesus with bread, which seems simple enough to refuse, but not so when you have been without food for 40 days. What is also interesting is Satan tried to get Jesus to sell his soul to him and he would allow Him to rule over the Kingdoms of this world. This may sound far fetched but there are many videos of people in hollywood and the music industry who have openly admitted to having sold their soul to Satan for fame and money. Jesus came to this world only to serve man, not to be served and He resisted and rebuked Satan's temptations.
Jesus Chooses His Disciples
After Jesus was tempted by Satan, He then went up into the mountain to pray all night to God. He was about to carefully choose 12 men who would faithfully spread the Gospel. We are not sure why He chose 12 Disciples, but all 12 men had a very specific task. It is important to note that Jesus also would have to choose someone whom would betray Him, such as Judas Iscariot did. The first Disciple chosen was Simon, whom Jesus called Peter, then Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholemew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Simon, Judas and Judas Iscariot, whom betrayed Him. What I always find interesting is that there were 2 James, 2 Judas and 2 Simons. If the bible was fictional, you would never write it so that there are 3 sets of characters that are all hanging around each other daily, that have the same names.
The Ministry of Jesus
Jesus' ministry lasted from the time he was 30 years old to when He was 33 years old. (approximately 24 AD to 27 AD) During this time, He accomplished more things than any mortal man could ever accomplish. Jesus came as the Messiah to Israel and the King of the Kingdom of Heaven, but Israel rejected Him. In the few years that He ministered, He showed forth God as the Father. He preached life-changing sermons, and taught intriguing parables that continue to challenge today’s most intellectual minds. He healed hundreds of incurable diseases, fed thousands miraculously, calmed storms instantly, walked on water unflinchingly, raised people from the dead, and handpicked and trained just a dozen men, eleven of whom would go on to change the world forever by spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. Jesus was scoffed at, ridiculed, tempted and people came after Him to stone Him. He was mobbed by crowds of people wanting to hear His teachings, touch His garment or be healed by Him. Jesus was more comfortable being with common people and the poor and He could not stand the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. He also told the rich to give up their money and belongings and follow Him. Jesus never sinned. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never traveled more than two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that contemporary society would consider a sign of greatness. He had nothing of this world, only the power of His divine manhood. While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him, another betrayed Him. He was turned over to His enemies. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the centerpiece of the human race, the greatest source of guidance and divine inspiration . . . that one solitary life . . . Jesus!
Jesus and Women
There is no man in the history of mankind who has ever treated women as good as Jesus did. He greatly loved His mother Mary and honored her while doing what God had called Him to do. Even while Jesus was on the cross and near death, he was concerned about his mother's wellbeing after His passing. The Bible states, "When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, and he said to his mother, 'Woman, here is your son,' and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.' From that time on, this disciple took her into his home." John 19:25-27 Jesus typically called a woman, "Woman." In our times, this would be considered disrespectful, but in biblical times, it was perfectly respectful. Jesus’ honor and respect towards women was not reserved only for His mother. It was extended to all women, which is an attitude largely unexpected and unknown in His culture and time. Jesus, unlike the men of His generation and culture, taught that women were equal to men in the sight of God. Women could receive God’s forgiveness and grace. Women, as well as men, could be among Christ’s personal followers. Women could be full participants in the Kingdom of God. Jesus offered full discipleship to women. These were revolutionary ideas. Many of His contemporaries, including His disciples, were shocked. Women were overjoyed and grateful, of course, and many dedicated their lives to His service. One of His most faithful Disciples was Mary of Magdala and she was at the cross with Him, while the other disciples scattered. Mary and other women saw Jesus as a prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized them, who never made jokes about them, who rebuked without querulousness, praised without condescension and who took their questions and arguments seriously. Jesus is the perfect example of how a man should treat a woman. I can personally attest to the fact that no man that I have ever known in my entire life has treated me as good as Jesus does.
Jesus and Children
Jesus greatly loves children and holds them in high esteem. Probably the most well-known account of Jesus interacting with children is found in Mark 10:13,14,16 “People were bringing little children to Jesus for Him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these’ . . . and he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them” Here Jesus not only welcomes the children into His presence, but also blesses each one individually. When Jesus blessed the children, He told His disciples, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” In another instance, when the disciples were fighting about who would be the greatest in God’s Kingdom, Jesus brought a child to stand in their midst. He then chided His disciples: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.” Jesus wants us to have a child like faith and have a desire to learn like children do. Children are also pure, meek and humble in spirit. There is no doubt about how much Jesus loves children, no matter what race, color or religion they are and He would never want any harm to come to them.
Jesus Gets Angry
It is mentioned in the Bible that Jesus got very angry, but it was for a very good reason. The Temple was a Holy Place built to honor God and for there to be worship in His name, for all nations. Jesus entered the Temple Courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them, "My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers." Matthew 21:12-13 Jesus had every right to be angry and to take appropriate action. If you had a teenage son and you walked in on him playing some sort of a witchcraft game, you would have the right to show righteous anger and take his game away and destroy it. However, you would not have the right to loose control and hit your son. Being angry and taking away his game is justified, but being full of rage and hitting him is not justified. Jesus removed the great offense to the Temple, but He never maliciously took out his anger on the temple or any person. Jesus demonstrated His love and respect for God's Holy Place.
The Greatest Commandment
Jesus was asked this very question by a Pharisee who was considered to be “an expert in the law." Jesus answered by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments." Matthew 22:37–40 It seems like two simple commands that sum up Christianity, but it is very difficult to do. I used to have a neighbor who would throw old car oil from his job on my property and on my dog. When I confronted him, he threatened to bring harm to me and my children. Trust me when I say that my neighbor was not very likable, let alone lovable. So, I have fallen very short of this commandment many times. Plus, although I love Jesus more than anything, I do fall short of loving Him with all my heart, soul and mind. So, all I can do is follow and love Christ as much as I can and pray and ask for an abundance of love for God and for people and hope that it pleases God, when I stand before Him in judgement.
The Last Supper
The Last Supper was held on the evening of preparation for the Jewish Passover, a very holy time for the Jewish Nation in remembrance of when God spared the Jews from the plague of death on every firstborn child in Egypt. Jesus arranged the dinner purposely by instructing His Disciples where to host it. His twelve Disciples were with Him during and after the meal. It is here that Jesus makes the prediction that Peter will deny knowing Him three times before the rooster crows that morning, which did come true. Jesus also predicts that one disciple, Judas Iscariot, will betray Him, which also came true. The Last Supper was a gathering for Christ to fellowship with His Disciples one last time prior to His arrest and crucifixion. It is important to note that Jesus also washed the feet of his disciples as a show of humility and servitude to them, and that they should do the same to each other.
Jesus was whipped with a cat-o-nine-tails, beaten with sticks and crowned with thorns. Large spikes were driven into His hands and feet and He was in incredible pain every time He slightly moved his body. His torture was so brutal that He lasted only a few horrible hours on the cross, instead of the days it took most people to die. Yet, when God wanted an animal sacrificed, they were humanely sacrificed and never tortured. This is because Jesus had to take the sins of humanity on Him and suffer the most He could possibly suffer without dying instantly. Before Jesus arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to God and asked Him if there was any other way. The Bible mentions Jesus "sweated blood" as He prayed. This makes perfect sense when you understand that there is a condition called "Hematidrosis," It is a rare, but very real medical condition where one’s sweat will contain blood. The sweat glands are surrounded by tiny blood vessels. These vessels can constrict and then dilate to the point of rupture where the blood will then effuse into the sweat glands. It is caused by extreme anguish. Jesus knew the suffering He would have to endure, but He obeyed God and went through with it. However, I believe the greatest suffering Jesus endured was while He was on the cross, God the Father turned His back on Jesus and allowed Him to die. During those few hours I believe Jesus was heartbroken and cried out to God, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46 God loves us so much that He turned His back on His only beloved and perfect Son Jesus and allowed Him to suffer and die on the cross for us, so that we may have life eternal.
The evidence of the resurrection is extremely important because if there was no resurrection than Jesus was merely a good man or a prophet at best.
The Empty Tomb of Jesus: Two major theories have been advanced by unbelievers: someone stole Jesus' body or the women and disciples went to the wrong tomb. The Jews and Romans had no motive to steal the body. Christ's apostles proved to be too cowardly (they ran away when Jesus was arrested) and would have had to overcome the Roman guards. The women who found the tomb empty had earlier watched Jesus being laid there. They knew where the correct tomb was. Even if they had gone to the wrong tomb, the Sanhedrin could have produced the body from the right tomb to stop the resurrection stories. Jesus' burial cloths were left neatly folded inside, hardly the act of hurrying grave robbers. Angels also had said that Jesus had risen from the dead.
The Women Eyewitnesses: The women eyewitnesses are further proof that the Gospels are accurate historical records. If the accounts had been made up, no ancient author would have used women for witnesses to Christ's resurrection. Women were second class citizens in Biblical times. Their testimony was not even allowed in court. Yet the Bible says the risen Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene and other women. Even the apostles did not believe Mary when she told them the tomb was empty. Jesus, who always had special respect for these women, honored them as the first eyewitnesses to his resurrection. The male Gospel writers had no choice but to report this "embarrassing" act of God's favor, because that was how it happened.
Jesus Apostles New Found Courage: After the crucifixion, Jesus' Apostles hid behind locked doors, terrified they would be executed next. But something changed them from cowards to bold preachers. Anyone who understands human character knows people do not change that much without some major influence. That influence was seeing Jesus risen from the dead. Jesus appeared to them in the locked room, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and on the Mount of Olives. After seeing Jesus alive, Peter and the others left the locked room and preached the risen Christ, unafraid of what would happen to them. They quit hiding because they knew the truth. They finally understood that Jesus is God incarnate, who saves people from sin.
Changed Lives of James and Others: Changed lives are more proof of the resurrection. James, the brother of Jesus, was openly skeptical that Jesus was the Messiah. Later James became a courageous leader of the Jerusalem church, even being stoned to death for his faith. Why? The Bible says the risen Christ appeared to him. What a shock to see your own brother, alive again, after you knew he was dead. James and the apostles were effective missionaries because people could tell these men had touched and seen the risen Christ. With such zealous eyewitnesses, the early church exploded in growth, spreading west from Jerusalem to Rome and beyond. For 2,000 years, encounters with the resurrected Jesus have changed lives.
Large Crowd of Eyewitnesses: A large crowd of more than 500 eyewitnesses saw the risen Jesus Christ at the same time. The Apostle Paul records this event in 1 Corinthians 15:6. He states that most of these men and women were still alive when he wrote this letter, about 55 A.D. Undoubtedly, they told others about this miracle and who is Jesus. Today, psychologists say it would be impossible for a large crowd of people to have had the same hallucination at once. Smaller groups also saw the risen Christ, such as the Apostles, Cleopas and his companion. They all saw the same thing, and in the case of the Apostles, they touched Jesus and watched Him eat food. The hallucination theory is further debunked because after the ascension of Jesus into heaven, public sightings of Him stopped.
Conversion of Paul: The conversion of Paul records the most drastically changed life in the Bible. As Saul of Tarsus, he was an aggressive persecutor of the early church. When the risen Christ appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, Paul became Christianity's most determined missionary. He endured five floggings, three beatings, three shipwrecks, a stoning, poverty, and years of ridicule. Finally the Roman emperor Nero had Paul beheaded because the Apostle refused to deny his faith in Jesus. What could make a person willingly accept, even welcome such hardships? Christians believe the conversion of Paul came about because he truly had encountered Jesus Christ, whom had risen from the dead.
They Died For Jesus: Countless people have died for Jesus, absolutely certain that the resurrection of Christ is an historical fact. Tradition says ten of the original Apostles died as martyrs for Christ, as did the Apostle Paul. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of early Christians died in the Roman arena and in prisons for their faith. Down through the centuries, thousands more have died for Jesus because they believed the resurrection is true. Even today, people suffer persecution because they have faith that Christ rose from the dead. An isolated group may give up their lives for a cult leader, but Christian martyrs have died in many lands, for nearly 2,000 years, believing Jesus conquered death to give them eternal life.