LIFE OF JESUS
“Jesus Christ". What comes to your mind when you hear His name: a religious figure; a great teacher; a powerful prophet; a deceiver; Son of God? We bear his name as “christ-ians", but who in fact is this Jesus?
BORN IN A MANGER, IN BETHLEHEM
We know the story, don’t we? Just remember a Nativity movie, that chorus of a beautiful carol, last Christmas card and you’ll be reminded of a life start like no other. God’s only Son being born in a manger, in a tiny town of Palestine. One can read first two chapters of the Gospels (Matthew and Luke), and get the facts. The… strange facts. Amazingly, the same story in one verse of John’s Gospel reveals us how things are from the other side of heaven: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…" (John 3:16).
His coming brought the unspeakable joy of the angels to the shepherds of Bethlehem. Those angels probably were seen like a star by the wise men of the East, coming now to Israel in searching for the new born king. The same news stirred up the entire capital city, the king himself declaring to be ready to worship Messiah. Guided by the Scriptures, as being interpreted by the priests and scribes, they all knew the town where Messiah was to be born.
Yet, only some went there, all the way through… Why? Wait a second! An Israelite Savior being proclaimed by “pagan" wise men? A king in a manger? A civil ruler to challenge the iron rule of Rome? A Son of God that comes without the sanction of the high priests and scribes of the… people of God?
Read the Gospel story, find yourself in the picture.
PORTRAYALS OF JESUS
As a man. He was born and raised in Israel, the place called Nazareth becoming his hometown. Until the age of 30 He kept a low profile, preparing himself for the great mission.
As a lamb. Interestingly enough, his first portrayal came from John the Baptist who, preaching at Jordan and baptizing people for repentance, identified in Jesus Christ… the lamb of God (John 1:21). Did you get it? Not many did… “The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world…" this was the first prophecy projecting to the cross.
As a teacher. Having learned the Scriptures by himself, inspired by the Spirit of God, he taught the multitudes like no other – with authority.
As a healer. Lepers, blind, deaf, mutilated, sick, men and women, young and old, all were healed by the One who had compassion for any and every afflicted soul. Even the dead listened to His voice!
As a… You have read the Gospel of Mark. Try it once again and highlight the way Jesus is identified by different people, friends or enemies: Son of God, prophet, Master, deceiver, Messiah, madman, teacher, the Holy One etc. People, rulers, demons could hardly comprehend the Divine in a human representation.
I am. It is of a crucial importance to know what Jesus said about Himself. Do you remember Him introducing to people by using the famous formula “I am" (a reminiscent of “I Am Who I Am" / Exodus 3:14).
Imagine Jesus saying (all taken from John’s Gospel):
- I am the bread of life.
- I am the living water.
- I am the door.
- I am the light of the world.
- I am the shepherd.
- I am the resurrection.
- I am the way.
- I am the truth.
- I am the life.
- I am.
Thank you, Jesus!
WHAT WE BELIEVE?
We believe that God the eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ. Through Him all things were created, the character of God is revealed, the salvation of humanity is accomplished, and the world is judged.
Think of Jesus as fully God and fully human. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived and experienced temptation as a human being, but perfectly exemplified the righteousness and love of God.
By His miracles He manifested God’s power and was attested as God’s promised Messiah. He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross for our sins and in our place, was raised from the dead, and ascended to heaven to minister in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf.
We believe that He will come again in glory for the final deliverance of His people and the restoration of all things.
To support this belief, we have introduced you to some texts in lesson #3. For more and more beautiful passages, please read… the Gospels. A few key texts about Jesus would highlight His amazing personality:
11 MIN. VIDEO - THE PARABLE OF PRODIGAL SON
CRUCIFIXION - THE MAIN PART OF JESUS' LIFE
As Christians, we proclaim Jesus Christ and try to make Him known to the whole world. Our main emphasis is on what Jesus did for us, and that is He died in order to redeem us. No wonder all the Gospels focus on His last week, all the passages project towards His final moments.
Have you noticed that no less than a fifth and up to a half of the Gospels’ material is concentrated on the final week of Jesus’ life? Maybe you’ll read differently from now on. Accordingly, it would be a mistake for us to focus on history only, on His teachings only, on His miracles, controversies, deliverances etc. and miss what constitutes the main part of His mission, and that is to die in order to give life.
RESURRECTION - UNBELIEVABLY BELIEVABLE
We are the only religion to proclaim, to boast, to offer… an empty tomb. For all people since Adam and Eve, death is the end. Yet, from Jesus Christ onward, his death became the starting point for a new life, indeed, an eternal life for all those who believe in Him.
Deeply troubled by the cross, Jesus’ disciples could not believe the good news of His resurrection. He appeared to the women, to some on their way (our way) to Emmaus, then to Simon Peter, to many others, disciples included, proving that He indeed is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25).
According to the Bible, we believe He ascended to heaven after His resurrection and appearances, standing now at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:3; 8:1).
SECOND COMING - "AND EVERY EYE SHALL SEE HIM"
We have not followed a great teacher only. We have not stoped puzzled at the crucifixion place. We have not despaired at the empty tomb. We have not stared gazing at the skies looking for a mission Savior. We have a hope in His coming again.
That is when all our hopes will be fulfilled. Jesus Himself said:
Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
The Bible end with this cry of hope, expectation, fulfillment: “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20).
For this Bible Study Class (BSC) you will be required to read from the Bible. It’s our handbook! Of course, it’s up to you when you do it, how you do it, what version of the Bible will you use.
Remember how we started this lesson?
““Jesus Christ". What comes to your mind when you hear His name: a religious figure; a great teacher; a powerful prophet; a deceiver; Son of God? We bear his name as “christ-ians", but who in fact is this Jesus?“
We invite you to read for Essentials #06 – Life of Jesus two Bible books. The pictures are linked to BibleHub where you can start your reading in a favourite version.
By now you have already read two of the Gospels. Why not finish, covering in its entirety the evangelists’ report on the life of Jesus? Read Matthew, a Gospel written through Jewish eyes, as Levi-Matthew is the former tax collector, called to be disciple, converted into evangelist, perfect as martyr.
Probably the most researched Gospel, as its author was not an eye-witness, Luke will be a detailed report of Jesus interaction with all and every kind of people, no matter the background of race, color, gender, religion. If, by any chance, you want to follow up, there’s the 2nd volume of Luke called Acts.
RESOURCES FOR ADVANCED STUDENTS
Here are some resources for advanced students. That doesn’t mean for… theologians. Only for those who want to know more about Jesus, as presented by those who dedicated their entire life to learn and teach about Him.
OK. Then, it might be for you!
What Happened At The Cross – A series of five audio presentations by late Raoul Dederen, former dean at the Seminary of Andrews University. (listen online or download)
Who Do People Say That I Am – A series of five audio presentations by late Raoul Dederen, former dean at the Seminary of Andrews University. (listen online or download)