This article explains the life of Jesus beginning with his birth about 2000 years ago in the land of Israel, his three-and-a-half year ministry, as well as his crucifixion and resurrection.
About 2000 years ago a man named Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in the land of Israel. He was unique. He was fully God and yet fully human. God had allowed himself to be born as a man so that he could live and suffer among us, to serve as the perfect atonement for our sin, and to offer forgiveness and salvation to anyone who believes. His birth, mission, death and resurrection were foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament of the Bible and revealed to us by the writers of the New Testament.
Jesus lived among his fellow Jews during a time when the boundaries of the Roman Empire included the land of Israel. He preached and performed miracles for three-and-a-half years until he was crucified by the Romans. He died on a wooden cross and was buried in a tomb.
But his life did not end in death. Jesus Christ was resurrected. And because he was perfect, he is able to open the doors to the Kingdom of God. And because he was sinless, he is able to forgive us our sins so that we too can be accepted into the Kingdom of God.
Jesus explains this in a passage of the Bible called John 3:16, when he said: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
The following is an overview of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
(see Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 1:18-25)
The New Testament books of Matthew and Luke explain the virgin birth of Jesus. Mary was engaged to a man named Joseph but not yet married. The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she would have a son who would be named Jesus and who would be called the Son of God. Here is the NIV translation of Luke 1:27-35:
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. - Luke 1:27-35 (NIV).
(see Luke 2:1-7)
Shortly before Jesus was born, the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus decided that a census be taken throughout the Roman Empire, including the land of Israel. People were required to return to their ancestral homes for registration. For Joseph and Mary, that meant leaving Nazareth, which is a town in the northern district of Galilee, and traveling to Bethlehem, which is in the southern region called Judah or Judea.
After they arrived in Bethlehem, Mary was ready to give birth to Jesus. So Joseph and Mary went to a manger because they could not find other lodging. It was a manger, where animals are kept, that served as the humble place of birth for Jesus.
Bethlehem is an important city for Messianic prophecy. King David, who ruled over Israel about 1,000 years before the time of Jesus, was born in Bethlehem. And the prophet Micah, who lived about 700 years before Jesus, announced that Bethlehem would be the birthplace for the Messiah:
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." - Micah 5:2 (NIV translation).
Ephrathah is the ancient name for the town of Bethlehem in Judah.
(see Matthew 2:1-2)
When Jesus was born, a star appeared over Bethlehem. Scholars today speculate whether the star was a meteor, a supernatural phenomenon, an alignment of celestial bodies, or a literal star. Many scholars believe that Jesus was born sometime around 4 BC to 8 BC. It is interesting to note that ancient Chinese astronomy records indicate that there was a star-like object hovering somewhere over the Middle East for several days in the year 5 BC, about 2000 years ago.
(see Matthew 2:3-12)
The Star of Bethlehem attracted visitors from the East. These visitors believed that the star marked the birth of a new king. Perhaps the visitors were familiar with the Bible's prophecies and understood that a Messiah King would be born in Israel and that he would have an impact on the entire world.
But, Israel already had a ruler, King Herod the Great. He was not a true king but had been appointed by the Romans to govern the Jews in the land of Israel. Herod was described by Josephus, a Jewish historian who ived during the first century, as a murderous man who ordered the deaths of many of his own family members. When Herod found out that the visitors were hoping to find and worship the newborn king, Herod ordered the deaths of every infant in Bethlehem, in the hopes of killing the king that the visitors spoke of.
(see Matthew 2:13-15)
An angel warned Joseph of Herod's plans to murder the young children of Bethlehem. So Joseph and Mary took the baby Jesus to Egypt and they lived there until Herod died.
In ancient times the people of Israel sometimes sought refuge in Egypt, including Jacob and his sons, who left the land of Israel during a time of famine. The Gospel of Matthew shows that many events in Jewish history are similar to events in the life of Jesus, reinforcing his role as the Messiah.
(see Matthew 2:19-23)
After the death of King Herod, Joseph, Mary and Jesus returned to the land of Israel. Joseph was afraid to return to Bethlehem because the town is near Jerusalem, where Herod Archelaus, the son of Herod, now reigned as king. So Joseph took his family to the northern district of Galilee, to a small town called Nazareth. This obscure town became the hometown of Jesus, where he grew up and became an adult.
(see Luke 2:41-52)
When Jesus was 12 years of age, he and his mother Mary and stepfather Joseph traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the annual Feast of the Passover. When the feast had ended, Mary and Joseph became separated from Jesus and they searched for him. Jesus had gone to the Lord's Temple and conversed with the people there. The people were amazed by his depth of understanding and by his knowledge. When Mary found Jesus at the Temple, Jesus said to her: "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49).
The Gospel of John describes three annual passover feasts during the course of Jesus' ministry and this is one reason for the commonly held belief that his ministry lasted for about three years. Luke tells us that Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his ministry. This page explains a few details of his first year of ministry, which begins with his forerunner, John the Baptist.
(see Matthew 3:13-17)
In the book of Malachi, there is a prophecy about a forerunner who would prepare the way for the Lord: "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty. - Malachi 3:1 (NIV translation).
This prophecy was fulfilled about 400 years later by John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus was about to begin his ministry, John the Baptist proclaimed to others: "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! - John 1:29 (NIV translation).
Jesus was about 30 years old. He had left the district of Galilee, which included the town of Nazareth, where he grew up, and had traveled to the wilderness of the Jordan River to be baptized. There, John the Baptist drew crowds as he preached and baptized.
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 lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." - Matthew 3:16-17 (NIV translation).
(see Matthew 4:1-11)
After he was baptized, Jesus went into the desert and fasted (ate no food) for 40 days. Satan used this time to tempt Jesus. "Satan" is a Hebrew word that means "adversary," "enemy" or "devil."
During the temptations, Satan uses the supernatural to find Jesus in the desert, then to transport Jesus to the top of the Temple in Jerusalem, and then to take Jesus to a high mountain. With each successive temptation, the loftiness of what Satan offers increases, as does the height from which he makes the offer.
Each time, Jesus resists the temptation and quotes scripture to rebuke Satan. In one instance, Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy, chapter 8. It is important to note that Deuteronomy 8:2-3 reminds us that the Israelites spent 40 years in the desert where they too were tested for their obedience to the will of God. This is another example of the book of Matthew pointing out similarities between the life of Jesus and the history of Israel.
(see John 2:1-11)
Jesus and some of his disciples went to Cana, a town in the district of Galilee, to attend a wedding party. His mother, Mary, also attended. The host of the wedding party did not have enough wine for everyone and this was considered a very embarrassing situation. Mary intervened on behalf of the wedding host and told Jesus about the problem. Jesus then miraculously changed six barrels of water into wine for the wedding party.
Of all the miracles that Jesus performed, this one might seem minor. But it did accomplish important things. It shows that Jesus has concern for people's problems, even if they are not major problems. And it showed Jesus' disciples that he was able to perform miracles.
Throughout the four Gospels (the Bible's books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) there are descriptions of 34 miracles performed by Jesus. But all told there may have been thousands, as sometimes when surrounded by a large group of people, the Bible states "He healed them all." These 34 miracles are a sampling of what he did and the compassion he felt for people. Everything from raising the dead, controlling nature, healing the sick, casting out demons, and providing enough food from a few baskets of bread and fish to feed thousands. Click here for summaries of the 34 miracles.
(see John 2:13-17)
Jesus went to holy city of Jerusalem, the most important city in the Jewish homeland, and visited the Lord's Temple. When he arrived he saw that many people were selling animals and exchanging money in the Temple courts. This angered Jesus because the Temple was intended to be a place to worship God, not a place for commerce. Jesus made a whip out of some strands of rope and chased the merchants out of the holy Temple. Jesus said to them:
"How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" - John 2:16 (NIV translation).
(see John 3:16-17)
Jesus explains to Nicodemus what a person must do to have salvation and eternal life. Jesus says: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. - John 3:16-17 (NIV translation).
(see John 4:5-42)
As Jesus and his followers traveled through Samaria, Jesus rested at a place called Jacob's Well. There he met a Samaritan woman and spoke to her about the "water of life." He told her:
"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." - John 4:13-14 (NIV translation).
In this discussion with Samaritan woman, Jesus showed that the word of God was meant to be shared with all people, even enemies (the Samaritans and the Jews were hostile towards one another). And, he showed that it was to be shared with men and women, Jews and Gentiles. (Gentile refers to people to who are not Jewish).
(see John 4:3, 43-45)
During the early part of Jesus' ministry, he went to the district of Galilee, where Jews and many Gentiles (non-Jews) lived. Jesus preached and performed many miracles there. He became a beacon for many as he shed light on the word of God. This was foretold by the prophet Isaiah about 700 years beforehand:
". . .in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan-- The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." - Isaiah 9:1-2 (NIV translation).
(see John 4:46-54)
When Jesus again visited the town of Cana in the district of Galilee, a royal official begged Jesus to heal his son who was very ill. Jesus said:
"Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe." - John 4:48 (NIV translation).
Jesus then sent the royal official on his way, telling him that his son would recover. The official later learned that his son was healed and he and his family became believers.
(see Luke 4:14-21)
Jesus went to a synagogue (a Jewish place of worship) in Nazareth and read from the scroll of Isaiah to the people gathered there:
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, - Isaiah 61:1-2 (NIV translation).
Then, Jesus announced that he was the Messiah that Isaiah spoke of:
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." - Luke 4:20-21 NIV translation).
(see Luke 4:28-30)
Shortly after Jesus announced that he was the Messiah, the people at the synagogue in Nazareth rejected him as the Messiah:
"All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way." - Luke 4:28-30 (NIV translation).
The second year of Jesus' ministry is sometimes referred to as the "Year of Popularity." He performed many miracles during this phase of his ministry and became increasingly popular.
(see John 5:17-47)
This is one of the most important Bible passages. Here, Jesus explains that God is his father. Jesus also explains that all who believe the words of Jesus will have eternal life: . . . the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:22-24 NIV).
(see Matthew 9:35-38)
A group of disciples gathered around Jesus as he traveled throughout the countryside. The word disciple means "learner" and the relationship of a teacher to his disciples was considered important by Jews in ancient times. The Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes, for example, had disciples. In fact, John the Baptist had disciples. Jesus entrusted his disciples to serve people:
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Matthew 9:35-38 NIV).
(see Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16)
From among his disciples, Jesus gave some the ability to heal people of their diseases and illnesses. Jesus did this after going up a mountain and spending the night in prayer to God the Father. These disciples became known as the twelve Apostles. They were:
1. Peter, also known as Simon Peter.
2. Andrew, brother of Peter.
3. James, son of Zebedee.
4. John, brother of James.
8. Matthew, the former tax collector.
9. James, son of Alphaeus.
10. Thaddaeus, Judas the son of James.
11. Simon the Zealot.
12. Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.
(see Matthew 5-7)
Jesus not only healed many people and performed miracles that showed that he is the Son of God, he also preached the greatest sermons in history. The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7 is observed by many as the greatest of all. It establishes the basic themes of his teachings. After pronouncing a series of blessings (the beatitudes) Jesus spoke of the law and its fulfillment.
He asserted that his purpose was to fulfill the law and the prophets, at the same time claiming the authority to speak in a way that went beyond the law. Jesus laid out several contrasts between his own teaching and that of traditional law; each opened with the phrases "You have heard that it was said...But I say to you" (Matt. 5:21-22). His intent was to move away from a law intended to be enforced by judicial authorities toward a standard of thought and commitment that could only be applied internally to one's own heart and life. He dealt with difficult topics of anger, adultery and covetousness, retaliation, and resisting evil.
Finally, he came to the heart of his teaching, a commitment to love without boundaries. Jesus rejected the common attitude of loving one's neighbor and hating one's enemies, asking them to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matt. 5:44) There are 16 great sermons listed in the four Gospels, which includes: the final tribulation, his fathers House, the bread of life, judgment and resurrection, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Devil and his children, the Good Shepherd, against religious hypocrites, etc.
Here's a part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in Matthew 5:43-48: "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
(see Matthew 6:6-15)
During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about praying to God:
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
"This, then, is how you should pray:
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:6-15 NIV).
(see Matthew 8:5-13)
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a town in Galilee, Jesus was asked to heal the servant of a centurion (a Roman officer). Jesus said he would go to the servant and heal him. But the centurion replied that he was unworthy to have Jesus come to his home, and he said "just say the word, and my servant will be healed." By saying that, the centurion was confessing that he had complete faith in Jesus, and that he knew that Jesus could heal his servant simply by saying words from a distance. This impressed Jesus who then turned to his followers and said of the centurion's faith: ". . .I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. . ." (see Matthew 8:10). Jesus then told the people that the servant would be healed, and the servant was healed.
(see Luke 7:12-16)
Jesus was about to enter the town gate of Nain when a group of people were carrying out a dead body. The dead person was the son of a widow, who was crying. When Jesus saw her, he told the woman not to cry. As explained in Luke 7:14-16 - Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people." (NIV translation).
(see Matthew 12:25-37)
When a group of religious leaders saw that Jesus had the power to cast out evil spirits from people, they accused Jesus of getting his power from the devil. Jesus, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, rebuked them and explained that only good can come from good, and only evil can come from evil. He also said, as quoted in Matthew 12:30-32 - "he who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."
A Bible scholar named John Gill offered his opinion of what is meant by the 'unpardonable sin:' "because such persons willfully, maliciously, and obstinately oppose the Spirit of God, without whom there can be no application of pardon made; and remain in hardness of heart, are given up to a reprobate mind, and die in impenitence and unbelief, and so there is no forgiveness for them ..."
(see Matthew 8:24-27)
Jesus was in a boat with his disciples when a storm began to toss high waves and rock the boat. The disciples were concerned that the boat would tip over so they awoke Jesus who was sleeping. Jesus told the men to have faith. Then Jesus commanded the storm be calmed. Immediately the storm went away. This was one of the miracles where Jesus showed that he could command the forces of nature.
(see Matthew 9:18-19, 23-26)
A nobleman came to Jesus and said that his daughter had just died. The nobleman had strong faith that Jesus could make his daughter well again. Jesus and his disciples went to the nobleman's home and saw a gathering of mourners. Jesus told the mourners to leave the house. He also told them that the girl was not dead but asleep. The mourners laughed at him. But, after the mourners had left the home, Jesus took the girl by the hand and the girl rose up to her feet.
(see Matthew 9:27-34)
Two blind men learned that Jesus was nearby and they called out to him, "Have mercy on us, Son of David." Jesus asked the blind men if they truly believed that he had the power to heal them. They told him that they did. Jesus then touched their eyes and restored their sight. Jesus told them, "According to your faith will it be done to you." When the blind men referred to Jesus as the "Son of David," they were alluding to Biblical prophecies, such as Jeremiah 23:5-6 and Isaiah 11:1-10, that said that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David, which Jesus was.
The third year of Jesus' ministry is sometimes called the "Year of opposition." Some of the community leaders attempted unsuccessfully to challenge Jesus' authority and were becoming increasingly antagonistic. Jesus continued to perform miracles and large crowds continued to seek him.
(see Matthew 14:13-21)
Soon after Jesus had learned that John the Baptist had been beheaded, Jesus went out into a boat to pray in solitude. But a large crowd gathered at the shore to meet Jesus. He felt compassion for the crowd, so he went ashore and healed the people in the crowd who were sick. It was getting late into the day, and Jesus' disciples were concerned that the crowd did not have any food. Jesus told his disciples to feed the crowd, but the disciples said they only had five loaves of bread and two fish. And the crowd was very large with 5000 men, as well as many women and children.
As explained in Matthew 14:19-21, this is what happened next: " ... he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children." (NIV translation).
(see Matthew 14:22-33)
Of all of the miracles that Jesus had performed in healing people, turning water into wine and in feeding a multitude of people with a single basket of food, the miracle that made the disciples proclaim that Jesus was the Son of God was his miracle of walking on water. Jesus told his disciples to go out into the water in a boat while Jesus went to a private place to pray. Later, Jesus walked out to the boat and startled the disciples. They thought they were seeing a ghost walking on the water. But after they realized that it was Jesus, they worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
(see Matthew 16:21-26)
Similar to other prophets in the Bible, Jesus foretold events that later happened. He prophesized that Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed and that the Word of God would be preached to every corner of the world. These prophecies were fulfilled. But, Jesus is different than the other prophets of God. For one, Jesus was the subject of many of the prophecies given by the others. And two, Jesus fulfilled some of his own prophecies. As explained in Matthew 16:21-26, Jesus prophesized his own persecution, death and resurrection.
(see Matthew 17:1-8)
In Matthew 17:1-8, the Bible says: After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. "Get up," he said. "Don't be afraid." When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. (NIV translation).
(see Matthew 18:1-4)
In Matthew 18:1-4, the Bible says: At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
(see Matthew 18:21-22)
In Matthew 18:21-22, the Bible says: Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."
(see John 9:1-41)
When the disciples of Jesus had seen a man who had been blind since birth, they asked Jesus if the man's blindness was a result of his own sins or if it was the result of his parents' sins. Jesus answered them that the man's blindness was not due to the man's sins or his parents' sins. Jesus said the man's blindness happened "so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." Jesus then healed the man of his blindness.
(see John 11:1-44)
In John 11:1-44, the Bible gives another account of Jesus raising someone from the dead. In this case, it is a man named Lazarus. When Jesus was told that Lazarus was seriously ill, he said:
"This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." (John 11:4 NIV).
A few days later, Jesus traveled to the tomb of Lazarus, where Lazarus had been for four days. Jesus went to Martha, Lazarus' sister, and:
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26 NIV).
Then, Martha answered Jesus:
"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." (John 11:27 NIV).
Jesus went to the tomb and called out for Lazarus, who then rose from death to life and walked out of the tomb.
The end of Jesus' ministry was marked with a triumphal entry into Jerusalem and great antagonism from local religious leaders.
(see Matthew 21:1-11)
About 500 years before the time of Jesus, there was a prophet of God named Zechariah (see Zechariah 9:9) who spoke of a king presenting himself to Jerusalem while riding on a humble donkey. This is how Jesus entered the Holy City of Jerusalem shortly before he was crucified and killed. He rode on the back of a donkey into the city. Along the way, a crowd of people gathered near Him, praising him as he went by.
(see Matthew 22:15-22)
The religious and political groups of Jerusalem, such as the Pharisees and Sadducees, were often at odds with Jesus. Members of these groups conspired to get rid of Jesus. In Matthew 22, the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus by asking whether Jews should pay taxes to the Romans:
Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"
"Caesar's," they replied.
Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away. (Matthew 22:15-22 NIV).
(see Matthew 21:23-27)
The opponents of Jesus had to be careful in trying to silence him. They knew that Jesus was popular, so they tried to find ways to trap him without angering the people. In this example from the book of Matthew, the opponents came up with a ploy that backfired:
Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. "By what authority are you doing these things?" they asked. "And who gave you this authority?"
Jesus replied, "I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism-where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?"
They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' But if we say, 'From men'-we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We don't know."
Then he said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. (Matthew 21:23-27 NIV).
(see Mark 12:41-44)
While Jesus was at the Temple, people were making contributions to the Temple treasury:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.
But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on." (Mark 12:41-44 NIV)
(see Matthew 22:34-40)
The book of Matthew shows another example of how some of Jerusalem's religious leaders tried to test Jesus:
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:34-40 NIV).
Jesus was able to summarize the Law, which is the first five books of the Old Testament, into a few sentences.
This page explains a few of the events during the persecution and crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus was falsely accused of being an anti-government rebel and was crucified and killed. His persecution fulfilled many Bible prophecies that had been written hundreds of years beforehand.
(see Matthew 26:1-5, 14-16)
A few days before the Passover, Jesus again predicted his death. He told his disciples that he would be handed over to be crucified. At about this time, the chief priests and other community leaders plotted to have Jesus arrested so they could kill Him. They conspired with Judas, one of Jesus' 12 Apostles, and paid him 30 pieces of silver to look for an opportunity to betray Jesus.
(see Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20)
During the Passover celebration, Jesus gathered with his apostles. He knew that this would be the final meal that he would share with his apostles before his crucifixion. It was at this time that Jesus instituted what is now known in many Christian churches as "communion." It is also called "the Last Supper" or "the Lord's Supper."
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:26-28 NIV).
Jesus suffered and died for our sins; he gave up his body and blood for our forgiveness. Many Christian churches celebrate communion at least once a month.
(see Matthew 26:47-56)
Jesus and his followers had entered the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. His disciples were sleeping for the night when a crowd of Roman soldiers and Jewish officials showed up to arrest Jesus. Judas told the soldiers which man was Jesus. Then the men began to arrest Jesus, but Peter used a sword to cut off a man's ear. Jesus scolded Peter for doing that: "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword." (Matthew 26:52). Jesus healed the injured man's ear and then allowed Himself to be arrested and led away.
(see Matthew 26:58,69-75)
Chapter 26 of the Bible's book of Matthew begins with a prophecy from Jesus that he would be betrayed and handed over to be crucified. And the chapter ends with the fulfillment of another of Jesus' prophecies - that Peter, Jesus' loyal Apostle, would deny knowing Jesus three times before the break of dawn.
After Jesus was arrested and led away by the soldiers, Peter followed them into the courtyard of the high priest. He took a seat near some of the guards and waited to see what would happen with Jesus. A servant walked up to Peter and asked him if he was with Jesus. Peter said "I don't know what you're talking about."
Peter then got up and went outside of a gateway where another person saw him and identified him as a follower of Jesus. Peter again denied knowing Jesus. Other people then identified Peter as being a follower of Jesus and again Peter denied knowing Jesus. In all, Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times before dawn, just as Jesus had predicted.
When Peter remembered that Jesus had predicted Peter's denials, Peter began to weep because he had denied knowing the Lord.
(see Matthew 27:1-31)
Chapter 27 of the Bible's book of Matthew explains that Jesus was falsely accused of being an anti-government rebel. He appears before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of the land of the Jews, and eventually is condemned. Jesus then was beaten and mocked by Roman soldiers.
Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. - Matthew 27:27-31 (NIV).
(see Matthew 27:35-38)
After the trial, Jesus was beaten and whipped. Then he was given a cross to carry and led to Calvary. There, he was nailed to the cross, through his wrists and feet. The cross was raised and Jesus was left to die. Many people had gathered to watch. Some mocked Jesus as he was dying. Others mourned for him. In Luke 23:34, Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
(see Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-55; John 19:31-42)
After Jesus had died on the cross, a Roman soldier pierced Jesus with a spear to make sure he was dead. Two men had asked permission to take Jesus' body and bury Him The two men were Joseph of Arimathea and a man named Nicodemus. Jesus was taken down from the cross, wrapped in clothe and placed into an empty tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea. A large stone was placed in front of the tomb to close off the burial chamber. The Romans also posted a guard at the tomb to prevent anyone from stealing the body.
Jesus was crucified. He died. He was buried. And he rose again. The resurrection is an essential part of Christianity. There is no Christianity without the resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 15). This page explains some details of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
(see John 20:1-10)
The morning after Jesus had been placed in the tomb, Mary Magdalene went to visit the tomb. It was very early in the morning and it was still dark outside.
She saw that the stone had been removed from the front of the tomb and that the tomb was empty.
She ran to Peter to inform him what she had seen. Then, Peter and another Apostle, John, ran to the tomb to see for themselves. The body of Jesus was gone and the only thing left behind was the cloth that was used to wrap his body for the burial. The Apostles were confused, they did not understand what was happening. How could the tomb be empty? Where was the body of Jesus?
(see John 20:10-18)
The Apostles returned to their homes. But Mary Magdalene remained by the tomb, crying. Then she turned and saw a man who asked her why she was crying. Mary Magdalene soon realized that the man who was talking to her was Jesus Christ. Jesus had risen from death. Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the resurrected Jesus.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ was the beginning of Christianity. If Christ had not been resurrected and seen by many people (more than 500), Christianity would not exist today. Jesus made twelve appearances after his resurrection:
1. His first appearance was to Mary Magdalene, on that early Sunday morning. (Mark 16:9; John 20:10-18).
2. Jesus appeared to the women returning from the tomb. (Matthew 28:9-10).
3. Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13-32; Mark 16:12-13).
4. He appeared to Peter in Jerusalem. (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5).
5. He appeared to his disciples and other followers, and also a second time to the two men from Emmaus, in a locked room in Jerusalem. The apostle Thomas wasn't there at that time. (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-23).
6. A week later, Jesus again appeared to his disciples behind locked doors, and this time Thomas was present. (John 20:24-29).
7. Jesus appeared to seven of his disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. (John 21:1-24).
8. Jesus was seen by 500 believers at one time. (1 Corinthians 15:6).
9. He appeared to James. (1 Corinthians 15:7).
10. He appeared to eleven disciples on a mountain in Galilee. (Matt. 28:18-20).
11. He walked with his disciples along the road to Bethany, on the Mount of Olives, and then ascended into Heaven. (Luke 24:50-53).
12. He was seen by Paul on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9:3-6; 1 Corinthians 15:8).
(see John 20:24-29)
Some people had doubts that Jesus had risen from death, that he had been resurrected. After all, the Romans drove nails through Jesus' hands and feet and later pierced his side with a spear to make sure he was dead. And now there were people claiming to have seen Jesus alive again. Even the Apostle named Thomas had doubts, as explained in John 20:24-29 (NIV translation):
Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
(see 1 Corinthians 15)
In the New Testament of the Bible, there is a book called 1 Corinthians, which was written by a disciple named Paul. The 15th chapter of this book explains the significance of the resurrection of Jesus. It says that Jesus died for our sins. (see 1 Corinthians 15:3). It also says that our faith would be meaningless if there had been no resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 15:17). And it proclaims that Jesus was resurrected. (see 1 Corinthians 15:20). Paul is one of the people who saw Jesus after the resurrection.
(see Matthew 28:18-20)
After the resurrection, Jesus met with his disciples on a mountain in Galilee and gave them a command to go out and evangelize to all people:
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:16-20 NIV).
In Matthew 28:19, Jesus mentions the triune nature of God when he speaks of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is referred to as the "holy trinity" and also as the "triune nature of God," meaning that God is three-in-one. Christians believe in one God - one God who is God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Athanasian Creed and the Nicene Creed do a good job of explaining the triune nature of God. These creeds were written by Christians as a way to summarize and explain Christianity.
(see Mark 16:19-20)
After he had told his disciples to go out into the world and preach the word of God, Jesus ascended into Heaven:
After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16:19-20 NIV).
(see Matthew 24)
The New Testament explains that Jesus will return in the future to judge the living and the dead and to establish eternal peace.
There are several verses that refer to Jesus' return, including Matthew 16:24-28, Matthew 24, Matthew 25:31-46, Mark 8:34-9:1, Mark 13, Luke 9:23-27, Luke 17:20-37, Luke 21:5-38; John 6:39-40, and John 14:3.
In Matthew 16:27, Jesus is quoted as saying that the "Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done."
The book of Matthew, chapter 24, describes a series of signs that will occur before his return. We are told that all of these signs will manifest themselves during the span of a single generation: "This generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place" (Matthew 24:34).
But we don't know which generation that will be.
In Mark 13:32, we are told that "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
There has been a great deal of speculation as to whether we are presently living in the generation that will witness all of the signs described in Matthew 24. Many people have tried to predict when Jesus will return only to be proven wrong. The Bible warns us not to worry and reminds us to be prepared, spiritually. For believers, Jesus' return will be a glorious event.
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