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Jesus of Nazareth (3 BC - AD 33) is the Messiah (Hebrew), or the Christ (Greek). Both words mean "the Anointed One." The title appears with the name Jesus in the very first verse of both Mark and Matthew. Being in the form of God, he became man, willingly coming to Earth to die a horrible death. This was not in vain, for he rose from the dead  to go to Heaven in a body designed to last forever. In rising - or being raised - from death he proved that he was indeed the Son of God. He is the radiance of God's glory, an exact representation of the Lord's nature.
Having lived a life without sin, he entered a ministry as a teacher  and healer after having reached an age of 30 years old. His early message echoed that of a cousin of his, John, the son of Zechariah. Their message was simple: Repent! God's Kingdom is near. Most of Jesus' ministry came after John had been incarcerated as a political prisoner by the titular "king" of Judea. Jesus would later meet a similar fate.
Ministering mostly in the province of Galilee, near the great lake by that same name, it was in his visits to Jerusalem that he fell out of favor with the leaders of Judaism. Daring to speak freely, without the commentaries that tied the people to tradition, Jesus would make plenty of enemies. Charged with the crime of blasphemy, he stayed out of Jerusalem until he was ready to die.
At the time of the Jewish festival of Passover, in April, AD 33, against the objections of his disciples, the Teacher boldly faced his accusers. After a nighttime trial, he was condemned to die. Since the religious court did not have the right to kill him, he was brought before both the Roman and Jewish political authorities. With the threat of a riot at hand, the political leader, Pontius Pilate, agreed to send Jesus to be killed on a cross  - an upright stake with a cross bar to hold the victim off the ground.
Just as Jesus had predicted, though, his body did not stay in the grave. On the first day past the Sabbath, he arose to fulfill the festival of First Fruits. After doubting the story, his disciples saw the evidence, and then were visited by their risen Master. Forty days later, Jesus rose visibly into the clouds. He would appear to a young disciple named Stephen just before that man died from stoning. Then, ironically, he would appear to the zealous Pharisee who had overseen the stoning of Stephen. That man was named Saul (later called Paul) and would become a leading teacher of believers for a generation throughout the northern shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
Over a generation later, Jesus would appear to John, one of his closest friends on earth, to reveal a vision of the consummation of the Age. John would also write a personal account of his Master's life as he remembered the ministry of spectacular miracles performed in and around Jerusalem.
The name Jesus means either "He saves" or "The LORD saves." It is a transliteration of the Greek Ἰησοῦς (Yeshua or Yehoshua). The name appears in the Old Testament as יְהוֹשֻׁ֣עַ ("Joshua" and "Jehoshua"), and in a similar form as "Hosea."
The title "Christ" is an anglicized version of the Greek Χριστοῦ Christou and is a translation of the Hebrew word מְשִׁ֣יחַ ("Messiah"). These words mean "the Anointed One."
In the common use of the word, everything in the known universe has a "history"- for it can be known if searched out enough. There are certain things that go beyond understanding unless told by One who was there "in the beginning." That telling can only be done by God Himself. Only Yahweh - He who is - can truly be said to be "Prehistoric."
This existence before "history" shows Jesus, the revealed Son of God, to be divine in the full sense of the word. Not only was he there in the beginning, but he created everything, including time. When Jesus responded to a question about Abraham, he told the Pharisees: "Before Abraham was, I am." This angered those who understood, and confused others. In Hebrews, the writer, in a statement of faith simply declares, "Jesus Christ: the same yesterday, today and forever."
The Gospel of John begins, not with the genealogy of Jesus, but with the "generation" of the universe! But the idea is not to John alone. The Apostle Paul tells his readers that Jesus not only created all things, but he also keeps thing from falling apart. Later, the writer of the Book of Hebrews would remind his readers that faith in this fact was a mark of a true believer.
As a mystery to be discovered in the light of His coming, Jesus is seen in the creation account in Genesis as well. After a general statement of the fact of creation, and the Spirit's initial act of watching over the vast lifeless void, God "speaks" and things start to come into existence. That word, as John declares, was Christ Himself. For more evidence of this, God discusses the need to make "man after our image." Though the communicable attributes of mind and spirit were certainly there, the body also had its origin in God Himself: that is to say, in Jesus, the "express image of [God's] person."
As the Creator, Jesus spoke the Universe to be in a period of six days, resting on the seventh day to set apart the Sabbath day, and to give mankind the ability to rest. Mankind was His finest creation, for it was "in his image" that he formed the first man and woman.
The first prophecy concerning the Messiah was a direct message from the Creator to mankind as he was cursing the agent of deceit: the serpent. In their open rebellion to God, Adam and Eve brought the consequences of sin upon even the animal form that Satan had used to tempt them. While declaring the serpent should "eat the dust of the ground" as he slithered along, there is then an implied promise: "[the seed of the woman] would bruise [his] head." As she would experience intense pain in bringing her firstborn son into the world, Eve would declare: "I have gotten a man (from) Yahweh." The "from" might be better understood as "with Yahweh's help." Eve was hoping that her son was the promised one who would destroy the serpent.
Over two thousand years later, after drastic measures had been taken to preserve the godly "seed of the woman", God's chosen servant Abraham is called upon to sacrifice the promised heir (Isaac). When the younger man asked "where is the lamb?" Abraham replied "God will provide for himself a lamb." After the substitute lamb had been provided, God assures Abraham that "in your seed shall the earth be blessed." The same promise would be made also to Isaac himself several years later  The apostle Paul would affirm that Jesus was the fulfillment of this prophecy in one of his first letters, Galatians.
Many years later, Isaac's son Jacob (aka Israel) prophecies that the kingly line would be through Judah, his fourth son. Although Joseph had been the "savior" of the clan of Jacob, it was by the illicitly conceived son of Judah that the kingly line come.
After the years of slavery in Egypt, Moses would preach to the people as they prepared to go into the promised land. He would tell them about another prophet to whom all the true people of God would be beholden. This great teacher would speak the very words of God.
When the time had come to build a temple in which to worship Yahweh, the prophet Nathan relayed the word of God to David promising that the dynasty would never end. There would be a throne occupied by the "son of David" for all of time. It was to become the hope of deliverance by a mighty earthly king that kept the people of Israel together after yet another period of 400 years after their last king had been taken into captivity.
David's heir, Solomon, had not been this "son of David." For the better part of 400 years good and bad kings ruled in Jerusalem. Many of the psalms that David had written looked forward to a godly "Son of David, " but none of the occupants of the throne lived up to these prophecies. Several of David's psalms showed his faith in God's promise. These worship songs were looking forward to the Messiah. Psalm 2 calls for the world's leaders to not only fear Yahweh, but also show respect to his anointed (messiah) son. Psalms 22 through 24 provide a picture of the past (to us), present and future work of Jesus Christ. And then, there is Psalm 110, the most quoted passage among New Testament writers. In that psalm we see the deity of the King, the eternal priesthood, and conquering judge.
Though many prophets arose to declare the coming Messiah, one of the most prolific was Isaiah, son of Amoz. For instance, he challenges king Ahaz to ask for a sign from Yahweh, but the king would not accept the challenge. Since the challenge was from Yahweh, Isaiah declared an impossible miracle to be the sign. The sign would be a virgin conceiving and delivering a son! As he continued, he names the child "Immanuel" and elaborates that this Son will subdue the land. Elaborating further, Isaiah tells of the Prince of Peace to come—first to Galilee and then to Jerusalem. He gives a glorious description of a greater son of David - the Messiah—in his humanity and his deity. In the last third of the book given his name, Isaiah unveils the role of the Savior as one who will suffer for his people, and ultimately destroy his enemies in judgment.
Isaiah's contemporary, Micah, provides a glimpse of the Messiah, declaring not only his birthplace but his previous existence in heaven! Other details of Jesus' life unfold in most of the prophets. Some obscure references are rightly applied to Christ, others wait to unfold at some future time. Daniel, writing from Babylonian exile, even saw things he could not write down.
Main article: Angel of the LORD
The doctrine of the "Son of God" leads to a discussion of the Trinity. The name "Son of God" meant more than being a godly person. The angel Gabriel had told Mary that the child she would carry would be called "the Son of God." Luke goes on to link Jesus to Adam, who he calls "the son of God" by creation. The body of Jesus was the only way to actually "see" God. Therefore wherever God is seen, Jesus is there. Since it is stated that Jesus is the "only begotten" (μονογενῆ) son, and both the Father and the Son are eternal, Jesus is eternally begotten.
John's gospel opens with a prologue that clearly states that Jesus, as the Word, is God, and has been from the beginning of time. Though it is not stated that God made an appearance to Adam and Eve, it is clear that they heard him. Since the voice must logically be only through a physical mouth, the audible voice of God must have come from the mouth of Jesus. However, since the Father is heard speaking to and about Jesus, the Son, it is possible that such occurrences were the Father rather than the Son.
Many bodily manifestations of God were through "the Angel of the LORD" (Angel of Yahweh). It can be deduced from these passages that this messenger was most likely Yahweh Himself. The first appearance in the text of the Bible was to Hagar, the Egyptian slave girl who served Sarai (later named Sarah) after she had become pregnant by Abram (later named Abraham). It would be over twenty years before the Angel of Yahweh would appear to Abraham after he had heeded the voice of God to sacrifice Isaac, his son by Sarah.
Recorded appearances of the Angel of Yahweh include the pagan prophet Balaam and a reluctant hero named Gideon in the dark days of the theocracy ruled by corrupt priests and a series of very flawed "judges." It had been to these very people that the preincarnate Christ appeared at the end of Joshua's life. Though the armies under Joshua had done an adequate job, they had failed to completely obey God. The Angel of Yahweh spoke as God, saying "I brought you up from Egypt..."
As the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah struggled under apostate kings, the Angel of Yahweh stood alongside the prophet Elijah, offering him encouragement. After the exile, Zechariah was granted a vision of the Angel of the LORD blessing the high priest Joshua (a type of Jesus - same name in Hebrew).
Birth and Childhood
Main article: Birth of Christ
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Judea, during the reign of Herod I (Herod the Great) of Judea, and that of Caesar Augustus, emperor of Rome. He was born to a virgin by the name of Mary (Hebrew: Miriam), who was married to Joseph Bar-Jacob. Since a mandatory census (taxing) had been declared by the emperor, the couple had traveled 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a suburb of Jerusalem.
When they arrived at Bethlehem, likely they found a room with a relative of Joseph. However, when Mary went into labor, there was no room in their room and had to be moved to the main part of the house where the animals were. Jesus was placed in a manger, wrapped in swaddling strips, as was the custom. Nearby, Jewish shepherds had been keeping sheep in the pastures when an angel informed them that the Messiah had been born. After the angel was joined by many others, the shepherds ran into town to find Jesus.
When he was eight days old, a local rabbi performed the rite of circumcision, following the Law of Moses. At that time the name Yeshua (or perhaps Yehoshua) was given to the infant. Five weeks later, young Jesus (Greek: Iesous, a close transliteration) was brought to the temple in Jerusalem to receive a priestly blessing from Simeon.
Some time later, after Joseph had found a house for his young family in Bethlehem, a band of men from the region east of the Jordan River came to visit Jesus. These men were magi, scientists and advisers to dignitaries in their own land. They had brought expensive gifts and honored the toddler, calling him "the King of the Jews." That very night, Joseph had a dream in which he was warned that Herod had sent soldiers out to find and kill Jesus. He fled with Mary and Jesus all the way to Egypt.
Return to Judea
Some time later, after the death of Herod the Great, but before the banishment of his son Herod Archelaus, the young family returned to Nazareth in Galilee. After Archelaus had been banished, the family would make the trek to Jerusalem for the festivals. About the time that he would be considered a man, at the age of 12, Jesus spent three days discussing theology with the priests and scribes at the temple.
Jesus would grow up to take up Joseph's occupation as a carpenter. He became known around Nazareth as the son of Joseph and brother to Joseph, James, Simon and Judah. He also had at least two sisters. The family saw nothing especially unusual with the carpenter. And neither did his neighbors.
Increase in knowledge
Only once did Jesus display a hint of his future mission. Annually, his extended family would travel to Jerusalem in order to celebrate the Passover. After the festival when everyone else left for home, He stayed behind at the temple. This left the members of the caravan to believe He was amongst the other group. While the men may have assumed he was with the children and women, the women may have thought he was with the men since he had reached the age of manhood. When Joseph and Mary realized he was missing, they returned to Jerusalem, finding Him in the temple among the teachers. Afterwards Jesus increased in godliness and wisdom and matured into a grown man
Baptism and Early Ministry
Apart from his visit in the temple as a child, Jesus was not seen again in public until He had reached the age of 30 years old. This was the age required for a man to become a Levitical priest. Though He could be at least a quarter Levite (his mother being a cousin to Elizabeth, a "daughter of Aaron"), legally He was a "son of David, a Judahite". However, He was to show himself to be a special kind of priest - a Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Whatever the case, He went to His cousin John to be "baptized". At first John refused to baptize One he considered greater than himself. Jesus insisted, saying that He came to "fulfill all righteousness".
As Jesus came out of the water, a voice from heaven declared "This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." At the same time, a dove descended as a representative of the Holy Spirit. This latter sign had been promised to John the Baptist as proof of the divinity of Jesus, the Son of God. It was around this time that John the Baptist also declared Jesus to be "the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world".
John's testimony concerning His cousin's nature as the Son of God most likely came about the time that Jesus returned from a period of intense testing—the "temptation"—at the hands of the Devil (Gr.: diabolos). The other gospels (known as the synoptic [similar view] gospels) clearly put the temptation immediately after the baptism. The temptation was set up by the Holy Spirit, who forced Jesus (drove, or lead) into the wilderness to live without food or water for 40 days. This would push him to the physical limit as a human being. But even after such an ordeal, Jesus would face His worst enemy: the Devil (diabolos), or as He was known in the Hebrew language "Satan." Both words indicate an accuser.
As Matthew records the encounter, the three temptations were: (1) Do a miracle, (2) Tempt God to intervene and (3) Worship a false god, that is, Satan himself. Another way to look at it, this was a test of God the Son, God the Spirit and God the Father. In being tempted to do a work of creation (make bread out of rocks), the divinity of Jesus was tested. To call for the ministry of angels, Jesus would be tapping the spiritual forces of heaven. Finally, if he turned his back on God the Father, he would forfeit his right to be called the Son. With each temptation, Jesus answers with the testimony of written Word of God.
Though Jesus healed the sick and cast out demons everywhere he went, the record in the gospel of John gives seven signs (σημεῖον, from σημαίνω: I signify) or "miracles, " to show that he was the Messiah. The first came soon after he had called his first disciples, in the town of Cana of Galilee. It was then that He was at a friend's wedding and the wine ran out. After trying to dissuade His mother, Mary, from involving Him, she told the servants to do whatever He told them to do. He told the servants to fill large containers with water, and bring a cup of it to the master of wedding. When a servant dipped a cup into one of the large water pots, and brought it to the master of ceremonies, it turned out to be a fine wine!
Later in that same year, after traveling to Jerusalem for the feasts, Jesus returned to Cana, where He was approached by a royal official who wanted Him to come to his house to heal his son. When Jesus seemingly put him off, the official begged Him to save his son's life. Jesus told the man to go home, for his son was going to live. Upon returning to his house, the man found that his son had been healed from afar.
At the next festival in Jerusalem, Jesus presents a dilemma to the religious leadership - he "worked" on the Sabbath! In this case, as in the previous miracles, all Jesus had done was speak to perform a miracle. A man that had been paralyzed for thirty eight years was told to get up and carry his sleeping mat with him. This was "work" to the Pharisees, and they called the poor man out for it. When Jesus met the man again, he was worshiping in the temple courtyard. Jesus reminded him that he should live a righteous life, warning him that sin has consequences.
So far in His record, John had not told of a "hands-on" miracle. The fourth sign was to forever change the standard for judging Jesus's abilities as the Son of God. This happened during a teaching tour in which Jesus had taken to preaching in fields and hillsides to allow for larger crowds. It proved a problem when evening came and very little food was found to feed over five thousand people (only the men being counted, but both women and children were with them). Only one young person had brought extra food: five small loaves and two small fish. In a miracle reminiscent of Elijah and Elisha, Jesus produced food for everyone—with much more left over than when he started. This was the only miracle, apart from the resurrection, that is recorded in all four gospels.
After such an obviously divine miracle, Jesus had sent his disciples ahead while he went up on a nearby hill to pray. As evening fell, a sudden storm came upon the disciples in their boat as the crossed the Sea of Galilee. Sensing their danger, Jesus hurried to be with them. This required His walking upon the surface of the water, a task that is impossible according to observed "laws of nature." This miracle was recorded by two of the disciples that had been in the boat - John and Matthew. Peter's companion Mark would also record it. As soon as Jesus was aboard the boat, the storm stopped. This miracle was so spectacular that though John writes of it (for he was there!), the fact-checking historian Luke chose not to record it.
In his last year of ministry on Earth, as He moves toward his destined sacrifice, Jesus performs bold miracles in the face of growing opposition. The sixth miracle recorded by John was in Jerusalem. A certain blind man, having been born that way, became an "object lesson" to His disciples, who asked a question about what caused such a tragedy. After telling them that such cases are not caused by sin, but rather occur so that God might be glorified when healing came. Almost in passing, Jesus stopped and "treated" the man with a "paste" of wet clay. In a rather unsanitary fashion, He spat in the dust at His feet and kneaded a bit of dirt to place on the useless eyes. As soon as he could, the blind man ended up at the Pool of Siloam where he had been told to wash off the clay. Sure enough, he found that he could see. This time, the "work" performed on a Sabbath day was Jesus's kneading of the clay!
When asked by the authorities about the miraculous turn of events, the man told them that Jesus must be a "prophet" even though He worked on the Sabbath. This was enough to make the Pharisees charge the man with fraud. But when the authorities checked with the man's parents, they confirmed that he had been blind since he was born to them. It came down to a question of faith. The leadership refused to believe that Jesus could be acting on God's behalf. They chose to be spiritually blind.
The last of the seven recorded miracles would be the best proof of His divine nature apart from the resurrection. It had started as "preventable" death of a friend. Both Jesus's friends and enemies had seen Him heal numerous diseases, so a messenger was sent to the region in which Jesus was preaching. He had gone across the Jordan to stay away from the authorities that had let it be known that they wanted Him arrested, and, if possible, put to death. But Jesus purposely put off making the journey, allowing His friend Lazarus to die and be buried. After confronting the man's sisters, Martha and Mary, Jesus asked for the stone to be rolled back from the entrance of the tomb. Amid announcements that the body stunk, He called out to the cold dead corpse in the tomb: "Lazarus, come forth!"
Jesus told the attendants to free His friend, and many of those that were there, including Mary and Martha, were convinced that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Even after seeing the miracle, though, Jesus's opponents among the mourners turned it into an opportunity to set Jesus up. The Pharisees, in counsel with the high priest's office, began to plan for a way to destroy Jesus—and any of His friends that got in their way.
Sermon on the Mount
After gathering His first disciples, Jesus went up on a hill and sat down. He invited these new followers to listen to His instructions. As they stood around Him, Jesus told them what it meant to be a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.
First, He told them that they had to be humble, seeking first what God wanted them to do. He told them that it would not be easy, but that it would be worth it.
Then He likened the life of a disciple to being light and salt in the world. This had to do with being seen and making a difference to those around them.
Jesus taught them that the Law was very important, but that they were not able to keep it perfectly. Instead, they were to look to God, the Father, for support.
Their good works and religious acts were to be private affairs, done for only God Himself to see and hear. An example for praying is given which is commonly called the Lord's Prayer. In reality, it is a model prayer for disciples.
In the prayer, a follower of Jesus is to address God as Father, and agree that what God wants is best for everybody. Knowing that God will provide for the needs of His children, everyone need only ask for what they need each day, but they should remember to be in good relationships with everybody, including God.
When it came to the things of this world, they were to leave that to God. It did not matter what one might have on the earth, it all came from the Father anyway. The main thing was to live each day to bring God the glory He deserves.
When it came to dealing with other people, Jesus told His disciples that they did not have the authority to decide the fate of others. Their responsibility was to do their best to live a righteous life. The rest was to be left up to God. On the other hand, His followers were to be wise concerning the behavior and teachings of those who did not acknowledge God as the master of everything.
Finally, Jesus told a story about two builders, one foolish and one wise. Each built a house, but the foolish builder paid no attention to securing the structure to solid rock. The results would be catastrophic. He pointed out that this was how it was with those that didn't listen to what God had to say. According to Jesus, everyone who listens and obeys can be certain that their lives will be safe in times of adversity.
Late in his ministry, the disciples asked Jesus about the temple and the end of the world.
High Priestly Prayer
Jesus, in preparing to go to his death, prayed a prayer for his followers.
Speaking in stories, Jesus taught heavenly lessons using earthly components.
Controversy and Arrest
Having grown up in Nazareth, Jesus was not considered by some to be a serious teacher, much less the Messiah. After standing up to the testing by Satan, Jesus had begun preaching and drawing disciples around himself as many rabbis did in His day. He then went down to Jerusalem at Passover. Finding the temple court yard full of money changers, he exercised the prerogative of a prophet. Incensed by such commerce on the holy grounds, he made a whip out of cords and thrashed animals and merchants, driving them out. He overturned their money tables, scattering coins everywhere.
To make matters worse, he called the God of heaven his "Father." His opponents doubted he had the authority normally held by temple officials. When they asked him for a sign, he gave them a cryptic response: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." This was a primary charge used against Him three years later when he stood before the Sanhedrin.
Back in Galilee, Jesus began to make friends with some of the most despised people in the province. He had even called a tax collector to be one of his followers. This brought disparaging remarks from the Pharisees, to which he responded: "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." In other instances, these same religious leaders were called "blind" and "hypocrites." Jesus was making enemies for three years.
Jesus continued to call God "Father" even when around temple officials. On his next visit to Jerusalem (also at Passover), he dared to once again heal on the Sabbath. When asked about it, he replied that he must do "the work of My Father." In the leadership's eyes, claiming God as Father was the same thing as claiming equality with God. They wanted to kill him then and there, without a trial, but he escaped. even after exposing his opponents as hypocrites and "unbelievers" (old English term: "infidels"). Back in Capernaum, he would also be accused of blasphemy when the Pharisees accused him of calling upon Satan to cast out demons. Jesus turns this around on them, calling the lot of them a "generation of vipers."
By his words and his deeds, Jesus was showing himself to be the promised "Messiah." He referred to Himself as the "son of man" - a messianic title taken from Daniel, the great prophet of the exile. When he asked his disciples to tell Him who they thought he was, Peter would declare: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" To verify this, Jesus took his closest disciples up a mountain to call upon the Father to show the hidden divine nature that Jesus drew upon to do his Father's will. Peter, James and John would see him "transfigured" into a heavenly presence, whiter than anything on Earth.
With all the evidence beforehand, the Pharisees had to seek grounds to destroy Jesus in His words. He had spoken "against" the temple and their Sabbath observations. He claimed to be the "Son of God" (and thus equal to the Creator). Their idea of the Messiah (anointed one) was for an earthly king like David. A contrarian rabbi was a threat to everything they believed in. Jesus played upon their faulty beliefs to maneuver into having himself arrested. This required going as far as choosing Judas Iscariot, who would eventually betray him.
The Last Supper
Main article: Last Supper
Just before Jesus's last Passover, Jesus returned to Judea intent on observing the holiday. His family had warned against the move, and his disciples were convinced that his predictions of disaster (his own death) must be symbolic. Jesus performed his boldest miracle in full view of spies among the professional mourners at his friend Lazarus's funeral. He knew that raising someone who was past any hope of resuscitation was a show of power that his enemies could not ignore. Soon after raising Lazarus from a natural death, Jesus went to Jerusalem to get himself noticed. Once again he would chase the money-changers out of the temple. He could not be ignored.
Jesus had made sure that he would be arrested when he gave the word to Judas: "that which you do, do quickly." He had just told the twelve disciples having the Passover meal with him that one of them would betray him. Not even John had suspected the group's treasurer to be a traitor. After the meal, Jesus and eleven of his disciples walked to a garden called Gethsemane to pray. During this prayer, Jesus suffered Hematidrosis, which occurs while a person is under great emotional stress. This stress can cause tiny capillaries in the sweat glands to break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This is recorded in the Gospel of Luke, the doctor. Meanwhile, Judas had contacted the high priest's office and received thirty "pieces" of silver. Most likely this was thirty denarii — five weeks' wages, or the price of a common slave. Knowing where the garden was, Judas led a band of thugs hired by the priests to capture Jesus away from the city and in the dark.
The Arrest and Trial
Having been brought before Caiaphas, the high priest, Jesus faced his accusers. He remained quiet as a witness comes forward to reveal that Jesus had 'preached against' the temple, saying he would destroy it and 'raise it up in three days.' Such an act could only be the prerogative of God himself, so Caiaphas charged him straight out: "Tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus confirmed this to be true, adding that "the Son of Man [would be] sitting on the right hand of power." Since the Sanhedrin did not accept this, they voted that Jesus was indeed guilty of blasphemy.
Since the Sanhedrin did not have the authority to execute heretics and religious trouble makers, the high priest sent Jesus to the Roman governor of the province, a politician by the name of Pontius Pilate. In his examination of Jesus, he saw nothing to hold him for. However, hearing that the vassal king Herod Antipas was in town (visiting during the Passover), he sent Jesus on to him. Antipas had been looking forward to seeing Jesus, hoping to see a miracle. He was disappointed when Jesus did not perform for him, so he let his soldiers further humiliate him. Finally, back before Pilate, Jesus was condemned to die by crucifixion along with two actual criminals.
Death and Resurrection
Though Jesus was fully aware that He was going to die, when the time drew near, He sought for possible alternatives. In a way, this was His 'last temptation.' Having actively set about to irritate His enemies, He drew apart into a secluded area to pray fervently to God the Father. It was here, as He assented wholly to his Father's will, that He began to 'die.' He stained his robe and the ground with blood from his pores. Soon after that, He was arrested and eventually condemned to death by crucifixion.
In the course of attempting to prevent the death of the prisoner, Pilate's soldiers were instructed first to scourge Him to a point of total humility. Though there was a great chance that this alone would kill Jesus, the chance was that he would live, assuaging the governor's guilt. But the rabble from the crowd was non-stop, so the crucifixion was carried out as Pilate turned his back on the whole affair. Further abuse brought Jesus to the verge of death, so much so that a man named Simon was forced to carry the crossbeam in his place.
Having reached a place outside of Jerusalem, called Golgotha ("the place of the skull") Jesus was lain out upon the crossbeam and nailed to it through the flesh of his wrists. Then, a single larger nail was put through his heels, which probably rested upon a small pad. Being lifted up, the blood from his wounds poured freely over his body and towards the ground. As he hung dying above his tormentors, he was reviled by those in the crowd and even one of the two criminals that hung upon crosses beside his. One of those criminals repented and received forgiveness and the assurance that he would join Jesus in Paradise.
At the sixth hour of the day, by Jewish reckoning, or 12:00 noon, a strange darkness came upon the land, followed by an earthquake. Three hours later, as the soldiers came around to break the legs of those being crucified, Jesus was found to have died earlier. A soldier tested this by thrusting a spear into his rib cage, releasing water and clotted blood, giving postmortem evidence that Christ died by heart failure (rather than suffocation) due to the constriction and shock of the heart by fluid in the pericardium. His last recorded words were "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." The centurion in charge proclaimed: "Surely this was [the] Son of God (or "a righteous man")."
With sundown approaching and a Jewish Sabbath at hand, two secret disciples—Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus—took the body of Jesus down from the cross and wrapped Him in a burial shroud treated heavily with myrrh and aloes. Joseph used his own tomb as what would be the Rabbi's last resting place on Earth. A large stone was put at the entrance and sealed with the wax seal of Pilate, with a 78 hour guard provided to keep the body from being stolen.
Some time after sunset on the weekly Sabbath (called Saturday by the Romans) Jesus rose from the dead. The large stone had been rolled back, even as the guard lay stricken as if in a deep sleep. As Jesus walked out He left his burial clothes behind. Angels came to guard the open tomb until Jesus's followers could get there early on the first day of the week (called Sunday by the Romans). He would appear first to Mary of Magdala and then to other women who went to tell the disciples. John and Peter ran to see for themselves, but Jesus waited until later to show Himself to them. He would, however, show himself to Cleopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus after having walked down that road unrecognized.
For a period of 40 days, Jesus walked with His disciples, telling them how the Old Testament had been fulfilled in His life, death and now resurrection. The apostle Paul reported to the church at Corinth that Jesus could be verified by Peter, James (Jesus' brother) and all the other apostles and about 500 followers saw Jesus during this time.
When the time had come for Him to return bodily to Heaven, Jesus gave the eleven disciples a charge, better known as the Great Commission, to make Him and his teachings known throughout the whole world.
Some of the last words the disciples had heard as Jesus disappeared slowly with the rising cloud were: "I will be with you always." Earlier they had been told to wait for the coming of God's Spirit—the Holy Spirit—to come to them. He had spoken of this as a needed change in their lives. This Spirit had been there at his baptism, and now, He would come upon them in a dramatic day at the festival of Pentecost. Of the disciples, only Peter and John would be in contact with Jesus again. However, they knew that He was with them in the person of the Holy Spirit.
Visions and Visits
About three years later, after all of Judea had become a hotbed of Christian activity, a believer named Stephen boldly preached Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament religion. As he died among a barrage of stones, he saw Jesus in a vision, standing at the right hand of the throne in Heaven. A young man named Saul oversaw that execution, and would himself see the risen Jesus moments before he was blinded in the process. Later, Saul (renamed Paul) would visit regularly with Jesus for a period of three years before beginning a ministry under the oversight of the assembly meeting in Antioch of Syria.
Jesus's main ministry had been fulfilled in the calling of disciples to spread the word of His life, teachings, and resurrection. However, in dying, His mission to Earth was accomplished in securing redemption for what the angel (probably Gabriel) had called "his people" from their sins. Having left the Earth, though, His ministry continues in heaven. He is both the king and the high priest of His people—those called Christians—after his resurrection. He both rules his people and prays to His Father for their continuing struggle with Sin in limited physical bodies.
Jesus promised, however, to come back to the Earth. He gave a preview to his disciple John two generations after his ascension to Heaven. He repeated what He had said while on Earth—that His return would be swift and unexpected by the world. The return would be as judge—the ultimate court with no appeal—at the end of the ages. From that point on, a new order will be established.
Incarnation: "God with us"
Taking the role of Savior, Jesus had to take on the form of a man upon the earth. In order to remain untainted, he would be born of a virgin. During his childhood Jesus grew to be very knowledgeable in the Bible. Though physically born as child, Jesus was fully God.
During his manhood Jesus became a teacher and preached the will of God to the Jews. His goal was to accomplish the will of His father, never intending to do anything contrary to that goal. Before being crucified Jesus even asked the Father to spare Him from the cross, but asked to do it in Father's will.
From the Fall of Man on, there has been no hope for mankind apart from God's intervention. The rebellion of mankind merits only punishment, no matter how good a person might be. God considers these attempts at placating his anger as "filthy rags." A wicked man cannot even plow a field without it being sin. The goal of mankind is to bring glory to God, but everyone falls short.
What began as a bloody picture — the sacrifice of an innocent animal—became a way of life for the people of God in the Old Testament. Countless sheep, goats, oxen and various birds were slaughtered to show the seriousness of sin, but none of them could take away guilt. There was only one sacrifice that would do that: God Himself. As he showed in the "cutting of the covenant" with Abraham, God would pay with His own life when Abraham and his spiritual descendants failed to live up to the agreement.
The Incarnation of the Messiah — Immanuel, God with us—provided the sacrifice foreshadowed for over four thousand years. Because mankind cannot earn the right to Heaven, God has shown favor to those He has "called" out of the mess that His creatures are in. God loved His people so much, He sent his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to die for their sins. If anyone is born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, they will be adopted into His family as full heirs with Christ.
Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven. He is the author of our salvation. Once someone has been chosen by the Father, and brought to the Son by the Holy Spirit, that person will become a Christian, and nothing will ever keep such a person from going to Heaven. Initially saved by grace through faith, the child of God is kept there by God's faithfulness
When a person's heart has been changed to recognize his own sin, and agrees with God that Jesus is His only begotten son, who has risen from the dead, then that person will be saved by the work of Christ on his behalf. It has been over six thousand years since that first sin, and though it has always been the intention for God's people to reach out to all mankind, it was not until Christ came that this became evident to most of his chosen people after the flesh. But after Jesus paid the price for Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, male and female, there is no class of people outside of the family of God. The fact that it has been so long, as mankind measures time, shows that God will not judge the world until every single one of His children are saved.
Sadly, the natural way of mankind is to go its own way, which is a far wider and easier road. Unfortunately, that road leads to ultimate destruction. At that point, Jesus will be there, not as savior but as judge.
Jesus has been given the authority to be the Judge from the Father.
For further consideration
The Nature of Christ
- Chief Cornerstone
- Firstborn over all creation
- Head of the Church
- Holy One
- King of kings and Lord of lords
- Light of the World
- Prince of Peace
- Son of God
- Son of Man
- Word of God
- Word of Life
- Bishop of Souls
- Seed of the Woman
Position in the Trinity
- Alpha and Omega
- I Am
- Lord of All
- True God
- Word of God
- Son of God
Titles as God
- Word of God
- Holy One
- Ancient of Days
- I Am That Which I Am
Work on Earth
- Author and Perfecter of our Faith
- Bread of Life
- Prophet like unto Moses
- Good Shepherd
- High Priest
- Lamb of God
- Resurrection and Life
- True Vine
- Way, Truth, Life