I almost forgot to post this tonight. I was off distracted on something else. Anyway, this is a paper I wrote almost 5 years ago called, ‘The Life of Christ’. It was really the background I used/applied to the Master Plan Of Evangelism in developing the Master Plan of Education.
This is a long post. It’s about 6800 words. When I wrote it, it was supposed to be 5000. I think I hacked it down to the 6800 from something near 10,000. For what it’s worth, the comment I received back that it was one of the best that the professor had seen on the subject.
When a student examines the historical data available to document the life of Christ, he or she finds that there is not sufficient information to qualify as a biography. The main source of information on the life of Christ is found in the four gospels. More than one third of the text of these is concerned with one week of His life called the Passion.
JohnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gospel was written a number of years after the other three gospels. He makes it clear that the gospels are not intended to be biographies in the closing verse of the gospel by writing, Ã¢â‚¬Å“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Therefore, a student must set out to capture the essential elements of the life of Christ without attempting to document all of the available information. For example, all of the gospels document the feeding of the 5000, while only Matthew and Mark document the feeding of the 4000. Both of these are miracles very similar in nature. Also they are just two of a number of miracles which Jesus performed during His ministry. Hence, while a discussion of His miracles is necessary, it is not necessary to give a detailed account of each miracle.
The scope of this term paper does not permit the examination of the life of Christ to be exhaustive. Therefore, it will attempt to capture the essence of the Life of Christ. It will do so by briefly examining each of the areas of His life, which are relevant to a student of Christianity today.
The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Synoptic GospelsÃ¢â‚¬Â because they are primarily concerned with JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ ministry in Galilee. The gospel of John was written much later as a supplement to the other three. The book of Mark begins with John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus. Therefore, the Biblical account of the early years of Jesus is found only in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.
The New Testament Apocrypha suggest an early life of miraculous signs while the gospels do not. It is difficult to conceive how a miraculous youth would have remained a secret. There are two passages of scripture, which indicate that prior to the beginning of his ministry, ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s life was relatively obscure. Both Matthew and Mark write about the unbelief of those who knew Jesus before he began his ministry. After Jesus finished teaching in the synagogue, some of the Galileans said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“is not this the carpenterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s son?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jesus responded with, Ã¢â‚¬Å“a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.Ã¢â‚¬Â This shows that they were not familiar with him as a teacher or prophet.
During the time Mary was carrying Jesus in her womb, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. By this decree, Joseph and Mary were required to return to Bethlehem. While the census was being conducted Mary gave birth to Jesus and placed Him in a manger. The birth of Jesus was announced in two ways. First, an angel proclaimed the good tidings to shepherds in the nearby fields. Second, the magi from the east saw a star and followed it to Jerusalem.
These events produce three important points. First, Jesus was born in obscurity in humble surroundings without any of the pomp or ceremony that you might expect to accompany the birth of the Son of God. Second, the announcement of his birth was delivered to both Jew and Gentile. It was delivered immediately to the Jews while it was delayed at least until he was presented to the Lord before being delivered to the Gentiles. It should also be noted that his birth received recognition from both Jew and Gentile. Third, it is fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy of both recognition and worship of the Messiah by Gentile nations.
Infancy and Boyhood
The visits by the shepherds and magi were mentioned above. There are a number of other events recorded about the infancy of Christ. Christ was circumcised and named eight days after he was born. This ceremony recognized Jesus as Hebrew under the Old Covenant. About a month after this, Jesus was taken to Jerusalem to be redeemed as firstborn which was also the time of purification for Mary. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The firstborn of man and beast belonged to the priest . . .Ã¢â‚¬Â The firstborn child could be redeemed for five shekels. While at the temple, Simeon and Anna recognized Jesus as the promised Messiah.
At some point, Herod heard of the birth of the Jewish King. After HerodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s request to the magi that they inform him of the whereabouts of the Jewish king failed to produce results, Herod decreed that all male Hebrew children under the age of two in the area of Bethlehem should be killed. However, after Joseph received a warning from God but prior to the issue of this decree, Joseph and Mary fled with Jesus to Egypt.
After the death of Herod, Joseph and Mary returned to Judea and settled in Nazareth. This is where Jesus grew up. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Nazareth depended for its livelihood upon the tillage of its grain-fields and the cultivation of its vineyards and groves . . .Ã¢â‚¬Â No doubt, this setting was the material from which many parables were developed.
For the first time, at age twelve, Jesus accompanied his parents to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast. After a days travel toward Nazareth, Joseph and Mary discovered that Jesus was not with them. Upon returning to Jerusalem and searching, they found Jesus in the temple conversing with the doctors of the law. The astonishment of the doctors gives an indication of the development of Jesus at that age. Luke provides further detail by stating that Jesus grew in wisdom, was in submission to his parents and in favour with God and man.
An inauguration is the event or events that mark the formal beginning of something. In the life of Christ, it refers to the events, which moved his life into public ministry. This does not mean that he had done no teaching prior to his inauguration. This is the point at which he entered a public life. His inauguration consisted of two events: his baptism and the temptation in the wilderness.
The baptism of Jesus begins with John trying to talk Jesus out of the baptism. JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ reply changed JohnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mind. JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ reply begins, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Let it be so nowÃ¢â‚¬Â. In this Jesus acknowledges that John is correct in saying that Jesus did not need to be baptized for his own sake. At the same time, Jesus says that there is a need for him to be baptized at this time. That need is found in the remainder of the verse: to fulfill all righteousness.
Jesus needed to fulfill all righteousness in two senses. First, although sinless within his own life, he was to suffer for the sins of the world. Therefore, his baptism associated him with sin and entered into the act of repentance on the worldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s behalf. Second, Levitical code called for someone to be washed in water as his first step of entering the priesthood. Jesus was to become High Priest over the New Covenant.
The next event in the baptism is that the heavens are opened. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Revelation is usually by act before it is by word.Ã¢â‚¬Â Then the Spirit of God descended from the heavens in the likeness of a dove and rested on Jesus. This bears a marked resemblance to the Spirit of God over the old creation. This was the moment where God began a new creation. The new creation will be discussed later in the paper.
The baptism is concluded by a voice from heaven saying, Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.Ã¢â‚¬Â The Lord identifies Jesus as his beloved son to publicly announce that Jesus is the only begotten son. The Lord is pleased because Jesus was obedient unto death and the Lord could have open fellowship with him because Jesus was sinless. This statement also is similar to the determination that the first creation was pleasing when the Lord had finished all his work. The statement also relates to two prophetic chapters in the Old Testament. Psalm 2 decrees the Lordship of the Messiah. Isaiah 42 describes the suffering of the LordÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s servant.
The temptation of Jesus is often associated with various symbolic meanings. The first of these is the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The tempting of turning stones to bread appeals to the desires of the flesh. The tempting on the pinnacle of the temple appeals to the lust of the eyes. Finally, the tempting to worship Satan appeals to the pride of life.
A second meaning can be found in the fact that Satan attacked the three components found in every successful ministry. These components are God-given authority according to the requirements to fulfill that ministry, the ministry maintaining a central worship of God, and an unwavering faith. Also, each is a temptation of overconfidence rather than a temptation of weakness.
A third meaning is in the revelation of the attacks of Satan. The order of the temptations is the same as was presented to Eve in the Garden of Eden: good for food appeals to the flesh, pleasing to the eye appeals to the eye, and to make one wise appeals to self-exaltation. Satan first attacks via the body, then the emotions and finally the will or heart.
The final point of revelation that will be discussed here is that all three temptations were shortcuts. Jesus could have eased His hunger pains immediately with the bread. He could have become immediately well-known if he had jumped from the pinnacle. Assuming that Satan would have kept his word, Jesus could have had a kingdom immediately by worshipping Satan. Also, this is consistent with JobÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wife telling Job to curse God and die. It would have been an easy way out for Job. If Job had cursed God then SatanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s accusation of him would have been true.
Scholars date the writing of the Synoptic Gospels at about 30 years and JohnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Gospel at more than 50 years after the resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, the events included were likely to be those events selected through the course of retelling the good news of salvation during those intervening years. More than 50 of the 88 chapters in the gospels concentrate on the ministry of Jesus. His ministry can be examined in four areas: his selection and preparation of disciples, teaching, character and miracles.
Disciple Selection and Preparation
In one way this was the most critical aspect of JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ ministry. It would not be so if his ministry ended on the cross. All of the many works he did prior to the cross is only the beginning of his ministry. Being aware that the time available to him was going to be relatively short, he needed witnesses of the events of those days.
Secondly, Jesus needed people to continue the work after his death. Those selected to continue the work would need to be trained. They would also have to be dedicated to continuing JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ ministry. Both of these requirements necessitated the early selection of the twelve disciples. Both the training and the dedication required that they spend as much time with Jesus as possible both publicly and privately. The early selection would also allow the disciples to make use of a full account of JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ ministry.
All of the disciples were Galileans except Judas Iscariot. One advantage to selecting disciples from this location is that they had had greater contact with the Gentile world. Everett F. Harrison describes the Galilean disciples as, Ã¢â‚¬Å“men drawn largely from the artisan class, skilled and resourceful, with an eye to practical considerations in whatever they undertook.Ã¢â‚¬Â
As a teacher, Jesus spoke to four different groups of people: the disciples he chose, the voluntary disciples, the attracted public at the location where he was ministering, and his opposition. The exchanges, which Jesus had with his opposition, will be discussed later in the term paper. The voluntary disciples were those people who chose to follow Jesus from place to place. The main difference between the teaching given to the voluntary disciples and the attracted public is the amount of teaching they received.
The voluntary disciples also share a common point with the twelve disciples that Jesus chose. Seventy of the voluntary disciples were recognized and commissioned into the mission field by Jesus. The difference between the two groups of disciples is that the chosen disciples were trained privately. The chosen disciples often received further explanations to publicly spoken parables as well as training in discipleship issues and the events that would come to pass before their deaths. Finally, the chosen disciples had opportunity to witness a number of miracles that the larger group of disciples did not.
Christ attracted attention from his followers due to the variety of teaching styles he used. The most prominent attributes of his teaching were that he taught both with authority and wisdom. Other attributes include radical, simple, concrete, spontaneous, and original. Christ also taught using a number of linguistic forms. The most common of these was a parable. Some of the other forms appear within the parables. The other forms include metaphor, proverb, hyperbole, epigram, paradox, argument, repetition, contrast, and poetry.
The character of Christ is often considered and discussed apart from his ministry. However, the character of Christ was integral to the effectiveness of his ministry. Ã¢â‚¬Å“There can be no doubt about his drawing power. Multitudes came to hear him and to benefit from his healing touch.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Although Christ is attributed with many character traits, there are some traits that were fundamental to the success of his ministry. The trait of compassion is mentioned fourteen times in the Synoptic Gospels. In some cases Jesus mentioned compassion in the course of telling a parable. His compassion for the afflicted drew many followers who could hope for a miracle because they knew of his compassion. His compassion would also have made him attentive to the needs of the individual or group to whom he was speaking.
There are many other aspects of ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s character, which are discussed elsewhere in this term paper. However, there is one other character trait that should be noted: humility. Christ attracted the common person partially due to his humility. There are many accounts of him conversing, teaching and socializing with all echelons of society. A good example of this is ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s encounter with the Canaanite woman. Although he admitted to her that he was there for the children of Israel first, she persuaded him through reason to cast the demon out of her daughter. A word often used by Jesus was whosoever. He was interested in anyone who would hear his teaching and follow him.
In his book Miracles, author C.S. Lewis describes two ways of classifying the miracles of Christ.
The miracles of Christ can be classified in two ways. The first system yields the classes (1) Miracles of Fertility (2) Miracles of Healing (3) Miracles of Destruction (4) Miracles of Dominion over the Inorganic (5) Miracles of Reversal (6) Miracles of Perfecting or Glorification. The second system, which cuts across the first, yields two classes only: they are (1) Miracles of the Old Creation, and (2) Miracles of the New Creation.
The old creation refers to the creation recorded in Genesis 1-2 and can also be called Ã¢â‚¬Å“natureÃ¢â‚¬Â. The new creation refers to the resurrected creation described in 1 Corinthians 15.
Old Creation Miracles
Miracles that fall in this classification are those miracles whose end result is one which nature could have produced. The supernatural intervention in this class of miracle is found in the fact that the end result is produced in a way different than nature would have produced it. All miracles of fertility, healing and destruction fall into this category while only some of the miracles of dominion over the inorganic do.
ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first miracle of fertility was turning water into wine at the marriage feast at Cana. Through the grapevine nature uses water to produce fruit which contains unfermented wine. Among the first of ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s healing miracles is the cleansing of a leper. Even today, with the many wonders of modern medicine, it is still the body that does the healing. No amount of medication or medical procedures will produce any healing in a body that is no longer alive.
There is only one miracle of destruction recorded in the gospels. That miracle is the cursing of the fig tree. The significance of this miracle is beyond the scope of this paper. However, a dead and withered tree is the final destination of many trees in nature. An example of a dominion over the inorganic miracle, which is also an old creation miracle, is the stilling of the storm. In nature, after a storm runs its course it is often followed by a calm. In each of these example miracles, the end result could have been produced by nature. However, in each case, nature could not have produced the end result in the way in which Christ did.
New Creation Miracles
A miracle of dominion over the inorganic, which falls into the category of new creation miracles, is Christ walking on the water. Ã¢â‚¬Å“God had not made the Old Nature . . . of such a kind that water would support a human body.Ã¢â‚¬Â This is demonstrated in scripture by the parting of the Red Sea during the exodus of Israel from Egypt. Based on PeterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sinking due to his lack of faith, each Israelite would have had to have the faith to walk on the Red Sea while it only required MosesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ faith to part the waters.
The most well known miracle of reversal is the raising of Lazarus. This is probably due to two factors. First, it is the story that contains the verse Ã¢â‚¬Å“Jesus weptÃ¢â‚¬Â. Second, Lazarus had been dead long enough that his friends and family had buried him. This miracle unquestionably belongs to the new creation because the old creation never brings anything back to life after it dies. The name miracle of reversal does not identify what the purpose of this type of miracle is as the other five types do. ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s miracles of reversal demonstrate his power over death.
The transfiguration is a miracle of glorification. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Matthew and Mark say that Jesus was transfigured, the passive form of the verb serving to emphasize that what he experienced was something granted to him by God the Father.Ã¢â‚¬Â This miracle provides a glimpse of the new heaven and earth spoken of in the book of Revelation. It bears a marked similarity to Moses when he came down from Mount Sinai. His Face shone so brightly that he had to wear a veil so the Israelites could look upon him. Both Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus during the transfiguration. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Of all the men of former ages these two alone had experienced a revelation from God in which he caused a manifestation of himself to pass before them . . .Ã¢â‚¬Â A further examination of the glorification of Christ occurs later in the term paper.
Christ encountered opposition from a number of segments of Jewish society. Those segments included the sects of the Pharisees and Sadduccees as well as the existing hierarchy of the priesthood and synagogues. This opposition centered in the Pharisees partially due to their zealousness.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Pharisees were organized into brotherhoods, binding themselves with an oath to observe faithfully the ordinances of the Levitical code.Ã¢â‚¬Â They were a sect that had developed in the two centuries prior the ministry of Christ. They developed out of the movement toward the purity of the Jews and the development of the synagogues as schools of the law during the period of the restoration.
A characteristic of ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s teaching, which was a source of irritation to the Pharisees, was that he taught with authority. The Pharisees considered themselves to be the true teaching authority. Jesus invaded their dominion by teaching with authority without having been trained by the Pharisees. Second to that, Christ forgave sins. To the Pharisees, this was also an issue of authority. Only God had the authority to forgive sins. To a lesser extent, ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s disregard for the Sabbath increased opposition toward him. The Pharisees had issues with Jesus casting out demons. This may be because it was something that they could not do. Finally, Jesus consorted with sinners, which made him unclean in the eyes of the Pharisees.
In the course of his ministry, Jesus had many encounters with his opposition. It is reasonable to conclude that wherever he was publicly teaching, his opposition had some representation in the crowd. This led to two further sources of conflict. First, on a number of occasions, the opposition attempted to find something objectionable through trickery. Each of these attempts failed because Jesus saw their true intent. Second, the opposition would have been present for at least some of ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s seven Ã¢â‚¬Å“I AMÃ¢â‚¬Â statements, which represented his special relationship with God. Those statements identified him as the bread of life; the light of the world; the door of the sheep; the good shepherd; the resurrection and the life; the way, the truth and the life; and the true vine.
The Cleansing of the Temple
This is the event where Jesus aggressively confronted his opponents in their place of power. Christ cast out the people who operated the marketplace in the outer court of the temple the day after the triumphant entry. Until that day, Christ had conducted his ministry without directly interfering with the existing Jewish religious leadership. Because this trade brought profit to the temple aristocracy, this act was a challenge to their authority, which they could not ignore. Finally, while the activities in the inner courts of the temple were consistent in appearance with the old covenant, the activities were conducted under much the same spiritual condition that the priests had had prior to Israel being carried away into Babylon.
THE LAST WEEK
Approximately one third of the gospels are dedicated to this single week of the Life of Christ. The cursing of the fig tree, discussed as ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only miracle of destruction, occurred during this week. Likewise, Jesus cleansed the temple during this week. The other three events during the week, which will be discussed, are the triumphant entry, the upper room and ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s agony at Gethsemane.
The Triumphant Entry
ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s began the final week by returning to Jerusalem. He returned of his own volition. The only arrangement he made was to ride in on a borrowed colt. A crowd gathered ahead of him and singing of Ã¢â‚¬Å“HosannaÃ¢â‚¬Â broke out. This song of praise can be found in Psalm 118. The palm branches lain in his path signify the recognition of a conqueror. At the summit of the Mount of Olives, Jesus lamented over the doom of Jerusalem.
The true significance of the triumphant entry is in the fact that it was contrary to the way in which Jesus previously undertook his ministry. Particularly at the beginning of his ministry, Jesus sought anonymity including telling people not to tell of his miracles. Jesus also refused to be named king. Prior to the triumphant entry, Jesus had been hiding out near Bethany. The request for the colt fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9 proclaiming both his kingship and sacrifice. Jesus was Ã¢â‚¬Å“the Servant-King riding on to keep his engagement with death.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Upper Room
At the time of Christ, an upper room was a room built on the flat roof of a house. It was a room built for housing guests and offered seclusion from the activities within the house and in the streets. The meeting in the upper room consists of three parts.
The meeting began with Jesus washing the disciplesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ feet. The main purpose of this was to demonstrate the principal of cleansing. In this case, the washing of the feet turned into a source of instruction as well. First, Peter needed to be rebuked for refusing to be cleansed. Second, the disciples needed to be reminded that they were to be servants to one another and to love each other as Jesus has loved them.
Sometime after this Judas was released to commit his act of betrayal. Once Judas was gone, Jesus began his discourse of parting instructions to the remaining disciples. Much of the instruction is found elsewhere in the gospels. Intermingled in the instruction is a list of provisions, which are promised to be given to the disciples after Jesus is glorified. The list of provisions includes a room in the FatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s house; the way to the Father; that they could ask in his name and he will do it; the Comforter which is the Holy Spirit; peace; and that they would produce fruit.
Jesus closes the meeting with a prayer. He first asks that the Father glorify him and through that the Father may be glorified. Second, Jesus prays for his disciples, which the Father has given into his care. Jesus asks the Father to keep them, sanctify them, make them united, and allow them to be with him to see his glory. Jesus ends the prayer by extending his requests for his disciples to all future believers.
The garden of Gethsemane was a place where Jesus often went to pray. This was the place where he chose to make his personal preparation for his arrest, trial and crucifixion. On this night, he was followed by a number of disciples. He asked all of the disciples, except the inner ring, to wait at the gardenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s edge.
Once the four had traveled well into the garden, Jesus told the three disciples to wait there and watch. Then he traveled a small distance and prayed. As with the transfiguration, Jesus wanted witnesses to this moment. This time in the garden would help provide the disciples with the perseverance needed in the coming days of persecution. Each of the three times his prayer is recorded it is a request to have the cup pass followed by a submission to the FatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s will.
There are four other items, which should be mentioned in relation to this event. First, Jesus confessed his sorrow to his disciples. That sorrow went so deep as to cause him to sweat drops like blood. Second, an angel appeared during this time of anguish to minister to him. Third, despite the many things Jesus told the disciples about his pending death, they fell asleep twice while he was praying. Finally, as a result of the disciples falling asleep, Jesus bid them to pray for themselves.
The most striking fact in the arrest of Christ is the number of people who came to arrest him. There were representatives of the Sanhedrin, temple security and a cohort of Roman soldiers. This suggests a certain amount of fear. The fear may have had its source in fear of the person of Jesus because they had failed to lay hands on him in previous attempts and the more recent memory of the cleansing of the temple. In addition, the Sanhedrin had to have been aware of the crowd that had gathered for the triumphant entry. The Chief Priests feared the people.
As the contingent approaches, Jesus confronts them by asking, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Whom seek ye?Ã¢â‚¬Â When they reply that they were looking for Jesus, he replies, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am he.Ã¢â‚¬Â Responding in this way was consistent with the triumphant entry. Jesus had accepted the cup. It should also be noted that Judas stood with the Jews rather than the disciples. Although Jesus had identified himself and Judas no longer needed to identify Jesus, Judas had agreed to betray Jesus with a kiss and did so.
The final act of note in the arrest was Peter drawing his sword and cutting off the ear of the High PriestÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s servant, Malchus. Perhaps this act was due to PeterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s brash character or to ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s earlier prophecy that Peter would deny him. Jesus quickly corrected the mistake by touching his ear and healing him.
The gospels provide a detailed account of ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s trial. There were actually two trials. The first was before some or all of the Sanhedrin. This is also referred to as the ecclesiastical or religious trial. John records early in his gospel that the Jewish religious leadership sought to slay Jesus. In this trial, they were not weighing his guilt or innocence but looking for something to accuse him of. Finally, Jesus acknowledged that he was the Christ and they had a charge of blasphemy against him.
Jesus then had a Roman trial before Pilate who sent him to Herod. Herod returned him to Pilate. Neither of the Roman rulers found fault in him. In hopes of sparing JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ life, Pilate had him scourged. Rather than satisfy the crowd of Jews, it only intensified their cries of Ã¢â‚¬Å“Crucify himÃ¢â‚¬Â. This is a contrast to ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s statements that the Jewish and Roman authorities had no power over him save that granted from the Father. The Roman trial ends when the Jews question PilateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s loyalty to Rome. Pilate washes his hands in an effort to relinquish guilt over ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s death and gives the order to have Jesus crucified.
For Jesus, this day began without sleep. As he walked to the hill called Golgotha, a crowd gathered along the pathway mourning his impending death. The reaction of this crowd is a stark contrast to the group of Jews who stood before Pilate shouting, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Crucify himÃ¢â‚¬Â. The crucifixion day crowd was more consistent with the crowd gathered during the triumphant entry.
There are a number of details of the events that occurred during the crucifixion that are noteworthy. Pilate had a notice fastened to the cross, which read Ã¢â‚¬Å“JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWSÃ¢â‚¬Â. ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s claim that he was the Messiah was the reason that the chief priests wanted him crucified. During the final three hours of ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s life, darkness covered the land. At the end of the three hours the curtain in the temple was torn in two.
When the Romans crucified a prisoner, the prisoner was offered a mixture of wine and myrrh to soften the pain. Jesus refused this mixture when it was offered to him. Early in the crucifixion Jesus was stripped of his clothing except for his undergarment. Rather than rip the garment the four soldiers, who had each taken a piece of his clothing, chose to cast lots for it. This brought to fulfillment the prophecy found in Psalm 22.
Throughout the six hours of his crucifixion, Jesus spoke seven sayings. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They begin with a broad perimeter, the circle of his persecutors, move on to one who was in the act of shifting from opposition to adherence, then concentrate on the two who were the dearest on earth to him, and finally narrow down the Father and himself in the last four words.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Jesus began with Ã¢â‚¬Å“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.Ã¢â‚¬Â Then he committed Mary, his mother, to the care of the beloved disciple. There were two thieves who were crucified with Jesus, one on the left and the other on the right. One of the thieves accepted JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ as the Messiah while the other taunted Jesus, to save himself. To the first thief, Jesus said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Today you shall be with me in paradise.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The four sayings to the Father begin with a quote from Psalm 22, Ã¢â‚¬Å“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?Ã¢â‚¬Â This is the second prophetic verse found in Psalm 22. The significance of this statement in found in the fact that although the Father has forsaken him, Christ still calls out to him. The statement Ã¢â‚¬Å“I thirstÃ¢â‚¬Â was simply the physical situation expressed verbally. It is this saying, among the seven, which brings ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s humanity to the forefront.
The final two sayings signal the completion of his work. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is finishedÃ¢â‚¬Â, refers not to the crucifixion but to the entire work accomplished as the Son of Man. The final saying is one of confidence and relief, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Father into thy hands I commend my spirit.Ã¢â‚¬Â ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s words and conduct throughout the crucifixion impressed the centurion who said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Truly this man was the Son of God.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The glorification is the series of events, which opened the way for the new creation. It can be divided into two parts: the resurrection and the ascension.
The resurrection itself had no earthly witnesses. Therefore, the term resurrection is often applied to the appearances prior to the ascension. The witness of the resurrection began when the women discover the empty tomb and two angels appear to proclaim that Christ had risen.
In the following forty days there were a number of appearances. The relevance of these appearances begins the necessity of having witnesses to the resurrection. Further to that, the people to whom Christ appeared failed to recognize him when he appeared. Jesus appeared to Mary and she thought he was a gardener. He appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and they did not know him. He called to the disciples in the boat and they did not recognize him.
Mary recognized Jesus when he called her name. During his ministry, Jesus had said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“he calleth his own sheep by nameÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“(I) am known of mine (sheep)Ã¢â‚¬Â. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus recognized Jesus when he broke the bread. Jesus had told his disciples to remember him whenever they broke bread. The disciples who were fishing recognized Jesus when they saw the miracle of the catch of fish. Jesus had also asked his disciples that if they could not believe based on his words then to believe based on the miracles that he had performed.
The name Ascension refers to Jesus ascending into the clouds after the resurrection appearances. Many believe that this was the second ascension. The first ascension likely occurred on resurrection day based on the accounts of two appearances. JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ first appearance was to Mary Magdalene at his tomb. Jesus bade her, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my FatherÃ¢â‚¬Â. However, eight days later, Jesus invited Thomas to touch JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ side.
This event is significant in the life of Christ for a number of reasons. First, it represents the second union between God and man. The first union, which occurred when the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus, was a union of God with Man. The second union, an eternal one of the new creation, is the union of man with God.
Second, it marks the beginning of the Lordship of the Saviour. This includes his victory over spiritual enemies. Third, it marks the beginning of the manifestation of Spiritual gifts. Fourth, it is the event that marks the beginning of ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eternal position of High Priest. Finally, it provides assurance of two things: the surety of salvation and ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s second coming.
From the moment the empty tomb was discovered there has been a debate over the truth of the messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth. The elders had the soldiers say that the disciples had stolen the body. However, there are few who debate whether there was a Jesus of Nazareth as he is mentioned in the Jewish Talmud. There are other records that are consistent with the historical data presented in the gospels.
The question, which needs to be considered, is what value could be found in having a historical biography of Jesus, since the question that plagues most is whether or not he was the Son of God. Grant R. Jeffrey says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The most powerful evidence of JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ existence as the Son of God is the life changing impact this truth has on the lives of men and women who place there faith and trust in Him.Ã¢â‚¬Â He goes on to say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“ What could possibly account for the sudden transformation from an attitude of helplessness, fear, and despair among the eleven disciples at the cross to an attitude of joy and bold confidence . . .Ã¢â‚¬Â
C.S. Lewis has answered the debate over whether Jesus was and is the Son of God or just a great moral teacher. Ã¢â‚¬Å“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic . . . or else he would be the Devil of Hell.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Scripture tells Christians to confess that Ã¢â‚¬Å“Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.Ã¢â‚¬Â Christians are promised that Christ will abide in them. It is important that a Christian confess the life of Christ in his or her life. That confession requires some knowledge of the life of Christ, but a full biography is not required.
The Bible, New International Version
The New Testament Apocrypha
The Old Testament Apocrypha
Flexner, Stuart Berg, ed., The Random House Dictionary. New York, New York: Random House, 1984.
Harrison, Everett F. A Short Life of Christ. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1968.
Jeffrey, Grant R. Jesus: The Great Debate. Canada: Frontier Publications Inc., 1999.
Lewis, C.S. Miracles. Glasgow, Great Britain: Harper Collins Publishers, 1947.
Lewis, C.S. The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings. New York, New York: Inspiration Press, 1994.