Firm Foundation #6

    THE LIFE OF CHRIST

    The birth of Christ made a greater impression on the world than any other single event in man’s history. We count our years from the date of the birth of Christ. This indicates that about 1,970 years ago something happened that was infinitely more important than creation itself. That event was the birth of Jesus.

    What we know of the life of Christ is recorded in the four books called Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. While these writers will occasionally overlap, each one gives us information not contained in the other three. By comparing the writings of these four men, we have all of the facts of the life of Christ that are essential.

    The gospels begin by telling us of an announcement made by the angle Gabriel to Zacharias concerning the birth of his son, John the Baptist. Shortly thereafter, a similar announcement was made by the same angelic messenger to Mary concerning the imminent birth of her son, who was to be named Jesus. Because of a law enacted by the Roman government, all of the people were required to enroll themselves for purposes of taxation. Joseph, the husband of Mary, took his wife to Bethlehem in Judea to be enrolled. While they were there the Messiah was born. Previously, the angel had explained to Mary that the Holy Ghost would come upon her and that she, being overshadowed by the power of the Highest, would conceive and bring forth a son, even though she was a virgin.

    We know very little of the early life of Christ, with the exception of the cruel edict of Herod to destroy all of the male children in the region of Rama that were two years of age and under, and of the flight of Joseph, Mary and the child Jesus into the land of Egypt. After Herod the Great was dead, the family of Joseph returned to the land of Palestine, eventually going to the city of Nazareth in Galilee where Jesus was raised in comparative obscurity. The curtain of revelation was raised only once to give us a brief glimpse of the growing boy at the age of twelve when he was carried to Jerusalem by his parents. 0

    When Jesus was about thirty years of age he began his personal ministry by presenting himself to John, the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, as a candidate for baptism. From this point forward John decreased in popularity, while Jesus increased. John the Baptist (so called only because he baptized) eventually incurred the wrath of members of the ruling family and was put to death. Jesus paid a great tribute to John when he said, “Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11)

    During the early part of the approximate three-year personal ministry of Christ, he selected twelve men who became his apostles (ones sent). These twelve men were Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, Thaddeus, Simon the Canaanite and Judas Iscariot. These men were appointed to do a special work and were therefore prepared in a special way, receiving promises and powers from Christ that were peculiar to them.

    Jesus soon became one the most popular figures in Palestine. His teaching was striking and different, sometimes amazing and startling the people. He performed many miracles of healing – restoring sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, causing the lame to walk, and cleansing the lepers. In fact, there was no physical infirmity over which he did not have complete authority. These mighty signs and wonders attracted the attention of the people and confirmed his teaching. His name became a household word. Everywhere – in the market place, on the street corners, in the inns, and wherever men gathered for conversation – the name of Christ was mentioned. Could this be a prophet? The Elijah who was to come? Surely his mission was divine! Or, in hushed tones, the people might breathlessly ask, “Do you suppose this could be the Messiah?” Because of his great popularity multitudes followed him wherever he went. The people crowded so close upon him on one occasion that Jesus found it necessary to commandeer a boat and push out a little way into the sea. He turned the boat into a pulpit to tell his message. Christ constantly urged the point in his preaching, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.”

    The religious leaders of the people soon were attracted by the reports of this strange prophet and sent a delegation to examine Jesus and hear his teaching. Christ, the great heart-knower, immediately recognized the purposes of this examination board, and in a parable taught a lesson designed to remove the curtain of imputed piety from the Rabbis, scribes and doctors of the law, revealing their smallness of spirit and bitter prejudice. The report of those sent to hear Jesus was, of course, unfavorable. From this point forward the religious leaders of the people dogged the footsteps of Jesus and minutely examined his every word and act, searching for some opportunity to bring charges against him and discredit him in the eyes of the people. They were afraid to attack Christ because he was so highly favored of the people, even though they had determined early in his personal ministry to put him to death. They, therefore, pretended to respect him while they sought an opportunity to accuse him. This thin veneer of hypocrisy was pierced by the discerning eye of the Lord who knew their real purpose in coming to hear him. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders and sternly exposed them before all the people. With heightened the hatred of the Messiah, whom they considered to be an empty pretender and for whom they held only disgust, they increased their determination to eliminate the man who challenged their authority.

    During the three years of his personal ministry Jesus made three trips to Jerusalem. On his final trip to the city, he was received by the people with a great demonstration of their love for him. The jealousy of the religious leaders caused them to decide that it was time to act. Jesus had previously called the apostles to be intimately associated with him, and upon his decease, to carry on the great work that he began. One of these men, Judas Iscariot, the treasurer of the group, made a diabolical league with the religious leaders, agreeing to betray Jesus in exchange for thirty pieces of silver (about $17.50). Judas betrayed Jesus as he prayed in Gethsemane. The soldiers came to carry our Lord before the Jewish Sanhedrin (the high court of the Jews) to be tried for blasphemy. When false witnesses could not agree among themselves, he was sent to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, with the request that he be put to death for the alleged crime of insurrection. The Jewish leaders had so cleverly manipulated the mob that the same people who three days earlier had shouted hosanna to the name of Christ now stood beneath the window of Pontius Pilate and cried with hate-filled hearts, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate yielded to the pressure.

    Jesus was hung on a cross between two malefactors where he died in indescribable pain and anguish. Mother Nature refused to look on the awesome scene – the sun did not shine for three hours, as “Christ the mighty maker died for man the creature’s sin.” He was taken down from the cross where he died by the tender hands of those who loved him and was placed in a tomb that had been borrowed. His friends and devoted followers were crushed by this victory of the enemies of Christ and felt that perhaps they had been deceived in thinking him to be the Messiah. But, on the morning of the third day, his mother and some of her close friends came to the tomb and were confronted by an angel who said to them, “Lo, He is not here, He is risen even as he said.” Thus his cross became his throne and what appeared to be defeat became overwhelming victory. By his resurrection he established himself to be exactly what he claimed – the long-awaited Messiah.

    Jesus appeared to many witnesses, showing himself to be alive by many infallible proofs. Shortly before he ascended to heaven he appeared unto the eleven apostles and said, “Go ye unto all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15,16).

    Section 1-Fill in the Blanks

    Question 1
    The life of Christ is recorded in the four books __________, __________, __________ and __________.

    Question 2
    In these writings we have all of the facts of the life of Christ that are __________ to our __________.

    Question 3
    The angel __________ announced to Zacharias concerning the birth of his son, __________.

    Question 4
    Jesus was born in __________.

    Question 5
    5. Joseph, Mary and __________ went into the land of __________.

    Question 6
    When Jesus was about __________ of age he began his personal ministry.

    Question 7
    The personal ministry of Christ lasted approximately __________ years.

    Question 8
    The mighty signs and wonders performed by Jesus attracted the __________ of the __________ and __________ his teaching.

    Question 9
    In his teaching Christ urged the people to “__________ for the kingdom of __________ is at hand.”

    Question 10
    Jesus was betrayed by __________ __________.

    Section 2-Select the Correct Answers

    Question 1
    The twelve men selected by Jesus to become his apostles were:
    Simon PeterAndrewJamesAhazJohnNicodemusJosephPhilipBartholomewThomasAlpheusMatthewJames the son of AlphaeusMatthiasThaddeusSimon the CanaaniteJudas Ischariot

    Question 2
    During his personal ministry Jesus was :
    RichpopularpoorKing of Judea

    Question 3
    On his final trip to the city of Jerusalem, Jesus was received by the people with:
    A demonstration of their love for himindifferenceridiculed and scorn

    Question 4
    Judas agreed to betray Jesus for:
    45 pieces of silver5 talents of goldabout $17.50

    Question 5
    Upon his arrest, Jesus was first carried to the:
    Jewish SanhedrinRoman governorcountry jail

    Section 3-Complete The Scriptures
    Question 1
    “And __________ came and spake unto him, saying, All __________ is given unto me in heaven and in __________. Go ye therefore, and __________ all nations, __________ them in the name of the Father, and of the __________, and of the __________.” (Matthew 28:18,19)

    Question 2
    “And he said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved __________to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and __________ of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at __________” (Luke 24:46,47)

    Question 3
    “And there are also many other things which __________ did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the __________ itself could not contain the __________ that should be written”, (John 21:25)

    Question 4
    "Neither pray I for these alone, but for __________ also which shall __________ on me through their __________; that they all may be __________; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in __________; that the world may __________ that thou hast sent me” (John 17:20,21).

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