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The Life of Christ - June 4, 2017

06.04.17 | Catechism - Sundays

    Memory Verse: John 1:14 

    And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

    Spiritual Background

    How could one possibly write an overview of the life of Christ in one lesson? We are reminded of the verse the Apostle John ended his Gospel with, John 21:25: "And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself culd not contain the books that would be written. Amen."

    The important thing to remember is that we know that what has been recorded about Jesus Christ-His birth, His life, His death, His Resurrection, and His ascension is true history. Not only are they true historical events, but His brief life was more significant than any other life ever lived, for it affected all humanity for all eternity.

    We will take a bird's-eye view of Jesus' ministry from the book of Luke, discussing only a few of the myriad of events that were significant as He ministered, taught, preached, warned, and proclaimed the way to eternal life through humble faith and trust in Him. 

    Jesus' birth (Luke 2:4-7): In fulfillment of The Old Testament prophecy, the Bible records a humble birth for the King of Kings, laid as an infant in a feeding trough because there were no rooms available.

    Jesus' early years (Luke 2:42, 2:46-50): At twelve years old, Jesus was already about His Father's business, listening to and asking questions of the teachers in the Temple, astounding them with His understanding and answers.

    Jesus' baptism (Luke 3:21-22): As Jesus was baptized by John, He humbly associated Himself with sinners and exhibited His humility and obedience to His Father, who proclaimed that this was indeed His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased.

    Jesus taught in synagogues (Luke 4:14-15): Once Jesus started His adult ministry, we read of Him being in the synagogues, expounding the Scriptures with authority.

    Jesus healed the sick (Luke 4:38-39): In this account, Jesus healed Simon Peter's mother-in-law of a high fever. This was just one of many instances where Christ revealed His power over sickness and His compassion for others by healing them of various illnesses.

    Jesus controlled nature (Luke 8:22-25): Here is one example of many where Jesus manifested His power over nature. So amazing was His stilling of the storm that His disciples said to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!"

    Jesus taught His disciples (Luke 11:1-4): Jesus taught often in the synagogues. But He also spent much time teaching His disciples. In these verses, we learn that His disciples asked Him an important question about prayer. And Jesus answered revealing a model for prayer that refuted the vain repetitious prayers common among the religious leaders (see Matthew 6:7).

    Jesus' last Passover meal (Luke 22:14-20): Jesus knew the time for His suffering was at hand, and He shared this last Passover meal with the Twelve Apostles. It was at this last meal that He established the Lord's Supper to be shared for generations to come as a remembrance of His death and the redemption it provides all who believe, until He comes again.

    Jesus' trial before Pilate (Luke 23:13-15): Both Pilate, the Roman governor, and Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee, found Jesus innocent. He had done nothing that deserved the death the chief priests were demanding. Due to public pressure and the outcry of Jesus' Jewish accusers, Pilate sent Him to be crucified.

    Jesus crucified on the Cross (Luke 23:32-34): Jesus was crucified on the Cross between two criminals. In a demonstration of mercy before His death, He cried out, asking the Father to forgive even those who put Him to death. And we know this forgiveness was accomplished through His death-to all who would put their faith and trust in Him.

    Jesus rose from the dead (Luke 24:5-7): In glory and majesty, revealing the omnipotence of God who alone can raise the dead, Jesus came forth from the tomb. God has power over life and death, and through the Resurrection of Jesus, we have hope that eternal life awaits all who repent and believe in Him. This is our hope. This is what enables us to abound in hope amidst dark and disturbing circumstances.

    Jesus ascended to heaven (Luke 24:50-53): His earthly ministry was finished. Jesus had accomplished all that the Father had sent Him to do. In the presence of many witnesses, He ascended to heaven. He now reigns from heaven, preparing a place for believers in order to one day come back to take them to their eternal home (John 14:2-3).

    What a Savior! What a Man! This merely scratches the surface of who Jesus was, what He did, and what He will do for those who follow Him in repentance and faith! Again we can recall John 21:25, knowing that the world itself could not contain the books that could be written about this Man, Savior, Friend, Redeemer, Lamb-the eternal and everlasting God!

    Historical/Apologetic Background

    Outlining a detailed chronology of the events in Jesus' life is difficult. There are discrepancies among scholars as to the exact timing of events in Jesus' life. Take His birth, for example. The New Testament does not give us dates based on our modern calendar. Luke tells us that Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem for a census ordered by Caesar Augustus when Quirinius was governor of Syria (Luke 2:1-2). This gives us a historical context within which we can place the birth of Jesus.

    When did this census take place? From other historical records, we know that Caesar Augustus ruled from 31 BC to AD 14, giving us a range. This is where it gets tricky. Herod the Great was king at the time of Jesus' birth (Matthew 2:1), and there are no other historical records of a census taking place at this time. We can be certain that Luke's audience of the time would have known about the census and understood exactly when the census and, consequently, the birth of Jesus occurred. It is difficult for us to know precisely, but based on the evidence, it is generally believed that Christ was born between 6 and 4 BC.

    Determining chronology within the four Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - is also difficult. These accounts were written under the direction of the Holy Spirit by four unique men writing to different audiences. Consequently, they do not follow the same sequence of events, but present a more complete account of Jesus' life and person when they are considered all together.

    Defining precise dates for the events is often difficult. For example, John records that Jesus cleansed the Temple only a few months after His baptism (John 2:13-22). Another cleansing is recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke during the week of the crucifixion (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46). Some people believe these are the same event, but a comparison of the four accounts suggests that the cleansing recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke are the same, while John records a previous cleansing of the Temple.

    Skeptics often reject the Bible because of difficulties in precisely identifying when events occurred. Understanding the nature of the Gospels as eyewitness accounts, and knowing that each author crafted his Gospel for a specific purpose, can help to answer the skeptics' questions. Unfortunately, much skepticism seems to be ab excuse to dismiss the authority of Scripture caused by their spiritual blindness and rebellion against their Creator.

    With all that in mind, realize that we have done our best to be faithful to the Scriptures as we present the dates and order of events in the life of Christ through this curriculum and on the New Testament History Poster. You may come across dates you disagree with for particular reasons, but don't get lost in examining the bark on the tree and miss the beauty of the forest. The life that Jesus lived on this earth was lived in perfect obedience to the Father, in the power of the Spirit, fulfilling exacting details of prophecy and climaxing details with His death and Resurrection, His saving work is the only hope we have for eternal life after our death, whenever that day may come.