The Story of Jesus (ca. 6 BC - 33 AD)

Found in: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

“Repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand!” This was the message the Jewish carpenter Jesus took over from his cousin and prophet John the Baptist. The prophetic silence ended with John as the new Elijah. The Zealots hoped Jesus would be their military Messiah, the Son of David to deliver them from their enemies, but then they heard him say "Love your enemies" and "Turn the other cheek". Neither they nor the religious leaders could accept that Jesus had come to bring freedom from sin, the sin that separated them from God in the beginning.

Jesus used parables to reach the simple in spite of the “wise”. He healed those who knew they were sick, not those who were “well”. Turning human judgments upside down, he said that the Kingdom belonged to the poor and the childlike. He called the Pharisees and Sadducees the "blind leading the blind", hypocrites following the letter of the Law but not the spirit, making it impossible for the people to find salvation. Hanging out with sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, Samaritans and Romans, he often found greater faith amongst the pagans than amongst his fellow Jews. God's invitation would indeed become an open house to any who accepted him. "Come to me, you who are burdened, and I will give you rest." 

Scandalously healing on the Sabbath and dispensing with traditions, he insisted that he came to fulfill, not abolish, the Law. The whole Law could be summed up: "Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind," and "Love your neighbor as yourself." He miraculously healed people, but also claimed to forgive sins, which only God could do. What were they to make of him? When he asked his apostles who they thought he was, it was Simon who said “You are the Messiah, the son of God". Jesus told him this had been revealed to him by his Father and renamed him Peter, "the rock" upon which he would build his church. 

Threatened by the self-proclaimed "Son of Man”, the Jewish leaders tried tricking him, but he had a way of turning the tables on them (once literally in the temple!), so they sought to kill him. On the night of the Passover meal with his apostles, he broke bread and wine, telling them to eat and drink his body and blood, the blood of a new, everlasting covenant. Judas Iscariot then led the Jewish leaders to where he was praying. They arrested him, convicted him of blasphemy (for the claim to be the Son of God) and handed him to the Romans to be crucified.

On the cross, he asked his Father to forgive them, commended his spirit into his hands and died, having accomplished what he came to do. On the third day he rose again, confirming the resurrection, and told his disciples he would return to the Father, send the Holy Spirit to teach them, and to take his message to the ends of the earth, baptizing and forgiving sins. "And behold, I am with you until the end of time.”


The signs with “John 3:16” summarize the gospel well: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that those who believe in him might have  eternal life.”

Jesus asks “Who do you say that I am?” Buddhists and Hindus say he is a guru, but not more. Muslims say he is a prophet, but not more. Christians alone take what he said of himself at face value and profess him as true  God and true man.

“Abba”, Jesus reference to God, is closer to “Dad” than “Father”. In all four gospels Jesus is obsessed with his Father's will, often drawing away from the crowds to pray in private. His miracles show that the real enemy is sin, not the Romans. It is not right to single out the Jews or the Romans for Jesus' death, since his followers come from both, and his own stated purpose is to lay down his life for the sins of the whole world.

Review questions:

What 2 rules sum up the whole Law of Moses and the Prophets?

Why is it inaccurate to single out the Jews or the Romans for Jesus' death?

Who do different groups say that Jesus is? Who did Jesus himself say he is, both by his words and by his deeds?

Like my cousin said
It’s time to change your ways.
Look beneath the miracles. 
Forgiveness is what saves.
I didn’t come to smash the Law 
or stick it on a shelf.
Just love your God and your neighbor too
as if they were yourself.
And don’t turn back the little ones,
the sinners, or the poor.
Just know that you’re the same,
And I’ll open up the door.

Oh, the Kingdom’s begun! 
God so loved the world 
that He gave His only Son.

Eat and drink me up 
before they get their kill.
Daddy, pass this cup, 
if only it’s your will.
The water, wine, the bread, the vine… 
Am I too tangible? 
The fire of my Father’s love 
is inescapable! 
And it burns for eternity. 
The way, the truth, the life,
Come and follow me! 

Oh, the Kingdom’s begun!
God so loved the world 
that He gave His only Son.
God so loved the world, 
He gave His only Son!

Two or three days later, 
and what did Mary see?
A rabbi resurrected. 
Now death is history!
There was a thief to my left, a thief to my right,
but one is here with me. 
And I’ll come to you like a thief in the night. 
I wonder where you’ll be. 

Now go and tell the world  
I’m bringing home what’s mine. 
And know that I am with you 
until the end of time, until the end of time,
Until the end of time, until the end of time…
Until the end of time, until the end of time…
Until the end of time, until the end of time…
Until the end of time, until the end of time!