So what is the story of Jesus? The story doesn't begin with his birth, and it doesn't end with his death. It begins before the creation of the universe, and it ends after it ceases to exist. His life, death, and resurrection are part of a plan he helped architect.
Being at the right hand of God the Father, he helped to form the world. He was there when God created Adam and Eve. He was there when Adam and Eve walked in communion with God in the Garden.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God's command not to eat of the forbidden fruit, sin entered the world, and man deserved to die. However, God did not want man to die, and began a plan to rescue man from his sin. His plan became a promise when He made a covenant with Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel. His promise was fulfilled with the birth of a Messiah, the one who would save all people from their sins. His name was Jesus, the Christ, the one foretold by the prophets of Israel, God's chosen nation.
Conceived by the Holy Spirit within a virgin woman named Mary, Jesus was born in a barn, a far cry from the Mighty King that Israel was hoping would save them from their Roman conquerors. Aside from many miracles concerning his birth and early childhood, Jesus' life went almost unnoticed until the age of 30. At that time, John the Baptist was proclaiming that people turn from their sins and be baptized with water, a sign of purification, because the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. Regarded as a prophet of God, many people followed John.
When Jesus went to be baptized, John recognized him as the Christ he had been speaking of, the one who's shoes he was unworthy to untie. A dove landed on Jesus, and a voice from Heaven said, "This is my son, of whom I am well pleased."
After that, Jesus began to teach and heal, and perform many miracles. His reputation spread widely, and people began to flock to him. The religious rulers were furious. At every moment, they looked for a time to trap him, to accuse him of something he said. So Jesus spoke in parables, so that his followers would understand, and those against him would be confused. At such times, Jesus refers to himself in these parables as the "Son of Man". However, when religious pharisees and the teachers of the law understood that he was comparing himself to the Son of God, they plotted to kill him.
Meanwhile, the crowds of Jerusalem were planning to make him king. A week before the Passover, they paraded Jesus into Jerusalem on a colt, spreading clothing and palm branches on the ground in front of him, paying him honor. Little did they know that in only a week, they would be shouting, "Crucify him!"
The following Thursday, Jesus had his last supper with his disciples, during which time he warned them that he would be betrayed. He took bread and broke it, telling them, "do this in remembrance of me." He also gave them wine, saying, "this is my blood shed for you." (This is where the tradition of communion started.) That night, while he was praying with three of his disciples in a garden, an army of soldiers came to arrest him.
Jesus was tried in front of the ruling Jewish body, and found guilty of blasphemy, claiming to be God. The following day, he was brought to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. He was charged by the chief priest and elders with insurrection, which is punishable by death. It was Pilate's custom to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd during the Passover Feast. Since Pilate could find no guilt in him, he offered to free Jesus. However, the leaders of the Jews persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
After Pilate washed his hands in front of the crowd, claiming no responsibility, Jesus was crucified on a cross. Above his head hung the inscription "Here is Jesus, King of the Jews", much to the chagrin of the Jewish leaders.
When Jesus died, the sky was turned as black as night, though it was mid-day. A huge earthquake tore the curtain in the temple. The curtain separated the rest of the temple from the Holy of Holies, and only the high priest was allowed to go there to offer sacrifices on behalf of the people. The tearing of the curtain was a sign that Jesus had assumed the role of our high priest, having performed the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, through his death on the cross.
Since the prophets had told that the Messiah would rise again after three days, the Jews had the governor post armed soldiers outside the tomb where Jesus lay. In addition, they sealed the tomb with a huge boulder in front of the entrance, in case his disciples decided to steal his body.
On the morning of the third day, Mary Magdalene, a follower of Jesus, went to the tomb to anoint his decaying body with spices. When she arrived at the tomb, she found the stone rolled away. Fearing that somebody had stolen his body, she ran back to the disciples. When several of the disciples arrived at the tomb, they went inside and saw Jesus' burial clothes folded where Jesus had laid. They went away believing, for they did not understand before what Jesus had meant when he spoke of his death and resurrection.
When the disciples had left, Mary looked into the tomb and saw two angels in white, one at the foot and one at the head of where Jesus had laid. Turning around, she saw Jesus standing there, although she didn't recognize him. Thinking he was the gardener, she asked where they had put Jesus' body. Jesus said to her, "Mary," and immediately she recognized him. She quickly ran to tell the disciples that she had seen the Lord.
After this, Jesus appeared to the disciples many times before he was taken back up into heaven. But before he left, he made a promise to his disciples: they would receive power from the Holy Spirit, which he would send to them when he left. They would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
After Jesus said this, he was taken up before their eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. As they gazed into the sky, two angels stood beside them and asked, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
When the day of Pentecost came, the disciples were all together in one place. Suddenly, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were God-fearing Jews, from every nation, gathered in Jerusalem. So Peter and the other disciples addressed the crowd about the death and resurrection of Jesus. The crowd was amazed to hear the disciples speak in their own languages, and they were cut to the heart by their message. Those who accepted Peter's message were baptized, and about 3,000 became believers that day.
Jesus did many other things as well. Quoting the last verses of John, "If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." I have done my best to share with you the highlights of his life. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell a more complete story or Jesus' life.
It is this Jesus that gives us salvation. He has died for our sins, and bridged the gap between God and man. He lives in the Christian's heart, and gives peace and joy, and assurance of eternal life, through the presence of his Holy Spirit.
To accept Jesus into your life, you must admit that you are sinful, understand that Jesus died for those sins, and that you need to change.
If you want to accept this Jesus into your life, please visit How to Receive Jesus into your Life.
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