The Story of Jesus
The story of Jesus is often called the Gospel. The Gospel means “good news” and was itself preached by Jesus.1 The Gospel is about repentance and adherence to God’s will. The Gospel which Jesus preached was about the kingdom of heaven. The transition from earthly to heavenly is good news to those who want to be right with God. A heavenly kingdom is poor news to those who want something for themselves in this life. Jesus’ life story serves as a perfect example to follow.2 It is the fulfillment and perfection of God’s plans. When we study the story of Jesus, we study God’s love and plea for return.
Jesus came into this world as the Son of God.3 He came as the anticipated King of all, yet His life was very different from what humans expect from deity and royalty. He came in humility and poverty.4 Rather than devoting His time to having money or forcing His subjects to serve, He gave His time and energy to service.5 He waited to announce his purpose for 30 years, until everything was just right.
Not long after He began to publicly express His identity and purpose, He was met with intrigued crowds. Most of the common people liked Him because He proposed love and generosity.6 He was unliked by officials because He did not fit their bill of a leader.7 He displayed divine powers in healing and care.8 This did not convince everyone of His message. Those who refused to accept what He taught chose to ignore or demonize His proof.9 In only a few short years, the leaders of the Jews though they found away to silence Jesus.10
The Jews were legally restrained from putting people to death.11 They were under Roman government. Although they didn’t really care about Roman authority, they saw that it was advantageous to use the Roman system. The greater hinderance to killing Jesus was His popularity.12 Even though the common Jew (and many gentiles) weren’t fully convinced of Jesus teachings, they were slowly being won over. The leaders could foresee that their own unethical leadership would be exposed and ended. So, they chose to use the Roman government to execute Jesus, so that they would still be accepted by the people.
They railroaded Jesus in an overnight trial, accusing Him of things that perked the ears of the Roman authorities. The Roman’s didn’t really care about Jewish problems, but couldn’t ignore accusations of treason. Even the Roman authorities knew Jesus was ultimately innocent.13 Rather than administer justice, they acquiesced to brewing riots.14
Crucifixion was the execution for rebels against Rome. The Roman’s normally saved this method for the worst of criminals. Jesus was far from guilty, but chose to allow the proceedings. Throughout all the trial, Jesus kept silent.15 He was perfectly aware of the greater purpose of His death. When on the cross, Jesus reminds us of His purpose by saying “Father, forgive them.”16 Life for life, death for death, God’s justice and holiness were now united with mercy and love.
Mere humans are subject to the grips of death. It is the last and greatest enemy.17 Jesus is not mere human. He is God with us.18 And so, against all natural rules and expectations, Jesus rose from the dead.19 The death of Jesus is an undisputed historical reality. Belief in His resurrection, however, creates Christianity. There is no reason for Christianity without the resurrection.20 The claims of resurrection are not scientific, they are historical. Resurrection is scientifically impossible, which is why the history of Jesus’ resurrection is the hinge-point of all Christian faith. If Jesus was raised from the dead, then the Christian faith is valid.
We tend not to believe in resurrection today because it is not witnessed today. The humans of the ancient world were the same. They did not believe in the resurrection either.21 The fundamental proofs of resurrection were: scripture and testimony.22 Unless we think this is hardly acceptable, those are the same proofs used to believe anything today. We believe validated written experience and personal credible witnesses. All science boils down to those two proofs as well. The resurrection was rejected by most of the ancient world, except by those who considered written scripture and its fulfillment in Jesus, using the apostles’ testimony to instruct their decision. The disciples of Jesus witnessed a risen Savior.23 This was tirelessly affirmed by all disciples, and even validated by several hundred more un-named witnesses.24
If the claims of resurrection were mistaken, then it does not make sense to think that dozens and dozens of former critics would suddenly choose persecution for this shaky mistake, nor that they all witness the same mistake. If the claims of resurrection were lies, then dozens of men and women died for that lie with nothing to gain. If the claims of resurrection were fabricated, then an entire civilization turned on its fundamental core principles to believe something without credit and for no earthly benefit. This does not fit human nature. This does not fit the evidence. Where did the resurrection come from? It’s simply foolish to the outsider looking in, and was completely rejected by most Jews as well.25 The broad-spread message of resurrection does not fit any human or societal pattern except the model in which the evidence is overpowering. That same eye-witness testimony and scriptural prophecy is available to us through the Bible.26
The teachings of Jesus are legend. They are among the most respected works of all history. The problem is they are often unheard or misunderstood. If we simply place Jesus’ teachings among other wise sages’ then we undermine His purpose. He did not come to be one among many. His teachings do not afford us the option to take it or leave it without consequence. His teachings are the foundation for a reformed outlook on life and living. He Himself said that if you listen to Him and do what He teaches, then you will be immovable.27 Any study of Jesus and who He is must include what He said about Himself and what He said we need to be doing.
Jesus claimed to be the messiah, the son of God.28 To us, this might not mean much. But to those familiar with scripture, this is a claim to deity.29 Jesus claimed authority over life, death, and over the very word and message of God.30 Jesus claimed that he was the only path to God.31 He is the only path to life and salvation.32 Jesus was very confident in who he was. Either Jesus was lying and the most foolish man on earth for doing so, or he was as he claimed. Jesus’ claims as a son, king, savior, word of God, and ruler are only palatable if we accept him as God. We must accept Jesus all or nothing. We cannot say ‘I Believe in Jesus but don’t think the Bible is for me.’ Jesus is the Word of God; we either accept Him or reject Him. If we accept Him, we do as He says.33 We don’t make our own rules of morality. He is God’s son, the king. Since Jesus is God and supreme ruler, He expects full adherence to His teachings.
If Jesus is God’s Son and we are followers of Jesus, then God has granted us identity as children of God.34 The analogy of sonship places Jesus as the only true son of God35 (aka, deity), but we are adopted as Jesus’ brothers.36 Those who love and obey Jesus are called brethren.37 We are God’s family. When we recognize Jesus’ identity and accept our own as children of God, then we leave behind our old selves.38 We are ‘born again’ through Jesus’ death into God’s family.39
Jesus expects His disciples to continue in His words.40 Deviation from His teaching and will is not permissible.41 There is no tolerance for casting his words aside. We are expected to love God with all our being, and we are expected to love our neighbor like our own selves.42 Everything He expects of us is wrapped up in these two principles. If we are God’s children then we must act like it.43 God will not allow His household to act out of selfishness, hatred, or contention. Our identity is no longer about us.44 We are lights that reflect God’s holiness.45 We must be devoted to being like Him, because we are His children.46 If God is love, then we are too.47 No more selfishness, no more hate, no more fighting. Only love.
Loving God and neighbor is also described as denying self. Jesus wants us to put ourselves last in all things.48 We must be willing to give up things we want and the way we want them if they are contrary to God’s will or service to others.49 This denial of self is exactly what Jesus did.50 He expects us to be like him.
There is no room in God’s kingdom for those who resist God’s will. And so, Jesus was most adamant that not all who attempt to serve will be accepted.51 People want to serve God their own way. This does not work. Jesus excludes those who do not listen and do not adhere to His teaching.52 It is vital to see the importance of His authority. When we feel we can worship and live like we want, we rebel against the fundamental expectation to Love God will all our being. The path that leads to life is narrow, even among those who claim religion.53 Not every path to God is valid.54 This is because of God’s Holiness. The only way to Him is through Jesus’ blood. Jesus’ blood only covers those who truly die with Him and follow Him instead of self.55 This makes the study of scripture the key.56 The only way to know if we are in line with His holiness is for Him to tell us.57 He has told us, and His words have been preserved for us. We must not follow any other path to salvation – for all other paths lead to the gates of destruction.58
On the other hand, God excludes none who want to come to Him.59 If we truly accept Him and His ways, then He wants us. Our background, race, gender, problems, or mass of sins do not keep His love from us.60 He loves all, and accepts all who obey.61 Exclusivity is based solely on our love for God. If we truly love Him then we will do things His way.62 This includes the way we live, drink, eat, work, laugh, and worship. It is all guided by His will.
- Mark 1:14-15 – Now after John was taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand! Repent, and believe in the Good News.” WEB
- 1 Peter 2:21 – For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example, that you should follow his steps. WEB
- Luke 1:35 – Therefore also the holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God. WEB
- Philippians 2:5-8 – Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself. WEB
- Matthew 20:28 – even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. WEB
- Luke 8:40 – It happened, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. WEB
- John 11:47-53 – The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, “What are we doing? For this man does many signs. If we leave him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”…. So from that day forward they took counsel that they might put him to death. WEB
- Mark 2:7-11 – “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”…. “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—”I tell you, arise, take up your mat, and go to your house.” WEB
- Matthew 12:24 – But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “This man does not cast out demons, except by Beelzebul, the prince of the demons.” WEB
- Mark 14:10-11 – Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went away to the chief priests, that he might deliver him to them. They, when they heard it, were glad, and promised to give him money. He sought how he might conveniently deliver him. WEB
- John 18:31-32 – Pilate therefore said to them, “Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.” Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spoke, signifying by what kind of death he should die. WEB
- Mark 14:1-2 – It was now two days before the feast of the Passover and the unleavened bread, and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might seize him by deception, and kill him. For they said, “Not during the feast, because there might be a riot of the people.” WEB
- John 19:4-6 – Then Pilate went out again, and said to them, “Behold, I bring him out to you, that you may know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” ….Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves, and crucify him, for I find no basis for a charge against him.” WEB
- Matthew 27:24 – So when Pilate saw that nothing was being gained, but rather that a disturbance was starting, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this righteous person. You see to it.” WEB
- Matthew 27:12 – When he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then Pilate said to him, “Don’t you hear how many things they testify against you?” He gave him no answer, not even one word, so that the governor marveled greatly. WEB
- Luke 23:33-34 – When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified him there with the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” WEB
- 1 Corinthians 15:26 – The last enemy that will be abolished is death. WEB
- Matthew 1:21-23 – You shall call his name Jesus, for it is he who shall save his people from their sins.”…. “They shall call his name Immanuel;” which is, being interpreted, “God with us.” WEB
- Acts 2:24 – whom God raised up, having freed him from the agony of death, because it was not possible that he should be held by it. WEB
- 1 Corinthians 15:16-17 – For if the dead aren’t raised, neither has Christ been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. WEB
- Acts 17:32 – Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; WEB
- Acts 24:14-21 – But this I confess to you, that after the Way, which they call a sect, so I serve the God of our fathers, believing all things which are according to the law, and which are written in the prophets; having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. Herein I also practice always having a conscience void of offense toward God and men…. it is for this one thing that I cried standing among them, “Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged before you today!” WEB
- 1 John 1:1-3 – That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we saw, and our hands touched, concerning the Word of life (and the life was revealed, and we have seen, and testify, and declare to you the life, the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was revealed to us); that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, WEB
- 1 Corinthains 15:5-8 – he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers at once, most of whom remain until now, but some have also fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all, as to the child born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also. WEB
- 1 Corinthians 1:18-23 – For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are dying…. For the Jews ask for signs, Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Greeks. WEB
- John 20:30-31 – Therefore Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name. WEB
- Matthew 7:24 – Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. WEB
- Matthew 16:16-17 – Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. WEB
- John 5:18 – For this cause therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God. WEB
- John 5:24-26 –“Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and doesn’t come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Most certainly, I tell you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead will hear the Son of God’s voice; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, even so he gave to the Son also to have life in himself.” WEB
- John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me. WEB
- Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” WEB
- Luke 6:46-47 – Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” and don’t do the things which I say? Everyone who comes to me hears my words and does them… WEB
- Luke 20:35-36 – But those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead… can’t die any more, for they are like the angels, and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. WEB
- John 3:16 – …he gave his one and only Son… WEB
- Galatians 4:4-5 – God sent out his Son, born to a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of children. WEB
- Matthew 12:50 – For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother. WEB
- Galatians 4:9 – But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, why do you turn back again to the weak and miserable elemental principles, to which you desire to be in bondage all over again? WEB
- 1 Peter 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy became our father again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, WEB
- John 8:31 – Jesus therefore said to those Jews who had believed him, “If you remain in my word, then you are truly my disciples. WEB
- John 14:24 – He who doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words. The word which you hear isn’t mine, but the Father’s who sent me. WEB
- Matthew 22:37-40 – Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. A second likewise is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” WEB
- John 8:42-47 – Therefore Jesus said to them, “If God were your father, you would love me, for I came out and have come from God. For I haven’t come of myself, but he sent me. Why don’t you understand my speech? Because you can’t hear my word. You are of your father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father…. He who is of God hears the words of God. For this cause you don’t hear, because you are not of God.” WEB
- Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” WEB
- Matthew 5:16 – Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. WEB
- Matthew 5:4 – Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. WEB
- 1 John 4:7 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God. WEB
- Mark 9:35 – He sat down, and called the twelve; and he said to them, “If any man wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.” WEB
- Mark 9:42-43 – Whoever will cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if he was thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around his neck. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having your two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire, WEB
- Philippians 2:5-8 – Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. WEB
- Matthew 7:21-23 – Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?” Then I will tell them, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.” WEB
- Matthew 7:26 – Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man WEB
- Luke 13:23-24 – One said to him, “Lord, are they few who are saved?” He said to them, “Strive to enter in by the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will seek to enter in, and will not be able.” WEB
- Luke 21:8 – He said, “Watch out that you don’t get led astray, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is at hand.’ Therefore don’t follow them. WEB
- 1 John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. WEB
- 2 Timothy 3:14-15 – But you remain in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them. From infancy, you have known the holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. WEB
- 1 Corinthians 2:11-12 – no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. WEB
- Galatians 1:6-8 – I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! WEB
- 2 Peter 3:9 – he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. WEB
- Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. WEB
- Romans 10:11-13 – For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich to all who call on him. For, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” WEB
- John 14:15 – If you love me, keep my commandments. WEB