LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST, OVERVIEW #4
Name meaning “savior” or “Jehovah [Yahweh] is
salvation” given to the Messiah.
KJV translation of Joshua, son of Nun, in Acts 7:45 and Hebrews
Jewish Christian, surnamed Justus, who sent his greetings to the believers at
Colosse in the salutation of Paul’s Letter to the Colossians (Colossians
Jesus Christ is the Messiah
There are many pages on "Jesus Christ" and I pray that
many will see that "JESUS CHRIST" did exist and He always has and
always will. It is a crying shame that those which do not believe will end up
not seeing His Glorious Face when He comes back to get His Church and those
whom believe in Him.
I have as you have noticed, if you have been viewing the
website, I love pictures to help visualize what is being said, which helps
bring the verses to life. So please be patient as the pages load!
SERMON ON THE MOUNT
The Gospel of Matthew presents a substantial sample of
Jesus’ teachings commonly called the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew
Some of the same material occurs in Luke in a
different context and different arrangement. It is possible that
Jesus often repeated his teachings on different occasions and with
Matthew’s record of the Sermon on the Mount presents an impressive
body of teaching, mainly focusing on morals. Jesus upholds the Law
and, at the same time, goes beyond it. The beginning of this sermon
has been called the Beatitudes (5:3-12).
Throughout the Gospels there are records of miracles
involving Jesus healing people. There are more of these miracles than
any other type. A section in Matthew is devoted to a sequence of
healings: (Matthew 8:1-9:34), a leper, a centurion’s servant,
Peter’s mother-in-law, a demon-possessed person, a paralyzed person,
a woman with a hemorrhage, blind men, and a man who was mute. In
addition, Jairus’ daughter was raised from the dead.
This concentration of healings focuses on Jesus as a miracle worker,
but throughout the Gospels there is no suggestion that Jesus healed
by magical means. In some cases an individual’s faith was
acknowledged (8:10; 9:22)
In at least one incident, the healing was accompanied
by an announcement of the forgiveness of the sins of the one healed
(9:2; Mark 2:5).
This shows that Jesus considered a person’s spiritual needs to be of
greater consequence than the physical problems. Jesus gives us an
example to follow in how to truly help and bless people by meeting
their spiritual needs. At that time, people held a widespread belief
in the powerful influence of evil spirits over human lives. Jesus is
seen exercising his power of exorcism over demons.
Jesus’ ministry was set in an atmosphere of spiritual conflict, so
the confrontations between the forces of darkness and the Light of
the World were to be expected. Those who explain away these cases of
demon-possession in psychiatric terms miss this key feature of Jesus’
ministry. Each time he exorcised a demon, he was demonstrating a
victory, which reached its most dramatic expression in his victory
over death at his resurrection.
In addition to the healing miracles in this early section, one nature
miracle is recorded, that of the stilling of the storm (Matthew
8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25). This miracle
focused both on the lack of faith in the disciples and the mysterious
power of the presence of Jesus.
JESUS AND HIS
In the early stages of his ministry, Jesus was very
popular with the ordinary people. There are several notices to this
effect (Matthew 4:23-25; Mark 3:7-8). This popularity
showed no appreciation of the spiritual purpose of Jesus’ mission
Nevertheless, it stands in stark contrast to the
nit-picking opposition of the religious leaders, who even plotted to
kill Jesus in the early period of his ministry (Mark 3:6).
Jesus and the religious leaders often clashed over the observance of
the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-14; Luke 13:10-17; John
Jesus adopted a more human-centered view than the
strict interpretation of some other religious leaders—as in the
instances when he was criticized for healing on the Sabbath even
though the Jewish law allowed the rescuing of trapped animals on the
Sabbath (Matthew 12:11; Luke 13:15). To the Pharisees,
Jesus was a lawbreaker. They feared that it would undermine their
authority if Jesus’ teaching were permitted to influence popular
PREPARING THE TWELVE
The synoptic Gospels supply lists of the names of the
twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke
Both Matthew and Mark name them in the context of
their exercising authority over evil spirits, showing that these men
were being called to enter the same spiritual conflict as Jesus.
The synoptic Gospels also give details of the
instructions Jesus gave to these disciples before sending them to
minister in Israel (Matthew 10:5-42; Mark 6:7-13;
Matthew included material that appears in a different context in Mark
and Luke, but he still shows the concern of Jesus to prepare his
disciples for their future work. They were to proclaim the kingdom as
he had done, but they were not to expect that all would respond to
it. They were warned about coming hostility and even persecution. It
is important to note that Jesus warned his disciples against
burdening themselves with material possessions.
Although the instructions given related immediately to a tour of
ministry, he was laying the foundation for the future work of the
JESUS AND JOHN THE BAPTIST
For a while, there were preaching and
baptisms by both John the Baptist with his followers and Jesus with
his disciples (John 4:1-2). After John the Baptist was
imprisoned by Herod because of his condemnation of Herod’s marriage
to Herodias, his brother’s wife (Matthew 14:3-4), John began
to have doubts about Jesus (11:1-19; Luke 7:18-35).
He may have been expecting Jesus, if he really was the Messiah, to
come to his rescue. When John sent his disciples to Jesus to express
his doubts, Jesus took the opportunity to tell the crowds of the
greatness of John the Baptist. He said there was no human that was
greater than John.
Jesus did not hesitate to confront others on issues
that involved moral or religious questions. John’s Gospel recorded a
controversy over the keeping of the Sabbath that arose when a lame
man was healed on that day (John 5:1-18). It shows once again
that the law of the Sabbath was regarded by the Pharisees as of
greater importance than concern for the physical welfare of the lame
This was typical of the Jewish approach and led at once to a
persecuting attitude toward Jesus, particularly because he claimed to
be doing the work of God. A similar conflict arose after Jesus’
disciples had plucked grain in the fields on the Sabbath day
(Matthew 12:1-8). The Pharisees assumed that this act was work
and saw it as a reason enough to plot to destroy Jesus.
After this event, he healed a paralyzed man on the same Sabbath day
(12:9-14). The Jewish leaders clearly regarded him as a direct
threat to their position among the people. The rising opposition did
not discourage Jesus from further healings (Matthew 12:15-32),
which Matthew shows as the fulfillment of Scripture. But when Jesus
healed a blind and mute demon-possessed man, the Pharisees charged
him with casting out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of the
Jesus told them that to blaspheme the Holy Spirit was an unforgivable
sin. This incident not only brings out the perversity of the
religious leaders but also shows that the ministry of Jesus was under
the direct control of the Spirit. Other notable miracles were the
healing of the centurion’s servant, as recorded by Luke (Luke
7:1-10), and the raising from the dead of the widow’s son at Nain
The former of these is notable because of the remarkable faith of a
Gentile. Another example of the Pharisees’ criticism was when Jesus
attended a meal in Simon the Pharisee’s house (Luke 7:36-50).
His host had not provided for the usual courtesies toward guests and
yet was critical of Jesus for allowing an immoral woman to wash his
feet with tears, dry them with her hair, and anoint them with
ointment. There is no doubt that most of Simon’s colleagues would
have shared his reaction, but Jesus did not stop the woman because he
knew she was motivated by love. He told Simon a parable to press home
John records two visits by Jesus to Jerusalem. These are difficult to
date, but they probably occurred during the early period of the
ministry. He attended the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2) and
the Feast of Dedication (10:22). At these times, Jesus taught
in the temple area and debated with the religious leaders. The chief
priests became alarmed at his presence and sent officers to arrest
They were unable to do so; instead, they themselves were captivated
by his teachings. More discussions with the Jewish leaders followed.
They charged Jesus with being demon-possessed (8:48). Both in
this case and in the event of the healing of the blind man
(9), the hostility of the Jewish leaders toward Jesus is
clear. When Jesus spoke of himself as the Shepherd, his teaching
again raised the anger of his Jewish hearers, who took up stones to
kill him (10:31).
TEACHING IN PARABLES
Matthew’s Gospel gives a sample of a sermon by Jesus
(Matthew 5:1-7:29), but Jesus more often spoke in parables.
Matthew collected into a group some of the parables that concern the
theme of the kingdom (13). Luke tends to preserve parables of
a different kind that are not specially linked to the kingdom.
Mark has the least number of parables among the synoptic Gospels, but
his writing shows little interest in Jesus as a teacher. John does
not relate any parables, although he does preserve two allegories—the
Sheepfold and the Vine—which could be regarded as extended
The parable was a favorite teaching form of Jesus. Jesus used
parables even in the middle of his more formal sermons. The parable
was valuable because everyone can relate to a story and still be
challenged. Jesus did not speak in parables in order to obscure his
This would be contrary to all that he aimed to do through his work
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN GALILEE
In Nazareth, there was a striking lack of response to
the ministry of Jesus. The people of his hometown proved so hostile
that he could perform very few miracles there (Matthew
13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6).
This incident is important because it shows that faith
was especially necessary for people to receive his healing
The one miracle performed by Jesus that all four
Gospels describe is the feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew
14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John
6:1-15). This occasion shows the great popularity of Jesus at
this stage of his ministry. It also reveals that he was mindful of
the physical needs of people. After this miracle, some wanted to make
Jesus king. This casts considerable light on their real
They were more concerned with material and political issues than with
spiritual truth. This is why Jesus immediately withdrew from them.
When the people found him the next day, he instructed them about the
spiritual bread that comes from heaven (6:25-40). At this
point in John’s Gospel, Jesus is often seen speaking with his
This style of teaching is different from the
synoptic parables but familiar in Jewish-style debate. Many of the
people found the spiritual themes in the teaching of Jesus too
difficult to accept and ceased to be his disciples (John 6:51-52,
60, 66). This incident shows the unique challenge presented by
Jesus and his teaching. Another miracle closely linked with this is
when Jesus walked on the water, demonstrating his power in the
Many have sought to rationalize the event by supposing that Jesus was
really walking on the shore, and that the disciples did not realize
this in the haze. But this miracle is no more extraordinary than the
massive multiplication of loaves and fishes, nor is it inconceivable
if the miracle worker was all that he claimed to be. It has been said
that Jesus was either telling the truth, lying incessantly, or was
These are the three options—with two and three being a direct
contradiction to everything else we know about Christ.
LEAVING NORTHERN GALILEE
Jesus spent a brief time in the region of Tyre and
Sidon, where he performed further healings and made it clear that his
main mission was to the house of Israel (Matthew 15:21-28). He
then moved on to Caesarea Philippi; this was the turning point of his
ministry (16:13-20; Mark 8:27-38; Luke
It was there that Jesus asked his disciples: “Who
do people say the Son of Man is?” This caused Peter to
confess: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living
This impressive confession led Jesus to promise that
he would build his church on “this rock.”
There has been much discussion about the meaning of this saying. It
is open to some doubt whether Jesus intended to build his church on
Peter, on his confession, or on Peter’s making the confession.
Historically, Peter was the instrument God used for the entrance into
the church of both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 2; 10). There is no
doubt about Jesus’ intention to found a church, since the word occurs
again in Matthew 18:17.
Despite the glorious revelation of Jesus on this occasion, he took it
as an opportunity to begin to inform his disciples of his death and
resurrection (16:21-23). This revelation of Jesus was
considerably reinforced by the event known as the Transfiguration,
when Jesus was changed in appearance in the presence of three of his
disciples (Matthew 17:1-8). It was natural for them to want to
keep this glorious vision of Jesus for themselves, but the vision
vanished as rapidly as it came.
Its purpose was evidently to show the three leading disciples
something of the nature of Jesus, which was hidden by his normal
human form. A further feature of the vision was the appearance with
Jesus of Moses and Elijah, representatives of the Law and the
After the Transfiguration, Jesus made two predictions concerning his
death. These announcements were confusing to the disciples. In
Matthew 16, when Jesus mentioned his death, Peter attempted to rebuke
Jesus and was rebuked by Jesus in kind. When Jesus mentioned his
death again, in 17, Matthew noted that the disciples were greatly
distressed (17:23), while Mark and Luke mentioned the
disciples’ lack of understanding (Mark 9:32; Luke
Jesus was approaching the cross with no support from those closest to
him. It is not surprising that when the hour arrived they all
betrayed him. After the Transfiguration revealed that Jesus was
greater than Moses and Elijah and in fact was the beloved Son of God,
he was asked to pay the temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27).
This incident illustrates the attitude of Jesus toward the
authorities and practical responsibilities. He paid the tax, although
he did not acknowledge any obligation to do so. The method of payment
was extraordinary, for it involved the miracle of the coin in the
But the greater importance of the incident is Jesus’
independence from the Jewish law. Luke devotes more than half his
Gospel to the period that begins with Jesus leaving Galilee and ends
with his death and resurrection in Jerusalem.
In this section of his Gospel, Luke introduces a great deal of
material that does not occur elsewhere. We can do no more than
summarize some of the more striking items that throw light on the
life of Jesus. In addition to the mission of the Twelve, Luke records
the mission of the Seventy (or Seventy-two—Luke 10:17-20).
Luke records special parables in this section like the Good Samaritan
(10:29-37), the lost sheep (15:3-7), the lost coin
(15:8-10), and the prodigal son (15:11-32). As Jesus
moved toward Jerusalem, he was concerned with developing the
spiritual life of his disciples. He was mindful of the fact that he
would not be with them long and wished to prepare them for the
He taught them about prayer (11:1-13), the Father’s care for
them (12:13-34), and preparation for the coming of the Son of
ON THE WAY TO JERUSALEM
On the approach to Jerusalem, Jesus visited both
Jericho and Bethany. At Jericho he healed Bartimaeus (Luke
18:35-43) and had a fruitful encounter with Zacchaeus, who
reformed his ways as a tax collector (19:1-10). Bethany was
the home of Mary, Martha, and their brother, Lazarus, whom Jesus had
raised from the dead (John 11).
Jesus spent his remaining days in Jerusalem but returned each night
to stay at Simon the Leper’s house in Bethany in the presence of
those who loved him (Matthew 26:6). It was there that a woman
anointed his body with costly ointment. This was a controversial and
prophetic act preparing Jesus for his burial (26:6-13).
THE FINAL DAYS IN JERUSALEM
All four Gospels relate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (Matthew
21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-38; John 12:12-15). At this time,
crowds greeted Jesus and praised him as their king. This welcome
stands in stark contrast with the crowd’s later cry for his death. In
fact, it was the second crowd that was doing God’s bidding, since
Jesus had not come to Jerusalem to reign but to die.
The synoptic Gospels place the cleansing of the temple as the first
main event following Jesus’ entry into the city (Matthew
21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46).
The clouds of opposition had been thickening, but the
audacity of Jesus in clearing out the moneychangers from the temple
area was too much for the authorities (Mark 11:18; Luke
19:47). The crucifixion loomed closer. Further controversies
developed between Jesus and the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew
In several cases, trick questions were posed in order to trap Jesus,
but with consummate skill he turned their questions against them. The
opposition eventually reached the point where they dared not ask him
any more questions (22:46). Nearing his final hour, Jesus took
the opportunity to instruct his disciples about future events,
especially the end of the world. He reiterated the certainty of his
return and mentioned various signs that would precede that coming
(Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21).
The purpose of this teaching was to provide a challenge to the
disciples to be watchful (Matthew 25:13) and diligent
(25:14-30). This section prepares the way for the events of
the arrest, the trial, the scourging, and crucifixion that followed
soon after. But first we must note the importance of the Lord’s
When Jesus sat at the table with his disciples on the night before he
died, he wished to give them a picture of his death’s significance
(Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-25; Luke22:19-20;
1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The use of the bread and wine for
this purpose was a happy choice because they were basic elements in
Through this symbolic significance Jesus gave an interpretation of
his approaching death—his body broken and his blood poured out for
others. It was necessary for Jesus to provide this reminder that his
sacrificial death would seal a completely new covenant. Each time we
celebrate communion, we help prevent the church from losing sight of
the centrality of the cross.
John’s Gospel does not tell the story of the Last Supper.
Nevertheless, it does record a significant act in which Jesus washed
the feet of the disciples as an example of humility (John
13:1-20). He impressed on the disciples the principle of service
to others. John follows this display of humility with a series of
teachings Jesus gave on the eve of the Passion (chapters
The most important feature of this teaching was the promise of the
coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples after Jesus had gone. Even
with his mind occupied by thoughts of approaching death, Jesus showed
himself more concerned about his disciples than about himself. This
is evident in the prayer of Jesus in John 17.
All the Gospel writers refer in advance to the betrayal by Judas
(Matthew 26:21-25; Mark 14:18-21; Luke 22:21-23;
John 13:21-30), which prepares readers for the final stages of
Jesus journey to the cross.
THE BETRAYAL AND ARREST
The various outbursts of popular support were soon
over and the determined opposition seemed to resume control. In
John’s Gospel, the sense of approaching climax is expressed in terms
of “his hour” (John 13:1). When this at length comes,
the betrayal and arrest are seen as part of a larger plan.
From the upper room where the Last Supper was eaten, Jesus went
straight to the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46;
Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:40-46), where he prayed to his
Father with deep intensity and agony. It cost Jesus to identify
himself with man’s need. He prayed for the cup of suffering to pass
from him, but at the same time he submitted to the Father’s will.
The three disciples he took with him all fell asleep, while one of
his other disciples, having betrayed his master, appeared at the
gates at the head of the group who had come to arrest him. At the
moment of confrontation with Judas, Jesus exhibited an amazing
dignity when he addressed the betrayer as his “friend”
(Matthew 26:50). He offered no resistance when he was arrested
and chided the crowd of people for their swords and clubs
Jesus was first taken to the house of Annas, one of
the high priests, for a preliminary examination (John 18:13).
During his trial, he was scorned by his enemies, and one of his
disciples, Peter, denied him three times (Matthew 26:69-75,
Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-27), as
Jesus predicted he would (Matthew 26:34; Mark 14:30;
The official trial before the Sanhedrin was presided over by
Caiaphas, who was puzzled when Jesus at first refused to speak. At
length Jesus predicted that the Son of Man would come on the clouds
of heaven; this was enough to make the high priest charge him with
blasphemy (Mark 14:62-64).
Although he was spat upon and his face was struck, Jesus remained
calm and dignified. He showed how much greater he was than those who
were treating him with contempt. The further examinations before
Pilate (Matthew 27:1-2; Mark 15:1; Luke 23:1;
John 18:28) and Herod (Luke 23:7-12) were more examples
Again Jesus did not answer when asked about the charges before either
Pilate (Matthew 27:14) or Herod (Luke 23:9). He
remained majestically silent, except to make a comment to Pilate
about the true nature of his kingship (John 18:33-38).
The pathetic governor declared Jesus innocent, offered the crowds the
release of either Jesus or Barabbas, and then publicly disclaimed
responsibility by washing his hands. Pilate then had Jesus scourged
and handed him over to be crucified.
THE EARLY MINISTRY OF JESUS IN JUDEA
Only John’s Gospel tells of the work of Jesus in Judea
following his baptism. It first describes his calling of two
disciples, John and Andrew (John 1:35-39).
This event is set against the background of John the Baptist’s
announcement of Jesus as the Lamb of God who was to take away the sin
of the world (1:29).
Three others soon joined these first two disciples: Peter, Philip,
and Nathanael (1:41-51).
These five formed part of the nucleus of Jesus’ followers who came to
be known as the Twelve. One feature of John’s account is the early
recognition by the disciples of Jesus as Messiah (1:41) and
Son of God (1:49).
Soon after Jesus began his ministry in Jerusalem, John relates an
incident at Cana in Galilee in which water was turned into wine
This event is important in John’s account because it is the first of
the “signs” that he records (2:11).
He saw Jesus’ miracles as signs of the truth of the Gospel rather
than as mere wonders. John sets two incidents at Jerusalem in this
initial period. The first is the cleansing of the temple
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all place this event just before Jesus’
trial, but John places it at this early stage. The moral intention of
Jesus’ work is seen in his driving out the moneychangers who were
inappropriately profiting from worshipers. This was apparently
acceptable in Judaism but was unacceptable to Jesus. The other Gospel
writers imply that this authoritative act was the event that sparked
the final hostility of his opponents. John tells the story for a
theological reason; to him, the cleansing of the temple was a parable
telling of what Jesus had come to do.
The other incident in Jerusalem is the meeting between Jesus and
Nicodemus was closely associated with Judaism, yet he was also
searching for truth. He was unable to understand, however, the
spiritual truth about being born again through the Spirit. Christians
receive a new start in life—as if they had been born again.
Their spiritual rebirth marks the moment they accept Jesus Christ as
Lord and Savior and receive the Holy Spirit John’s story then moves
from Judea to Samaria and the story of the Samaritan woman at the
well (John 4:1-42).
Jesus used her physical thirst to point to her deeper spiritual
thirst. She realized that Jesus had something to offer her that she
had not previously known. As a result of this woman’s experience and
testimony, many of the Samaritan people came to believe in Jesus as
the Savior of the world (4:42).
In this case, John appreciates the fuller significance of the words
of Jesus by viewing them in the light of the resurrection.
Almost all the information on this period is found in
Matthew, Mark, and Luke—referred to as the
synoptic Gospels. These may be conveniently divided into three
The first briefly outlines the events leading up to
the choosing of the Twelve; the second deals with Jesus’ withdrawal
from northern Galilee; and the third deals with his departure for
Jerusalem. While the synoptic Gospels concentrate exclusively on the
events in Galilee, John’s account indicates that there were some
visits by Jesus to Jerusalem during this period.
Also, John records another incident at Cana, where the
son of a Capernaum official was healed. This is noted as the second
of Jesus’ signs (John 4:54). It is chiefly important because
of the extraordinary faith of the father, who was prepared to take
Jesus at his word.
THE CALLING OF THE DISCIPLES
In the synoptic Gospels, there is an account of the
initial call to four of the disciples to leave their fishing boats
and to become fishers of men (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark
1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11). They had already met Jesus and must
have had some idea what was involved in following him. Jesus did not
at this time appoint them to be apostles, but this call was an
indispensable step toward the establishment of the Twelve as a group.
Setting apart a particular number of disciples formed an important
part of the ministry of Jesus.
The miraculous catch of fish, which preceded the call of the
disciples in Luke’s account, served to highlight the superiority of
the spiritual task of “catching” people
rather than fish. Jesus offered to teach them how to be fishers of
unbelieving men and women.
Another significant call came to Levi, otherwise known as Matthew
(Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:13-14; Luke 5:27-28). As a
tax collector, he was of a different type from most of the other
disciples. Jewish contemporaries despised him because of his
profession. But his inclusion in the special circle of Jesus’
disciples shows the broad basis on which these men were chosen.
One of the others, Simon the Zealot, may have belonged to a group of
revolutionaries who were religious as well as political. Even a man
like Judas Iscariot was numbered among the Twelve, and he would later
betray Jesus to his enemies for a small sum of money. Jesus accepted
them as they were and molded them into men who later came to learn
how to be totally dependent on God and the power of his Spirit.
It commends moral and spiritual values. The teachings recorded in
this section were radical but not in a political sense. The Sermon on
the Mount may be taken as a fair sample of the kind of discourses
that must have abounded in the ministry of Jesus.