LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST, OVERVIEW
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!
Christ is the Messiah, Savior, and founder of the Christian
church. Some know him by a more personal name. To Christians, he is
the Lord of their lives. Regardless of his title, Jesus Christ is the
most interesting figure in human history.
Although he lived on earth only 33 years, he has had the greatest
impact of any person who ever lived—even on those who do not believe
he is God’s Son.
The Bible describes Jesus Christ in detail—his life, his work, and
his teachings—in the four books called the Gospels. Each of the four
Gospels has a distinctive purpose.
Matthew, for instance, presents Jesus as the
long-awaited King of the Jewish people.
Mark focuses more on Jesus as the servant of all.
Luke tends to present Jesus in a softer light, showing his
amazing compassion for the poor.
Finally, John describes a love relationship with
Each author wrote about Jesus for a different reason.
They arranged the events of Jesus’ life slightly differently. A
picture of the same person from four different angles is the result.
Yet all of the Gospels agree on one thing: Jesus is the Lord of lords
and the King of kings.
THE LIFE OF JESUS
The following sections present the main events in what
may be regarded as the chief stages in the life of Jesus. These
stages show a definite progression from Christ’s incarnation or
entrance into the world to his dying moments on the cross.
The Gospels do not read like an ordinary biography.
Their story is not so much about the life of Jesus as it is about
God’s story. The whole presentation of Christ’s life centers on the
cross and his triumphant resurrection. It is God’s message to
humanity rather than a plain historic account of the life of
The major event of this initial stage was the
Incarnation. Only Matthew and Luke give accounts of Jesus’ birth.
John reflects on what preceded the birth.
It may seem strange that John began his Gospel with a
reference to the Word (John 1:1), but it is in this way that
he delivers to the reader an exalted view of Jesus.
John saw Jesus as existing even before the creation of the world
In fact, he saw him as having a part in the act of creation
Therefore, when Jesus was born, it was both an act of humiliation and
an act of illumination. The light shone, but the world preferred to
remain in darkness (1:4-5, 10).
Therefore, anyone reading John’s records of the life of Jesus would
know at once, before even being introduced to the man named Jesus,
that this was no ordinary man. The account of his life and teachings
could not be properly understood except by acknowledging that Jesus
had always existed.
VIRGIN BIRTH OF JESUS
Jesus was surrounded by controversy even from the time
of his birth. The birth stories in Matthew 1 and Luke
1-2 say that Jesus Christ was conceived of the Holy Spirit and
born of the virgin Mary. In order for Jesus to be fully God and fully
man, he could not have been naturally conceived. His miraculous birth
is no side note—it is central to the story of Jesus. At the same
time, many critics deny this miracle, stating that the early
Christians created a rumor.
OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECY
Isaiah 7:14 (King James Version) says that a
“virgin” shall “conceive and
bear a son…Immanuel.”
Matthew 1:22-23 expressly states that this was fulfilled in
Jesus’ birth. This passage has been greatly debated, especially since
another credible translation, the Revised Standard Version, changed
the King James Version “virgin” to
“young woman,” based on the ambiguity of the
term in the original manuscripts.
The Hebrew ‘almah refers generally to
a young girl who has passed puberty and thus is of marriageable age.
Another Hebrew word (bethulah) specifies a woman who is a virgin. The
early translators, nevertheless, translated ‘almah as parthenos,
which denotes a virgin.
The following are four popular interpretations
concerning the “virgin”
1. The “virgin” (Isaiah 7:14) was
Ahaz’s new wife and the son was Hezekiah—contemporary characters of
Isaiah. But Hezekiah was nine years old when Ahaz began to reign, so
this prophecy must look to the future.
2. She was Isaiah’s wife and the son was Maher-shalal-hash-baz. Many
scholars support this interpretation because the definite article
with ‘almah seems to indicate that “the
woman” was known to Isaiah and Ahaz. Also, Isaiah
7:14-16 seems to indicate that the prophecy was to be fulfilled
in Isaiah’s time. The difficulty here is that Isaiah’s wife already
had a son and so she could not be called a virgin, ‘almah.
3. The prophecy is purely about Jesus Christ, the Messiah. This is
the traditional evangelical position, based on the name of the
child—Immanuel, “God with us”—and the
reference (Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-5), which points
to a divine person.
4. Still, there is a fourth interpretation, which says the prophecy
refers to both Isaiah’s day and a future day. This view takes into
account the historical fulfillment intended in Isaiah 7:15-16
while seeing the future as being fulfilled through the virgin birth
of Jesus, as indicated in Matthew 1:22-23.
THE GOSPEL RECORDS
Neither Mark nor John provides an account of the birth
of Christ; the actual event is only in Matthew and Luke. Both agree
that a virgin, Mary, conceived of the Holy Spirit and bore a son,
Jesus. Matthew’s account is simpler and more direct.
Jesus is called the “Christ [or Messiah],”
the son of David (Matthew 1:1), who signals the beginning of
the kingdom of God. Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy
(1:22-23) and was born of a virgin (1:18-20).
Therefore, Jesus is “God with us,” now come to “save his
people from their sins” (1:21). The scene where Joseph
decides to privately divorce Mary is added to give further evidence
that Jesus was miraculously conceived. Luke told the nativity story
from the perspective of Mary.
The angel Gabriel visited her and announced that she would give birth to the
Messiah (Luke 1:26-38). She conceived miraculously by the Holy
Spirit, as was foretold by the angel Gabriel: “The
Holy Spirit will come upon you; therefore the child to be born will
be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:35, RSV). Luke
says Mary willingly surrendered to the purposes of God.
John simply says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Matthew and Luke fill in some of the details of how this happened.
Each approaches the subject from a different point of view, but the
supernatural is evident in both. The coming of Jesus is announced
beforehand, through dreams to Joseph in Matthew’s account (Matthew
1:20-21) and through an angel to Mary in Luke’s account (Luke
Matthew leaves his readers in no doubt that the one to be born had a
mission to accomplish—to save people from their sins (Matthew
1:21). Luke sets his story of Jesus’ coming in an atmosphere of
great rejoicing. He includes exquisite songs, which have formed part
of the church’s worship ever since (Luke 1:46-55,
The visit of the wise men in Matthew 2:1-12 is
significant because it links the beginning of the Gospel to its
ending (compare to 28:19-20). A similar emphasis is introduced
in the angel’s announcement to the shepherds in Luke 2:14 and
in Simeon’s song (2:32), where he predicts that Jesus would be
a light for Gentiles as well as a glory for Israel.
The flight into Egypt for safety (Matthew
2:13-15) shows the contribution of a gentile nation in providing
protection for a Jewish child. One feature of the birth stories in
Matthew and Luke is that they are both linked to genealogies. It is
difficult to harmonize these genealogies since they appear to be
drawn from different sources, but the purpose in both cases is to
show that Jesus was descended from Abraham and David.
The latter fact gave rise to Jesus’ title as Son of David. Luke was
the only Gospel writer who attempted to link the coming of Jesus with
events in secular history. Since he was a doctor by trade, some
imagine his attention to detail shows in his writing. Although
problems arise over the dating of the census of Quirinius (Luke
2:1-2), Luke mentions it to demonstrate that the Christian faith
is a historic faith centered on a historic person.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE VIRGIN BIRTH
Some of the earliest church fathers stressed the
virgin birth more than any other event in Jesus’ life as proof of the
Incarnation and that Christ was indeed God. It was essential to their
Christology—the significance of Christ’s divine role. Justin Martyr
and Ignatius defended the virgin birth against opponents at the
beginning of the second century. The virgin birth continued to be a
hot topic for the next three centuries. Gnosticism was a belief that
Christ descended directly from heaven and so he was never truly
On the other hand, others, such as the Arians, also denied the virgin
birth because they wanted to say he was never truly God. They say
Jesus was “adopted” as Son of God at his baptism. The Council
of Nicaea in AD 325 affirmed that Jesus was truly God, and
then the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451 stated that Jesus was
at the same time truly human and divine. The Apostles’ Creed from the
fifth century is still often recited in modern church services. It
declares, “I believe in…Jesus Christ,
his only Son, our Lord, conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the
The years of Jesus Christ’s human development are
given only a few lines in the Gospels. Details are given of only one
incident belonging to the period of childhood, the discussion of the
12-year-old Jesus with the Jewish teachers in the temple (Luke
2:41-50). This event is a pointer to one of the most
characteristic features of Jesus’ later ministry: his display of
irrefutable wisdom in dialogue with his Jewish contemporaries. It
also reveals that at an early age Jesus was acutely aware of a divine
mission. Nevertheless, Luke notes that in Jesus’ formative years he
was obedient to his parents (2:51).
It is assumed that during thirty years at Nazareth Jesus learned the
carpenter’s trade from his father, Joseph, and became the village
carpenter after Joseph’s death. However, there is no account of this
period in the Gospels. This has led many to fill in the blanks about
Jesus’ childhood. Many of these fables are recorded in what are
called apocryphal gospels-writings that are steeped in tradition and
not counted as the inspired Word of God. Luke’s account is
unembellished about the missing facts. Its remarkable reserve is a
strong indication of its historical reliability.
All four Gospels refer to a brief preparatory period
before Christ’s public ministry. This period focused on three
THE PREACHING OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness and caused
an immediate stir in Judea, particularly as a result of his call to
repentance and to baptism (Matthew 3:1-6). John was like one
of the Old Testament prophets, but he disclaimed any importance in
his own office except as the herald of a greater person to come. His
stern appearance and uncompromising moral challenge effectively
prepared the way for the public appearance of Jesus (Luke
It is important to note that John the Baptist’s announcement of the
imminent coming of the kingdom (Matthew 3:2) was the same
theme with which Jesus began his own ministry (4:17).
This shows that John the Baptist’s work was an integral part of the
preparation for the public ministry of Jesus. The same may be said of
the rite of baptism, although John recognized that Jesus would add a
new dimension in that he would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with
As the forerunner of Jesus Christ, John proclaimed that the one to
follow would not only be greater than he but would also come with
high standards of judgment (3:12).
The stage was therefore set in stern terms for the initial public act
of Jesus—his willingness to be baptized (3:13-15; Luke
BAPTISM OF JESUS
John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. Since
Jesus submitted to this, are we to suppose that Jesus himself needed
to repent? If this were the case, it would mean that Jesus had
sinned. This is contrary to other evidence in the New Testament.
But if Jesus did not need to repent, what was the point of his
requesting baptism at the hands of John? Jesus had come on a mission
to others, and it is possible that he deliberately submitted to
John’s baptism in order to show that he was prepared to take the
place of others. This explanation is in line with Paul’s later
understanding of the work of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians
Matthew is the one Gospel that records John’s hesitation to baptize
Jesus (Matthew 3:14-15).
The most important part of the baptism of Jesus was the heavenly
voice, which declared pleasure in the beloved Son (Matthew
This announcement by God was the real starting point of the public
ministry of Jesus. It revealed that the ministry was no accident or
sudden inspiration on the part of Jesus. He went into his work with
the full approval of the Father. A further important feature is the
part played by the Holy Spirit in this scene. The dovelike
description is full of symbolic meaning (3:16). The activity
of the Spirit in the ministry of Jesus, although not emphasized in
the Gospels, is nevertheless key to having a true understanding of
THE TEMPTATION OF JESUS
Jesus’ baptism showed the nature of his mission. The
temptation showed the nature of the environment in which he was to
minister (Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1-2).
Confrontation with adverse spiritual forces characterized Jesus’
whole ministry. Only Matthew and Luke record details of the
temptations to which Jesus was subjected by the devil. All these
temptations presented spiritual shortcuts to Jesus’ mission. However,
Jesus gained the victory.
Both Gospels show that he accomplished this by appealing to
Scripture. Jesus, leading by example, shows us the proper weapon
against temptation. Jesus is also seen in this event as a genuine
human who, like all other humans, was subject to temptation. The
writer of the Hebrews notes that this fact qualified Jesus to act as
High Priest and to intercede on behalf of his people (Hebrews
He was fully God and fully man. He was like us in every way, except
that he never sinned. As a result, he was the perfect, innocent
sacrifice required for our sins.
THE EARLY MINISTRY OF
JESUS IN JUDEA AND SAMARIA
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.