This will be a 7-part series. We’ll discuss Jesus’ childhood, ministry, death, resurrection and finally I’ll be sharing my encounter with him in a dream. It’s a lot to cover. I have no less than 50 questions here! People have written entire books on each question but I’m keeping things concise so we can take in the big picture, so we can begin to understand His story.
I attempt to study and answer these questions with deep humility. Jesus is the name above every other name, the savior of the world and God himself. I, a human, cannot possibly fully fathom these great questions, but only look to the Bible for answers and God for wisdom.
The thing about this podcast and blog is that I don’t have all the answers, I don’t pretend to. I’m asking big questions, genuine questions to grow in my relationship with God. Maybe the name Faith Q & A suggests people write in and I answer their questions, but instead these are my own questions that I have asked and I’m sharing what I have found after reading the Bible and many books by people more educated than me!
- Part 1 | CHILDHOOD: Who is Jesus?
- Part 2 | MINISTRY: Who were Jesus’ disciples?
- Part 3 | MINISTRY: What did Jesus teach?
- Part 4 | MINISTRY: Why did Jesus perform miracles?
- Part 5 | ARREST: What happened in the last days of Jesus’ life?
- Part 6 | DEATH: Why did Jesus die on the cross?
- Part 7 | RETURN: What is Jesus doing now and when is he coming back?
- Part 8 | I saw Jesus in a dream
Let’s start with Jesus’ childhood. The Bible doesn’t tell us a whole lot, but it does give us pieces and clues.
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Who is Jesus Christ?
No other man in the history of the earth has been more influential than Jesus Christ. Even his birth became a dividing point in time. The book of John tells us that he was the Word in the beginning, he has always existed. Everything was made through him and for him. He is in perfect union with both God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
He is fully God and fully man. He came to earth in human flesh to live a perfect life that we could not live, die on the cross to pay for our sins and rise from the dead to secure our eternal home in heaven. The only requirement to receive this gift is to believe he did this for you, ask forgiveness for sin and make the decision to follow him.
Did Jesus really exist?
Looking for proof of Jesus outside the Bible, Lawrence Mykytiuk wrote this article detailing specific works from non-Christians that mention Jesus. I counted at least seven examples in his text, maybe the most notable coming from Tacitus, a Roman senator and historian who, in fact, despised Christians.
Mykytiuk writes, “As far as we know, no ancient person ever seriously argued that Jesus did not exist. Referring to the first several centuries C.E., even a scholar as cautious and thorough as Robert Van Voorst freely observes, ‘… [N]o pagans and Jews who opposed Christianity denied Jesus’ historicity or even questioned it.’ ”
Who were Jesus’ parents and family?
Jesus was born to Jewish parents Mary and Joseph, although Joseph is not his biological father. Mary was a virgin and conceived through the Holy Spirit before the two were married.
The angel Gabriel came to her beforehand. Let’s read Luke 1:26-38:
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
In light that her reputation would be ruined as an unwed, pregnant teen and that adultery could be punished by stoning, Mary’s response and acceptance of the news reflects her spiritual maturity, faith and love of the Lord.
Matthew, chapter 1, shows us Joseph’s brave response:
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Jesus was from the line of Judah, one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Its symbol was a lion (for leadership) and most kings came from this tribe, including David and Solomon.1
We don’t have any direct quotes from Joseph in the Bible, but it tells us he was a just man and faithful to the law. He was a carpenter by trade.
Joseph and Mary were not wealthy people. We can see that in Luke 2:22. They take Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord as the first male of the family. They give an offering of a pair of turtle doves instead of a lamb. Leviticus 12:8 says “And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering.”
Joseph might have died before Christ’s death as we don’t see him mentioned again after Jesus was 12, and from the cross Jesus tells John to care for his mother, which would make sense if her husband was no longer living.
As we read, Mary and Joseph did not consummate their marriage until after Jesus was born, but the couple did have four boys — James, Joseph, Simon and Judas — and also daughters, but they are not counted or named (Matt 13:55-56).
Did Jesus’ family believe he was the messiah?
There are a couple interactions we see with his family during his ministry.
While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50)
By this he meant those in the family of God have closer relationships than those outside of it, even earthly family.
Commentary by Chuck Smith brings up an interesting point — that the family of Jesus is outside, rather than sitting with him listening.
“Now there is indication that those natural half-brothers of Jesus did not really believe on Him. You remember He said, ‘a prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own family’ ( Matthew 13:57). He knew what it was to have the personal rejection of His family. And His brothers at one time, we’re going to rescue Him, they said, ‘He’s gone crazy, he is beside Himself.’”
At least two of Jesus’ half brothers, James and Jude, did not believe Jesus was the son of God while he was living, but changed their minds after his death. In fact, Jesus appeared to James after his resurrection. In his letter, James calls himself “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” instead of identifying himself “James, brother of Jesus.”
Jude similarly starts his letter “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,” demonstrating his understanding that his two brothers were not equal and acknowledging Jesus’ deity.
In contrast to her sons, it seems Mary believed Jesus was the Son of God throughout his life. She accepted the news of her son from Gabriel. We read multiple that that she “treasured these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Both parents marveled at Simeon’s prophesy over Jesus as an infant at the temple. It’s clear she knew he could do great works even before his first recorded miracle because she told the servants to do whatever Jesus said at the wedding in Cana, where he would turn water to wine.
It is worth noting here, that while Mary was a godly woman and worthy of respect, like us she was a sinner and in need of a Savior (Luke 1:47). Jesus alone is our mediator to God, worthy of prayer and worship.
Matthew and Luke record his grandfathers’ names were Jacob and Eli, but the Bible doesn’t say anything else of Jesus’ grandparents. We’re not sure how they reacted to the news of Mary’s pregnancy or how long they lived during Jesus’ life. Life expectancy in those days was about 30 to 35 years.
When was Jesus born?
Was the messiah actually born on December 25? There are many theories, but let’s look at two:
Theory 1: December 25
“Speculation as to the time of Jesus’ birth dates back to the 3rd century, when Hyppolytus (ca. 170-236) claimed that Jesus was born on December 25. The earliest mention of some sort of observance on that date is in the Philoclian Calendar, representing Roman practice, of the year 336. Later, John Chrysostom favored the same date of birth. Cyril of Jerusalem (348-386) had access to the original Roman birth census, which also documented that Jesus was born on the 25th of December. The date eventually became the officially recognized date for Christmas in part because it coincided with the pagan festivals celebrating Saturnalia and the winter solstice. The church thereby offered people a Christian alternative to the pagan festivities and eventually reinterpreted many of their symbols and actions in ways acceptable to Christian faith and practice.”
Theory 2: Fall
It had been over 400 years since God had spoken through a prophet in the Old Testament. The silence is broken by the angel Gabriel to Zachariah in the temple as he carried out his priestly duties. He belonged to the Abijah division, which served in June. (He probably only would have been able to serve once in his lifetime!) The angel told him he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child in their mature age. Because Zechariah responded in doubt, he was mute until the child was born. The child was John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus, who came to pave the way before the messiah.
For the first five months of Elizabeth’s pregnancy she remained in seclusion (Luke 1:24). In the sixth month Luke 1: 26 says Gabriel came to Mary to tell her she would conceive a son by the Holy Spirit and that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant. Mary then went to visit Elizabeth and stayed for three months when Elizabeth gave birth to John.
So given these dates and considering that shepherds would probably have typically had their flocks out in the field from spring until November to receive news from the angel of the Christ’s birth, Jesus could have been born in August or September.
“… we can approximate the month of Jesus’ birth to be around the time of Tishri (mid to late September). To arrive at this date, start at the conception of John the Baptist, Sivan (June), count forward six months to arrive at Gabriel’s announcement of the conception of Jesus, Kislev (December), then count forward nine more months, the time it takes for human gestation, to reach Tishri (September), when Jesus was born.”
Year of Jesus’ birth
As for the year, Jesus was most likely born a year or so before Herod the Great’s death in 4 BC — so around 6 or 7 BC. So though his birth divided our calendar, he was not born on year zero. According to DK Illustrated family Bible, “This discrepancy is due to a mistake made by Denys-the-Small, a 6th-century monk, who established the Christian calendar.”
The scene during this time in the middle east was violent and turbulent. God’s chosen people longed for their awaited messiah who would rescue them from their long list of military occupations. The current occupation was by the Roman Empire.
Where was Jesus born?
Jesus was born in the city of Bethlehem, called the city of David (as prophesied in Micah 5:2, Ezekiel 37:24, Isaiah 11:1). This also fulfilled God’s covenant with David that His house would endure forever (2 Samuel).
Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, a small Jewish village, but traveled to Bethlehem to register for the census issued by Roman emperor Caesar Augustus because Joseph was a descendent of David. This would have been a 90-mile journey!
“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6-7).
The house was too full of travelers for the census, so Mary and Joseph were forced to take the stable or holding place for animals. Now why they wouldn’t make room for a woman about to give birth is unknown! Some speculate this was Joseph’s ancestral home, and though already full, it is possible they were shaming the couple not yet married.
The word inn (kataluma) can also mean guest room, lodging place or even an eating room. The Bible doesn’t describe exactly what this structure was, whether it was a barn, shelter built from a cave or even the lower level of the house. Oftentimes animals were kept below the house to prevent theft, heat and access to food from the house.
Did Luke talk to Mary?
On a side note, only the gospels of Matthew and Luke give details on Jesus’ childhood. Luke in particular gives details of his birth and quite a bit about Mary, including her beautiful song to the Lord and how she treasured his birth story in her heart (Luke 2:19). I can’t help but wonder if Luke had talked to Mary herself to include her account. It is possible as he talks about interviewing eye witnesses in the introduction on his letter!
House of bread
There is great significance placed on bread in the Bible and, not coincidentally, Bethlehem means “house of bread.”
- God commanded the Israelites to eat bread without yeast or leaven during Passover (Deut. 16).
- God sent manna (bread-like honey wafers) down from heaven for the Israelites in the wilderness.
- God directed priests to offer him Bread of Presence in the tabernacle — 12 loaves representing each tribe and made from the same dough (Lev 24).
- When Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, he included “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt 6).
- Jesus says he is “the bread of life”!
Why was Jesus visited by shepherds first?
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
God chose to reveal the birth of the messiah to the low and humble shepherds first because only they would understand its significance, they symbolized what Jesus would do and they represented all the unclean who need a savior.
According to the Quest Study Bible, in those days “the more orthodox members of society despised shepherds for being unclean by strict ceremonial standards. Their reputation was that they were untrustworthy —a shepherd’s testimony was not valid for legal matters.”
Bethlehem was known for raising unblemished lambs for sacrifice at the temple and there was a place nearby called Migdal Eder (Tower of the Flock) that was both a watch tower and stall. It’s mentioned even as far back as Genesis.
Friends are you ready for this?! Shepherds would wrap their perfect, unblemished sheep in swaddling cloths and put them in the stone troughs (mangers) here to protect them and ensure their safety! Sound familiar?
There is actually a theory that Jesus could have been born at Migdal Eder for at least a few of reasons:
- Micha 4:8 prophesied: “And you, O tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, the former dominion shall come, kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem.”
- The angel told the shepherds they would find the “baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And they would have known right where to go.
And the outcast shepherds responded by “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told to them.”
While we’re having our minds blown, guess who else were shepherds. Abraham. Moses. And David! And now their descendent Jesus is our good shepherd (John 10:1-30) and lamb of sacrifice (John 1:29, Acts 8:32, 1 Peter 1:19, Revelation 5:6).
Spoiler alert: Our king was born as a lamb (humble, lowly, gentle, sacrificial), but he is coming back like a lion (justice, rescue, strength, king)!
Who were the magi who visited after Christ’s birth?
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
(Did you notice the prophesy the wisemen noted from 2 Samuel is about shepherds?!)
Here is what we do know of the wise men:
- They were most likely gentiles (not of Jewish descent).
- They were scholars and astronomers and had been exposed to God’s Word.
- They were men of the east. This was possibly Persia or modern-day Iran, which would mean they traveled 800-900 miles to see the child king.
What we don’t know:
- When they arrived to meet Jesus. Most scholars agree it was most likely not on the night of his birth as we see in today’s nativity scenes. It was most likely when he was a toddler. Notice also, Mary and Jesus were in a house when they arrived.
- How many magi there were. There were three gifts, but there were quite possibly more than the three we think of today. The Bible doesn’t tell us.
- What kind of star shone so brightly. Some suppose it could have been a comet or supernova, but most likely it was a supernatural phenomenon or celestial being similar to the pillar of fire that led the Israelites out of Egypt.
Why did no one else notice the star’s significance?
I don’t think the Jewish scholars and religious figures noticed the star either because it wasn’t revealed to them by the Father or they weren’t looking for it, meaning they were not truly waiting in anticipation for a savior. A new king would threaten their wealth, status and power. And this is why Jesus came for the lowly, the outcasts, the humble. They would receive him, unlike the proud and the power-hungry.
What did the wise men’s gifts mean?
These gifts were typical to offer a king, but also had practical medicinal purposes in addition to biblical meaning.
Gold: The precious metal represented royalty.
Frankincense: This perfume or incense represented divinity.
Myrrh: This anointing oil (also used for burial) represented humanity.
These truly were wise men. They not only admired The Light, they followed it at great length no matter the cost, they worshipped and offered their best gifts.
What happened in the heavens when Jesus was born?
While only a select few men were alerted to the Savior’s birth on earth, the spiritual world was ablaze. After all, what happens here on earth has a spiritual side. More aptly said, whatever happens in the heavenlies plays out here. And as you know, there are two opposing sides.
On the heavenly side, we just saw the angels who appeared to the shepherds were singing glory to God. What a day of rejoicing that must have been in Heaven! The sinners’ redeemer had finally come!
But Revelation 12 tells us what also happened:
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
Books have been written on this deep symbology and multitude of meanings of this mini-story, but I’ll be brief and point to Satan’s anger at this birth and desire to destroy the Savior.
The woman giving birth is Israel, God’s wife.
The 12 stars represents the 12 tribes of Israel.
Stars are often used to describe angels. The dragon knocked down a third of the stars, meaning 1/3 of the angels were cast down from heaven with Satan after their rebellion against God.
The 1,260 days represents tribulation in the end of days.
As we read in verse 4, after Christ’s birth Satan was waiting to devour him. On earth King Herod was waiting to devour him.
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. (Matthew 2:16)
But after the magi had left, the Lord came to Joseph in a dream telling him to escape to Egypt in order to avoid Herod’s horrific mass murder of the little boys.
Read more: Who are angels?
What was Jesus’ childhood like?
Jesus lived in Egypt for some years with his parents until Joseph had a dream it was safe to return to Israel after Herod had died.
He spent the rest of his childhood and adolescence in the small village of Nazareth, located in the region of Galilee in northern Israel. He had sisters and four brothers. He was likely trained up in the way of carpentry, like Joseph. (People called him a carpenter in Mark 6:3.) He spoke Aramaic in his everyday life, but also knew Hebrew, the language of his ancestors (Luke 4:16).
Luke 2 tells us they went to Jerusalem every year for the Feast of the Passover, so Jesus would have been accustomed to the temple and participated in all Jewish ceremonies.
Philip Yancey writes in his book, The Jesus I Never Knew, “I am impressed that when the Son of God became a human being he played by the rules, harsh rules: small towns do not treat kindly young boys who grow up with questionable paternity.”
The harsh realities didn’t stop there. Galileans were looked down upon by southern province of Judea, which contained Jerusalem.
TR. T. France writes in The Gospel of Matthew: “… even an impeccably Jewish Galilean in first-century Jerusalem was not among his own people; he was as much a foreigner as an Irishman in London or a Texan in New York. His accent would immediately mark him out as “not one of us,” and all the communal prejudice of the supposedly superior culture of the capital city would stand against his claim to be heard even as a prophet, let alone as the “Messiah,” a title which, as everyone knew, belonged to Judea (John 7:40-42).¹
What did Jesus look like?
The only verse that tells us about Jesus’ appearance tells us nothing. Isaiah (53:2) prophesied:
“For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.”
As in keeping with the humble circumstances he was born, his appearance was the same. He looked like an ordinary Israeli man, presumingly with darker skin and hair.
His appearance was left out on purpose. He is the king to all people of all nations and ethnicities.
When did Jesus or his parents know he was the Son of God?
Mary and Joseph knew Jesus was Holy before he was born from:
- An angel appearing to each of the them in a dream (Luke 1)
- Shepherds coming to worship (Luke 2)
- Magi coming to worship (Matthew 2)
- Prophet Simeon and Prophetess Anna recognized the savior at the temple when he was just a month old (Luke 2)
We don’t know when Jesus would have understood he was the messiah, but it’s clear that by 12 years old he knew.
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
Mary and Joseph must have had a great reminder that day of who he was born to be. The text says they were “astonished” at his teaching. Jesus calls the temple “my father’s house.” At that time Jews would have called him “our Father” or “Father in Heaven,” so he is aware of his relationship.
The DK Family Illustrated Bible points out that: “All Jewish boys attended the annual Feast of the Passover at least a year before they were thirteen. At the age of thirteen, boys celebrated their “bar mitzvah” and were considered adults in the religious community.
Nevertheless, Jesus went with them and was submissive to his parents. We’ll see him over and over again being respectful to his mother. It’s also interesting to note he sat under the teachers and was willing to listen to them as an upstanding young student would. It’s safe to say he was was a good kid.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
Why did Jesus come to earth as a human?
Jesus’ story doesn’t start in the New Testament. He has always existed and he has always been one with the Father. Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit together decided he would come to earth to save their beloved creation.
Jesus in the Old Testament
“Christ is at the heart of the Scriptures: he is patterned, promised, and present from Genesis onward,” states an article by Desiring God.
Here are some examples, but not limited to:
From John Calvin’s preface to Pierre-Robert Olivétan’s 1535 translation of the New Testament:
- He [Christ] is Isaac, the beloved Son of the Father who was offered as a sacrifice, but nevertheless did not succumb to the power of death.
- He is Jacob the watchful shepherd, who has such great care for the sheep which he guards.
- He is the good and compassionate brother Joseph, who in his glory was not ashamed to acknowledge his brothers, however lowly and abject their condition.
- He is the great sacrificer and bishop Melchizedek, who has offered an eternal sacrifice once for all.
- He is the sovereign lawgiver Moses, writing his law on the tables of our hearts by his Spirit.
- He is the faithful captain and guide Joshua, to lead us to the Promised Land.
- He is the victorious and noble king David, bringing by his hand all rebellious power to subjection.
- He is the magnificent and triumphant king Solomon, governing his kingdom in peace and prosperity.
- He is the strong and powerful Samson, who by his death has overwhelmed all his enemies.
- “I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation.” Genesis 17:19-20
- “When the time comes for you to die, I will raise up your descendant, one of your own sons, to succeed you, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for my name, and I will make his dynasty permanent.” 2 Samuel 7:12
- “I will raise up a prophet like you for them from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth and he will speak to them whatever I command.” Deuteronomy 18:18
- “For this reason the Lord himself will give you a confirming sign. Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
- “For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us. He shoulders responsibility and is called Wonderful Adviser, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His dominion will be vast, and he will bring immeasurable prosperity. He will rule on David’s throne and over David’s kingdom, establishing it and strengthening it by promoting justice and fairness, from this time forward and forevermore.” Isaiah 9:1-7
- The “I Am” in whom Abraham rejoiced was Jesus (John 8:56–58).
- The Lord who motivated Moses was Christ (Hebrews 11:26).
- The Redeemer who brought them out of Egypt was Jesus (Jude 5).
- The Rock in the wilderness was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).
- The King of Isaiah’s temple vision was the Son (John 12:40–41).
The Old Testament is a story of God’s love for his people even as they walk away from him again and again. It points to his rescue story through is son Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ birth fulfilled God’s covenants with:
- Abraham: land, many decedents, all people on earth would be blessed through him (Gen 12:1-3, Gen 12:7, Gen 13:14-17, Gen 15, Gen 17)
- David: Messiah would be born from David’s lineage (2 Samuel 7)
- God’s people: a messiah and redeemer
Jesus in the New Testament
Jesus was not born an ignorant man who had to figure out he was the savior. It was his choice from the beginning of time to put on the robe of humanity. And his sacrifice did not end after 33 years on the earth. This was a forever decision he made, executed and continues to carry out.
From Gentle and Lowly, by Dane Ortlund:
“The Son of God clothed himself with humanity and will never unclothe himself. He became a man and always will be. This is the significance of the doctrine of Christ’s ascension: he went into heaven with the very body, reflecting his full humanity, that was raised out of the tomb. He is and always has been divine as well, of course. But his humanity, once taken on, will never end.”
After fulfilling all the covenants of old, Jesus gives us a new and final covenant offered to anyone who is willing to receive it:
“For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:28
If you chose to exchange robes with him in this covenant of old, to put on his robe of righteousness because he has taken your robe of humanity, you will take communion, become baptized and begin to live in the spirit rather than just your physical body.
Simply put, the payment for sin is death, eternity away from the Father. But one came who can pay that debt for us if we will accept it!
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Part 2: MINISTRY — Who were Jesus’ disciples?
Buckle up because we’re just getting started! Let’s take a look at the ministry of this teacher, rebel, rebuker, miracle worker, king of kings. He’s going to make waves.