Did You Know That Jesus Was a Jew!

A lot of people who call themselves Christians have a limited understanding of who Jesus was. Jesus was a jew.

Yes, they believe He was the Son of God. They also may even believe that He was the Messiah, the Christ, and the Savior of mankind. And yes, they believe he was born of a Virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross to pay for our sins and rose from the grave. They accept all that.

The one thing they forget is that Jesus/Yeshua was not a technically a Christian. Jesus was a Jew. He lived as a Jew and participated in all of the holidays and religious observances. He did not come to eliminate Judaism.

Do I need to convert to Judaism to follow Jesus?

The Apostles argued with one another about this very topic. Some maintained that in order to be a follower of Jesus a person would first have to convert to Judaism. The Apostle Paul was on the opposite site and maintained that there was no prerequisite for “Christian” believe, other than to follow Jesus. He said there was no longer Jew or Greek, just believers and non-believers.

Some Christian despise Jews

To make the topic more difficult, there are Christians who call Jews “Christ killers” and maintain that they were the enemy in the New Testament accounts.

Of course, there were the Romans, the occupying force, who oppressed the Jewish people and bled them for taxes. The Romans were the instrument of execution, taking Jesus to the cross after a mock trial.

The Jewish religious leaders demanded His crucifixion, believing Jesus to be dangerous to the faith. The crow screamed at Pilot, “Let His blood be on our heads,” as they demanded His death. There was plenty of blame to go around. But Jesus did not have to die because of the Jews or the Romans.

Jesus came so everyone can be redeemed

Jesus explained that he did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them. He was not there to overcome the Roman army, or to dismantle the Jewish traditions.

He was there to pay the price for sin, not just for the people in Israel at the time, but for all people in all places at all times. Logically, it was sin that killed Jesus. The players were secondary.

Christians separate themselves from Judaism

Christians separate themselves from the Jewish people., thinking that the divide is too great. I personally think this is nonsense. While I am a follower of Jesus, I have a deep affection for the Jewish people and the faith that Jesus practiced.

He was always a part of history, the formation of the faith and He will return to us to complete the final chapter, which has yet to be written. God is not done with His chosen people. He has watched His community of believers in Christ for over 2000 years, but He was not forgotten Israel and His Jewish children.

The Chosen” highlights the Jewishness of Jesus/Yeshua

The television drama, “The Chosen” has done a beautiful job of bringing out the Jewish traditions. The show gives us a backstory on the Biblical accounts. It clearly shows that Jesus was God and Man, and more importantly, a Jew.

The second episode of the first season shows Jesus going to a Shabbat/Sabbath dinner, observing the Jewish custom. He went to Jerusalem for Passover, celebrated Hanukkah and the other observances. Rabbi Jason Sobel’s book “Mysteries of the Messiah,” is a joy to read and teaches us about the Jewish roots of the Christian faith.

Understanding the Jewish Faith Helps Us to Understand the New Testament

When we embrace the Jewish roots, so much of New Testament Scripture becomes clearer and the pieces fall into place. Jesus did not come to establish Christianity; he came to announce the Kingdom of God. Jesus, of course, is the absolute essential in bringing man and God together.

To follow Jesus means to do what Jesus did. You don’t have to become a Jew to do this, but understand that understanding the Jewish faith will bring vibrancy and excitement to the Christian tradition. We get to see more of Jesus in His fullness.

“The Chosen”: God With Us

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…(John 1:1)

We marvel at the miracles of the Lord Jesus. We’re amazed that He led a sinless life. We worship Messiah Yeshua as our Savior, who offered His life on the cross to overcome our sin.

Every year we celebrate His resurrection from the grave. We celebrate His virgin birth, which of course challenges our understanding of basic human biology. We do a lot of things, but we forget that Jesus was a man. Granted He was God and man at the same time, but He was one of us, subject to all the human frailties and temptations. It is His humanity that most fascinates me.

New TV series “The Chosen”

For the last couple of years this subject has intrigued me, inspired by the television series “The Chosen.” I am a big fan. It captivated me from the very first scene in the first episode.

The series gives us a plausible backstory on the disciples, the Lord’s followers, and his enemies. Granted, it is a drama and there is some creative license taken, but it does not violate the intent or the spirit of the Bible.

What might have been happening is the question we ask. What kind of people were these who we read about in scripture. Did the disciples like each other? Good questions.

What was it like to be a disciple of Jesus?

“The Chosen” brings out untold, human exchanges. We call them saints, in the sense that they are to be venerated and held above all others, but that’s hardly the entire picture.

We see, in episode after episode, that the disciples and followers were flawed. They were following a man they did not understand, or even fully appreciate; had doubts and fears; argued with each other; they were human.

I really appreciate actor Jonathan Roumie’s interpretation and depiction of Jesus. Director Dallas Jenkins and his team have written scripts that bring out the humanness of Jesus and the shortcomings his followers. It is in this contrast that the show really succeeds.

I love the man Jesus/Yeshua

Divinity aside, I love the man Jesus. The show also gives us insight and understanding of the Pharisees, in particular Nicodemus, played by Erick Avari.

The show, just like the Bible, has its villains, such as Quintus, the Roman military commander in Capernaum, played by Brandon Porter. The plausible backstory just adds to the presentation and pulls us in. It doesn’t violate the Biblical text. Like a parable was used by Jesus to explain situations, the dramatic license taken in each episode helps to illuminate what the Bible narrative presents.

Already have two seasons available to stream

As you read this, production of Season 3 is about the begin. There are eight seasons planned. They acquired their own property and have build sound stages and facilities to accelerate the production process.

They have shot in several locations for the first two seasons, subject to weather and other obstructions. The wait in between episodes and seasons will shorten moving forward. In the meantime, I will continue to re-watch the first two seasons, as every viewing brings out something new, something I missed.

The Chosen is a must see for anyone and an absolute gem for the Christian community.

The Coming of Christ Foretold

Christ was foretold

The Coming of Christ Foretold: The Bible is often referred to as the inspired word of God. That is really a very simple way of describing God putting words in the writer’s head and the writer scratched them down on the scroll.

Throughout the Bible, God makes sure that His most important points are repeated often and this is especially important in the prophesies concerning the coming and return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are told 176 times that Jesus the Messiah will come. The story is told in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) in the writings of the prophets, but also in the Psalms more than 500 years before His birth.

Told in detail about the crucifixion of Christ

Take for example Psalm 22, which is not a prophesy of the coming of Christ, but a very accurate description of His crucifixion. Another interesting passage is in Isaiah 43, which likewise describes the happenings on that day. But God then tells his writers 257 times that Jesus will come back, not as a child, but as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

But there has always been disagreement on who the Messiah would be. Jewish scholars were looking for a military leader, who would crush the Roman occupation of Israel.

A mild, soft-spoken craftsman from Nazareth was not their idea of the person who would fit that job description. The disagreement rages on. Jews very much believe in the Messiah, just not Jesus.

Some Jews accept Jesus as the Messiah

Some Jews, however, accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, while still holding tightly to their Jewish traditions, so are they Jews or are they Christians? The answer in the opinion of this writer is that they are both. Christianity is just an extension of Judaism, and this is brought out nicely in the television series “The Chosen,” that depicts Jesus as being very Jewish.

Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them. I think we’ll all know everything when He returns.

176 Prophecies on First Coming

257 Prophecies on Second Coming

433 Total Prophecies about Jesus the Messiah

Much debate about Jesus/Yeshua

Scholars have debated the prophesies of the coming and return of Christ for centuries. Jewish scholars have laid our their case for why Yeshua/Jesus could not be the Messiah, which has been argued and discussed down through the ages.

Christians find it difficult to believe the people don’t see that all of the Prophesies point to Jesus, but if it is impossible to prove the existence of God, it is likewise impossible to prove the deity of Jesus.

Faith is key to belief

That gets us back to a familiar and all-important point: FAITH. God wants us to accept His word by faith. Intellectuals will dissect every sentence, Theologians will examine every possible interpretation and some regular people will just believe what they want to believe.

The proper balance of knowledge and faith is essential. One should always know what they’re talking about. The evidence is there. Sometimes people just end up with opposite conclusions. What is really sad is people will sometimes know something is true, but they ignore the truth. They just don’t want to believe it.

Everything points to Jesus the Christ

The bottom line here is that everything in Scripture hinges on one essential and unavoidable question– what is the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth? The prophesies must point to a conclusion. The evidence is all there.

If Jesus is not the one the prophesies point to, then was there another, or when will Messiah come? Christians believe it all falls on Jesus. The rest of the world challenges that claim.

Jesus and the Sower… Some Believe, Some Don’t

Jesus and the sower

Jesus was a great story teller. During His earthy ministry He told stories, parables, to illustrate important points in a way that would help people to relate to the message and understand its significance.

One of the parables is that of the sower, whom in this case was Jesus Himself. He knew, of course, that there would be some who were attracted to His message, but others would either listen and then lose interest, while others would reject it entirely. Here is the parable that Jesus shared in Matthew 13:1-9

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.’”

For anyone who has ever tried to share the Gospel with someone else, you know that it’s sometimes a challenge, especially when the message is rejected. We tend to take it personally. Our egos are bruised. But it isn’t about us at all, it’s about God’s business.

Jesus was never in a hurry

That is why Christians today learn about ways to evangelize, so they can best communicate with any person. We want to get to the punchline and get people to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, but it doesn’t work that way.

Jesus was never in a hurry and He always met people where they were at. People for the most part liked him, that is except for the Pharisees, who saw him as a troublemaker and a threat to their authority. They accused him of blasphemy. Little did they know that it was He who inspired the Scriptures.

Some have a harden heart

The pathway in the parable represents those with a hardened heart. They will never receive the good news or turn to God for salvation. The rocky places are those to hear the message and it appeals to them, but they haven’t completely bought in to the message, so at the first sign of conflict, they fall away.

The thorny ground tells us about people who receive the Gospel, but they have other things getting in the way, like their job, money, social standing, etc. God’s truth doesn’t grow in them because there isn’t room enough to allow it to flourish.

The good soil, as it’s description implies, talks of people that allow the Word of God to take root in their soul. They share their love of God with others, they study, they associate with other believers and this is exactly what Jesus wanted.

Hard ground will not bear fruit

The parable illustrates the condition of the heart of man. One can argue whether or not those who are less than the “good soil” are going to heaven. But that is a discussion for another day.

The hard ground clearly is not going to bear any fruit, any belief, or any kind of life change.

The others represent various degrees of belief. How much belief, how much faith is necessary for salvation?

It is the opinion of this writer that wherever a person is on the spectrum, God will spare them. Even those with true belief/faith, however fleeting or childlike in nature. Only God knows the depth of the human heart. This is exactly why all of us need to open up to Him and allow Him to take root.

A simple message

Jesus brought us a simple message. He expressed it in multiple ways, so various kinds of people would hear it. The Apostle Paul, the evangelist to the gentiles, followed Yeshua’s lead and likewise altered his style and approach. A great deal of thought and effort went into communicating a simple message, just so we can understand it.

Keeping It Simple… The Gospel isn’t complicated

The Gospel isn’t complicated. It’s easy to understand. Children can grasp it. Still, the good news that God shares with us in the Bible will be rejected by more people than those who will accept it.

People like to complicate

Left to their own devices, many people will complicate any topic. The Israelites took 10 commandments from God and created 613 rules and regulations. Every aspect of life came under the Law of Moses. The prophets came along and added to the mix. Religion was born.

Now there is nothing wrong with having religion. Certainly not. But religion and the Gospel are two different things. Religion dictates what man must do to be acceptable to God. The Gospel is what God did to make man acceptable to Him.

Those 613 laws were boiled down to one statement–

For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not parish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Jesus offered a clarifying statement when he said,

I have not come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

He told the people that all of the law was still very much in force, but He was the one who would fulfill all of the righteous requirements of the law, so people who put their trust and faith in Him would be forever accepted into God’s family.

When I was a small child, I received a vaccination for polio. My parents didn’t know anything about the years that went into the development of the vaccine, or the science behind it, but they trusted that it would prevent the dreaded disease.

The law is impossible to follow. Every living human being has broken a commandment. The trouble is, Jesus said if you break one, you’ve broken them all. Breaking a commandment is sin, and the Apostle Paul wrote that

the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 3:23)

So what’s the point? The point is simple– the law, the 10 Commandments, points us to Christ. Jesus did not sin. He paid the full price. That is an amazing statement. He fulfilled all of the requirements so that anyone who believes in Him will be guaranteed heaven. We can’t, He can.

It’s simple, straight forward and easy, at least on the surface. Paul said “all have sinned,” which can be a sticking point for some, who do not believe in sin and do not believe they have committed any transgression worthy of an eternal punishment. But he adds,

the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).

Those who acknowledge their sinfulness, big or small, and accept the gift of life through faith in Jesus, are welcomed with open arms, no strings attached. Jesus said,

I am the way the truth and the life. Nobody goes to the Father except by me.” ( John 14:6 )

In other words, there is no back door into heaven and no other way to satisfy God. It’s simple enough, yet so many choke on the idea that they have sinned. Call it pride, or maybe they just don’t understand, I have known some that seem incapable of understanding the simplest things of God. They scoff, they mock and completely dismiss the entire message of the Bible.

The Gospel offers salvation by grace and faith

There are many religions, but only one offers salvation by grace through faith. Christianity stands alone, completely alone. Judaism is the closest, and many Jewish people have accepted Jeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah, much to the chagrin of the Jewish leadership. It was the same during the time of Christ.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe in the simple things. If you make up a religion and make it complicated, you just may find some followers. But God and the Gospel offer you a simple, straight forward invitation. Believe in My Son. Jesus gave Himself so you could live. He paid your debt in full… Simple.

Hope In the Bible Comes From God

Hope in the Bible

According to the dictionary, hope is the desire for something to happen. Or it can be the desire, with expectation, for something to happen. In the Bible, hope is so much more. Hope in the Bible is filled with prophesies of things that will happen and promises of good things to come.

We hope for things in life, like food, a place to live and some happiness to go along with those essentials. We hope for a better life and parents hope their children grow up to be healthy and prosperous. It’s universal. People are people, no matter where they come from.

Hope in the Bible

Biblical hope is entirely different. For starters, we cannot prove that God exists. Those to believe in God and believe in the Bible do so out of faith and hope. There is, of course, facts to back that up our beliefs, but since the beginning of recorded time, people look at the evidence and draw their own conclusions. One man’s facts is the other man’s folly.

That is a major sticking point for many people, because they want to see proof of God. Likewise, we cannot prove that there is no God. The Bible addresses that issue in Psalm 14:1:

The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”

God wants man to come to Him, like children come to their parents. A child approaches mom and dad with trust and love. God wants us to approach Him with hope and faith.

We All Want To Believe

The human condition is hard-wired for belief in God. Somewhere in all of us is the desire to know where we came from and why we are here. That desire gets confused at times. We worship celebrities, like movie stars and athletes. We worship money and power. We can either follow God, or try to lead our lives by ourselves, we make the choice.

People who struggle with their belief in God ask: Were we some kind of cosmic accident, or was there “intelligent design,” by a creator? If there was a creator, why are we still asking these questions? Shouldn’t all of us have the same understanding of God or no God?

The simple explanation of this is God gives us our free will to CHOOSE whether or not we believe and have hope in Him. We all have our own opinions and we determine our own direction in life in so many instances.

We cannot chose when we are born, where we are born, who we are related to, whether we are born male or female. We may get cancer and die at an early age, or live to be over 100 years old, we have little control.

Our HOPE is in the LORD

We can, however, make choices along the way of what we put our hope in. Man can hope and have hope in the LORD. We have the ability to think “outside the box” or imagine things that have not happened.

Man is the only creature on earth that knows he/she is ultimately going to die. We make plans. Hope is that yearning for something more.

Biblical Hope Is the Desire For God

The Biblical version of hope is the desire for God. Jesus said: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to as well.” Matthew 7:33

God created man as an object of love. God said “Let us create man in our own image.” The Apostle Peter wrote:“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” 1 Peter 3:15

Peter was referring to the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. It is the anticipation of HOPE, based on trust and faith.

Throughout the Bible narrative, God makes promises and comes through on those promises. God lays down a perfect track record of hope, in all times and in all places:

Abram left his home hoping that God would lead him to a better life.

Moses trusted God to deliver the Israelite from bondage in Egypt. While they wandered the desert, Moses had hope that God would lead them to a land of milk and honey.

David had hope that he would defeat Goliath, despite overwhelming odds that he would surely die in the fight.

Isaiah wrote of the coming of the Messiah, with hope that God would come through.

Jesus, the Messiah, offered His own life willingly, with hope that He would be raised on the third day.

The Apostles spread out to the entire known world to share the Gospel, with hope that God would honor their efforts and people would respond.

Hope Is Founded In Fact

Hope in the truth and promises of God in the Bible is a matter of faith, founded on fact. Other than the Apostle John, all of the Apostles of Christ were martyred. They all died with hope. Were they fools, or did they see something that gave them confidence and hope?

Biblical hope is founded on evidence, based on consistency and logic. The Bible issues challenges to seek the deeper things of God. We are encouraged to ask questions and seek the truth. Accepting the Bible is not blind faith, but the kind of hope that everything is going to be fine as long as our hope is in God.

The Ascension

The Ascension of Jesus
The Ascension of Jesus

What Happened

After Jesus walked out of the tomb, he appeared before many people throughout the area. He instructed his disciples to go back to Galilee and await Him there.

It was in there, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, that he first met them. It had been forty days since Jesus had come back to life and left His tomb.

The final meeting took place where at all began at the Sea of Galilee. Jesus charged them with going out beyond the immediate boundaries of Israel to spread the Gospel throughout the known world.

Then Jesus went back up to heaven, where He sits on the right hand of God. Jesus was still with His disciples and He is still with us.

Why it matters

There had to be an eye witness to the resurrection of Christ, and it was especially necessary for Jesus to show Himself before his disciples. With their own eyes, they saw the risen Savior.

Bible Verse

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28: 16-20

4 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;

18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

Mark 16:4-20

Why it matters to you

People actually saw Jesus alive and well after the crucifixion. But it was hard to believe. After all, people coming back from being dead is a very rare occurrence. Today we hear stories about people who make miraculous recoveries in hospitals, but not after taking a brutal beating and dying on a cross.

It matters because it is God’s way of showing the whole world that He will do what He says. God wants man to trust Him and to follow Jesus.

Description

When Jesus finished his talk with the disciples, He was taken up into heaven, according to the Gospels. Jesus had told his disciples that he would return to the Father, to sit at the right hand of the throne of God.

His rightful place is with His father, where He has always been before and after taking human form. All told, Jesus appeared to people over a 40 days period before going back home.

What you may not know

Jesus had a glorified body after the resurrection. He could appear here and there, and effortlessly go from place to place and not have any of the worries of human life.

Shortly after the resurrection, he appeared to two men on the road to Emmaus, which was near Jerusalem, and taught them about the events that people had seen and had been talking about.

The two men, once they realized who was talking to them, immediately went back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples. The disciples did not believe Mary Magdalene when she came back from the tomb, as they found the account unbelievable.

Only 11 disciples went to Galilee. Judas Iscariot committed suicide shortly after betraying Christ to the Jewish authorities. He never got to enjoy his 30 pieces of silver. Matthias was later chosen to join the group.

Jesus’ Resurrection

Jesus' Resurrection

What Happened

Jesus has risen: After being crucified on the cross, Jesus died after a few hours, while the two thieves executed with him, lingered in agony. Because of the Passover, not wanting any trouble from the bulging population of Jerusalem, the Romans opted to bring a quick death to the three convicted men.

The Roman guards broke the legs of the two thieves, which took away their ability to leverage themselves to take a breath. They died of asphyxiation.

When they came to Jesus, they saw he was already dead, not surprising considering that he had taken a brutal beating at the hands of Pilate before even being tried. The Roman guards did not break his legs and that fulfilled a prophesy that foretold that no bone in His body would be broken. To make sure he was dead, they thrust a spear into his side.

They ask for Jesus’ body

A wealthy man Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, asked Pilate for the body. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, a preeminent Rabbi, who had visited with Jesus previously. Joseph had a burial tomb and the two men wrapped Jesus in cloth and anointed his body with herbs and spices, as was the Jewish custom. It was the Jewish day of preparation.

Meanwhile, the Jewish authorities had gone to Pilate to demand that a guard be placed at the tomb. Now that Jesus was dead, the authorities wanted Him to stay dead, and wanted to make sure that nobody took the body to claim that he had risen.

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.

“His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”

Jesus than met both Mary’s on the road and told them not to be afraid, and to go and tell His disciples that He had risen from the dead.

Why it matters

This is the single most important event in human history. Everything that was told, all of the prophesies, all of the writings, point to this remarkable occurrence.

By supernatural power, Jesus is brought back to life, in human form, but in a glorified body, one that will never grow old, get sick, or die. Jesus was the first to be raised from the dead, a promise that God gives to all who believe.

Bible Verse

1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.

3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Matthew 28:1-10

Why it matters to you

Simply stated, if Jesus Christ did not rise on the third day and walked out of the tom. The prophets are all wrong, the New Testament is a myth and the Bible is a hoax. Without the resurrection, there is no hope for salvation and eternal life.

Description

The Jewish authorities went to the Romans and demanded that a guard be placed on the tomb. They knew the prediction of Jesus rising from the dead and they wanted to squash that story.

The guards that were posted to the tomb were completely overwhelmed by the stone being rolled away. They were terrified and they knew that an empty tomb would mean their deaths.

Then they ran to the Jewish authorities, who told them to tell a lie about being attacked by the disciples. The guards were paid. The disciples were not anywhere near the tomb, too afraid to go out in public.

The Jewish authorities did not want the news of Jesus rising to get around. It would prove that He was right and they had missed His message. It would not have been good for them politically.

What you may not know

Mary Magdalene was the first person to declare the risen Christ. She ran back and met with the disciples, who were in hiding, and said “He is risen.”

The disciples did not believe her. Later Jesus appeared to them and at that point John was convinced. After Jesus let him touch His wrists and side. Thomas cried out, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus has risen: The Jewish authorities had the most believable story for the Romans to swallow. Jesus’ body was stolen. But who could have taken it? Who ever did had to overcome the Roman guards, who were charged with killing anyone who dare to try.

The Romans guarding the tomb were no match for the earthquake that shook the stone lose and opened the tomb. Witnessing the awesome power of God, they took off like scared rabbits.

The least likely to have anything to do with the disappearance of Jesus were the disciples, who were in hiding.

The truth is, Jesus rose. And ss fantastic as that sounds, it is certainly consistent with everything that had happened between man and God since Adam and Eve.

Sermon on the Mount

Jesus at the sermon on the mount

What Happened

Jesus had been going from town to town in Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and healing the sick. Word traveled fast and crowds would gather. One day, when he saw the crowd gathering, he went to a mountainside, sat down and began to teach.

His disciples were with Him and listened along with the masses. The account is a quote from beginning to end, not a report. Matthew, inspired and directed by God, gave his account.

Why it matters

The Bible is a handbook for the human condition, and in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks to the human condition. It was a message for all people, regardless of their walk of life, in all places and for all times.

The sermon brings out the differences between the strict legalism of the Jewish tradition, and the new way of faith and trust in God. God as our Father is highlighted by His sermon.

Jesus knew that he would someday be sacrificed, making this message even more poignant. His gentle, loving invitation for people to come to God is in direct contrast to the harshness of Jewish law.

Bible Verse

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Mathew 5:3-10

Why it matters to you

The Sermon on the Mount is about the ethics of the Kingdom, as Jesus talks of purity of heart and the standards of righteousness before God. We are taught the “Lord’s Prayer” in this dissertation and Jesus teaches about God’s Law. It is a gentle, but very clear illustration of God’s expectations.

Jesus tells the people that he has not come to abolish the Law and the prophets, but to fulfill them. He added that until heaven and earth are gone, every letter of the law is in place. Jesus gives an invitation to ask God and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.

Those who seek God will find Him, but it is an individual journey. Each person has their own, unique relationship to God.

Description

The main thrust of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ was to herald the Kingdom of God. Jesus offers eight blessings, known as the Beatitudes, which are later chronicled in the Gospel of Luke.

Jesus talks of his fulfilling the Law, which is essential to man’s chances of being in God’s Kingdom. Man cannot, by his sinful nature, fulfill the Law. Therefore, God had to do it.

Just as God had supplied the sacrifice to Abraham and spared Isaac, God spared man and sacrificed His son. He talks of social issues, such as murder, divorce, taking oaths, caring for the needy, loving your enemies, not judging others.

What you may not know

The writer of this Gospel, Matthew, was writing to Jews, as evidenced by his references to Jewish Law and his using the term “Kingdom of God.” As a tax collector, Matthew was given a quota to collect for the Romans. Anything above that quota was his to keep.

The irony is apparent, as this beautiful Sermon on the Mount is shared by a Jewish outcast, one who was hated by society. Matthew is writing to prove to Jews that Jesus is the Messiah.

Birth of Jesus

Birth of Jesus

What Happened

For centuries the prophets of Israel had predicted the birth of the Messiah, the Anointed One. Jesus would be a first born, male and without flaw. He was carried by a virgin girl, but not conceived in the regular manner, as His mother Mary, was never touched by Joseph. Rather, God Himself, created her baby.

Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem for the census. That is where she delivered Jesus. There was no place for them to stay, so they took refuge in a stable. In those times, it was common for animals to be kept in a stable, which was the ground level of a house. Living quarters would have been on the second level.

The Messiah, Jesus, has now been born and all of human civilization will never be the same. And as John so eloquently wrote:

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Why it matters

The Biblical story moves into the critical final events with the birth of Jesus. All the previous events of the Bible including: the Law, the Prophets and the Writings, lead up to the coming of the Messiah. Jesus is the focal point of the Bible, as everything is about Him, everything is written for Him and everything centers around Him.

Without Jesus, the promise of the Messiah remains unfulfilled, man’s chance to be reconciled to God is ripped apart and there is no promise of eternal life. Without the birth of Jesus, the Bible is just another religious text, but not the transformation of the entire human race.

Because of Jesus’ birth and eventual resurrection, the Bible becomes the most important book in all of human existence.

Bible Verse

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Luke 2:8-11

Description

The Angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that God had chosen her to carry His son. Mary was engaged to Joseph and was a virgin. Knowing that Joseph would probably not understand, God came to him in a dream and explained what had happened.

Joseph, by law, could have called everything off, but he didn’t. The two lived in Nazareth, and like most small towns, word would have gotten around quickly that something was not right. Joseph and Mary had to suffer through that difficult humiliation.

Then, the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus decreed that a census was to be taken, so everyone had to return to their town of origin to be counted. Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem, his birthplace. It was there that she delivered the child that they called Jesus just as God had instructed.

God, as promised, delivered His only son Jesus, to be with us. Jesus was both man and God, and throughout His life offers us a path away from our sin and destruction toward salvation.

Why it matters to you

The coming of the Messiah marks the final chapter in God’s plan of salvation for man. Since the Garden of Eden, God had made covenants with man and had guided man through periods of prosperity, followed by periods of separation.

Man cannot save himself. Only God can save us.

The Holy One of Israel will not allow imperfection into His Kingdom, and man, by his very nature, is imperfect and has turned away from God in one way or another.

The Holy and Almighty God, will never and cannot ever go back on His word. Therefore, sin must be punished. Rather than destroying all of mankind, which He nearly did with the flood, God chose to allow His own son to take the punishment.

Jesus led a perfect life, a sinless life in obedience and service to His father. Led to the slaughter, as Isaiah wrote, Jesus was the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. Only Jesus, fully man and fully God, could have offered this sacrifice.

His laying down of His own life, by choice, was his gift to man. Jesus said, “whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

What you may not know

Jesus was not born on December 25, but most likely during the lambing season (December-January) in Israel, as the shepherds described in the Gospels.

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus but likely is not exactly on His birthday. Conversely, Easter is celebrated during the Jewish celebration of Passover, and does represent the exact date that Jesus was crucified and resurrected.

Jesus fulfills more than 400 prophecies

The question of how many prophecies Jesus fulfilled is difficult to answer exactly. But what is clear, is that much of what Jesus did and said and what happened to Him

while He was living as a man in Israel, fulfilled exactly what had been predicted in the Bible since Genesis.

Joseph could not be the father of Jesus

We also learn that Joseph could not be the father of Jesus, because Jesus would be the one to take the throne of David and rule eternally. A king in Joseph’s bloodline, Jeconiah, turned from God. Because of his transgression, God cursed his bloodline and that demonstrates that Jesus was not in that bloodline.

Matthew’s gospel shows the bloodline to Joseph, while Luke’s gospel shows the bloodline to Mary. The line of succession to the throne from David to Jesus, goes through David’s first son, Nathan down to Mary. Joseph’s line comes from Solomon. Interestingly, God makes sure we know this.