Lecture 4: Life of Jesus - Part 2
Lesson 4: Life of Jesus - Part 2
I am Carl Laney, Prof at Western Seminary, and I have the privilege of teaching the Bible and it’s my privilege to share with you some important lessons about the life of Jesus.
I. KEY EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF JESUS
Well if you were going to write a story about your life and the events of your life what would you write about? What would you identify as some of the major and significant events of your life? You would probably want to start with your birth and maybe include your marriage. And probably want to say something about your salvation, maybe your career and probably a few of your hobbies. There are probably many different key events or accomplishments that you would want to be remembered for. Today we want to focus our attention on the 12 key events in the life of Jesus. A knowledge of these key events will enable us to have a good grasp of the life of Jesus and what he’s all about.
A. Virgin Birth
1. Matt. 1:16-25
So, we are going to be following Matt.’s Gospel as we consider the life of Jesus. We begin with the birth of Jesus, the virgin birth. The birth of Jesus is the most significant event in human history and it really divides history, BC before Christ, AD in the year of our Lord. The most unusual thing about Jesus birth is that he was born without a human father. It was a virgin birth. Matt. Records that before Joseph and Mary had come together as a married couple Mary was found to be pregnant, Matt. 1:18, “before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.”
Now there were two avenues open to Joseph at this time. He could involve himself in a public lawsuit, defame Mary for breaking the betrothal relationship or he could set her aside quietly by a divorce. Joseph being a righteous man chose the latter. But as he was contemplating this decision we find that the angel spoke to him and told him that this child was not as a result of the illegitimate relationship that Mary had involved herself with, but this child has been conceived, Matt.1:20, of the Holy Spirit. His name is to be called Jesus, a name means salvation, Jesus means salvation. So, his name in keeping with what he is going to do. He will provide salvation for his people. And then Matt. quotes from Isaiah 7:14, “Behold a virgin shall be with child and bear a son and they shall call his name Immanuel which means God with us.”. This is the first of a long line of prophecies that Matt. will quote to show that Jesus is long-expected Messiah, the long expected Promised One of Israel. The virgin birth testifies to the uniqueness of Jesus and verifies that he is truly the Son of God born of a virgin. His birth is recorded in Matt. 1:25, “he kept her, Joseph kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a son and he called his name Yeshua which is Hebrew for Jesus. So, human history divided by this important event, the virgin birth of our Savior Jesus.
B. Approval at Baptism
1. Matt. 3:13-17
The next event is his approval at his baptism. Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River near a place where the Israelites had crossed into Canaan under the leadership of Joshua. Now immersion was a common cleansing ritual in Judaism. So John was down by the Jordan River immersing people in the river, they were familiar with his common, cleansing ritual. But Jesus didn’t need any ritual cleansing and Matt. tells us why he was baptized in Matt. 3:15, “he was baptized to fulfill all righteousness.” John objected to him baptizing Jesus. He said, “I’m not worthy to untie your sandal” but Jesus said let’s do it at this time for it is to fulfill all righteousness, Matt. 3:15. It fulfills righteousness in that the baptism is the right thing to do. It’s what was necessary. It was in conformity with God’s will, It was the right thing to do, it fulfilled all righteousness. But we also see it was for empowerment after being baptized Jesus came up immediately from the water and behold the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting upon him. Several Jewish writings refer to the dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit took the physical form of a dove and descended upon Jesus. At his baptism, Jesus received a special anointing by the Holy Spirit to carry on his earthly ministry. This is mentioned in Acts 10:38 that Jesus was empowered by the Spirit as the Spirit came upon him. Peter mentions this in his sermon in Acts 10:38. The third reason for his baptism is to signify his acceptance by God. This is the first of three times when God the Father spoke from Heaven and here in verse 3:17 we read, “this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” So Jesus was said to be accepted by God and God was pleased with him at his baptism. The baptism was really the initiation into Jesus’ public ministry.
C. Proven through Temptation
1. Matt. 4:1-11
After his baptism we find that Jesus was proven through his temptation in Matt. 4, now notice the circumstances in Matt. 4. We have Jesus being led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. So this temptation was initiated by the Holy Spirit that the instrument of temptation was Satan himself. God’s purpose in the temptation was to show Christ’s sinlessness through his obedience to the Father’s will as he refused the temptations offered him. Satan’s purpose, on the other hand, was to make Jesus sin by taking shortcuts to the accomplishment of his Messianic purposes. So let’s look at these temptations briefly.
The first temptation after Jesus had fasted 40 days and 40 nights was to turn the stones of the wilderness into bread. Jesus was there in the wilderness trusting God the Father that’s what fasting is all about. He was trusting God for strength and energy to survive. Satan said, “Stop trusting God, you can use your own power, you can use your own power to make bread and create bread to meet your needs.” Well, Jesus resisted that temptation he said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” There was something more important to Jesus than bread and that was his relationship with the Father.
The second temptation Jesus is taken to the temple and told by Satan, “Cast yourself off the pinnacle of the temple, God will send his angels to protect you from the fall.” Satan was asking Jesus to demonstrate his supreme faith in God by testing God’s faithfulness by throwing himself off the pinnacle of the temple. To throw himself off the pinnacle would involve the test of God’s faithfulness and it would show a lack of sincere trust in God. You don’t need to test someone you truly trust. Jesus was trusting God and he didn’t need to test God or test God’s faithfulness, so he refused this temptation.
The third temptation was an offer to take a shortcut to the Kingdom. Satan said, “You know you can take a shortcut, you don’t have to go to the cross to get the crown. Just bow before me and I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the earth.” But Jesus refused that temptation he said, “God alone is worthy of worship you shall not worship anyone except the Lord God alone.” Well, Jesus refused these temptations and by refusing the temptations he demonstrated that he was truly qualified to serve as the Messiah and Son of God. He quotes scripture to show that what Satan was asking him to do was contrary to God’s will and the temptation of Jesus sets him forth as the perfect Son of God and settled forever the question of Jesus’ sinlessness. Jesus is sinless as the Savior and therefore he is fully qualified to be our Lamb of God and take our sins upon himself because he was perfectly sinless.
D. Offer of the Kingdom
1. Matt 4:17
In Matt. 4 we come to the next key event in the Life of Jesus and that is his offer of the Kingdom. Matt. 4:17 from that time on after his temptation Jesus begin to preach and say, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Now the word repent means change your mind. What does Jesus want them to change about their thinking? Jesus was telling those who would listen, don’t be deceived, being Jewish doesn’t mean you’ll be saved and have a place in the Kingdom. You have to be born again, that’s what Jesus told Nicodemus. Jesus was saying repent of these wrong views, return from these wrong views and find your salvation in me rather than in your traditions or your physical descent from Abraham. That’s not good enough to get you in the Kingdom, you must be born again. Not what is the Kingdom of God? I’m going to define the Kingdom of God as God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule. It’s a spiritual reality that will ultimately be realized in physical form. The Kingdom is now but it’s not now as it will one day be when Jesus returns and establishes his rule on the Throne of David. So there’s a present aspect to the Kingdom and there’s a future aspect.
2. Isa. 2:1-4, 9:7, 11:1-9, 35:5-6
The prophets told the people of Israel that the Kingdom would be a time of peace and prosperity and justice and blessing. Isaiah predicted that the people who are blind would see, the people who were deaf would hear, the people who were mute would speak and the lame would walk, Isa. 35:5-6. You can imagine how the people were longing for and looking forward to the arrival of God’s kingdom. So Jesus was announcing that the time had come, the time had come to accept him as the King and to enter into his Kingdom. Repent of our views Jesus was saying and accept me as your Promised One, the one who comes as your King and Savior.
E. Authentication by Miracles
1. Matt. 4:23-25
How was Jesus to prove that he was the Messiah? We’re studying the life of a man who claimed to be God, he claimed to be the promised Messiah whom the Jews had long anticipated. He came to offer his Kingdom to those who would receive him by faith but many people, understandably, were skeptical. What would it take to convince them that Jesus’ claims were valid? Jesus didn’t carry any official documents proving that he was the Messiah but he did present some credentials that were intended to authenticate him as God’s Son and Israel’s Messiah. Jesus’ official credentials are his miracles, they are the credentials of King Jesus. The miracles of Jesus were not designed merely to arrest attention or to gain a following, they served to authenticate that Jesus was the Son of God and he brought God’s message to the people of Israel. His preaching and teaching were usually followed by a miracle. His works served to validate the truth of his words and we see that in Matt. 4:23, Jesus was going through all Galilee teaching in their synagogues proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Why was Jesus healing? Well, he was validating his claims, he was authenticating his offer of the kingdom through his miracles. The miracles of Jesus are the insignia of his deity and Messiahship.
F. Rejection by Israel
1. Matt. 12:22-32
Well, we come to a key turning point in Matt 12:22-32. Here Matt. records the rejection of Jesus by the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus had done a miracle, he liberated a man from demon possession and the multitude was amazed. The evidence of the miracle pointed to the fact that Jesus was the Messiah. But the unbelief of the Jewish religious leaders was confusing. They can’t deny that a miracle has taken place, so in desperation, they accused Jesus of doing his miracle by the power of Satan. They were saying in fact, “Your credentials are not of Heaven, your credentials are straight from Hell.” They were saying that Jesus was associated with Satan himself, Matt. 12:24, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebub, the ruler of demons.” If this view prevailed Jesus would be rejected and the Kingdom would have to be postponed. So, Jesus responded to the religious leaders by telling them that they had committed a sin, an unpardonable sin. The evidence of his miracles pointed to the fact that Jesus was the Messiah and the Kingdom was at hand and the Pharisees couldn’t deny the fact of the miracle. Their desperate attempt to turn people away from Jesus was simply to say that Jesus was doing his miracles by the power of Satan. So, Jesus said, “I say to you any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven.” So, this is the unpardonable sin by the Jewish religious leaders that set the nation of Israel on the course of rejecting their Messiah. This is a key turning point in the life of Jesus. Things are going to be different from this point on. Now Jesus is going to be teaching his disciples through parables and he’s going to start preparing his disciples for his impending death. It all hinges on what happened here in Matt. 12:22-32, a key turning point in Matt. Gospel as the religious leaders set the course for the nation of Israel in their rejection of Jesus. No wonder Jesus said this is an unpardonable sin, it’s so unique that it’s unpardonable because this generation of religious leaders had turned Messiah’s people against him and that unique sin would never be forgiven.
G. Taught Through Parables
1. Matt. 13
So, what did Jesus do after this? Well, he began teaching through Parables. With his rejection by the Jewish religious leaders, the disciples had some important questions about the Kingdom. They wondered what’s going to happen to God’s Kingdom program? Has the Kingdom been canceled? How is God going to deal with believers until his Kingdom purposes are accomplished? Well, Jesus started answering those questions for his disciples through his teaching of the Parables.
Now the Parables disclose some new truths about God’s Kingdom as it will develop during this present age, during this time of Israel’s rejection of their Messiah. The Parables teach how God’s Kingdom will grow spiritually during this inter-advent age between Jesus first coming and his second coming, between his rejection by Israel and his future acceptance by Israel. The Parables reveal that God’s Kingdom purposes will not be thwarted by Israel’s rejection of their Messiah. Like the mustard seed, the Kingdom will start small but it will grow, it will grow to great proportions. Like the leavening the process the Kingdom will grow by an internal dynamic rather than by some great outward organization. Like a great treasure, the Kingdom of God is worth pursuing. It is worth pursuing at whatever cost, at whatever sacrifice. So, Jesus was teaching his disciples about the Kingdom, the present Kingdom through Parables. He calls these teachings the Mysteries of the Kingdom, things that had not been revealed in the Old Testament about the Kingdom but were being revealed now by Jesus about the Kingdom.
1. Matt. 17:1-3
As the end of Jesus life drew near Jesus was beginning to prepare his disciples for his death and he began to announce to them his death. Jesus had announced his death in Matt. 16:21, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, suffer many things from the elders, the chief priests and the scribes and be killed and raised up on the third day.” Well Peter feared that Jesus’ death would prevent the establishment of the Kingdom and the Transfiguration is really designed to deal with that issue. Can Jesus be king if he dies? Will Jesus’ death prevent his establishment of the Kingdom? The Transfiguration took place on a high mountain. Some have suggested that it was Mt. Tabor, an 1800-foot mountain. I suggest Mt., Hermon, 9200 feet in elevation. It doesn’t really matter which mountain it was but what happened there does matter. Jesus is said to have morphed, transfigured himself a change from the inside out. It was as if the inner Glory of Christ radiated out through his human flesh and Peter, James and John saw the Glory of God on the Mt. of Transfiguration. It was witnessed by Peter and by John, both of them mention it in their writings. Moses the great lawgiver and Elijah the Prophet appeared there with Jesus on the Mt. of Transfiguration and they were talking with Jesus about his exodus, about his death. The presence of these two great figures of the past demonstrates that departure from this world would not hinder the establishment of the Messiah’s Kingdom. Moses, who had died was there, Elijah who had been taken to Heaven was there, departure from this earth would not hinder the establishment of the Kingdom. Christ’s death would not mean an end to the Kingdom hope and his death would not prevent the establishment of his Kingdom rule on earth. God the Father spoke a second time from Heaven, “This is my beloved son, hear him, pay attention to what he is saying.”
I. Royal Entry into Jerusalem
1. Matt. 21:1-11
Next, we have the royal entry of Jesus. This brings us to Passion Week and in the royal entry of Jesus. He came in the prescribed way according to Zech. 9:9, “riding on the colt of a donkey.” And on the very prophesied day according to Luke 19:42.The events following the royal entry constitute the official response of the nation to the official presentation of the Messiah as King.
2. Rev. 19:11-16
I call it the royal entry, rather than the triumphal entry because I think the triumphal entry will be at his second advent as recorded in Rev. 19. This is his royal entry. It took place on Monday rather than Sunday. Monday was the 10th of Nisan, this was the very day that the Passover lamb was to be selected for sacrifice. It was on this day that Jesus was presented to his people Israel as their true Passover lamb.
3. Zech. 9:9
He came into Jerusalem riding on a royal mount, the colt of a donkey in fulfillment of Zech. 9:9. As Jesus approached the city the people showed him honor by spreading their garments before him and cutting palm branches and laying them down before him. Then they quoted from Psalm 118, “they shouted Hosanna, Hosanna to the king. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The word Hosanna means save now, save now and they were rejoicing because the Messiah had come, and they were asking him to save them now from Roman rule, from Roman oppression. They weren’t so much interested in spiritual salvation as they were interested physical deliverance.
Well the Pharisee were upset because the disciples were crying out Hosanna, Hosanna and so they thought that Jesus should silence the people. Keep them silence because they are crying out for deliverance from the Roman rule and if that cry continues the Romans will come down here punish for it. Jesus responded, “If these people are silent the very stones will cry out.” He said, “If you had known this day and the things that are meant for peace.” Jesus had come into Jerusalem in the very fulfillment of prophecy riding on the colt of a donkey and fulfilling the precise chronology of Dan. 9, coming on the exact day that was predicted by Dan. 9. No wonder Jesus said, “If you had known this day, not tomorrow, not the next day but this day, then you would have recognized the Messiah.
J. Death for Sin
1. Matt. 27:45-54
The same group that had welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem later that week would cry out for his crucifixion. While Jesus was on the cross the land was enveloped by darkness, and the darkness, of course, was a symbol of divine judgment. It points to the divine judgment that Jesus bore on the cross as he took our sins upon himself.
In verse 46 of Matt. 27 we come to what I believe is the most significant moment of redemptive history, “About the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying,” in Aramaic, “Eli, Eli, la-ma sa-bach-tha-ni” which is translated for us by Matt., “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” Of course, it comes exactly from Psalm 22:1. This was the time that Jesus bore the sins of humanity, those sins which the Old Testament sacrifices had only covered. Jesus bore our sins, the past sins, the present sins, and the future as Paul says, “He became sin for us on the cross” 2 Cor. 5:21. At that time the intimate fellowship which Jesus had enjoyed with the Father from eternity past, that intimate fellowship was broken. To pay the full penalty of man’s sin and provide salvation Jesus had to endure spiritual as well as physical death. I believe that the words that Jesus spoke, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me,” reflects his sense of spiritual separation from God, the one with whom he had had intimate fellowship from eternity past. And at the greatest moment of his spiritual agony as he bore humanity’s sin on himself Jesus sought the presence of the Father and he reached out and it was as if God the Father was not there. It was if God the Father had abandoned his son. It’s too great to really fully understand, and comprehend but God was pouring out his wrath on Jesus and Jesus was taking the wrath that we deserved upon himself. He felt forsaken by God. It’s too great to fully comprehend or explain but we believe it because scripture teaches it and we thank God for it. Notice in verse 50 of Matt. 27, no one took Jesus’ life from him, Jesus laid down his life as a voluntary sacrifice. Jesus in verse 50 he cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. What did he say as he cried out? John 19:30 records what he said, he said. “Tetelestai, it is finished,” redemption has been accomplished.
2. Romans 9:24-26
On the cross Jesus offered himself as the perfect Passover lamb for the sins of the world and he satisfied fully God’s wrath on sinners. Providing a way for all who would accept the gift of salvation to enter into a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and experience forgiveness of sin and eternal life.
K. Resurrection before Witnesses
1. Matt. 28:1-10
Well the death of Jesus was not the end of the story. Earlier in his ministry, Jesus announced there would be one last sign to the nation of Israel, a sign that would authenticate his messianic claims. Jesus called it the sign of Jonah, Matt. 12:39 and Matt. 16:4. As Jonah had been in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, so Jesus would spend a similar time in the grave. Both stories, the story of Jonah and the story of Jesus have a surprising ending. As Jonah was delivered from the fish so Jesus was resurrected from the grave. Jesus’ resurrection was the final authentication that he was whom he claimed to be, the Son of God, the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy.
2. Jn. 20:11-18
When visitors arrived at the tomb early in the morning the angel announced, “He is not here for he has risen just as he said.” Later that morning Mary and then Peter and then two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus and then the ten disciples in the Upper Room saw their resurrected Jesus. They saw Jesus having been raised from the grave. The resurrections of Jesus was the final authentication that he was whom he claimed to be, the Son of God and the Messiah of Israel. That is attested to us by the scripture. We, by reading the scripture, have that witness to ourselves as well that Jesus is the Promised One, the Son of God and the Messiah.
L. Ascension to Heaven
But there’s more. You know we celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus, we remember his death and celebrate his resurrection but little is done to commemorate his ascension and yet this is an important event. The ascension was foretold by Isaiah the Prophet, Isa.52:13. Luke anticipates Christ’s ascension as the goal of his journey to Jerusalem, Luke 9:51. Jesus speaks of it in John 16:10 and 20:17. Jesus' return to the Father is the evidence of his righteousness. His acceptance back into Heaven indicates that his holiness was not tarnished during his incarnation on earth. Jesus is the perfect standard of righteousness that God accepts and delights in. Angelical announcement accompanied Jesus’ ascension into Heaven in Acts 1:9. “Jesus was lifted up and the disciples were looking on and a cloud received him out of their sight and 10 as they gazing intently into the sky where he was going, behold two men clothed in white stood by them. “Men of Galilee why are you standing looking into the sky? This Jesus who is taken from you up to heaven will come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven.” The angels declared that Jesus was going to return, he would return in the same way I which he departed, physically, personally, and visibly. Jesus is coming again and that’s part of the Good News of the Gospel.
Well the Christian life is really what it’s all about. It’s all about Jesus, isn’t it? It’s all about getting to know him. Living for him, serving him. Toward the end of the Apostle Paul’s life, he wrote to Philippians and he said, “I count all things to be lost in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord.” You know Paul wasn’t interested in just knowing about Jesus, he was interested in knowing him personally. He wanted to know him better and better. I trust that is your desire as well, to know Jesus personally, to know him better and better. The words of a great hymn really capture that message I believe. It was a hymn written in the early 1900s by Kate Wilkinson based on Philippians chapter 2 and the hymn writer records these words:
1 May the mind of Christ, my Savior, live in me from day to day, by His love and pow'r controlling all I do and say.
2 May the Word of God dwell richly in my heart from hour to hour, so that all may see I triumph only through His pow'r.
3 May the peace of God, my Father, rule my life in ev'rything, that I may be calm to comfort sick and sorrowing.
4 May the love of Jesus fill me as the waters fill the sea. Him exalting, self-abasing: this is victory.
5 May I run the race before me, strong and brave to face the foe, looking only unto Jesus as I onward go.
6 May His beauty rest upon me as I seek the lost to win, and may they forget the channel, seeing only Him.
"May the Mind of Christ, My Savior", Kate Wilkenson Hymns to the Living God #250