The story of Jesus of Nazareth, the Saviour of the world
In the days of the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus, it came to pass that a virgin from Nazareth (a little town in Galilee, which is a region of the land of Israel), who had been pledged to be married to Joseph the son of Jacob, who belonged to the house of David, had a heavenly vision: a holy angel of God appeared to her and foretold her that she would conceive in her womb and bring forth a Son, who would be great and would be called the Son of the Most High; and she had to give Him the name JESUS. The Lord God would give Him the throne of His father David and He would reign over the house of Jacob forever. When Mary, this is the virgin’s name, heard those words she asked the angel how that would be since she was a virgin. The angel told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and the power of the Most High would overshadow her; so the Holy One who would be born of her would be called the Son of God. Then Mary answered: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38 – NIV). What the angel told her was fulfilled some time later. Mary was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit before she and Joseph came together. But when Joseph saw that Mary was pregnant, he decided to put her away secretly. However, while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS: for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21 – NKJV). Jesus means ‘YHWH saves’ (YHWH is the Hebrew name of God, which is pronounced Yahweh). Joseph was reassured by those words spoken by the angel, and when he woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife, knowing for sure that the messenger of God who had appeared to him had not lied to him.
In those days it came to pass that Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world, and everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because – as I said before – he belonged to the house of David. He went there to register with Mary, his wife, who was expecting a child. And while they were at Bethlehem, the time came for the baby to be born and Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
On the same day He was born, an angel of God appeared to some shepherds, who were living out in the fields nearby keeping watch over their flocks at night. The angel said to them: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). The word Christ comes from the Greek word CHRISTOS, which means ‘the Anointed One’. The shepherds went to Bethlehem and found the baby, who was lying in a manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about that child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
On the eight day, He was circumcised and was named Jesus, the name the angel had given Him before He had been conceived.
When the days of her purification according to the law of Moses (which states that a woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, and then she must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding) were completed, Joseph and Mary took the Child Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord, and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons.
Then, when Jesus was a few weeks old, some wise men came from the East to Bethlehem, to worship the Child Jesus. The Scripture states that they came into the house where the young Child was, and they fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. How did those men come to Bethlehem? In this way: while they were in the East they saw His star and they came to Jerusalem, saying: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” (Matthew 2:2 – NKJV). When Herod, the king of Judea, heard this, he was disturbed and called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, and asked them where the Christ was to be born. They replied that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem in Judea, for this is what the prophet Micah had written. So the king sent the wise men to Bethlehem (after he had found out from them the exact time the star had appeared), telling them to go and make a careful search for the child, and when they would find Him they had to report to the king so that he too might go and worship Him.
However, when the wise men had found the Child Jesus, they did not go back to Herod, for they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod; so they returned to their country by another route. When Herod saw that he was deceived by the wise men, he was furious and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the wise men. However, the Child Jesus was not put to death because God had warned Joseph through an angel, telling him to take the Child and his mother and to flee to Egypt, where he had to stay until He told him. After Herod died, God spoke again to Joseph through an angel, telling him to take the Child and his mother and to go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life were dead. So Joseph got up, took the Child and his mother and went to the land of Israel; but when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there and, having been warned in a dream, he went and lived in a town called Nazareth, which was in the district of Galilee.
Jesus was brought up by Joseph and Mary in Nazareth; He grew in wisdom and stature, and He became strong in spirit; and the grace of God was upon Him.
When Jesus was about thirty years of age, He came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist, who came baptizing in the wilderness of Judea and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Who was John the Baptist? He was neither Elijah, nor the Christ; this is what he himself said to some priests and Levites who asked him who he was. John the Baptist was the one about whom God had said through the prophet Malachi: “Behold, I send My messenger, and He will prepare the way before Me” (Malachi 3:1 – NKJV). Therefore John was a man sent by God before His Christ to prepare His way. But how did the messenger of God prepare the way before the God’s anointed? By bearing witness of the Christ, that all through him might believe: that’s what John did.
When Jesus had been baptized by John, He went up out of the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting upon Him. And a voice came from heaven, saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). From that time on, John bore witness, saying to the people: “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:32-34). Therefore on the same day Jesus was baptized in water He was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit.
After Jesus was anointed, the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After He had fasted forty days, the tempter came to Him and attempted to make Him fall into sin, but Jesus resisted the devil successfully with the law of the Lord, which He had put into His heart, as it is written: “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide” (Psalm 37:31). When the devil had ended every temptation, he left Jesus until an opportune time and angels came and ministered to Him.
After that, Jesus returned to Galilee, where He began to preach and to teach, being glorified by all. He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. But his fellow-citizens who were in the synagogue were filled with wrath and rose up and thrust Him out of the city, and they led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. But He, passing through the midst of them, went His way. Why were His fellow-citizens full of wrath? And why did they seek to kill Jesus? Because Jesus, after He had read these words of the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD” (Isaiah 61:1-2), declared that on that day that Scripture was fulfilled in their hearing. And also that no prophet is accepted in his own country, and to confirm this He said to them: “But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:25-27).
So Jesus left Nazareth and went and lived in Capernaum, a city in the district of Galilee, which was upon the seacoast, in the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali, which the Scripture calls “his own city” (Matthew 9:1).
Jesus went through every city and village, proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God. He said to the people: “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15 – NKJV). Therefore Jesus exhorted people to repent of their sins and to believe the Good News which was the message God had commanded Him to proclaim. The prophet Isaiah had said that the Christ would preach good tidings to the poor, and God in His own time fulfilled the prediction of Isaiah. But what was the Good News in which Jesus commanded people to believe? It was the News that God in the fullness of the time sent His Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. In other words, it was the wonderful News that God in His great love sent His Son into the world to save the world through him, and that a man, in order to be saved, must believe in Him. So Jesus preached repentance and faith in Him. He also taught the multitudes many things by parables, that it might be fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet, saying: “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old” (Psalm 78:2 – NKJV). And in addition to this, He wrought many healings among the Jews, He raised up the dead and He cast out many demons, for God was with Him.
But even though Jesus went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil for God was with Him, many people did not believe in Him (that is to say, they did not believe He was the Christ); they said He was a glutton and a drunkard, a deceiver, a person who was beside himself, a person who had the prince of demons by whom He cast out demons, a sinner because He did not keep the Sabbath day, a blasphemer for He said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. But all these things were false accusations, nothing but false accusations; for Jesus was self-controlled; He never sought His own gain, unlike the deceivers who teach things which ought not for the sake of dishonest gain; He was a man full of wisdom, yet not of the wisdom of the rulers of this age but of God’s secret wisdom; He was a man full of the Holy Spirit, who cast out demons by the Spirit of God; He never broke the Sabbath day for it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath, it is lawful to save a person on the Sabbath, and Jesus did just that on the Sabbath by healing all those who needed healing; He was a truthful man, who did not make Himself equal with God presumptuously, but He made Himself equal with God because He was equal with God by nature, being the Only Begotten Son, who existed from eternity in the form of God with God the Father in heaven. However, even though the Son was equal with God, He did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. For this reason many did not realize that He was the Son of God, because He appeared to men in the form of a humble servant, who outwardly was not different from all other men.
Of course, those false accusations caused great sorrow to Jesus, for He saw that His own did not receive Him; He suffered as the prophets of old, who were sent by God to the people of Israel for their good, yet they were rejected and falsely accused by the people, who thought that the prophets were not seeking the welfare of the people but their harm. Thus were fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah, who had said that the Christ would be “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), and Jesus Christ was indeed a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
Among those who rejected Jesus Christ were the chief priests and the Pharisees, who, because they did not know the voices of the prophets which were read every Sabbath, decided to take Jesus and to kill Him.
A few days before the Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem and entered it sitting upon a donkey. On one of those days that preceded the Passover, it came to pass that Satan entered Judas Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve disciples of Jesus, and he went to the chief priests and captains and conferred with them how he might betray Jesus to them, and they were glad and agreed to give him money: thirty silver coins. Judas consented and from that time he watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them. So it happened that during the feast of Passover, after Jesus and His disciples had eaten the Passover, Judas went out of the house where they were all gathered. And after a short time, Judas went to a place called Gethsemane (Jesus was there because after He had eaten the Passover He went there with His disciples to pray) and with him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them, ‘The one I kiss is the man: arrest him.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas greeted Jesus and kissed Him. Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested Him. Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled.
As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Jesus into their council, and condemned Him to be deserving of death for He declared before them that He was the Son of God. When the members of the Council said: “He is guilty of death” (Matthew 26:66), they spit in His face and struck Him with their fists, and others slapped Him and said: “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?” (Matthew 26:68 – NIV).
Then they delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor, and asked him to crucify Jesus. Pilate, having examined Jesus in their presence, decided to release Jesus for he found no reason for death in Jesus Christ (Pilate sent Jesus to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time, and Herod and his soldiers mocked Jesus, but even Herod found no fault in Jesus concerning those things of which the chief priests and the scribes accused Him, so Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate), but since the whole multitude cried out saying: “Crucify Him, crucify Him!,” and with loud shouts they insistently demanded that He be crucified, their shouts prevailed, and so Pilate decided to grant their demand. Therefore Pilate delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified. Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. And they clothed Him with purple and twisted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and began to salute Him, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ And they struck Him on the head with a reed, and spit on him, and bowing the knee they worshipped Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, and put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to the place called Golgotha to crucify Him.
They crucified Him that it might be fulfilled what was spoken through David: “They pierced My hands and My feet” (Psalm 22:16 – NKJV); two robbers were crucified with Him, one on His right and one on His left, that it might be fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He was numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12 – NKJV).
While Jesus was on the cross, the soldiers took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part. As far as His tunic is concerned, they said among themselves: “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be;’ this happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:18 – NKJV).
Another thing that took place while Jesus was suffering on the cross was this: He was mocked by those who passed by and by the chief priests, the scribes and the elders; they said: “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God” (Matthew 27:42-43). This happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled which says: “All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him” (Psalm 22:7-8), and, as another Scripture says, “They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion” (Psalm 22:13). Before He died, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me’’ (Matthew 27:46). Some of those standing there, when they heard this, said: ‘This man is calling for Elijah.’ And immediately one of them ran and took a sponge and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink. This happened that the Scripture would be fulfilled which says: “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Psalm 69:21).
After Jesus breathed His last, the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs, but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear. This happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “A bone of him shall not be broken” (John 19:36; Psalm 34:20). That evening this Scripture also was fulfilled which says: “And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10).
But why did Jesus Christ die? Isaiah says: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). Therefore His death on the cross (the Jews decreed that He had to be put to death and the Gentiles crucified Him, so they were both responsible for His death) was nothing but the fulfilment of what the prophet Isaiah had said. Therefore we declare that God turned the heart of the Jews and the Gentiles to gather together against His Christ and to kill Him, so that through His death He might set us free from sin.
Let me explain this very important concept. Sin entered into the world through one man, whose name was Adam, and sin passed upon all men, so all have sinned. What is the strength of sin? The law, for Paul says: “The strength of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56). Paul confirms this when he says to the Romans: “Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me” (Romans 7:11). In other words, sin brings death into man by the law. Of course, the law is good and holy, yet sin uses the law to work death in man. I will make a comparison. Just as a killer uses a piece of wood (which was created by God) to kill another man and it is not the piece of wood (which was created by God and which is good in itself) that kills that man, but the killer, who uses that piece of wood to fulfil his evil plan, so sin uses the law, given by God to Israel and thus is a good law, to kill people spiritually. Therefore it was necessary that sin should be put away, that is to say, that sin should be deprived of its power over man. And this is what Jesus did by His death, He put away sin: He was able to do this for He bore our sins in His own body on the cross. That’s why whoever believes in Him is set free from sin, because Jesus Christ on the cross crucified the old man of those who believe on Him. Therefore the believing people died with Christ to sin, and thus the law no longer has dominion over them, for the law has dominion over a man only as long as he lives; after his death the law cannot have any dominion over him. And the believers have become dead to the law by the body of Christ, they have become dead to what they were held by, that they might belong to Jesus Christ.
After Jesus died on the cross, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple. He went to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock. It was in this way that it was fulfilled the Scripture which says: “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death” (Isaiah 53:9).
But on the third day God raised Him from the dead, because it was not possible that Christ should be held by death. God had foretold also the resurrection of Christ, for David had said: “You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 2:27; Psalm 16:10 – NKJV). It is evident that David did not speak of himself for he was buried and saw corruption, but he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, one of his descendants, for he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would place the Christ on his throne forever, as it is written: “The LORD has sworn in truth to David; He will not turn from it; I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body” (Psalm 132:11 – NKJV).
After Jesus rose from the dead, He presented Himself alive to the apostles whom He had chosen; He ate and drank with them, and He spoke of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and gave commandments to them. After that, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty, so that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1).
And at God’s appointed time, He will come back from heaven with glory and power.