The Jesus Story
Outline: Life of Christ
|Theme:||Resurrection of Jesus; Birth of Christ; Death of Christ; Life of Christ|
|Genre:||Messages and Fiction|
Welcome to "The Story of Jesus." This true story took place nearly 2000 years ago. It is about a Man whose life and teachings have made a dramatic impact on people throughout history.
His story is recorded in four books called the Gospels. A medical doctor named Luke, who lived at the time of Jesus, wrote one of those books. He carefully recorded the events from eyewitness reports. Luke's account is presented here so that you can understand what it might have been like to hear Jesus speak and to experience the things He did.
Over the last 2000 years, His life and teachings have fascinated people throughout the world. Millions have dedicated themselves to following Jesus, and have seen their lives transformed by Him.
As you listen to this story on the life of Jesus you will hear about His miraculous birth, announced by angels, and foretold by ancient prophets. You'll listen to Jesus teach with authority about the kingdom of God, correcting some people, angering others, but having an effect on the lives of all that listened to Him.
You will hear of the authority Jesus had over evil spirits, and His power over nature, as He performs many miracles. His compassion for people is evident as He heals many of sickness and physical suffering, and brings peace to their lives.
Finally, you will be caught up in the drama surrounding His arrest and His death.
Listen now as we begin "The Story of Jesus."
(Part 1 p 2)
In the days when Caesar Augustus was Emperor of the Roman Empire, and Herod the Great was King of Judea, God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin from the village of Nazareth. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel spoke to her and said: "Fear not Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a Son, and you will call His name, "Jesus."
Mary replied, "How can this be? I am a virgin."
The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit† will come upon you. For this reason the Holy Child will be called the Son of the Most High God. His kingdom will never end."
Days passed. Mary did become pregnant. Then news arrived that her elderly cousin Elizabeth and husband Zechariah--after many years--were also going to have a baby. Mary hurried over the dusty roads to the village where the older couple lived.
Mary cried out, "Elizabeth!"
Elizabeth replied, "Mary! Cousin Mary! You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the Child you will bear. For as soon as I heard your greeting, the baby within me jumped with gladness."
Mary, filled with emotion, responded, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. From now on, all generations will call me blessed."
Mary returned home, and the time for her to give birth approached. Then came an announcement by the Roman government, which occupied Israel, that forced a change in plans. (1/5)
Some soldiers announced, "Know, all men of Nazareth, that by command of Caesar Augustus, there will be conducted a census of the subject territories of Galilee and Judea. All men must register in the town or city where their ancestors were born."
This called for another journey for Mary and her husband, Joseph--more than a week by donkey--over the hilly roads to Bethlehem to be registered. But once they arrived, there was no room for them at the local inn. As Mary's labor pains grew more frequent, they finally settled into a stable to await the baby's birth.
Outside the village, a group of shepherds huddled near their sheep taking turns sleeping and watching the flock. Suddenly an angel of God appeared.
The shepherds cried out in fear: "What's that? What is it? What's that light? It's filling the sky! An angel! It is an angel!"
The angel spoke to the terrified shepherds: "This very day in David's town your Savior was born. He is Christ the Lord." ( P 1/6)
The shepherds said, "Let's go down to Bethlehem and see what this is all about!"
This brought great joy to the shepherds. The Jewish tradition had taught them that one day a Messiah--or Savior--would be born into the world, and restore the people of Israel. So they hurried off right away to find the newborn baby.
The shepherds soon located Joseph, Mary--and Jesus. The baby, wrapped tightly in a cloth, lay in a rough manger.
As the shepherds returned, they talked endlessly about the events of that night. They praised God for the Savior that had been sent. Everything they had seen and heard was just as the angel had said.
When the days of their purification according to the law were complete, Mary and Joseph carried the infant north a few hours to the capital city, Jerusalem--lying high in the hills of Judea. The young family went to the massive Temple--the center of religious activity.
According to their law, they were to dedicate their first-born male to the Lord, and to offer a sacrifice of doves or pigeons. As they entered, a righteous and devout man named Simeon approached them.
The Holy Spirit of God had promised Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah--the One Whom the Jews hoped would come into the world to forgive sins. Recognizing the baby Jesus as the Chosen One, Simeon took Him in his arms and began to pray. "Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace according to Your promise, for my eyes have seen Your salvation. This Child is chosen by God. May you both be blessed." (1/8)
Several months later, the new family returned to their home in Nazareth, a country village in the north. Mary often thought about the unusual events surrounding her Son's birth. She treasured all these things in her heart.
Time passed. When Jesus was twelve years old, His family went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover feast--a high point of the year when many events of the nation's history were celebrated. When the feast ended, they left for home. On the way, they discovered that Jesus was missing!
For three worrisome days, Mary and Joseph searched the city of Jerusalem. Finally, the anxious parents located Jesus--in the temple court sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
All who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.
The Teachers asked, "Whose Child is this who asks such questions?"
When His parents saw Him, they were astonished. His mother said to Him: "Son, why have You done this to us? Your father and I have been terribly worried trying to find You".
Jesus replied, "Why were you looking for me? Didn't you know that I must do the work of my Father?"
And so, Jesus returned to Nazareth with His parents, where He grew in wisdom and stature--and in favor with God and man. (1/ 9)
During the fifteenth year of the rule of the Roman Emperor Tiberius, when Jesus was about 30 years old, God's Word came to John, the child of Mary's cousin Elizabeth.
John spoke to large crowds about the need to turn away from all sin, be baptized with water and set apart for God. They called him, "John the Baptist."
John thundered, "Turn away from your sins and be baptized, and God will forgive your sins!"
John's message brought him to the banks of the Jordan River, a natural place to speak to large groups of people. He baptized with water all those who believed his message.
John cried out, "As it is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah: "Someone is shouting in the desert: 'Get the road ready for the Lord!' Make a straight path for Him to travel. Every valley must be filled up; every hill and mountain leveled off! The winding roads must be made straight, and the rough paths made smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation!'"
People in the crowd cried out, "What shall we do?" "Yes, tell us, what must we do? What do you want us to do?" (1/11)
John replied, "Whoever has two shirts must give one to the man who has none. And whoever has food must share it."
Others asked, "Teacher, we are tax collectors. What shall we do?"
He replied, "Don't collect more than is legal."
In the crowd there were Roman soldiers who also had questions, "And what about us? What are we to do?"
John told them, "Don't take money from anyone by force. And don't accuse anyone falsely. Be content with your pay."
Other asked, "Tell us... are you the Christ?"
John answered, "I baptize you with water. But Someone is coming who is much greater than I am. I'm not good enough even to untie His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. He has His threshing fork with Him, to thresh out all the grain and gather the wheat into His barn."
As all the people were being baptized, Jesus also came, traveling from Nazareth in Galilee, to be baptized by John in the Jordan. John agreed to baptize Him.
As Jesus emerged from the water, He began to pray. At that moment, the Holy Spirit of God descended on Him in the form of a dove and a voice sounded from the heavens saying, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased!" (1/13)
(PART 2 P 2)
Jesus was led by the Spirit of God into the desert where, for forty days, He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and He was hungry when the devil approached Him saying: "If you are God's Son, order this stone to turn into bread."
Jesus answered him from the Scriptures: "It is written that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God."
Then, in a brief moment of time, the devil showed Jesus all the nations of the world and said: "I will give You all this power and all this wealth. It has all been handed over to me and I can give it to anyone I choose. All this will be Yours then, if You worship me."
Jesus replied, "It is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve."
Finally, the devil took Jesus to the highest point on the massive stone temple in the capital city of Jerusalem and said to Him: " If you are God's Son, throw Yourself down from here, for the Scripture says: 'God will order His angels to take good care of You. [(2/30] They will hold You up with their hands, so that not even Your feet will be hurt on the stones.'"
Jesus again replied, "The Scripture says, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
Some time after this spiritual testing of Jesus, He journeyed north to Nazareth, the country village where He had spent His childhood.
On the weekly holy day called the "Sabbath," Jesus went to the local place of worship and instruction--the synagogue. At the request of the synagogue leader, He read from the Scriptures, reading, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has chosen Me to bring good news to the poor." (2/5)
"He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed, and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save His people."
People in the crowd said, "He speaks well."
Jesus continued, "This passage of Scripture has come true today, as you heard it being read." (2/5)
The listeners exclaimed, "The Scripture come true? But only the Messiah can fulfill that promise! How shall we know?"
Jesus replied, "Doubtless you will quote the proverb to Me, 'Physician, heal yourself.' You'll also say to Me, 'Now do the things in Your own home town, that we heard You did in Capernaum.' I tell you this: no prophet is ever welcome in his hometown!"
By these words Jesus identified Himself as the Messiah, God's anointed, sent to save His people.
The crowd cried out, "He's a liar. He's not God! Stone Him!... Kill Him!... Kill Him!... Push Him off the cliff!... He's a troublemaker!… Prophet? Blasphemy! Outrageous! Who does He think He is? Is He not the carpenter's son? Get Him out of here! Away with Him!"
The mob tried to throw Jesus off a cliff outside the village, but He walked through the crowd and went on His way. (2/7)
As the spiritual work of Jesus grew, He began to gather followers whom He could prepare to help spread the news of the coming Kingdom of God. On the small Sea of Galilee, He found several fishermen washing their nets. Their names: Simon Peter, James and John. Close by were two fishing boats.
Jesus got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to push the boat out a little from shore. (2/8)
Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon: "Push the boat out farther to the deep water. Then you and your partners let down your nets for a catch."
Peter replied, "Oh, Master, we worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if You say so, I'll let down the nets."
With Jesus on board, they obeyed His instructions. Fish poured into the nets until the nets were filled to the point of breaking!
Peter exclaimed, "James! John! Get your boat over here and give us some help! Hurry!"
They came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
The miracle overwhelmed Simon Peter. He humbly fell down before Jesus, overcome with respect and adoration, saying "Go away from me, Lord. I am a sinful man."
Jesus told him, "Don't be afraid. From now on you will be catching men." (2/9)
Jesus often surprised people by His teaching. He also shocked them by His actions. One day while walking near the busy trade center of Capernaum, Jesus saw the tax gatherer, Matthew Levi, sitting at his toll booth. Matthew collected taxes from people passing through the city. (2/10)
Because many tax collectors cheated their own people, most Jews hated them and did not want to associate with them. But Jesus spoke directly to Matthew, saying, "Follow Me"
Levi replied, "Yes, Lord."
After an entire night alone praying to God, Jesus picked twelve men to be His closest followers--His disciples--the ones He would specially prepare to spread His message of good news.
From the fishermen, He chose Peter, Andrew, James, and John. He also chose Philip and Bartholomew, along with Matthew the tax collector, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon called the "Zealot," Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became the traitor. (2/11)
People often sought Jesus out--from all over Judea, Jerusalem, and the surrounding countryside. They wanted to hear His teaching, be healed of diseases, or be free of tormenting evil spirits. Power was going out from Him and healing many.
People cried out to Jesus, "We need You now, Lord!"
Others came to hear Him speak--very interested in His message about God's Kingdom. Jesus spoke straight to their hearts--correcting some, angering others, but having an effect on the lives of all who would listen to Him. Jesus spoke about being favored or blessed--by God.
Jesus taught, "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh." (2/11)
"Blessed are you when men hate you and reject you and insult you, and say you are evil, all because of the Son of Man. Be glad when that happens and dance for joy, because a great reward is kept for you in heaven. For their ancestors did the very same thing to the prophets."
A rich man was collecting money from a poor man and exclaimed, "What do you mean, that's all you've got!"
Jesus saw him and exclaimed, "How terrible for you who are rich now! You have had your easy life."
The rich man's friend exclaimed, "He doesn't want to be rich. He must be mad!" (2/12)
Jesus continued, "How terrible for you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. How terrible when all men speak well of you, for their ancestors said the very same things about the false prophets. But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. And pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone strikes you on the one cheek, let him hit the other one also. And if someone takes away your coat, let him have your shirt as well. (2/13)
"Give to everyone who asks you for something. And if someone takes what is yours, do not ask for it back again. Do for others only what you would have others do for you."
People in the crowd said, "Surely He doesn't mean the Romans! Or worse yet--those despicable Samaritans! Even God doesn't love them!"
Jesus continued, "Judge not, and you will not be judged! Condemn not, and you will not be condemned! Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back."
Jesus followers exclaimed, "Lead us in Your path, Lord!"
Jesus continued, "If you love only the people who love you, why should you receive a blessing? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, why should you receive a blessing? Even sinners do that. No, love your enemies, and do good to them. And lend expecting nothing back. And then you will have a great reward, for you will be sons of the Most High God. For He is good to the ungrateful and to the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. " (2/15)
(Part 3) (3/2)
About the time that Jesus began His public ministry, the ruler Herod Antipas had John the Baptist imprisoned. John had been proclaiming that God was going to send His Son to earth, and John told people to turn from their evil ways and prepare for the Messiah's arrival.
When John's followers visited him in prison, they told him about everything Jesus was doing.
A follower of Jesus tells John about a miracle, "As we arrived at the gate of Nain, a funeral procession came out. The dead man was the only son of a widow. When Jesus saw her, His heart was filled with compassion. He touched the coffin and said, 'Young man, get up, I tell you.' Then the dead man sat up, and Jesus gave him back to his mother!"
John sent them back to Jesus with a question: "Ask Him, say, 'Are You the One John said was going to come, or should we expect someone else?'"
John's followers left the prison and looked for Jesus. They found Him healing the sick and telling evil spirits to leave those who were afflicted. They said to Jesus: "John the Baptist sent us to ask if You are the One who is going to come, or should we expect someone else?" (3/3)
Jesus replied, "Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind can see, the lame can walk. How happy are those who have no doubts about Me."
While the popularity of Jesus grew with the common people, religious leaders expressed concern about His unusual teaching and His companionship with many outcasts of society.
But there were exceptions--like Simon the Pharisee--a religious leader. Simon told one of his friends about his curiosity of Jesus, saying, "I would like to know this Man. Do you think He might be the Messiah?" (3/4)
So Simon asked Jesus to dinner, to learn if He might be the Chosen One the Jews were waiting for. Jesus and His group arrived at Simon's home and left their sandals at the door. They quickly moved to the comfortable dining area where Jesus was asked to take His place next to the host.
Everyone sat down and waited to be served. A woman who had lived an immoral life unexpectedly entered the room carrying a jar of perfume. She had heard that Jesus was eating at this house.
A man asked, "What is she doing here?"
The woman rushed over to Jesus. With her tears, she washed His dusty feet. (3/5) And with her long hair, she dried His feet--and kissed them. Simon said to himself: "If this Man really were a prophet, He would know who this woman is who is touching Him. He would know what kind of a sinful life she lives."
The woman opened the jar, and poured the perfume on the feet of Jesus as an act of worship. Jesus looked at His host and said: "I know who this woman is, Simon. Let Me tell you something. There were two men who owed money to a money lender. One owed him 500 silver coins and the other 50. Neither of them could pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Which one then will love him more?"
Simon replied, "I suppose that it would be the one who was forgiven more."
Jesus answered, "You are right. You see this woman? I came into your home. You gave Me no water for My feet, yet she has washed My feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You did not welcome Me with a kiss, but since I came she has not stopped kissing My feet. You provided no olive oil for My head, yet she has anointed My feet with perfume. I tell you then, the great love she has shown proves that her many sins are forgiven. But whoever is forgiven little, shows only a little love."
Then Jesus spoke directly to the woman: "Your sins are forgiven you."
Simon's friends exclaimed, "How can He say that? How can He forgive sins? He speaks blasphemy!"
Jesus spoke to the woman, "Your faith [in Me] has saved you. Go in peace." (3/7)
Many people--even the most educated religious leaders--often didn't understand Jesus.
They questioned Jesus, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and other sinners?"
Jesus replied, "People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. I have not come to call respectable people to repent, but sinners."
Jesus traveled through the countryside of Galilee, teaching large crowds about the good news of God's kingdom. Some who had been healed by Jesus journeyed with Him, along with His closest followers and many others.
Traders, fishermen and merchants had come to Galilee to hear Jesus teach. Scattered among the crowd stood farmers who understood the uncertainty of the harvest season. They provided Jesus an opportunity to teach about the kingdom of God.
He taught, "A sower went out to sow his seed. As he scattered the grain, some of it fell by the path and was walked upon, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rocky ground, and when the plants sprouted, they withered away because they had no moisture. Some seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with the plants and choked them. Some seeds fell in good soil, and the plants grew and bore grain, 100 grains each."
The close followers of Jesus pulled Him away from the crowd to ask questions about His parable, saying, "Master, why do You speak in parables whenever a crowd is near?"
Jesus answered them, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to others I speak in parables, so that they may look but not see, and listen but not understand." (3/9)
"This is what the parable means. The seed is the Word of God. The seeds that fell along the path stand for those who hear. But the devil comes, and takes the message away from their hearts in order to keep them from believing and being saved. (3/10)
"The seeds that fell on rocky ground stand for those who hear the message and receive it gladly, but they have no roots. They believe only for a while. And when the time of testing comes, they fall away.
"The seeds that fell among thorns stand for those who hear, but the worries and riches and pleasures of this life crowd in and choke them and their fruit never ripens.
"And the seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit."
Jesus emphasized this lesson with another example drawn from everyday life in Galilee.
"No one lights a lamp and covers it with a bowl, or puts it under a bed. Instead he puts it on the stand, so that the people may see the light as they come in. Whatever is hidden away will be brought out in the open... and whatever is covered up will be found and brought to light."
"Be careful then how you listen, because whoever has will be given more, but he who has not will have taken away from him even the little he thinks he has."
Jesus' followers told him, "Teacher, your mother and brothers are standing outside. They want to see You." (3/11)
He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear the Word of God, and obey it."
One day Jesus and His closest followers got into a boat, intending to sail to the other side of the small, but sometimes dangerous, Sea of Galilee. As they sailed, Jesus fell asleep.
His followers talked among themselves, "It looks like a storm is building." "Yes, and it looks like a bad one!"
The storm blew in, threatening to capsize the boat--and throw its occupants overboard. Yet, Jesus was still asleep. In desperation, Peter went and woke Him, "Master! Jesus! We are about to die! The waves are swamping us. We'll all drown! Save us Master!"
Jesus stood--and spoke to the wind and the waves--and stilled the storm.
They exclaimed, "We're going to be saved!"
Jesus asked them, "Where is your faith?" (3/13)
After calming the storm, Jesus and His followers sailed on to the region of Gadara. As the boat came close to the shore, a herd of pigs could be seen in the distance. As Jesus stepped onto the land, He was met by a naked, demon-possessed man who fell to the ground in front of Him.
Jesus demanded, "What is your name?" (4/2)
The man replied, "Legion. Lord, we beg You, do not send us into the abyss. Let us enter into the herd of swine."
Jesus directed the many demons to enter the nearby herd of pigs. They obeyed, and the herd raced toward the cliff.
The people watching the pigs cried out, "Hey! Come back! Stop! Stop!"
The pigs rushed over the cliff, fell into the sea, and drowned--leaving their frightened and angry herdsmen behind. (4/3)
They yelled at Jesus, "Go away from here! You, magician! Leave us! Go away from this place! Leave us! Go away from here!"
The once-wild man was clothed and in his right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus. When Jesus began to leave, the man begged to go with Him, saying, "I'll follow You wherever You go. Let me come with You."
But Jesus ordered him, "Go back home, and tell what God has done for you."
And the man did as Jesus had commanded. Wherever he went in Gadara, he repeated, over and over, the story of his release, and how Jesus had changed his life! (4/4)
In the bustling city of Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus found a ready audience for His teaching about the kingdom of God. Suddenly, from out of the crowd, rushed a man named Jairus. He was the ruler of the local Jewish place of worship. Jairus began pleading with Jesus, saying, "Jesus! Jesus! I beg you to save my only daughter! Sir, have mercy. She's only twelve years old and dying. Please! Please, come with me!" (4/5)
Leaving the crowd behind, Jesus went to the official's home with him. On the way, a friend of the family approached and told Jairus, "Jairus, I'm sorry. Your daughter has died. Don't bother the teacher any longer." (4/5)
Jairus exclaimed, "Jesus!"
Jesus comforted him, "Don't be afraid. Only believe, and she will be well."
The words of Jesus calmed Jairus, and they continued on toward his home. A large group of mourners had already gathered, beating their chests in grief. But when they entered the courtyard, Jesus sent them away and allowed only Jairus, his wife, and three close followers--the fishermen Peter, James and John--to enter the house. They found the young girl lying on a mat.
Jesus reached down, took her hand and spoke: "Do not weep. She's not dead, but only sleeping." He ordered her, "Child, arise." (4/6)
The girl opened her eyes and sat up--in perfect health.
Her parents exclaimed, "She's getting up?! Our daughter?... She's alive!!"
Jesus ordered, "Give her something to eat. Listen to Me--tell no one what has happened here."
Wherever Jesus went in Galilee, great crowds of people gathered. People longed to see the compassionate Teacher and hear His powerful messages. (4/7)
Jesus taught them, "I tell you this, take no thought in your life for what you shall eat, nor for your body what you shall wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: They neither sow nor reap, have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. Of how much more worth are you than the birds? "
The people remarked, "But surely, we need to care for ourselves!"
Jesus replied, "Which of you, by being anxious, can add to the length of your life? If you cannot do such a small thing, why do you worry about the rest?"
"Consider the lilies, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like a single one of them. If God so clothes the wild grass today, which tomorrow is thrown into a fire, how much more sure is He to clothe you, O you of little faith."
People begged Him, "Tell us again about the kingdom. Is there anything else?" (4/8)
He replied, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell all your belongings and give the money to the poor. Provide for yourselves purses that do not wear out and save your riches in heaven, where they will never decrease, because there no thief can get to them, and no moth can destroy them. For your heart will always be where your riches are."
Then He took the disciples with Him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida. But the crowds learned about it and followed Him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.
Late in the afternoon, the twelve disciples came to Him, and asked Him, "Master, send the people away, so they can go to the villages and farms around here, and find food and lodging. There is nothing in this place."
Jesus replied, "You yourselves give them something to eat." (4/9)
They answered, "But all we have are five loaves and two fish."
Jesus instructed His followers to seat the crowd in groups of fifty. Then He lifted His hands to pray, saying, "Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth."
Jesus broke the loaves and fishes, and filled the baskets of His followers who then distributed them to the crowd.
The five thousand men--as well as women and children--all ate and were satisfied. (4/10)
They exclaimed, "It's a miracle. Unbelievable!"
The followers of Jesus walked through the groups of people collecting the leftovers. In all, they gathered twelve heaping baskets!
One day as Jesus was alone praying, He came over to His disciples and asked them, "Who do the crowds say I am?"
Peter answered for them all: "Some say that You are John the Baptist, others say that You are Elijah, while others say that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life." (4/11)
Jesus asked, "What about you? Who do you say I am?"
Peter answered, "You are God's Messiah."
Jesus told them, "You shall tell no man of this. The Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected. He will be put to death, but three days later will be raised to life."
Jesus predicted His own death by execution. He also promised that He would rise from the dead three days later. But His followers did not understand. (4/12)
(Part 5) (5/2)
One afternoon, Jesus took them to the foothills of Mount Hermon. In the cool of the summer evening, He chose three close followers--Peter, James and John--to go with Him up onto the mountain to pray.
His followers said, "Oh, what a climb! I'm exhausted." The three followers fell asleep. But as Jesus prayed, His face began to shine like the sun, and His clothes became dazzling white.
James asked, "Peter, what's happening?" (5/2)
The sleeping followers awakened to see two prophets from ages past--Moses and Elijah--talking with Jesus. Moses and Elijah said, "You will fulfill God's purpose." "You will die in Jerusalem."
As the prophets were leaving, Peter spoke up: "Master, how good it is that we are here. We will make three tents; one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
But then a huge, bright cloud covered the mountain. Trembling in fear, the followers of Jesus heard a Voice from the cloud saying: "This is My Son, Whom I have chosen. Listen to Him!" (5/3)
Following the unusual event up on the mountain, Jesus--along with Peter, James and John--returned to the other followers. A crowd had gathered around a young man possessed by an evil spirit. (5/4)
The crowd cried out, "He's coming! He's here! Look!"
The boy's father cried, "Teacher! Teacher, please do something for my son! Please, please help him, for he is my only child. I've begged Your disciples to cast the demon out of him, but they could not."
Jesus answered him, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here."
Just then the evil spirit threw the boy's body to the ground in a wild seizure. Jesus commanded the evil spirit to leave and at once the boy was healed.
They said, "It's a miracle!" (5/4)
One day as His followers walked from village to village with Him, a man approached them and said to Jesus: "I will follow You Master, but first, let me go and say good-bye to my family."
Jesus told him, "Anyone who starts to plow and then keeps looking back is of no use for the kingdom of God. If anyone wants to come with Me, he must forget himself, take up his cross every day, and follow Me."
"For whoever would save his own life will lose it, and whoever would lose his life for My sake will save it. What will it profit a man if he gain the whole earth and lose his own soul?"
"If any man is ashamed of Me and My teachings, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and the holy angels." (5/5)
On one occasion, a religious authority sitting in the crowd stood up and tried to test Jesus, saying "Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus replied, "What do the Scriptures say? How do you interpret them?"
The religious man answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as you love yourself."
Jesus replied, "You are right. Do this and you will live" (5/6)
The religious leader knew that Jesus had answered well, but the expert in the law wanted to justify himself, so he asked, "Who is my neighbor?"
People in the crowd answered, "Not those soldiers." "What about Caesar?"
Knowing that the listeners disliked the Samaritans, Jesus began to tell them a story. His listeners could easily imagine the scene--the solitary desert road running from Jerusalem to the city of Jericho--that invited trouble for the careless traveler. Bands of robbers often hid behind the nearby cliffs. (5/7)
Jesus told them, "There was once a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when robbers attacked him. They stripped him and beat him, leaving him half dead. It so happened that a priest came that way. When he saw the man he walked by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also came there, went over and looked at the man, and then walked by on the other side. But a despised Samaritan who was traveling on that road came across the man. And when he saw him his heart was filled with pity."
People gasped, "A Samaritan? You must be joking!" "Why would a heathen like that help a Jew?"
Jesus continued, "He went over to the man, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them. Then he put him on his own animal and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he gave the innkeeper two silver coins, and he told him to care for the man. "And when I come back," he said, "I will pay you whatever else you spend on him." Which one of these three acted like a neighbor toward the man who was attacked by the robbers?" (5/8)
The teacher of the law answered, "The one who was kind to him." Jesus told him to go and do the same.
Jesus often went alone to pray. One day His followers approached Him with an important request. They said, "Teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." (5/9)
Jesus taught them, "When you pray, say, "Our Father in heaven, Holy be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive those who sin against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
As His followers walked from village to village with Him, Jesus often stopped to teach other lessons on prayer that were important for them to learn.
"Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks will receive, and he who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks."
They asked, "What do You mean?"
Jesus explained, "Would any of you who are fathers give to your son a snake when he asks for a fish, or a scorpion when he asks for an egg? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (5/10)
A woman in the crowd called out, "How happy is the mother who bore You and nursed You!"
Jesus replied, "Rather, how happy are those who hear the word of God and obey it."
During their travels, Jesus and His followers attended local synagogues on the weekly holy day of worship called the Sabbath. A visiting rabbi was often invited to speak during the service. The leader said, "Let us hear from a rabbi visiting us today, Jesus of Nazareth."
As He was teaching, Jesus saw a crippled woman with a deformed back sitting among the crowd. He called her, touched her and said, "Woman, you are free from your sickness."
As the crowd looked on, the woman stood up straight and began to glorify God.
She exclaimed, "Pr-pr-pr-praise to the Lord! Eighteen years! God keep you, Rabbi!"
People in the crowd exclaimed, "Look! Look, she's cured! It's a miracle! Look, look, she's cured! Come and see!"
Everyone rejoiced--except the religious leaders. (5/12)
The chief elder rose from his designated seat to confront Jesus, saying, "There are six days in which we should work, so come on one of those days to be healed, but not on the Sabbath."
Jesus replied, "You hypocrites! Any one of you would untie his ox or his donkey and take it out from the stall to give it water on the Sabbath. Now here is this daughter of Abraham whom Satan has kept in bonds these eighteen years. Should she not be released on the Sabbath?"
The chief elder and other religious leaders were ashamed of themselves, but the people continued to glorify God. (5/13)
People eagerly watched Him and listened closely even when they didn't quite understand.
Jesus taught, saying, "What is the kingdom of God like? It is like this: A man takes a grain of mustard seed and plants it in his field. The plant grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make their nests in its branches."
Even though His teaching challenged the adults, His gentle manner attracted the children. They sat listening at His feet. Jesus said to His followers, "Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to him by whom they come. It would be better for him that a stone were tied about his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. (6/3)
"If you had faith as big as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Pull yourself up by the roots and plant yourself in the sea,' and it would obey you."
Someone asked, "Exactly when will this come, God's kingdom?"
Jesus said, "The kingdom of God does not come in such a way as to be seen. No one will say, 'Look, there it is,' or 'Here it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you.
"The time will come when you will wish that you could see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. As the lightning flashes across the sky and lights it up from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be on His day. But first, He must suffer much and be rejected by the people of this day." (6/4)
Even though the religious leaders were frequently offended, Jesus often directed His lessons--known as parables--towards those who were too confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else.
Jesus told this story, "Once there were two men who went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, 'I thank You, God, that I am not greedy, or dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank You that I am not like that tax collector over there. I fast twice a week, and I give You one tenth of all my income.' But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat upon his breast and said, 'God, have pity on me, a sinner.'" ( 6/5)
Jesus continued, "I tell you, the tax collector, not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For the man who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Jesus always loved being with children. Sometimes His disciples tried to keep them away from Him, but Jesus gently picked them up in His arms, teaching His followers by example.
He said, "Allow the little children to come to Me and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will in no way enter in. Whoever welcomes this child in My name welcomes Me, and whoever welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent Me. For he who is least among you all is the greatest."
One morning, as Jesus and His followers prepared to leave, a rich leader ran after them and knelt reverently before Jesus. The man wanted to know how he could live forever with God after he died. (6/6)
He asked, "Good Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?"
Jesus asked him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery. Do not commit murder; do not accuse anyone falsely. Respect your mother and your father."
The man replied, "Ever since I was young, I have obeyed all these commandments."
Jesus said, "There is still one more thing you need to do. You must sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow Me."
The wealthy man bowed his head and went away sadly. Jesus watched him depart. Speaking to His followers, Jesus said: (6/7) "How hard it is for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God! It is harder for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God, than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle."
People were astonished and asked, "Who, then, can be saved?"
Jesus replied, "What is impossible for man, is possible for God."
Due to His unusual teaching about God, and His compassion toward so many outcasts of society, Jesus gathered large crowds wherever He went.
One day, He and His followers neared a small city, where a blind beggar sat by the road. (6/8)
The blind man asked, "Hey, what's happening? What's going on?" and was told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.
He began shouting with a high strong voice, "Jesus! Jesus! Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Jesus stopped and ordered the man be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him: "What do you want Me to do for you?"
He said, "I want to see again." (6/9)
Jesus said, "Then, see. Your faith has made you well."
The blind man shouted, "I can see! I can see! I can see!"
The miracles that Jesus did, supported His claim that He was indeed God's Son. His close followers identified Him as the Messiah--God's Chosen One.
Jesus passed through the city of Jericho on His way to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. Large, festive crowds met Him everywhere. Many asked about how to find forgiveness for their sins and gain entrance into God's kingdom. (6/10)
A wealthy but dishonest tax collector named Zacchaeus was living in Jericho. He was very eager to see Jesus. But being a short man, he could not see over the crowd filling the city streets. So he climbed one of the many large trees in town--to get above the other people. Jesus stopped under the tree, looked up, and said, "Hurry down, Zacchaeus, for I must stay in your house today." (6/11)
"My house?" Zacchaeus exclaimed. He climbed down and happily welcomed Jesus to his home, but the crowds were shocked. Tax collectors were known to cheat their own people. No other religious leader would ever be seen with such a hated representative of the Roman oppressors. The compassion that Jesus showed to Zacchaeus affected him greatly. (6/12)
At the dinner, Zacchaeus said, "Listen. I give half of my belongings to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much."
Jesus exclaimed, "Salvation has come to this house today! For this man also is a descendant of Abraham! The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (6/13)
Jesus knew what the future would bring in nearby Jerusalem, and He spoke privately with His disciples about what lay ahead.
He said, "Listen. We are going to Jerusalem, where everything the prophets wrote about the Son of Man will come true. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him, and treat Him shamefully, and spit upon Him. He will be whipped and killed. But on the third day, He will rise." (7/2)
Nearing Jerusalem, Jesus chose to travel into the city riding upon a young donkey. This fulfilled a prophecy from five hundred years before, about a victorious king entering the city upon a humble donkey. The crowds surrounding Jesus delighted at His coming, and called Him their King.
They cried out, "Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (7/3)
Some religious leaders in the crowd began to complain to Jesus, saying, "Teacher, command Your disciples to be quiet."
He replied, "I tell you that if they were to be quiet, the stones themselves would begin shouting."
People in the crowd cried out, "Our king is come!... He calmed the storm!... Hosanna to the Son of David!... He healed my daughter!... He is the king!... He opened my eyes!"
But as Jesus approached Jerusalem, He stopped and looked out over the city. He wept as He predicted its destruction, because so many did not accept Him as their Messiah. (7/4)
He said, "If only, on this your day, you had known the path for peace, but you have failed to see it. The days will come when your enemies will build ramparts to surround you and hem you in, pressing hard from every side. And within these walls they will destroy you... you and your children. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."
It was the week before Passover--the special religious gathering in Jerusalem. Jesus crossed the wide porch of the temple and entered the large courtyard. The temple was for worship and prayer, but the priests had allowed this part of the holy building to become a bustling marketplace--where merchants exchanged currency and sold animals for sacrifice in the temple. (7/5)
Jesus became angry. Turning over the money tables, Jesus drove the merchants from the grounds and shouted, "It is written, 'My house shall be a house of prayer,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves!"
One of the sellers cried out, "He's heading for my animals! Stop Him! Stop Him! Get the guards! Get the guards!"
The political and religious leaders of the city felt increasing concern about Jesus' following, because His popularity was growing. (7/6)
Caiphas the priest said, "I understand that many have already hailed Him as king."
Others said, "A king? A king of beggars, whores, and thieves. We've seen His kind before. They come, they make their claims, they go, they're forgotten."
Annas said, "Don't be blind. His following is growing by the day. The people admire Him, and think He is a king. Let me give you a warning. If this man should threaten the peace further, I shall look to you."
Caiphas replied, "Perhaps he's right. It's time we confronted the Galilean." (7/7)
Each day Jesus taught in the Temple, saying, "Come to Me and listen to My words. Hear Me, and you shall have life. Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord and He will have compassion on him. For He will abundantly pardon. You shall go out with joy and be led forth in peace."
One day, a group of religious leaders approached Jesus, challenging His right to teach and do miracles.
Jesus replied, "Now let Me ask you a question. Tell Me, did John's right to baptize come from God or from man?" (7/8)
The leaders moved back to discuss the work of John the Baptist in private, saying, "What shall we say? If we were to say, 'from God,' He will say, 'Why, then, don't you believe John?' But if we say, 'from man,' this whole crowd here will stone us. They're all convinced that John was a prophet."
The puzzled leaders returned to Jesus, saying, "We don't know where it came from." (7/9)
Jesus replied, "Neither will I tell you then by what right I do these things."
Knowing the dishonesty of some religious leaders, Jesus ignored them, and began telling a story. "There was once a man who planted a vineyard, rented it out to tenants, and then left home for a long time."
His listeners knew the scene well. Vineyards grew on fertile hillsides terraced with rocks. Wealthy landowners leased the land to tenants under the condition that the tenants would share part of the harvest with the landowner.
Jesus continued, "When the time came to gather the grapes, he sent a slave to the tenants, to receive from them his share of the harvest. But the tenants beat the slave and sent him back without a thing. So he sent another slave... (7/10) but the tenants beat him too, treated him shamefully, and sent him back without a thing. Then he sent a third slave. But the tenants wounded him too, and threw him out. Then the owner of the vineyard said to himself, 'What shall I do? I will send my own dear son. Surely they will respect him.' But when the tenants saw him coming, they said to one another, 'This is the owner's son! Let's kill him and his property will be ours!'
"So they threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants? He will come and kill those men, and give the vineyard over to other tenants." (7/11)
"What, then, does this Scripture mean? 'The stone which the builders rejected as worthless, turned out to be the most important of all.' Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces. And if that stone falls on someone, it will crush him to dust."
Some religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus right then because they knew He told His stories about them. But others were afraid of His popularity. So they decided instead to try to trick Him.
They said, "Teacher, we know that what You say and teach is right. We know that You pay no attention to man's status, but You teach the truth about God's will for man. Tell us, is it against our law for us to pay taxes to the Roman emperor or not?"
Most Jews hated the rulers from Rome that had occupied their city. They believed that paying money to Caesar was against their religious law. (7/12) Yet, if Jesus gave public support to this popular attitude, He could be charged with rebellion against the government and turned over to the Roman authorities.
But Jesus responded quickly: "Show Me a silver coin. Whose face and name are these on it?"
People shouted, "Caesar's!"
Jesus said, "Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
The religious leaders were amazed at the words of Jesus. (7/13)
On one occasion, He paused outside the temple to watch people bring their gifts of worship to God. Among those who came was a poor widow who brought only two small coins.
Jesus commented, "I tell you that this poor widow put in more than all the others. For the others offered their gifts from what they had to spare of their riches. But she, poor as she is, put in all that she had to live on." (7/14)
The chief priests and the teachers of the law continued to plot to have Jesus killed. Their solution came from one of His own twelve disciples. The devil entered into Judas Iscariot and he met secretly with the chief priests--and agreed to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. (7/15)
At this time the Jews began to celebrate the Passover feast. Peter and John--the two closest followers of Jesus--were sent to bring back a lamb and make other preparations for the meal. Then Jesus and the twelve disciples gathered in the large upper room of a house, and reclined around the table.
Jesus said, "I have wanted so much to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is given its full meaning in the kingdom of God."
The meal itself was an important ceremony. It was a reminder of Israel's deliverance from slavery in Egypt more than a thousand years before. It also foretold a future deliverance by a long-awaited Messiah Who would forgive their sins and establish His Kingdom. (8/2)
During the meal, Jesus took some bread and prayed over it, saying, "Blessed are You, O Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth."
"This is My body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me."
Jesus broke the bread and passed it to each of His followers. Then He offered them a cup of wine from which each man could drink, saying, "Blessed are You O Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth fruit from the vine."
"Take this and share it among yourselves. For I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." (8/3)
"This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you. But, behold, the one who is going to betray Me is with Me at the table. And truly the Son of Man must die as God has determined, but woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed."
His followers talked among themselves and asked Him, "Lord, is it I?" "Which of us is it that should do this thing? Of whom does He speak?" "Surely, Lord, You don't mean me? I would not do such a thing! Lord, who is it?" (8/4)
Peter exclaimed, "I will never leave you!"
Jesus said, "Simon, Simon, listen, Satan has earnestly begged God, and asked to have all of you, to sift you as wheat is sifted, trying your faith. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back to Me, you must strengthen your brethren."
Peter said, "Lord, I am ready to go to prison with You, and to die with You."
He replied, "I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day before you shall three times deny that you know Me. "
He asked His followers, "When I sent you out without purse or bag or shoes, did you lack anything?" (8/5)
His followers replied, "No, not a thing."
He continued, "But now, whoever has a purse or bag must take it, and whoever has no sword must sell his mantle and buy one. For I tell you, it is written in the Scriptures, 'And He was counted among the transgressors.' And what was written about Me is coming true."
That night, Jesus and His followers left Jerusalem and went to the Mount of Olives to pray. Turning from the road, they entered a small enclosed garden.
Jesus cautioned His followers: "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." (8/6)
Knowing that the time of His betrayal and execution was coming soon, Jesus moved a short distance from His followers and knelt to pray, saying, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will but Yours be done."
In His agony, Jesus broke into a sweat and great drops fell as blood to the ground. An angel came from heaven to strengthen Him. When He got up, Jesus found that His followers were asleep.
He asked them, "Why are you sleeping? Get up, and pray that you do not fall into temptation."
Suddenly, a whole company of priests and guards approached--led by Judas Iscariot. The disloyal disciple came up to Jesus to embrace Him. Jesus asked him, "Judas, is it with a kiss that you betray the Son of Man?" (8/7)
Several disciples grabbed for swords they had concealed in their robes, saying, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?"
Peter jumped to the defense of Jesus, and slashed at the high priest's servant, cutting off his ear. (8/8)
Jesus exclaimed, "Enough of this!" and calmly touched the servant's ear, and healed him.
He asked, "Did you have to come with swords and clubs as though I were an outlaw? I was with you every day in the temple and you did not try to arrest Me. But this is your hour to act, when the power of darkness rules." (8/9)
The soldiers surrounded Jesus, and bound His hands. His followers fled, fearful for their lives. Through the dark, deserted streets of Jerusalem, the soldiers rushed Jesus to the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance, right into the courtyard
A large fire burned nearby as the guards prepared for a long night. Peter joined the servants sitting around the fire--until someone recognized him.
A maid said, "This man too was with Jesus." (8/10)
He replied, "Woman, I don't even know Him."
The guards blindfolded Jesus and began to beat Him, saying, "Prophesy! Who will hit You next? "
Later that night, as Peter paced nervously around the palace grounds, someone else noticed him, saying, "You are one of them, too." (8/11)
He protested, "But I am not."
Meanwhile, the high council of religious leaders quickly assembled. An official was sent to get the Prisoner from the sneering guards. The official exclaimed, "Stop it! Stop it, I said! Bring Him before the council." (8/12)
The council leaders began to question Jesus, saying, "Tell us, are You the Messiah?"
Jesus said, "If I tell you, you will not believe Me. And if I ask you a question, you will not answer Me. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right side of Almighty God. "
Caiphas asked, "Are You, then, the Son of God?" (8/13)
Jesus said, "You say that I Am."
The leaders said, "What further need have we of witnesses?" "Behold, now you have heard his blasphemy." "What do you think?"
They asked, "Who gives Him the authority to say that?" And they said, "We ourselves have heard what He said." (8/14)
They continued, "Guilty! We will take Him to Pilate. Yes, away with Him. Get Him out of here. Take Him to Pilate! He'll know what to do!"
As Jesus was led away, a man in the crowd pointed out Peter, saying, "This man was with Jesus, because he is also a Galilean."
Peter stammered, "I don't know what--what you're talking about." (8/15)
Jesus turned and looked at His follower and friend. Peter remembered the prediction: "I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day before you shall three times deny that you know Me."
Peter fled from the courtyard--in tears. (8/16)
In the early morning, a group of temple guards hurried through the narrow passageways of Jerusalem, pushing a lone man toward the residence of Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea. Pilate was known for the execution of thousands--and he cared little for the Jews. (9/2)
Pilate demanded, "And what do you want here, at this hour of the morning? "
The priests said, "We caught this Man misleading our people. He caused an uproar in the temple market."
The crowd yelled, "What will be His punishment? Sentence Him! Sentence Him!" (9/3)
Roman officials had little interest in local religious arguments--until civil order fell apart.
Pilate said, "I see no reason to condemn this Man, no reason."
The priests exclaimed, "We found Him guilty, telling them not to pay taxes to the emperor, claiming Himself the Messiah, a king."
This charge caught Pilate's attention. It might mean treason--and a threat to his own position. He asked, "A king? Are You the King of the Jews?"
Jesus replied, "So you say." (9/4)
The priests remarked, "He began teaching in Galilee and now He has come here."
Pilate asked, "In Galilee? Is this Man a Galilean? In that case, we'll let Herod deal with Him. He's still here in Jerusalem, isn't he? Take Him to Herod!"
Jesus' accusers took Him to Herod's palace. Herod was greatly pleased, and demanded, "Who is it that You say You are? Who are those You call Your disciples? It is said by many You can perform miracles. Do one for me." (9/5)
Jesus said nothing. But the religious leaders--scribes and priests--could not keep silent, saying, "My lord, He has been corrupting all the people. He calls Himself the King."
Herod exclaimed, "This Man? A king?"
Herod began to insult Jesus, and humiliated Him by draping a scarlet robe around His back, mocking him, "Your Majesty." He told the soldiers, "Strike Him well and send Him back to Pilate. This is his province." (9/6)
By the time Jesus, the guards and religious leaders returned to Pilate's quarters, a huge crowd had gathered. Military officials, Passover celebrants, and many others now stood before his judgment seat. Yet Pilate was still unwilling to condemn Jesus, saying, "This Man has done nothing to deserve death. So I will have Him whipped, and let Him go."
Influenced by the religious leaders, the crowd had a different request, demanding, "Release Him? Give us Barabbas!"
Annas demanded, "You are obliged to release one man to us at this festival. Release the murderer Barabbas to us!" (9/7)
It had become a local custom at Passover for the Romans to release one prisoner condemned to death.
Caiphas shouted "Yes. Give us Barabbas. And away with this Man. Barabbas!" (9/8)
The crowd shouted, "Crucify Him! Kill Jesus! Crucify Him! Give us Barabbas!"
Pilate commanded the soldiers, "You, you, whip him." (9/9)
But the violent beating of Jesus by the guards did not satisfy the increasing rage of the crowd that shouted, "Nail Him to the cross! Nail Him to the cross!"
Fearing a riot, Pilate finally agreed to have Jesus crucified--nailed to a wooden cross.
Under pressure from the crowd, Pilate agreed to release the murderer Barabbas. As he gave the orders to crucify Jesus he claimed, "I am innocent of this Man's blood." (9/10)
The crowd shouted, "Yes! His blood be upon us!--and upon our children!"
The governor's soldiers took Jesus into the palace, and mocked him, saying, "Are You going to save us, Your Majesty? Are You going to save us?"
After beating Him again, the soldiers dressed Jesus in His own robe and tied a wooden crossbar to His wounded back. Then they pushed Him out into the crowded streets of Jerusalem--and forced Him to march through the city. (9/11)
Just before nine o'clock in the morning, the soldiers headed for a common place of execution outside Jerusalem called Golgotha, or the "Place of the Skull."
They shouted at the people on the streets, "Back! Get back! Back! Get back! Get out of the way! Keep away from Him."
Weak with exhaustion, Jesus stumbled to the ground. The crossbar was still tied to His back. To keep things moving, the Roman commander searched the crowd for someone else to carry the wooden beam. (9/12)
He picked out a man, "You! What's your name?"
The man replied, "Simon of Cyrene, sir."
The soldier commanded, "Step over here! You, carry it. Come on, move! Back! Back, leave Him! Move on, clear the way there. Back, Get back! Get back!"
A large number of people followed Jesus, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Several women approached Jesus, and cried out to Him, "We weep for You, Lord, we weep. Drink this, drink." 9/13
Jesus replied, "Women of Jerusalem, don't weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For if such things as these take place when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"
The women cried, "God help You." (9/14)
Finally they arrived at Golgotha--and the gruesome work began.
Jesus--now joined by two criminals--was stripped of His outer garments. His crossbar was attached to a wooden post, forming a cross to which His hands were nailed. The soldiers also drove spikes into His feet.
After putting all three men's crosses upright, the soldiers placed a sign above Jesus that read: "This is the King of the Jews." Then they waited for the three men to die--and watched the crowd that stood nearby. After some time Jesus spoke from the cross, saying, "Forgive them, Father, for they don't know what they're doing." (9/15)
The soldiers found a distraction--deciding who would own the clothes of Jesus, saying, "This is no ordinary mystic's garment!"
Standing among the onlookers were some of the religious leaders who had condemned Jesus. (9/16) They mocked him, saying, "He has saved others; let Him save Himself. Yes, save Yourself if You are the Messiah! Come down from the cross. Show us one of Your miracles!"
As Jesus hung on the cross, a soldier pushed a sponge up to His mouth--dripping with sour wine. He told him, "Save Yourself if You are the King of the Jews." (9/17)
Jesus rejected the wine. One of the criminals who hung there with Him also hurled insults at Him: "Aren't You the Messiah? Save Yourself, and--and us."
The other robber said, "Don't you fear God? We received the same sentence He did, but He has done no wrong. Remember me, Jesus, when You--when You come as King."
Jesus said, "I promise you, today you will be in Paradise with Me."
Time passed, and although it was still daytime, darkness swept across the land.(9/18)
Some distance away in the Temple was an area known as the "Holy of Holies." Once a year, a priest went into the Holy of Holies to ask God's forgiveness for all the sins of the people. The huge curtain--which separated the priests from the special presence of God--suddenly tore from top to bottom.
Jesus said, "Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit. (sigh)"
The hardened Roman commander had seen many men die, but none like this, and exclaimed, "Glory be to God! Certainly this was a righteous Man."
Later, a soldier stabbed a spear into the side of Jesus. Blood and water poured out--proof that He was really dead. (9/19)
Sometimes bodies were left hanging on the crosses over night, but not during high holy days. Joseph of Arimathea, a religious leader who had not agreed to the death sentence of Jesus, asked Pilate if he could bury His body. Pilate agreed.
Joseph wrapped the body of Jesus in linen, laid it in his new tomb, and sealed the doorway with a heavy rock. (9/20)
As Joseph and his helpers were leaving the tomb, they noticed a group of women. They had followed Jesus when He was alive--and had watched His death from a distance.
The women said, "We'll get spices and ointments to prepare the body of our Lord."
Joseph replied, "I will help. But hurry, the Sabbath is approaching." (10/3)
Once they knew where the tomb was located, the women returned to the city to prepare spices and linen strips. According to custom, these would be used to wrap the body of Jesus.
On Sunday morning, at first light, the women hurried to the garden tomb. They expected problems because the huge rock would be very heavy.
Much to their surprise--the stone had been moved away, and they discovered the body of Jesus was missing! Only His linen clothes remained on the burial shelf. Two men in shining robes suddenly appeared. The women trembled with fear as the angels spoke to them, saying, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen. Remember what He said to you while He was in Galilee: 'The Son of Man will be handed over to sinful men, be crucified, and on the third day rise again.'"
Memories of Jesus came over the women--memories of all He had told them when He taught on the hillsides, and along the roadway. (10/4)
He had told them, "You shall tell no man of this. The Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected. He will be put to death, but three days later will be raised to life."
With new understanding, the women rushed back to find the eleven disciples of Jesus.
They exclaimed, "Listen! The stone was rolled away! We entered, and the body of our Lord was gone."
The followers of Jesus exclaimed, "What? The body of our Lord, gone?"
The women continued, "And two men appeared to us; angels, shining, like the sun. And said to us: "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" "It's true, it's true!" (10//5)
They continued, "Believe us. Believe us. We saw them! Go and see for yourself! The tomb was empty! Our Lord was gone! Peter, you must believe us!"
Peter ran to see for himself. And as the confusing day wore on, two other men hurried back to the gathering of followers in Jerusalem with an amazing report, "The Lord is risen indeed! He has appeared to Simon!"
The two men exclaimed, "We didn't recognize Him; not on the road-- but when He broke bread, then we knew Him. " (10/6)
Jesus suddenly stood in the center of the group, saying, "Peace be with you." No door had opened or closed.
His followers exclaimed, "Master!"
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. (10/7)
He asked, them, "Why are you so frightened? Why are these doubts coming up in your minds? Look at My hands and My feet, and see that it is I Myself. Feel Me and you will know. For a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see I have. These are the very things I spoke to you about while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the writings of the prophets and the Psalms had to come true. This is what is written: the Messiah must suffer, and rise from the dead on the third day, and in His name the message of repentance and the forgiveness of sins must be preached to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem."
"You are witnesses of these things. I Myself will send you the One My Father has promised. But you must wait in the city until the power from Heaven comes down upon you." (10/8)
Jesus appeared many other times to different groups of followers, and once to a group of five hundred people. Finally, forty days after His return to life from the dead, Jesus led His disciples out to a garden area on the Mount of Olives. He lifted His hands and blessed them. He lifted His hands and blessed them, saying, "The Lord bless you and keep you. All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth. Go, then, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you. Be sure of this. I will never leave you. I will be with you always, even unto the end of the world."
While He was blessing them, He disappeared into the clouds, and was lifted up into Heaven. (10/9)
(Invitation given by the announcer)
The greatest miracle of all had happened. Jesus had defeated death. There was no doubt that He was Who He claimed to be. He was the Creator God Himself, in human form, Who came to give His innocent life in payment for the sins of the world. This had been God's plan from the beginning.
Jesus said that He would forgive our sins if we accept Him as our Savior. Those who trust in Him will be forgiven and live forever with God. (10/9)
He predicted that He would die as a sacrifice to pay for the sins of the world. He also said that He would rise again. The fact that He rose again shows that He is a living Savior. Therefore, He is able to save eternally all who trust in Him. Jesus Himself said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, even though he dies, he will live."
Jesus wants to forgive your sins and fill your life with His love and peace. He wants to show you a better life than you are now experiencing--a full, abundant life filled with purpose and meaning. This is what He meant when He said: "Listen, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door I will come in to him."
To have your sins forgiven and have confidence that you will live forever with God after death, you must accept Jesus as your personal Savior, and trust in Him as the One who sacrificed His life for your sins. He will receive you if you trust in Him, for He said: (10/10)
"Come to Me, all you that labor, carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, except through Me."
If it is the desire of your heart to receive Jesus as the payment for your sins, you can pray a prayer of faith and Jesus Christ will come into your life. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. The following is a suggested prayer: "Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross and paying the penalty for my sins. I open the door of my life, and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. Amen."
If you do desire to invite Christ into your life, pray this prayer aloud or silently as I say it again: "Lord Jesus, I need You (pause)....Thank You for dying on the cross and paying the penalty for my sins (pause)....I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord (pause)....Take control of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be (pause)....Amen."
If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you can be sure that He is with you now as He promised! You can know for certain that He has forgiven you of your sins and that you will live with God forever after death.
You can grow in your relationship with Jesus by talking to Him in prayer. Read His words in the Bible. Obey His commands, and meet with others who love and follow Him.
Always remember the wonderful promise He has given you. For He said," I will never leave you, nor forsake you. I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (10/12)