A Short History of Christ's Life on Earth
In the reign of Herod, king of the Jews, an angel of the Lord appeared to a young woman whose name was Mary. This maiden lived in Nazareth, a town of Galilee. She was betrothed to a man named Joseph, who was a carpenter. The angel told Mary that she was highly favored by God above all women, for she should have a son, not by man but by the Holy Spirit. And the angel said, "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."
Birth of Jesus
After this, Mary and her husband Joseph left Nazareth and went to Bethlehem in Judea, in order to pay a tax that had been ordered by the Roman emperor. Each man went to his own city to be taxed, and Joseph went, with his wife, to the city of David, which was called Bethlehem, "because he was of the house and lineage of David." The town was so crowded that the only lodgings they could get were in a stable, and there, in that poor place, Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Savior of mankind. The great event was made known to the world by a bright star in the heavens and by an angel. the Wise Men of the East saw and followed the star, while the Shepherds were visited by the angel.
After this, Mary and Joseph took the infant Jesus and went to Jerusalem, where they presented the child in the temple, upon which occasion Simeon, an aged man to whom it had been revealed that he should not die until he had seen the Christ, said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to they word." Luke 2:29
Herod Slays the Children at Bethlehem
When Herod the king heard that a child had been born who would be called the King of the Jews, he tried to kill him; and as he did not know the child, he sent soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all the children there not more than two years old, thinking that among them Jesus might be slain. But God sent an angel to Joseph, who told him to take the young child and his mother, and to flee into Egypt; therefore Herod's soldiers did not find him.
When Jesus was twelve years old his parents once found him sitting in the temple at Jerusalem, among the most learned priests, both hearing them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. After this he went back with his parents to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.
When Jesus had grown to manhood he was baptized by John the Baptist, in the river Jordon; the Holy Ghost then descended upon him in the form of a dove, and a voice came from heaven which said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
After this Jesus went into the wilderness. When he had fasted forty days and nights he was tempted by the devil, but resisted all his wiles.
Jesus Performs His First Miracle
Jesus went to a city called Cana; and there He performed His first miracle, by turning water into wine, at a marriage feast. While going through Galilee he brought back to life a nobleman's dead child. At Nazareth Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and spoke to the Jews, telling them he was the Savior whom God had sent down from heaven; but the Jews were angry and would not believe him. They tried to kill him by throwing him down from the top of a steep hill on which the city was built; but because he had the power of God they were not able to do him any harm; and he left them and went away from Nazareth.
Coming to Capernaum, Jesus preached to the people from the fishing boat of Peter, who afterward was his apostle; and he sent Peter and Andrew out on the sea to draw their net, when he caused it to be filled by a miraculous number of fishes, so that the net broke and two boats would not hold them all. Jesus relieved many sick people by curing them of their diseases; the blind, the lame, the lepers, and those possessed of evil spirits were cured merely by his word or touch.
Among other kind and merciful acts, Jesus cured, at the pool of Bethesda, a paralytic man, who had been helpless and bed-ridden for thirty-eight years, bidding him take up his bed and walk. He afterward cured a man whose right hand was shrunk up and withered. And all that were sick, or lame, or had evil spirits in them, crowded around him to touch him, so that just by his touch they might be made well. And Jesus cured them all; yet the Jews hated him and tried to find some way to put him to death.
Jesus Chooses the Twelve Apostles
After a night in a desert place, praying to God, Jesus called together his disciples and followers, and chose from among them twelve men whom he named Apostles. Apostle means messenger. Jesus called these twelve whom he had chosen, apostles, because he sent them out as messengers among the people, to teach them. the names of the twelve apostles were these: Peter and Andrew, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, Simon, and Judas the brother of James and Judas Iscariot.
After this Jesus went up on a little hill, which raised him above the crowd, and calling his disciples around him, sat down and taught them in the beautiful words of the Sermon on the Mount.
Travelling from place to place, Jesus continued to teach the people, often using for this purpose parables, or stories with a double meaning. He performed wonderful miracles also, such as men had never seen before. He brought back to life the son of a widow at Nain who was being carried to his burial; and he made alive again the daughter of Jairus, a ruler among the Jews.
Jesus Feeds the Multitude
Jesus fed a great number of people by making five loaves of bread and two fishes increase until all had enough. He walked on the surface of the sea; he raised Lazarus to life after he had lain in his grave four days; beside healing many persons who were sick, blind and lame. Many of the Jews when they saw these great miracles which Jesus did, believed on him. But some went to the Pharisees and told them of what they had seen. Then the Pharisees and chief priests gathered together, and said to one another. What shall we do? for this man worketh many miracles. If we let him alone, all the people will believe on him and make him their king; and then the Romans will be angry, and come and take away our city and destroy our nation. From that time they talked with one another about some way of putting him to death.
The Jews Conspire to Kill Jesus
The feast of the Passover, which was celebrated by the Jews every year, drew many of them to Jerusalem; therefore the chief priests and scribes agreed together to seize Jesus when he should come to keep the feast. Jesus knew that they had planned to take hem, and told his disciples, two days before the feast, that he would be betrayed and put to death, but would rise again from the dead on the third day. When Peter heard this he was surprised, and said, "No, these things shall not happen to thee." He thought, as did all the other disciples, that their Savior had come to set them free from the Romans and make them into a kingdom, and to reign over them like other earthly kings. For although they saw he was now a poor man, they did not think he would stay so, but expected he would soon become rich and great and would make them great also. They had not yet learned that he had come to rule only in their hearts, and to have his kingdom there; and that, instead of fighting battles for them and ruling over them as a king, he was going to die on the cross for their sins.
Now when the time came for Jesus to be betrayed, Judas Iscariot, one of the apostles, went to the chief priests and asked them how much money they would give him if he would deliver Jesus into their hands; and they agreed to pay him thirty pieces of silver. From that time he tried to find Jesus alone, that he might betray him to them.
The Last Supper
Jesus went to eat the feast of the Passover at Jerusalem, with his twelve apostles; and as he sat with them he told the apostles that it was the last time he would eat with them. He told them that he would not eat again of the lamb that had been sacrificed, until he himself had been sacrificed for the sins of the people; and he said that one of the twelve who sat there with him would betray him. The apostles were astonished at this, and began, each of them, to say to him, Lord, Is it I? Is it I? Jesus said it was the one he would give a piece of bread to, after he had dipped it in the dish. When he had dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot; and Judas rose up from the table and went out into the street.
While they were at the table, Jesus took some bread in his hands, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave the pieces to the apostles. And he said to them. Take it and eat it, for this is my body, which is broken for you. He meant that the bread was like his body, and that it represented his body, because his body was very soon to be broken, and wounded on the cross, for them and for us all.
After he had given them the bread, he took some wine in a cup, and gave thanks, and handed it tot the apostles and told them to drink of it. He said, This wine is my blood which is shed for the forgiveness of sins.
He meant that the wine was like his blood, and that it represented his blood, because his blood was very soon to be poured out from the wounds in his hands and his feet, whole he was being nailed to the cross. And the reason he would let himself he nailed there was, because he wanted all the people in the would to have their sins forgiven.
Then he told the apostles that after he was dead, they should meet together and eat of the bread and drink of the wine, in the same way that he had shown them. And whenever they did it, he said, they should remember him.
Judas Betrays Jesus
After supper they went out from the house to the mountain called the Mount of Olives, which was not far from Jerusalem. And they came into a garden that was there, called the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus went a little way from the apostles to a place by himself, and kneeled down on the ground and prayed, and while he prayed he was in an agony, for he was suffering for the sins of all mankind.
Now Judas was watching for a time when he could betray Jesus to the chief priests. And because it was night, and the garden was a lonely place, and only the apostles were with Jesus, Judas thought that this was the best time to betray his Master.
So he went to the chief priests and Pharisees, and told them where Jesus had gone. Then they called together a band of men and gave them swords and clubs to fight with, and sent them with Judas to take Jesus. Jesus knew they were coming, yet he did not make haste to go away, but waited to let them take him, because he knew that the time had come for him to die.
While he was yet speaking to the apostles and telling them that the one who would betray him was coming near, Judas came, and the band of men with him carrying swords and clubs and lanterns.
Now Judas had told these men how they should know which one was Jesus. He had said to them. The one I shall kiss is he; take him and hold him fast. Then Judas came to Jesus and pretended he was glad to see him; he said, Master, Master, and kissed him. But Jesus said to him, Judas, dost thou betray me to my enemies by a kiss? Then the men whom the chief priests had sent, when they saw Judas kiss him, took hold of Jesus and bound him with fetters, take him away.
When the apostles saw them do this to their Master whom they loved, they wanted to fight against them. They said to Jesus, Lord, shall we fight them with swords? And Peter, who had a sword, drew it out of the sheath, and struck one of the men and cut off his right ear.
But Jesus told Peter to put his sword back again into its sheath. His Father, he said, would send thousands of angels to fight for him and save him from dying, if he would ask for them. And he stretched out his hand and touched the man's ear that Peter had struck with the sword, and made it well again. Then the apostles, being afraid of the band of men, all left Jesus and made haste to flee away.
Jesus is Taken Before the High Priest
The men took Jesus and led him to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. Peter followed Jesus to the house, and being asked if he was his disciple, denied it three times, as Jesus had foretold. Peter was reminded of this by the crowing of a cock, and he went out and wept bitterly. When it was morning they took Jesus before the chief court of the Jews, held in a room near the temple. False witnesses were brought to testify against him, but they could not prove that he had done any wrong. The high priest asked Jesus if he was the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus answered, I am. And I say unto you, Hereafter you shall see me sitting on the right hand of God, and coming back to earth again in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest was angry, and rent his clothes, and cried, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses?
Jesus Before Pontius Piilate
After the Jews had mocked Jesus, and expressed their hatred and contempt for him, they took him to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, to be condemned to death. Pilate questioned Jesus, and could find no fault in him. Now, every year, at the feast of the Passover, it was the custom for the Roman governor to set free one Jewish prisoner; and there was at this time in prison one named Barabbas, who was a murderer. Then Pilate said to the people. Which one shall I set free? Barabbas, or Jesus, who is called Christ? For he knew they had brought Jesus to be punished only because they hated him.
While Pilate was speaking with them, his wife sent word to him, saying. Do no harm to that just man, for I have been much troubled this day in a dream concerning him.
But the chief priests persuaded the Jews to ask that Barabbas might be set free. Pilate answered, What then shall I do with Jesus, who is called Christ? They all said, Let him be crucified. Pilate said, Why, what evil has he done? But they cried out the more with loud voices, Crucify him! When Pilate saw that he could not persuade them to ask for Jesus, he took some water and washed his hands before the people, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it." Then answered all the Jews, "His blood be on us and on our children."
The Roman Soldiers Scourge Jesus
Then the Roman soldiers who were to put Jesus to death took him and scourged him. After they had done this they mocked him by putting on him a purple robe; and they plaited a wreath of thorns, which they put on his head. Instead of a golden scepter, or rod, such as kings held when sitting on their thrones, they put a reed in his right hand, and they bowed down before him, pretending he was a king, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they took the reed from him and struck him on the head; they struck him also with their hands.
After all these things had been done to Jesus, Pilate thought the Jews would be willing to let him go; so he brought him out where the Jews could see him, with the crown of thorns on his head, and wearing the purple robe. But when the chief priests and all the Jews saw Jesus, they cried out, Crucify him! Crucify him! Pilate said to them, take him yourselves then and crucify him, for I find no fault in him.
When Judas Iscariot saw that Jesus was really to die, he was greatly afraid for what he had done. And he came to the chief priests and rulers with the thirty pieces of silver, to give it back to them. But they would not take it, and he threw the money on the ground and went and hanged himself.
Jesus is Crucified
The soldiers, after they had mocked Jesus, took off the purple robe, and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
When a person was led out to be crucified he was made to carry his cross; but because Jesus could not carry his cross alone, the soldiers made a man named Simon, from Cyrene, help him carry it.
And they brought Jesus to Mount Calvary, which was a little way from Jerusalem and there they nailed him to the cross. Even while they were crucifying him he prayed for them, saying, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Pilate made a writing and had it fastened to the cross. These were the words that he wrote: JESUS of NAZARETH the KING of the JEWS.
At the same time that they crucified Jesus, they crucified two thieves with him, one on a cross at his right hand, and another at his left.
And the soldiers took his garments and divided them among themselves. While Jesus hung upon the cross in the agonies of death, the people mocked him and said, "If thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross." The chief priests and scribes also reviled him, and said, "He saved others; himself he cannot save." One of the thieves who was crucified with him, also cried out, and said, "If thou be Christ, save thyself and us." But the other, having greater faith, exclaimed, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." To him Jesus replied, This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
From the sixth until the ninth hour--that is, from twelve until three o'clock--while Jesus was upon the cross, the earth was covered with darkness and the stars appeared at noon-day, which made the people afraid. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Then one of the men standing near held up to him, upon the point of a reed, a sponge dipped in vinegar. When Jesus, therefore, had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and died. Then the curtain, called the veil, which hung in the temple, was torn in two from the top to the bottom; the earth shook, the rocks were broken in pieces, and the graves were opened, and many of the dead came forth. When the Roman soldiers who were watching Jesus saw these things, they feared greatly, and said, Surely this man was the Son of God!
Jesus is Buried, and Rises From the Tomb
The body of Jesus was taken down from the cross by his disciples, and buried in the tomb of Jeseph of Arimathea. After the burial the Jews caused a watch to be set; for they said, His disciples may come and steal him away. But in the night the angel of the Lord rolled back the stone from the door of the sepulchre. His face was bright like lightning, and his garments white as snow; the soldiers trembled for fear of him, and fled from the sepulchre.
In the morning three women came with spices to the sepulchre, but found it empty and the stone rolled away. Then they went into the sepulchre, and there they saw an angel dressed in long white garments. and the women were afraid. But the angel said to them, Be not afraid. You are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, he has risen. Come and see the place where they laid him; and then go and tell his disciples that he has risen up from the dead. And the women went out quickly and made haste away from the sepulchre, for they were greatly afraid, and yet they were full of joy to know that Jesus had risen.
As they went to tell the apostles, Jesus himself met them; and they bowed down at his feet and worshipped him. The he told them not to be afraid, but to tell his apostles that they should go into Galilee, and there, he said, he would come and meet them.
On the same day that Jesus arose, he appeared to two of his disciples who were walking together toward a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And another time when the apostles were in a room together, with the door shut, Jesus came and stood among them. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, was not in the room with the others that first time Jesus appeared there to them. Therefore, when they told him they had seen the Lord, he would not believe them; he said that unless he could, himself, see the marks of the nails and of the spear, he would not believe that it was Jesus. After eight days had passed, the disciples were together again in a room; and Thomas was with them. Jesus then appeared to them as he had done before, standing in their midst. And he told Thomas to look with his own eyes upon his wounded hands and side, and to be no longer faithless, but believing. Thomas, being at last convinced, answered, My Lord and my God.
Jesus Ascends to Heaven
After this Jesus showed himself several times to his disciples. When forty days were past after he had risen from the dead, he met his apostles again at Jerusalem, and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. And it was so, that while he blessed them he was taken from them and carried up into heaven; and went into a cloud out of their sight. And while they looked toward heaven as he went up, behold, two angels stood by them in white garments, who said, Ye men of Galilee, Why stand you gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus who is taken up form you into heaven, shall come down again, in the clouds, as you have seen him go up into heaven.
Such is the beautiful story of the life and death, the resurrection from the tomb, and ascent to heaven, of Jesus, the Savior of mankind. Little is it to be wondered at, then, that heathen nations vainly have tried, by cruelty and oppression, to blot out his blessed memory from among men; or that they have wholly failed to prevent the spread of that divine religion which he founded and established with his blood.
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© 2002 by Kevin W. Michael.
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