The Life of Jesus

Jesus – Sermon on the Mount

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). In this statement, John was referring to Jesus who came to earth to live among men. This was necessary in order to fulfill His mission through His death on the cross (Hebrews 2:14). We will examine the death of Jesus in more detail in a future article. In this article, we are going to take a broad look at the life of Jesus and see what we can learn and apply to our lives.

His Birth

In Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, notice how he recorded it as a historical event:

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:1-7).

Luke did not use vague or generic terms in describing the setting of Jesus’ birth as if it were merely a legend or myth. Instead, he identified the time it occurred, who was ruling at time, and what the circumstances were that led to Jesus being born in Bethlehem.

Jesus’ birth was also announced by angels. Angels are God’s messengers (Acts 7:53). In fact, the Greek word is the same for both angels and messengers (angelos). The angel Gabriel told Mary of Jesus and her role in bringing Him into the world (Luke 1:26-33). After His birth, angels appeared and praised God to announce His coming (Luke 2:13-14). The fact that angels – who were God’s messengers – announced His birth indicates that it was part of God’s plan.

Jesus’ birth was also the fulfillment of prophecy. Notice just a couple of these prophecies:

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2).

In the first prophecy, Isaiah indicated that the Messiah would be born of a virgin – something that was not naturally possible. When the angel announced to Mary that should would “conceive in [her] womb and bear a son,” she asked how it was possible since she was “a virgin” (Luke 1:31, 34). The angel explained, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

In the second prophecy, Bethlehem was identified as the place where the Messiah would be born. Luke recorded that Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem for the census and it was there that Jesus was born (Luke 2:4-7).

These are just two examples, but they show that God knew and, therefore, was able to reveal these details hundreds of years before they happened. These could not have been mere guesses. They had to have come from God.

His Childhood

The gospels only record one event from Jesus’ childhood – the time when He was twelve years old and His family lost Him and found Him later in the temple (Luke 2:41-52). Let us notice a few verses from this occasion:

Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.’ And He said to them, ‘Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?’ But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them.

And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:46-52).

There are some important lessons we can learn from this one event. First, Jesus knew where He came from. He “had to be in [His] Father’s house” (Luke 2:49). He was more than just “the carpenter’s son” (Matthew 13:55); He was the Son of God. The teachers of the law “were amazed at His understanding” (Luke 2:47). He was too young to be highly educated, yet He was. Later the leaders were “astonished” because He had “become learned, having never been educated” (John 7:15). Of course, He was certainly not uneducated. While He had no formal education, He received His teaching from the one who sent Him (John 7:16) – the Father.

Second, while on earth Jesus was still God in the flesh. It is significant that He referred to the Father as “My Father” (Luke 2:49). This indicated equality with the Father. The Jews understood this later when He referred to the Father this way: “But He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.’ For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He…was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:17-18). Paul wrote that while Jesus was on the earth that “all the fullness of Deity [dwelled] in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). He was still God while He was living in the flesh.

Third, as a child Jesus submitted to His earthly parents. After they found Him in the temple “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them” (Luke 2:51). This was what the Law of Moses required (Exodus 20:12). In obeying this command, Jesus set an example for all children to follow – to “obey [their] parents in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1).

Fourth, Jesus grew in different areas. He “kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). Notice each of these areas:

  • Wisdom – It is significant that He grew in wisdom and not in knowledge. Since He was God in the flesh and God is omniscient (Psalm 147:5), He could not have grown in knowledge. However, wisdom is the application of knowledge. As Jesus grew, He would enter various stages in life that would bring certain responsibilities and expectations. The fact that He grew in wisdom means that He practiced what was right in every stage of life.
  • Stature – Jesus had a regular, human, flesh and blood body. This was the type of body that the Father “prepared for [Him]” to fulfill His mission on earth (Hebrews 10:5).
  • Favor with God – This was done by pleasing the Father [more on this in a moment].
  • Favor with men – This was done by fulfilling the Law perfectly. In doing this, He demonstrated love since “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). Therefore, by acting in this way, He would have gained the favor of others.

Fulfilling the Father’s Will

Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth was to do the Father’s will (Hebrews 10:9). This would include His sacrifice on the cross (Hebrews 10:10). As Paul wrote, Jesus was “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).

However, the fact that Jesus obeyed the Father and submitted to the Father’s will did not mean that there was a conflict between Jesus’ will and the Father’s will. They were in perfect agreement with one another. Jesus made this clear when He said, “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (John 8:29). Later He said succinctly, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

There is one alleged example of conflict between the wills of the Father and the Son in Jesus’ prayer in the Garden before His crucifixion: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). Some believe that Jesus’ will at this time was to avoid the cross, putting His will at odds with the Father’s will. Yet a closer examination of the passage indicates that this was not a conflict at all. The “cup” that Jesus prayed to be removed was the hour, not the cross (Mark 14:35). He was not praying to abort the mission, but for help to complete His mission. This prayer was answered (Luke 22:43). The Father and the Son were always united in perfect agreement with one another. There was never any conflict between them.

Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Father’s will. Before His arrest, He prayed, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4). He glorified the Father by doing the will of the Father. He did this by fulfilling the Law (Matthew 5:17), testifying to the truth (John 18:37), and willingly laying down His life on the cross (John 10:17-18).

Leaving Us a Perfect Example

Jesus lived a life without sin. Peter wrote that Jesus “committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). This was necessary in order to make His sacrifice on the cross [more on this in a future article]. However, His sinless life was also an example for us. In the previous verse, Peter wrote, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). We are to live as Jesus lived.

This means that it does matter to God how we live our lives. Jesus will save those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:9). Once we begin following Him, He does not want us to continue in sin. John indicated that his letter was written so that Christians “may not sin” (1 John 2:1). On at least two occasions during His earthly ministry, Jesus instructed people to cease from sin (John 5:14; 8:11).

Therefore, we must strive to overcome sin in our lives. Paul made this clear in his letter to the Romans. He responded to their attitude that they could “continue in sin so that grace may increase” by saying, “May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2). He went on to describe the fact that “our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Romans 6:6-7). As Christians, we are to “consider [ourselves] to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). We are “not [to] let sin reign in [our] mortal body” or use our bodies as “instruments of unrighteousness” (Romans 6:12-13).

Jesus showed us how to overcome temptation when He was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11). Notice what He taught us about overcoming temptation on that occasion:

  • Remember the word – Each time Jesus was tempted, He began His response by saying, “It is written…” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). He used the word of God to overcome temptation. We must remember God’s word so it can also help us overcome the temptations that we face.
  • Remember that God’s word means what He intended – In one of the temptations, the devil quoted Scripture in an attempt to convince Jesus to throw Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple (Matthew 4:5-6; cf. Psalm 91:11-12). However, the devil pulled that passage out of context. When that passage was given by inspiration, it was not God’s intention for it to be used to make the point that the devil tried to make with it. That is why Jesus said, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:7). Context is important. We need to be sure that we are using the Scriptures in the way that God intended, rather than twisting them to justify what the devil is tempting us to do.
  • Remember God’s promises – The devil promised to give Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world” if He would “fall down and worship” him (Matthew 4:8-9). However, even if the devil could deliver on that promise, Jesus was already going to receive something far better. He would have “a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever” (Daniel 2:44). Even if the devil could give Jesus what he promised Him, it paled in comparison with what the Father was going to give to Jesus. The same is true today with the promises that God has made to us – whatever Satan offers us cannot compare with what God has promised us.
  • Remember the temporary nature of earthly things – Whatever the devil promises is of a temporal nature. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). Peter said, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). One day, everything of this life will be destroyed. All that will remain will be those things that are of a spiritual nature.

We must follow Jesus’ example and live in such a way that we can say that “Christ lives in [us]” (Galatians 2:20).

Conclusion

As we go through life, we must remember the life of Jesus. Let us follow His example of obedience, regardless of the consequences.


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