We come now to the point of all the stories, which is the story of the Lord Jesus. This is a difficult story to tell, for two reasons. First, no story-teller or preacher is sufficient for the task. Jesus is not just another character in a row of other characters, and yet the limits of the story-teller can too readily create that impression. Secondly, even though the Lord Jesus is the ultimate point of all the stories, there are some stories that follow this one. This also is the doing of God, but handled wrongly, it too can create a false impression. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
The Lord Jesus was born in the line of the tribe of Judah—the royal tribe. We must confront His identity at the very first, even to talk about His genealogy. He was the complete man, but at the same time, He was and is fully God. So in his human nature, he was descended from the house of David (Rom. 1:3) His natural father was David, reckoned through his mother Mary. His legal father was, reckoned through Joseph. His Father was God the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 1:4).
Luke visited Jerusalem with the apostle Paul in A.D. 56 or 57, and he probably obtained many of the details that he records in his gospel from Mary. Jesus was born in Bethlehem in order to fulfill the prophecies made concerning Him (Mic. 5:2). In order to escape the evil order of Herod the Great (who died in 4 B.C.), Joseph led the family to seek Egypt as a refuge. Because Herod ordered the death of boys two years old and under, it is likely that Jesus was born somewhere between 6 and 4 B.C. When the Son, the new Israel, was brought up out of Egypt, Joseph decided to settle in Nazareth, a city of Galilee, instead of in Bethlehem, the city of His birth in Judah.
When Jesus was twelve-years-old, He was left behind in Jerusalem after His family had gone there to worship. He was found in His Father’s house, discussing theology. Jesus grew up under the grace of God in a normal way, but He clearly had intimations of who he was (Luke 2:40, 49). This is the last we hear of Joseph, so we do not know when he died. Jesus was trained as a carpenter (Mk. 6:3)
THE LENGTH OF MINISTRY
We are told that Jesus began His ministry when he was about thirty years old (Luke 3:23). Given the time of His birth, this meant His ministry started around 27 A.D. We also know that His ministry was roughly three years in length because it extended over three separate Passovers (not counting the Passover at the time of His death). One reasonable reconstruction would mark the beginning of His ministry around December of 26 A.D., ending with His execution and resurrection around March/April 30 A.D.
BAPTISM OF JOHN
The ministry of Jesus consisted of identification with sinners. His ministry began with Him receiving the baptism of John, which was a baptism of repentance. Jesus began by repenting, and as the perfect one, He was the only one who could repent perfectly. He ended this ministry of identification with sinners in His death and resurrection. Right after His baptism, He was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The first Adam fell in his temptation, although he lived in idyllic conditions. The second Adam was fiercely tempted, in a wilderness, and yet stood. And this is why our garden became a wilderness, and then, in the grace of God, our wilderness became a garden.
PHASES OF MINISTRY
Think of the ministry of Christ in broad terms. In the year 27, we find His early Judean ministry. During this time, He was tempted (Matt. 4), changed water to wine (John 2:1-12), cleansed the Temple (John 2:13-25), saw Nicodemus (John 3), and so on. He then moved north to Galilee for all of 28 A.D. and the first part of 29. There was a brief visit to Jerusalem for Passover, but during this time He was rejected at Nazareth, and spent most of the time ministering out of Capernaum. The third phase of His ministry was committed to a special focus on training the disciples in isolated places. This time included the Transfiguration. The fourth phase was His later Judean ministry, culminating in His betrayal and death.
DEATH, RESURRECTION, AND ASCENSION
The Lord Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem, knowing what awaited Him there. He was betrayed by one of the twelve, the treasurer as it turns out. The other disciples were scattered (with the apparent exception of John), and Christ died abandoned by His followers. But the worst of it was that He was deserted (in some mysterious way) by His God. His cry of desperation from the cross is still to “My God,” and He quoting the Scriptures, but He cries out forsaken. But He did this for the joy that was set before Him—He knew that death would be unable to hold Him, and so He endured the cross, despising the shame.
SHORT CATECHISM FOR LITTLE SAINTS
Did Jesus know that He was going to be raised from the dead?
How was Nehemiah faithful?
He was faithful in work, and in joy.
Why did Jesus go to the cross?
Because He saw the joy set before Him.