THE AGE OF CHRIST
FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW TESTAMENT TO THE CRUCIFIXION
In the opening pages of the New Testament God announced to Mary that she would bring forth a son in her virginity. It would be a fulfillment of a prophecy of Isaiah: “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
In the reign of Caesar Augustus a decree brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, the city of Joseph’s father. It was here that Jesus was born and laid in a manger, for we are told there was no room in the inn.
Very little is recorded of the first thirty years of the life of Jesus. Other than the birth event, there is one other. Jesus was twelve years old and the family made a trip to Jerusalem to celebrate an event. On the return home, thinking Jesus was in the crowd of travelers, they discovered him missing. They returned and found him listening and talking to the teachers in the Temple. The next recorded event is when He presented himself to John for baptism. John had declared the coming of one whose shoes he was not worthy to unloose. The opening heavens, the descending spirit and the voice of God the Father left no doubt in the mind of John that this was the Messiah whom he was born to herald as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Matt. 3:13-17 Shortly after His baptism, being full of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was tempted by the Devil, who tried in vain to turn Him from the path of his mission and the Father’s will.
The beginning of Christ’s ministry, after His return from temptation, was marked by the performance of His first miracle; the turning of water into wine at Cana. This demonstration of His deity was followed by the healing of the sick, the calling of His disciples, teaching the multitudes, His parables and teachings, His demonstration of power over nature, over demons and death. Lk. 4:31-44 The Son of Man had now all but finished the work given Him by the Father to accomplish. He had shown Himself a spotless example as very much man, yet He reflected the image of the invisible God. He had fulfilled the prophecies concerning His ministry. All that remained was to settle the problem with sin and to conquer death, and thus complete the work of redemption.
The night before His supreme sacrifice, He was betrayed, and delivered into the hands of men who didn’t comprehend who they were dealing with. Matt. 26:1-5, 14-16 When He needed them the most, His fearful disciples fled. The Sanhedrin, with the chief priests and scribes found Him (falsely) guilty of a capital offense (calling Himself the Son of God, the Messiah), but they didn’t have the political power to inflict the death sentence. Matt. 26:57-66 So they led Him to Pilate, the Roman Governor. Matt. 27:11-14 When Pilate discovered that He was a Galilean, he sent Jesus to Herod, who after examining Him, sent Him to the evasive Pilate. Lk. 23:8-12 After being challenged by the threatening multitude as to His loyalty to Caesar, Pilate no longer had courage to resist. He ordered Jesus to be scourged (which, that alone killed some of the victims) and then to be crucified. Lk. 23:13-25 Thus the prophecy of, “as Moses lifted up the serpent, so must the Son of Man be lifted up” and of the paschal lamb “a bone of him shall not be broken,” was fulfilled. Had the Jewish mode of death by stoning been accomplished, these prophecies could not have had their fulfillment. After six hours of humiliation and intense suffering on the cross, the Prince of Life cried with a loud triumphant voice, “It is finished,” and gave up His Spirit.
After having tasted death for every man, on the third day God sent an angel to roll back the stone on the tomb where Jesus was laid and revealed it was empty. The risen Christ showed Himself to Mary Magdelene and His disheartened disciples. During the forty days between the resurrection and the ascension, He taught His disciples concerning the Kingdom and gave them the great commission to go make disciples and teach all nations. When He was ready to depart, He led them out to the Mount of Olives, and after giving them the promise of power to witness after the Holy Spirit was to come upon them, He ascended into Heaven, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Acts 1:1-11
Thus the age of Law ended in judgment of sin on the cross of Calvary.
1. When you get right down to it, what do you think it would be like to be Mary and be told you are going to have a son in your virginity? How do you think it would feel to be told your son is going to be the Messiah?
2. Why do you think Jesus submitted Himself to John to be baptized?
3. Which of Jesus’ miracles made the biggest impression on you?
4. What do you think Jesus was feeling to go through the mockery of trials when He could have proven who He was, or even called angels to destroy them all and set Himself free?
5. What do you think Jesus was referring to when He cried, “It is finished” from the cross?
6. What do you imagine to be going on in the heart of the disciples who watched Him die, rise from the dead, hear His final commission, and ascend into Heaven? Do you think this had anything to do with the fact that all of them became martyrs for the faith?