All is now ready for the most important event in human history. It is an event planned even before the creation of the world. It is the keeping of a promise made to Abraham over 2000 years earlier. It is the fulfillment of a host of prophecies regarding a Messiah who would come dynamically new relationship between God and men. The event is the coming of the Savior of the world, the Messiah – or, as referred to in the Greek, the Christ. This Christ is not to be just another world leader, as Cyrus, Alexander, or Caesar. He is not to be just another great man of God, as Abraham, Moses, or David. He is to be God himself in human flesh! The Lord of heaven is to become a servant of the earth. God, who has previously made himself known through a nation and a law, is now to reveal himself in the most personal way possible – in the form of a man. Until now God’s blessed have reserved mostly for a chosen people, but now they are to become available to all people in every generation. Who is this Christ, this Messiah? His name is Jesus. His symbolic name, Immanuel (meaning “God with us”), signifies his deity. He is man, to be sure, but God as well; and he is God – the God of Creation – but man as – well. God lowers himself so that man might be elevated. He leaves heaven so that man might enter it. To man, who cannot begin to understand the ways of God, it is clearly a great mystery. But what a marvelous and wonderful mystery it is! As the New Testament record now begins, the Scriptures proclaim the good news the salvation of mankind which comes through obedient faith in Jesus the Christ. The good news begins with the miraculous birth of Jesus to a virgin of Galilee in the days of Herod, King of Judea. Then, as Jesus grows into manhood, his coming as the promised Messiah and Savior is announced by John the Baptist. As Jesus begins his own ministry, he confirms his deity with miraculous healings and other signs and wonders, and proclaims the imminent coming of the kingdom of God. His teaching calls men and women to new spiritual heights in their worship of God and in their relationships with one another. But because his teaching challenges traditional practices of the Jewish religion of his day, and because he claims divine authority, Jesus meets strong opposition from religious leaders. That opposition ultimately leads to arrest and trial before Jewish and Roman authorities. Although falsely accused, Jesus is condemned and sentenced to death by crucifixion – an event which is intended to silence both the man and his message. Instead, the good news comes to a grave and shows himself alive, proving his own miraculous resurrection. The Christian hope which derives from the gospel message is that, just as Jesus is raised from the dead, so also the rigorous in Christ will be raised to eternal life!
The Gospel Accounts: Although secular history attests to his ministry and influence, the details of Jesus’ life were never preserved in an explicitly biographical form. What is known about the historical Jesus comes primarily from the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – four of Jesus’ disciples. However, none of the accounts purports to be a biography of Jesus, as such, despite the fact that certain aspects of his life are covered in great detail and are usually set within specific historical context. The Gospel accounts, while clearly historic in nature, are principally documents of faith – the record of those events and teaching upon which Jesus’ followers based their belief and hope. Therefore the exact times and places of those events are not always recorded, and the actual sequence of events can be traced with only limited certainly. The Gospel accounts vary in the order in which the record of Jesus’ ministry is presented. Apart from the fact the Gospel accounts were never intended as chronological records, the differences in sequential order may be attributed to several factors. First of all, each account was written also focused upon different events, either because he was writing primarily to a particular audience or because he wished to achieve a particular purpose in his writing. This is especially true, for example, of John’s account. This also explains why some events are recorded by only one, or perhaps two, of the Gospel writers, and why one account will include certain particulars not included in other accounts of the same event. Although a cursory study discloses a striking harmony not expected of purely human documents which might have been written under the same diversity of time and circumstances. What follows is a combination of the four Gospel accounts with an integration of the recorded events as nearly as possible in their proper chronological sequence. As previously indicated, any such attempt necessarily involves a degree of speculation, because it is simply not revealed when certain events actually occurred. It is not certain whether Jesus’ entire ministry lasted for 2 1/2 years or 3 1/2 years. Each position has its supporters. Much of the problem of dating depends upon which feasts Jesus attended, and upon references to certain seasons of the year. The harmony which follows assumes a 3 1/2 year ministry. While major areas of Jesus’ ministry can be ascertained fairly easily, it is not always easy to know which events occurred within which major ministry. Sometimes it is also difficult to judge whether two very similar events actually occurred twice or whether there was only one such event which was recorded in a somewhat different context by a different writer. Examples of the problem are the cleanings of the temple and the laments over Jerusalem. In developing this particular harmony of the Gospel, the usual approach is to take single account which most completely records a particular event and use it as a basis for the full text. To that account is added any significant additional aspects of the event which are recorded by any other writer. As often to maintain a given literacy style and continuity of authorship. This approach becomes increasingly difficult to maintain at the end of Jesus’ ministry, since all four accounts recorded most of the final events, often from different perspectives. The following scheme is used to alert the reader to the composition of the harmony. In the margin beside each paragraph. Repetitive verses are indicated by light-face type. Where more than one account is used in the text, the text itself will indicate which account is being cited at the time. In addition, there are also marginal indications of the geographic location of particular occurrences and the dates and times of given events as best as can be determined. Attempted to assign exact times, dates, and locations often depend solely upon a generally assumed framework which cannot be verified with complete accuracy. However, having some frame of reference seems desirable as an aid to better understanding the wonderful life and ministry of Jesus.
Introductions by the Gospel Writers: Mark’s account begins simply, The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark introduces the reader to the good news about Jesus the Christ which is about to be told. That good news is beautifully summarized by John in a prologue to his account. It begins, as does the first book of Old Testament Scripture, with the creation of man, and shows that the Word (a designation for God as Christ) was not only the source through which all things were made, but also came into this world in human form as the man Jesus. It also shows that through Jesus mankind has received the grace of God unto salvation, as attested to during Christ’s ministry by John the Baptist, a special messenger of God. In his own introduction, Luke writes to a man by the name of Theophilus in order to provide a more complete narrative of the life and work of this incarnate Word, Jesus the Christ, and of the things accomplished by Jesus’ followers. Luke points out that, prior to his own account, other writers had already undertaken to record the events surrounding Jesus’ coming and the work of his disciples during his ministry. Thus the records of Christ began to be compiled soon after his death and resurrection.
Luke 1:1-4 > Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainly of the things have been taught.
The Genealogies of Jesus: Matthew’s account has no formal interpretation, but rather begins with the genealogy tracing the descent of Jesus from his ancestor, Abraham, through the royal lineage of David the King. Matthew lists 42 of the known generation and divides these into the groups of 14 each. The genealogy is traced through Jesus’ legal father, Joseph, as the husband of the virgin Mary, to whom Jesus was born. Matthew’s genealogy contains several happy surprises. Back in Jesus’ early roots are not only such notable righteous men as Abraham and David, but also several who stand out in history as being particularly unrighteous, including wicked King Manasseh. Not only are there Jews, as would be expected, but also Gentiles, including a Canaanite and a Moabite, whose respective countrymen have been notorious enemies of God’s people. Also somewhat surprising, in view of their social status at this time, is the listing of women as well as men. Furthermore, at least two of the women are known best for sins which they had committed. A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Matthew 1:1-17 – Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose nother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose nother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
After the exile to Babylon: Jeconish was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile of Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.
Luke also provides a genealogy of Jesus, but his account traces the lineage directly through Jesus’ mother, Mary. This explains the difference in ancestors from Heli (assumed to be the father-in-law of Mary’s husband, Joseph) to David. Luke’s genealogy also goes beyond Abraham, all the way back through Noah, Enoch, Seth, and Adam to God, Himself, who created the human race. (Read Luke 3:23-38) Perhaps the most significant aspect of these generations is the connection between Jesus and his ancestor, King David. The prophets of old had repeatedly foretold that the Messiah would be of the house of David, and a branch of Jesse, David’s father. Therefore, from the Jews’ perspective, Jesus is of the royal lineage and worthy to be King of Israel. While this brings comfort to many, it brings confusion to others, who are expecting the Messiah to be the same kind of political king as those who reigned before him.
The Births of Jesus and John the Baptist: Jesus is to be born in Judea approximately 747 years after the foundation of Rome. Now in the time of Herod the Great, who has been granted the title “King of the Jews” by the Roman senate under Emperor Caesar Augustus, the former land of Palestine is divided into the province of Judea, Samaria, and Galilee to the west of the Jordan River, and Perea and Decapolis to the east. The cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem are both in Judea, while Nazareth is in Galilee. That Jesus is born in the province of Judea is surprising because his family’s home is in Nazareth, some 75 miles north. But, due to a decree by Caesar Augustus requiring everyone to return to his own city, Jesus’ birth takes place in Bethlehem – the very city named by the prophet Micah over 700 years earlier! If that fulfillment is not enough to catch the attention of those familiar with earlier prophecies, an even more amazing fulfillment is involved – namely, Jesus’ virgin birth. Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. Certainly there have been miraculous births before, as when couples were beyond the normal age of childbearing. Abraham and Sarah are the foremost example, and Zechariah and Elizabeth are soon to become another. However, never before nor since has a woman conceived without the seed of man. Not only is Mary a virgin in the sense of being a young woman, but, more importantly, she is a virgin in the fact that she has not had sexual relations with either her fianc’e, Joseph, or any other man. The Gospel accounts state unequivocally that Jesus is miraculously conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit of God. The divine nature of Jesus’ birth is both wonderful and exciting, but the human side of the story is touching in and to itself. Although she is told in advance about the miraculous birth, Mary must surely feel the embarrassment of being thought unchaste by her family and friends. She must surely feel the weight of cercern in the mind of Joseph. When the two of them find themselves far from home at the time of delivery, they must both feel a terrible isolation and awesome expectation about this special child from God. Yet Mary’s confident faith and Joseph’s loving support are both rewarded with more celebration than any other human family has ever known at the arrival of a new child. From lowly shepherds on the earth to the highest halls of heaven, the majesty of the occasion is heralded with songs of joy. As the account of Jesus’ birth begins, there is another birth announced as well – that of God’s special messenger, John, who, because of his ministry of repentance and baptism, will later be known as John the Baptist. Luke and Matthew tell the story of the two births and of the early events which follow in the young life of Jesus.
The Visit of the Magi and Flight into Egypt: The rite of purification takes place 40 days after Jesus’ birth and ordinarily would have required the offering of a yearling lamb and a pigeon. However, the law permits poor parents, such as Joseph and Mary are to offer a second pigeon or dove instead of the lamb, which they cannot afford. Thus, even by his parents’ offering of purification, it can be seen that Jesus comes humbly into the world. Despite these lowly beginnings, news of Jesus’ brith spreads quickly throughout Judea and neyond its borders. Matthew records the account of a visit to Bethlehem by certain philosophers-priests who, interestingly enough, may even be pagan Zoroastrians from Persia. Their presumed contact with Jews of the Dispersion has undoubtedly made them familiar with the Jewish Messiah of prophecy. The Magi are prompted to travel the great distance to Jerusalem because of a star which appeared at the time of Jesus’ birth. It is not known how many make the journey (certainly no compelling evidence exists for the traditional three), butvthey apparently arrive some six months after Jesus’ birth and inquire as to the child’s whereabouts. By this time Joseph and Mary have found accommodations in a house, and it is in this house the Magi’s gifts are offered to the newborn “King of the Jews.” King Herod is alarmed by the Magi’s visit because believes Jesus’ birth poses a political threat to his reign, Herod sends his soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all male children eho might have been born within the time-frame suggested by the Magi’s calculations. By Jewish reckoning, any child over 12 months is considered two years old. Since apparently six months have passed following Jesus’ birth, Herod makes his order broad enough to prevent any mistake by including all of the extimated 40 to 50 baby biys in Bethlehem who would be up to 12 or 13 months old at this time. As will becseen, however, Joseph will be warned about the slaughter and will quickly depart for Egypt, where he and Mary and the child Jesus will stay until after Herod’s own death.
From Infancy to Manhood: After their brief stay in Egypt, Joseph and Mary return to their home in Nazareth of Galilee, where Joseph resumes his trade as a carpenter. Over the nextcten years Jesus continues to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually. There is no further record of Jesus until, at the age of 12, he is taken to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. At age 12, Jesus has reached the point at which a Jewish boy is soon to become a “son of the law,” which law he is expected to learn and obey. But Jesus’ understanding of the law is far greater than that of other boys his age. After the Passover celebration is completed, Jesus’ parents lose track of his whereabouts until they discover him profound conversation with the learned rabbis. When his parents express their concern about his leaving them, Jesus gives a response which indicates that, even now, he is aware of his divine sonship and role as the Messiah. Litter more is known of Jesus’ first 30 years. It is known that Jesus has at least four brothers – James, Judas (Jude), and Simon – and also come sisters, who are nit named. Because there is no further reference to Joseph, it appears that he probably died while Jesus was still a relatively young man. The support of his mother and younger brothers and sisters, therefore, would naturally fall upon Jesus as the firstborn. For many years, Jesus evidently has provided for his family by working as a carpenter, having learned the trade from his father. Now at about the age of 30 – the Jewish age of spiritual leadership – Jesus turns from the work of supporting his earthly family to the task of spiritually feeding the whole family of man.
The Ministry of John the Baptist: When it comes time for Jesus to carry out his divine commission, the ground has already been broken by the successful military of John the Baptist, who proclaims Jesus to be “the Lamb of God.” John thereby sets the stage for Jesus’ own claim that he is the Messiah. As seen so many times before, the Jews have been awaiting the coming of the prophesied Messiah, believing that he will deliver them from political bondage and be an ideal national leader. What they have not expected is a leader arising from among the common people – yet divine in nature – and establishing a spiritual rather than a political kingdom. Perhaps because of this very misconception, John the Baptist is called to prepare the way for Jesus and to testify on his behalf. It is with this announcement of Jesus’ special ministry that the gospel message begins its central focus, as seen by the fact that only at this point do Mark and John begin their Gospel accounts. Jesus’ forerunner, John, is a prophet of priestly descent, as were several of the prophets of old. Like Elijah, John is not a writer, but an evangelist and a spokesman for God whose outspoken preaching of repentance and baptism brings him multitudes of disciples. Some of these disciples will be so devoted to John and his teaching that they will not accept even the deity of Jesus, which John is sent to proclaim. As with most of his fellow prophets, John’s teaching of spiritual purity is accompanied by strong appeals for practical ethical toward one’s fellowman. Living much of his time in desert areas and exciting on a diet of locusts and honey, John strikes an image of being some kind of ascetic wild man. HOWEVER, his lifestyle is probably dictated more out of necessity than eccentricity, and is by no means offensive to the throngs who come from the cities to hear him. The more intriguing question is why sophisticated city people would go out of their way to be taught byca rough man of the wilderness whose preaching is unusually harsh and demanding. Could it be,, ironically, that John’s appeal lies in the very strictness of his message, which is in sharp contrast to the soft religiosity peddled by religious leaders seeking popular support? Could it be that John’s call for personal purity and individual righteousness which has given the highest possible honor when even Jesus himself comes to receive John’s baptism. Although it is not for sins that Jesus is baptized, his exemplary act of ceremonial washing gives occasion for a dramatic confirmation of his deity.
Jesus Faces Temptation: One of the big, as-yet-unanswered questions about Jesus’ identity is whether he, as God in the flesh, is vulnerable to the same temptations which all other people face. Although not every temptation which Jesus may encounter will be found in the Gospel accounts, the writers do record a series of temptations which are representative of most of the temptations faced by man. In various encounters with Satan, Jesus must deal with the need to satisfy fleshly appetites, the urge to acquire that which pleases the eye, and the desire to give vent to pride. This is no academic exercise. As he does with everyone else, Satan confronts Jesus when he is most vulnerable. Jesus has just had a mountaintop spiritual experience: he has been honored by the voice from heaven. How tempting it would be to flaunt his deity in some dramatic way! He is beginning his mission to a world looking desperately for a leader. How tempting it would be to acquire the whole world’s allegiance in one fell swoop! And at the time of the first temptation, Jesus is physically weakened from a 40-day fast. How tempting it would be to produce that which would satisfy normal human hunger! In every case Jesus’ response to temptation is the same. Along in the desert of temptation, Jesus – divine though he is – recognizes the value of prayer and fasting, and with every temptation he recalls the words of Scripture, which are a reminder of truth and wisdom in the faces of Satan’s lies. Throughout his life Jesus will continue to resist all temptation and remain sinless. It is his righteousness – beyond the righteousness of even such great prophets as Elijah and now John the Baptist – that shows Jesus to be the Messiah. By virtue of the heavenly annunciation which he witnesses, John is convinced that Jesus is not incomparably righteous, but also truly God’s Anointed One, the Christ. John therefore repudiates any possibility of himself being viewed as the Messiah, and forcefully proclaims Jesus as the messianic Lamb of God.
Jesus’ Early Work in Judea, Samaria, and Galilee: eThe early ministry of Jesus is reported solely by the apostle John. His account shows that Jesus’ teaching quickly appeals to the common people and results in many faithful disciples. It is during this time that Jesus also performs his first miracles. And just as Nehemiah had done centuries before, Jesus wastes no time in confronting those who profane the sanctity of the temple worship. Jesus also makes it clear from the beginning that his message of salvation will extend beyond the Jewish nation to all people. As to empathize the university of his spiritual kingdom, Jesus takes his ministry to the Samaritans. The people of mixed nationlity and religion have been archenemies of the Jews ever since their ancestors were brought in from Assyria to repopulate northern Israel after the first Jews were taken into Assyria captivity. So Jesus’ outreach to Gentiles could not begin more pointedly. The ministry of John the Baptist will come to an end when he is oned by Herod Antipas, the second son of Herod the Great, who became tetrarch over the provinces of Galilee and Perea upon his father’s death. The reason for John’s imprisonment will subsequently appear, but for nowthe Gospel accounts resume with John the Baptist pointed his own disciples to the true Lamb of God.
Beginning of the Great Galilean Ministry: Apparently in order to emphasize the nature of his ministry, Jesus does not come as a religious leaders in any traditional to be a priest or other cleric. Instead, he takes his ministry to the city streets and roads of Palestine, to homes and fields, and wherever else the common people might be found. He is particularly fond of attending the Jewish synagogues, where the common man is permitted to discuss the meaning of Jewish Scripture. Rejected by those closest to him in Nazareth, Jesus takes his ministry elsewhere. Surprisingly, though, it is not to Jerusalem and surrounding Judea that Jesus, goes, despite the fact that Jerusalem is the Holy City – capital of ancient Israel, site of the temple, and surely, as the Jews anticipate it, the seat of the coming Messiah’s government. Contrary to their expectation, Jesus takeschis ministry primarily to Galilee. Using the city of Capernaum as a base for his travels, Jesus teaches and performs miracles around the Sea of Galilee (Lake of Gennesaret) and throughout the entire province. It is here that Jesus gains popularity among the people and begins to see the crowds swell. Matthew begins his account of the Galilean ministry by observing that this phrase of Jesus’ ministry is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.
The Start of Opposition! This confrontation is but the first of many which will tkae place between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day. By undicatingthat he hascthe divine authority to forgive sins, Jesus naturally arouses immediate reaction from the Scribes and Pharisees. Since they correctly believe that God can forgive sins, they reject the possibility that Jesus jimself is divine and conclude instead that he is guilty of blasphemy.
In addition to the written law given through Moses, the Pharisees accepted as equally binding oral traditions of the rabbis, which traditions have evolved into a highly ritualistic set of religious observances. So when Jesus and his disciples violate some of these traditional rules, the Pharisees are highly offended. Through two parables Jesus tells them that their system of legalistic observances simply will not substitute for the true righteousness which God has always demanded.
John alone records what is apparently a brief trip to Jerusalem, where Jesus attends “a feast of the Jews.” Although the exact feast is not indicated, there is strong evidence that it is the Passover of A.D. 28. (Some believe it was Pentecost or the feast of Tabernacles.) While in Jerusalem, Jesus is once again criticized, this time for healing a man on the Sabbath, the day on which no work is to be done. If there was ever a perfect example of the fallacy of legalism, surely this is it. The incident also raises some fundamental questions: which is at stake – the law itself, or only interpretations of the law? Under what circumstances, if any, may the letter of the law be disregarded in favor of higher concerns consistent with the spirit of the law? Does Jesus consider the law given through Moses to be binding upon his disciples? These very legitimate questions are clearly on the minds of the religious establishment.
Despite growing opposition, Jesus continues to go about teaching and performing miracles, yet almost consciously without fanfar. As if to underscore the urgency of his mission in the face of opposition, Jesus apoints 12 of His own disciples as specially chosen apostles to aid Him, in His ministry. With their added support, Jesus continues to attract even greater crowds from akong the common people.
Matthew (Levi) is called – once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sittingg at a tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
Eating with Sinners: Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of a tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not to come to call the righteous, but the sinners.”
Disciples Not Fasting: They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.” Jesus answered, “Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.” He told them this parable: “No one tears a patech from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new win into old wineskins. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skin, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old win wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.'”
Healing At the Pool of Bethesda: Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie-the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned thar he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want ot get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water moves. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
Healed Man Questioned: The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, “Pick up your mat and walk.'” So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up ans walk?” The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” The man went awayand told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
The Sermon on the Mount: The “Sermon on the Mount” is perhaps the most familiar instructive sermon evr presented by Jesus. Matthew and Luke may record Jesus’ teaching in two different settings, although the content appears much the same. Just as many of Jesus’ sermons are apparently never recorded, so too some of his collection of Jesus’ teachings brings one to the heart of his message concerning the kingdom of God. Covering a broad spectrum of spiritual topics, Jesus speaks of the nature of the kingdom, of repentance, of faith, and of worship-and particularly of prayer and humility. Always demonstrating a concern for human welfare, Jesus deals specifically with family and social relationships and discusses at length the effect of possessions on one’s faith and peace of mind. The discourses begins beautifully with the blessings in store for the righteous, and harshly with the woes which will befall those whose lives are spiritually rebellious.
Beatitudes Proclaimed: Now when he saw the crowds, he wentup on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be sons of God. Blessed are those who are presecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
WOES PRONOUNCED: “But woe to who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.
The Ministry Continues: Such perspective and authoritative teaching has obviously won the attention of the multitudes, who have long been disillusioned by the empty ritualism and superficiality of their present religious systems. As Jesus’ fame continues to spread, John the Baptist sends message to Jesus asking for final confirmation of his messiahship. John is perhaps sensing an impending death and undoubtedly wants to reassure himself that his ministry has not been in vain. Jesus sends message of reassurance and praise John for his courage and dedication as a servant of God. No doubt by this time the religious leaders are also becoming increasingly aware of Jesus’ extraordinary power. Instead of accepting it as a divine, they accuse Jesus of having the power of Satan. What follows is a scathing rebuke of the Pharisees for their disbelief and hypocrisy, and an urgent call for repentance. The events leading to this confrontation begin to unfold as Jesus makes his way from the mountain back to Capernaum.
Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10 > Capernaum. Centurion’s Slave Healed: When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man desrves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” I say to you many will come from the east and west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subject of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour. Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
Teaching Through Parables: