We want to know and tell Jesus story because we love him.
The feel of his whole life. Its like a puzzle. If you have the front the box its easier to put context to each puzzle piece and see the context of how it fits in the overall picture.
Matthew emphasizes Jesus as King.
Mark Emphasizes Jesus as a servant.
Luke emphasizes Jesus humanity.
John emphasizes Jesus deity.
B. Problems with Harmonization of Gospels
The Harmony of the gospels. To demystify some of the contradictions and bring the 4 biographies of Jesus life into a unified story.
Many believers I have spoken to over the last 17yrs find it difficult to dedicate time to the Bible specifically the Gospels because they find the contradictions too difficult to overcome.
There are about 300 recorded steps that Jesus took, and when you see them in chronological order, it becomes a lot easier to work through what seems to be a contradiction. In many cases he would preach similar messages twice or do similar miracles in 2 different places and because the 2 accounts are similar its often assumed that neither account is accurate. However, the truth is that it is simply 2 different accounts of 2 different events.
Instance 1. Most obvious is the sermon on the mount and the sermon on the plain. One is found in Matthew 5 the other is Luke 6. Jesus says many of the same things in each sermon but some of the details are slightly different. He most likely preached this sermon in many places and said things slightly different in every instance.
Instance 2. The difference between matthew Mark
Matthew is not a chronological book.
The book of Matthew is organized according to themes. It has an introduction then 5 main parts that conclude with a large block of teaching from Jesus. Then the book concludes with the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Mark is a chronological book.
Mark is scribing the eyewitness account of Peter. The events in this book are the most part chronological, however this book is split into 3 major acts.
Act 1. Chapter 1-8 Jesus Ministry in Galilee – Who is Jesus?
Act 3. Chapter 11-16 Jesus final days in Jerusalem – Jesus proclaims he is the messiah.
Act 2. Chapter 8-10 Jesus travels from Galilee to Jerusalem – Jesus disciples are struggling to understand what it means for Jesus to be the messiah.
C. The Land
Israel at the time of Jesus was approximately 70miles wide and and 150miles in length. So imagine going from Springfield to Joplin is about 70 miles and then Springfield to Kansas City is about 160 miles. It’s roughly the same size.
Isreal was sectioned into five main areas. If know these 5 areas you will have a clearer picture of where Jesus is and what he is doing.
Galilee – Where most of Jesus ministry took place. Capernum is the major city of Galilee and was Jesus headquarters. So he would go out and plant seeds and stir things up and then go back to Capernum.
Samaria – Samaria is an area and city
Judea – Half of Judea is dessert. The wilderness of Judea. Cities included Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Emmaus, and Jericho
Perea – The area beyond the Jordan. This is where John the baptist was baptizing people.
Decapolis – Deca means 10. Decapolis is a group of 10 predominately Greek cities. The Greeks and the Romans didn’t really like each other because the Romans defeated the Greeks. However, the Greeks in Decapolis formed a league to help Rome resist Jewish uprisings. Jesus healed the sick and cast out demons, fed people. The Jews did not like Jesus blessing the greeks. Jesus could say “Love your enemies.”
Jordan River – It runs north-south for about 80 miles connecting the Sea of Galilee (in the north) and
the Dead Sea (in the south).
The Sea of Galilee – Has 3 different names 1.Sea of Galilee 2. the Lake of Gennesaret (Lk. 5:1) 3. Sea of Tiberias (Jn. 6:1; 21:1). This body of water is important because it is surrounded by 9 cities totaling around 15,000 people. There was a lot commercial traffic in this area making it a popular place for tax collectors and Roman soldiers
D. Government of Israel
Pontius Pilate – Roman governor and regional oversight – Reports to Rome. Lives in cesaria
Felix and Festus – Governors in the book of acts.
Romans lead through Jewish representatives.
Herod the Great – Jesus birth (37–4 BC).
Herod Antipas – Jewish leader under Romain Authority (BC 4-AD 39).
Herod Agrippa – Book of Acts (AD 37-44).
Sanhedrin – Religious Leaders similar to the US senate. Made up of 70 elders. Reported to Rome and consistently taking advantage of the Jewish people
Scribes – Devout to the word of God. Would teach and duplicate the scriptures. Biblical authorities in the Land.
Pharisees – Pharisees arose out of the scribes. They were responsible to preserve the laws and to make sure that the laws that the Sanhedrin put in place were faithful to the word of God. They became overzealous and created many more laws in addition to the Biblical laws. We know God and the Bible so we know what is best for you. “Tradition of men” or “The tradition of the elders”
Sadducees – Came from the ranks of priests. Their were fewer Sadducees than Pharisees but they had more power because they had the most wealth and were in a position of high honor in society. They also occupied more positions in the Sanhedrin. They had a lot of political leverage because of this.
Did not believe in a physical resurrection or eternal judgment, causing quarrels within the ranks of the religious leaders. Paul takes advantage of this in Acts 23 when he stands on trial.
Essene’s – Lived in the desert and in self denial. They abandoned the city and the drama related the pharisees and saducees quarrels and manipulation. They went to the desert to live a life of devotion in prayer, fasting and the word. John the baptist grew up with the Essene.
Zealots – Patriotic party that hated Rome. They did not want a spiritual king messiah they wanted a conquering King messiah. They were not interested in Jesus as a high preist and a suffering servant. They read the bible correctly they unfortunately left a few pages and chapters out when they were reading. The Zealots would use violence, assassination for their political agenda. Jesus wanted nothing to do with their approach.
E. 10 Parts of Jesus Life – A snapshot of Jesus’ life.
Part 1. Jesus pre-existance and genealogy
Jesus fully chooses to identify with the human condition in his geneology. And even with his genealogy he speaks volumes about his character nature and leadership. Its not enough for us to know that he is an untreated God, but that he is also fully human and identifies with humans through his ancestry. Jesus is the only human who got to choose his family ancestry. He chooses Kings, Worshipers, Harlots, Liars, Murderers and weak and broken people to be in his family line. In Jewish culture your reputation and social standing were linked to your genealogy and who was in your family line.
Summary: Awesome mystery of the transcendent God that fully identifies with the human struggle and weakness, and he wants to partner with us.
Part 2. Jesus and John the Baptists birth to adulthood
This is about a 30 year period. There is a lot to consider in this second part as there are many applicable messages to our own life. It starts with with an increased level of supernatural activity. Prophetic promises, dreams angelic visitations. It’s and explosive way to begin the story of Jesus. When you consider that its been approximately 400 yrs since the last recorded prophetic word in Israel. The Suddenly of God breaks in and completely disrupts the lives of these 2 young women, Mary and Elizabeth. Then they have to wait almost a 30yr period before the promises of God really begin to move through the lives of Jesus and John the Baptist.
Part 3. John’s ministry and Jesus’ temptation
John grew up with the Essene’s in the wilderness. His life was set apart for holiness and purity. John is going to baptize Jesus. Jesus is not baptized for repentance but for righteousness sake and to identify with the Human condition. Baptism was another way to remember what the Lord did in the past (Egypt and the Red sea) and gave people an opportunity to identify with that moment in history to say he delivered him once and with my baptism I am declaring that I trust he will deliver us again.
Jesus temptation – Like the wilderness coming out of Egypt. Jesus quotes scripture 3 times while being confronted by Satan.
Summary: I’m with you, I am one of you and I understand the human struggle.
Part 4. Beginning of Jesus public ministry
Jesus meets Andrew, Peter, Phillip, Nathanael. It’s important to note that when he meets them, its just like any other day. There really is no big sign in the sky. He simply calls to them and they follow. This is important because many things happen in our life that seem rather insignificant but when you look back you see how the Lord orchestrated it for our Good. These four men had no idea that their names would be written on the foundation stones. So its important to be ready and willing at all times because on any day the Lord can break in even in the most mundane ways.
Malachi 3:1 Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts
Jesus cleanses the temple and this fulfills the prophecy in Malachi 3:1. The first cleansing was right at the beginning of his ministry. This is something that Jesus does quite often and on purpose. He offends our minds to reveal our hearts. Nobody really knows who Jesus is when he first cleanses the temple so in some ways this is his first major introduction. Jesus does this to make clear that his message is a challenging one and that he does not want to talk anyone into following him who does not want to at the heart level. If you love me you will navigate your way through this. But if you are not really interested in following me you will find a friend and a bible verse to dump me. And the real difficulty of this message is that these instances dont make Jesus nervous at all. If we are honest we know that Jesus has no problem coming to our house and flipping over our tables as well.
Part 5. Jesus moves ministry to Galilee
Jesus bases his ministry in Capernum for about 18 months. However, Capernum and Nazerath are going to reject him. This is where Jesus purposefully begins challenging the religious leaders with the sabbath controversies.
Part 6. Training of 12 Disciples
Jesus draws back his public ministry for about 6 months and he begins training the 12 apostles. This is approximately 1 year before the crucifixion. Jesus is putting the apostles on the fast track leadership training for the book of Acts.
Part 7. Jesus Ministry in Judea
Jesus moves his ministry to Judea in the south for approximately 3 months. What Jesus is doing is in moving in on Jerusalem. The leaders think they are moving in on him but he has been spending the last 3 yrs sowing seeds and preparing the region for his announcement that he is the messiah.
Part 8. Ministry in Perea
Jesus spends about 3 months in Perea, doing miracles teaching parables.
Part 9. Jesus Enters Jerusalem as Messiah
Jesus goes into Jerusalem to announce that he is the messiah at the 4th passover of his public ministry. This period of time is about 1 week. Jesus confrontation with the religious leaders comes to a head and Jesus gives a 7 fold rebuke the pharisees.
Part 10. Jesus death, resurrection and accession.
This is the most important part of the story of Jesus. Because this is where Jesus full testimony and purpose comes into full purpose. People can argue about the inferiority or superiority of Christianity. But Jesus testimony isn’t about a good debate its about Justice. Christianity is the only religion in which a man claims to have lived a perfect life and then died for his enemies to redeem them. No other religion has that man or makes that claim. Jesus has asceneded to the right hand of the father and is now in the full power position. From here everything he ever taught and lived will be validated and vindicated.