News and Views

The Coming of Jesus

In the traditional Church Calendar, we have begun the period of Lent, the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. The early church baptized converts to the Christian faith at Easter, following a time of instruction, prayer and fasting, the practice which developed into Lent. Many Christians in a number of churches observe Lent in a variety of ways today. 
    This year during Lent, I intend to do a quick survey of the Life of Jesus Christ based upon the sequence of events in the harmony of The Gospels found in "The Daily Study Bible in Chronological Order" as compiled and narrated by F. LaGard Smith and published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon. Smith has done an excellent job of rearranging the sequence of Bible passages and writing narrative commentary to bridge from one passage to another so that one can read through the whole Bible as one unified and understandable account. 
    I will note the portion of each Gospel covered in the column each week, but will not break those down into the smaller parallel passages for each event. I will not even attempt a comprehensive commentary, but will try to highlight some of the points that I consider important, controversial, too seldom discussed, or simply interesting. 
    I invite you to read through one or more of the Gospels with me during this time. The purpose is to get beyond what others say about Him to know and experience Him for oneself. All Scripture quotes will be from the New International Version. First we will join John in considering Jesus Christ's eternal life as the Son of God. 
    John begins his Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." This echoes the very first verses of the Bible in Genesis, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth....and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." (v 1,2) Then verses 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, and 24 all begin, "And God said..." indicating that God created by His spoken Word, Whom John proceeds to identify as Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man. Genesis1:24 states, "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness...." confirming God as Three-in-One. Father and Son and Holy Spirit, as shown in the work of creation and throughout the Bible. 
    In the Old Testament, the Jewish Scriptures written 400 and more years before Jesus birth, there are hundreds of prophecies, often confusingly mixed, referring to the coming Messiah in His first coming as suffering servant or in His second, and still future, coming as reigning monarch. During His time on earth, Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Messiah as a suffering servant. 
    Prophecies of His birth include Micah 5:2 which indicates He will be born in Bethlehem, and Isaiah 7:14 which predicts Jesus' virgin birth as later explained to Mary by the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:34-35 and to Joseph in Matt. 1:20. Certainly the God Who created everything has the power to become the human image of Himself through a special and unique act of conception in a virgin. John 1:1-18 sets the stage by identifying Jesus as the eternal Word of God, and John the Baptist as the messenger who precedes Him. Matthew 1 and 2 and Luke 1 and 2 tell all that we know of Jesus' birth and the events surrounding it, the familiar Christmas accounts. 
    Consider God's provision of the gifts from the Magi to provide for this family during their journey and time in Egypt. They also give the genealogies of Jesus. We believe that Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph, who, as Mary's husband, was the legal guardian or father of Jesus, and thereby provides the legal inheritance of Jesus which traces back through the kings of Judah and Israel to Solomon, son of David and Bathsheba. 
    On the other hand, Luke gives the genealogy of Mary through Joseph's father-in-law back to Nathan, another son of David and Bathsheba in the actual genetic line to Jesus. Luke states that Elizabeth was a relative (given age difference I'm guessing aunt) of Mary, and that Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron, so of the priestly line, but doesn't connect the dots indicating that Jesus probably had the genetics to go with Hebrew's references to Him as priest. 
    Luke also tells us of Jesus' precocious understanding as a twelve year old, and His determination even then to keep His will aligned with that of God His Father. This is also the last time Joseph is mentioned, so there is the possibility that Jesus had to keep the carpenter shop going and support His mother and younger brothers and sisters for a time before beginning His public ministry at about 30 years of age. 

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