Saturday, December 9, 2006

Jesus Birth

Birth of Jesus About 2000 years ago God sent an angel to Israel, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph, a carpenter. The angel told Mary that by God's power, she would conceive and bear a son. When Joseph learned that she was pregnant, an angel instructed him to marry her. Joseph took her to Bethlehem to register for a census. While there, Mary gave birth to Jesus. She laid him in a manger because there was no room at the inn. Shepherds visited Jesus in Bethlehem. Later, wise men brought gifts to Jesus. They told Herod the Great, a wicked king, that Jesus would rule Israel. So Herod sent soldiers to kill the children in Bethlehem. Warned by an angel, Joseph took his family to Egypt. After Herod died, they returned to Israel and raised Jesus in a town called Nazareth.

Friends of Jesus Jesus had many friends, including John the Baptist and the 12 disciples.

John the Baptist John lived in the wilderness near the Jordan River. Many people came to hear John preach about repentance and the coming of Christ. John baptized people in the river for the forgiveness of sins. Although Jesus never sinned, he was baptized by John. When Jesus came up from the water, the Holy Spirit descended, and God spoke from heaven, saying "This is my beloved son." John the Baptist rebuked Herod Antipas for his evil deeds, and for marrying his brother's wife. Herod imprisoned John for this, and later had him executed.

12 Disciples The disciples were men Jesus selected as companions. They had different backgrounds. Jesus chose fishermen, a tax collector, a twin, and others. They travelled with Jesus as he preached. After Jesus died, they taught others about him. The apostles names were: Peter, Andrew, James the son of Zebedee, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, Thaddeus, Simon, and Judas Iscariot.

Teachings of Jesus Jesus taught people how to live godly lives. As he traveled around Israel, Jesus taught with sermons and parables.

Sermon on the Mount Jesus delivered his most famous sermon on a mountain. In it, Jesus taught his listeners to: • Love your enemies. • Do not judge others. • Trust God. • Don't be anxious about tomorrow. • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (The "golden rule").

Parables Jesus often taught with parables. A parable is a short story with a spiritual meaning. Jesus told a parable about two builders. One was wise, and built his house upon a rock. The other was foolish, and built his house on sand. When a storm came, the wise man's house stood, but the foolish man's house fell. Whoever obeys Jesus is like the wise man. Whoever disobeys his words is like the foolish man. Jesus taught with many parables. Some were easy to understand, and some were difficult. Matthew chapter 13 has several parables of Jesus.

Miracles of Jesus Jesus did many miracles to show others that he was God's son. God gave Jesus power over nature, power over disease, and even power over death!

Power Over Nature Jesus and his disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in a small boat one evening. While Jesus was sleeping, a fierce storm came, and began to sink the boat. The disciples woke him. Jesus arose and rebuked the storm saying, "Peace be still." It became calm, and Jesus said to them "Where is your faith?" The disciples were afraid, saying "Who is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?" (Mark 4:35-41)

Power over Disease One day a crowd was following Jesus on a road near Jericho. Hearing the crowd, a blind beggar asked what was happening. They told him Jesus was passing by. The blind man cried out "Jesus, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped, and asked what he wanted. "Lord, I want to regain my sight," he replied. Jesus said, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well." Immediately the man could see, and the crowd began glorifying God. (Mark 10:46-52)

Power over Death Jesus had a friend named Lazarus, who lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. When Jesus learned that Lazarus died, he came to Bethany. Now Lazarus had been dead for 4 days, and a boulder covered the cave where his body was. Jesus asked them to remove the stone. He then shouted "Lazarus, come forth!" And Lazarus came out, restored to life! After seeing this, many witnesses believed that Jesus was the son of God. (John 11:1-45)

Trials of Jesus Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus. They accused him of blasphemy, and had Jesus arrested. A Roman governor named Pilate tried Jesus. He wanted to release Jesus. But when the Jews threatened to riot, Pilate condemned Jesus to death on a cross.

Death Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion. He was beaten by Roman soldiers, scourged, stripped, and nailed to a cross. He was crucified between two robbers, and died.

Burial His body was placed in the new tomb of a rich man named Joseph of Arimathea. Jesus had promised the disciples he would come back after he died. His enemies knew this. So, to prevent anyone from stealing the body, they had soldiers guard the tomb of Jesus.

Resurrection On the third day after Jesus died, an angel descended, and the soldiers fled. The disciples came and found an empty tomb. Jesus had risen from the dead! He later appeared to many believers, commanding them to teach and baptize others.