Many have heard about the last events of Jesus’ life on earth—sometimes called the Passion of the Christ. He was falsely accused, tried, and condemned. Then He suffered as a common criminal, hung from a cross until dead, and three days later rose from the dead. But few people understand the meaning of these events. Let’s begin to explore Jesus’ life, His death, and His resurrection—and what it all means.
The Life of Jesus Christ
About 2,000 years ago, Jesus was born in the obscure town of Bethlehem. While Jesus was an infant, Joseph and Mary took Him into Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod the Great. Then, while He was still a young child, they moved to a small town called Nazareth in the region of Galilee, in the land now called Israel.
His Purpose for Coming Into the World
An angel of the Lord spoke these words to Joseph in Matthew 1:21:
21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 CSB
In Luke 1:31-33 the angel Gabriel spoke these words to Mary the mother of Jesus:
31 Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.” Luke 1:31-33 CSB
His Public Ministry
Jesus worked with His earthly father Joseph as a carpenter until He was about 30 years old. Then He started His public ministry. Matthew 4:23-24 tells us what He did in His public ministry.
23 And He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news (Gospel) of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every weakness and infirmity among the people. 24 So the report of Him spread throughout all Syria, and they brought Him all who were sick, those afflicted with various diseases and torments, those under the power of demons, and epileptics, and paralyzed people, and He healed them. Matthew 4:23-24 AMP
The Twelve Apostles
The Lord did not fulfill His ministry alone. He called those He wanted to Himself and He also appointed 12 men.
13 And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. 14 Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, 15 and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons: Mark 3:13-15 NKJV
The Lord’s Clear-Cut Command on How to Live
Jesus expected His disciples to live according to His example of servanthood.
24 Then a dispute also arose among them about who should be considered the greatest. 25 But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who have authority over them have themselves called ‘Benefactors.’ 26 It is not to be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you should become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving. 27 For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves."" Luke 22:24-27 CSB
Can you live today as one who serves others like Jesus? Yes. What do you think a life of serving others looks like?
Personal Relationships Progressed as the Disciples Followed Jesus
Before the Lord was crucified, He reframed the relationship He had with the disciples. Over the course of their time together with the Lord as the disciples followed and listened and obeyed Him, their personal relationship with Him and His personal relationship with them deepened.
14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. John 15:14-15 NKJV
An Overview of the Life of Jesus Christ
Many study bibles and reference bibles have detailed event outlines and information in one place. And remember that John 21:25 tells us:
25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. John 21:25 NKJV
The Death of Jesus Christ
Old Testament prophecies predicted His death long before He died. Jesus Himself also predicted His death. He predicted His death and predicted what would happen to Him during the process leading up to His crucifixion, and what would happen after He was crucified.
31 Then he took the Twelve aside and told them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. Everything that is written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. 32 For he will be handed over to the Gentiles, and he will be mocked, insulted, spit on; 33 and after they flog him, they will kill him, and he will rise on the third day.” Luke 18:31-33 CSB
25 All the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children! ” 26s Then he released Barabbas to them and, after having Jesus flogged, handed him over to be crucified. 27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s residence and gathered the whole company around him. 28 They stripped him and dressed him in a scarlet robe. 29 They twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on his head, and placed a staff in his right hand. And they knelt down before him and mocked him: “Hail, king of the Jews! ” 30 Then they spat on him, took the staff, and kept hitting him on the head. 31 After they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, put his own clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him. Matthew 27:25-31 CSB
Jesus Voluntarily Went to the Cross
17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” John 10:17-18 NASB
Jesus Chose the Cross So That We Can Have a Relationship with God
God required that payment for our sin must be made in order for us to have a relationship with Him. Jesus paid the price on the cross with His own blood. Only the blood of Jesus pays for our sin. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice.
4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:4 CSB
13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses. 14 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14 CSB
18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 1 Peter 3:18 CSB
17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:17-18 NASB
Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19 provide details on the events leading up to Jesus dying on the Cross and His burial.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
After Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried, the tomb His body was placed in was sealed.
62 The next day, which followed the preparation day, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember that while this deceiver was still alive he said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give orders that the tomb be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come, steal him, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 “Take guards,” Pilate told them. “Go and make it as secure as you know how.” 66 They went and secured the tomb by setting a seal on the stone and placing the guards. Matthew 27:62-66 CSB
After the Sabbath, on the first day of the week, what was discovered at the tomb?
1 After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. 3s His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. 4 The guards were so shaken by fear of him that they became like dead men. 5 The angel told the women, “Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see him there.’ Listen, I have told you.” Matthew 28:1-7 CSB
Because the tomb that was sealed was now empty, the soldiers guarding the tomb were bribed to lie about what happened.
11 As they were on their way, some of the guards came into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 After the priests had assembled with the elders and agreed on a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money 13 and told them, “Say this, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him while we were sleeping.’ 14 If this reaches the governor’s ears, we will deal with him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 They took the money and did as they were instructed, and this story has been spread among Jewish people to this day. Matthew 28:11-15 CSB
After His resurrection, the Lord appeared to His disciples and to others. There were many witnesses who saw the Risen Lord!
|Witnesses Who Saw Jesus After His Death
|Mary of Magdala
|Road to Emmaus
|Cleopas and friend
|Sea of Tiberias
|1 Corinthians 15:5
|1 Corinthians 15:6
|1 Corinthians 15:7
|1 Corinthians 15:8
|On the road to Damascus
How did the disciples react to seeing the Risen Jesus? What did the Lord Jesus do to demonstrate He had a body?
36 As they were saying these things, he himself stood in their midst. He said to them, “Peace to you! ” 37 But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. 38 “Why are you troubled? ” he asked them. “And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself! Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” 40s Having said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 But while they still were amazed and in disbelief because of their joy, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat? ” 42 So they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence. Luke 24:36-43 CSB
From the time Jesus rose from the dead to this very day, people have tried to deny and disprove and reason away the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Yet to believers, His resurrection is the essence of faith in Christ!
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, “There is no resurrection of the dead”? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith. 15 Moreover, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified wrongly about God that he raised up Christ — whom he did not raise up, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Those, then, who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. 19 If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone. 20 But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at his coming, those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be abolished is death. 1 Corinthians 15:12-26 CSB
“If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen, nothing else matters.” Jaroslav Pelikan, Church Historian
1 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 CSB
The Essence of the Gospel Message
1 Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. 3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 CSB
Points to Remember
- Jesus spent about 3 years teaching, preaching, and healing people.
- Only Jesus has proven His words are true. The power of God manifested in so many ways proves He is Who He says He is.
- Only Jesus could pay the price God required for us to have a living and loving relationship with Him.
- Jesus was condemned to die by crucifixion.
- Jesus died on the Cross.
- The body of Jesus was placed in a tomb.
- Jesus rose from the dead.
- The Risen Jesus appeared to many people.
- Jesus is alive, never to die again!
- Because He lives, we live!
- People still choose to not believe that he was raised from the dead.
Things to Ponder
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical fact. The testimony of the eyewitnesses to His death, burial, and resurrection in the Bible have been made by truthful men with completely substantiated facts.