Jeeus life of

Today, we speak on the life of Jesus, what He said and did. We are going to do something a little differently, today. We are going to put ourselves back in the time of Christ, shortly after His crucifixion. Our lives, the way we talk, how we cook, what we do each day, everything is back in the days of 40 or 50 A.D. Even our names are different. In this room we might have a Mary, an Elizabeth, a Miriam, Naomi, Rachel, Ruth, Sarah, or Shoshanah. There could be an Aaron, an Adam, Benjamin, Joshua, or Zachariah.

For the next hour and a half, I am not Joe. My name is Zachariah. I never met Jesus, directly. I was on my way to visit my cousin in Jerusalem and celebrate Passover with him and his family. On the way, I saw a crowd, gathered on a hill. My curiosity got the better of me, and I went to see what was going on. That was when I saw Jesus. He was nailed to a cross. Though His breathing was labored, I heard Him say, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” It was only years after that I realized He was not talking just about the people, who were present; He was talking about all mankind, all of us. We were crucifying Him. Later on, I had the good fortune to meet Peter and Paul, and through them I began to learn more about Jesus. I realized that this was how people would have to learn of Him, after His death, through others who believed in Him.

We are gathered in this room, sheltered from the noise of the chariots outside. We are also protected from the people who object to our beliefs, from the Romans who would persecute us, from the traditionalists who mock us and plot against us. Here, in this quiet room we can hear about the life of Jesus who came from the small town of Nazareth. Look around you, why are you here? Maybe somebody told you about Jesus and what He did. Maybe you are simply curious. Maybe you are looking for some meaning in your life. Whatever the reason we come here, the fact is we are here now. Hopefully, while we are here we will get to know Him better.

The first time people saw something unusual about Jesus was when He went to be baptized by John. Crowds had been following John, who was preaching a baptism of water, of repentance, and to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. After Jesus is baptized by John the clouds in the sky part and a voice is heard saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased”-1. Don’t forget, this Jesus is human, born of a woman. And here He hears, maybe for the first time, that there is something more to him. There is something special about Him. He is God’s son. He has to be a little confused by that statement.

Often we picture Jesus only as God, walking this earth clothed as a man. He is both man and God. He has the same doubts that mankind has. He can feel pain and sorrow. He laughed and cried. He was respectful and obedient to his mother. He was a human being like you and me. At the same time, He is also the Son of God. It is truly beyond our understanding. We don’t know how this can be, but we let go of our doubts, and open our hearts and believe. With God, all is possible.

When we think of the life of Jesus we tend to think of different miracles He performed. We think of how he would teach everyone who would listen. And, we are struck with his annoyance and intolerance with evil. But these events were, just that, events. It is the totality of His overall life that each of us must view not specific events. His life is one of total approachability. He is always surrounded by crowds and He loves the people, is moved by them, and weeps for them. Just as today, He loves and weeps for us. This God-man’s heart poured out love and concern with everyone he came into contact. And so, He reproaches them and us for seeking simply “signs and wonders”. His life isn’t a carnival act. We are to view His life, His entire life, the teachings, the love, and yes, even those signs and wonders, for they are based on His teachings and love. The greatest sign, the greatest wonder that God has given mankind is Jesus, Himself. Jesus is God’s gift of love to mankind.

One thing that each of us has to reconcile within our world, within ourselves is the problem and existence of evil. Evil does exist. We have all seen artwork and statues that depict devils as horned, tailed beings, hideous in appearance. Over time, mankind finds that image of evil hard to accept. Unfortunately, in rejecting that image of evil, mankind seems to reject the existence of evil, itself. Evil has many faces, however. Each one of us has our own demons. Each of us struggles to overcome them, and repeatedly we fall back into their grip, again and again. And Jesus loves us, still. God loves us, still. “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”

You might think, “Ok, if God has forgiven me, I am saved already. I can continue as I have been.” It doesn’t work that way. Nothing is automatic. Your baptism cannot be just an event to you, a moment in time. Each of us must look within ourselves and let the power and love of God possess our heart and our soul. In so doing, the fire of that love begins to consume us. Our old ways become hideous to ourselves, as well. All that matters is doing what is pleasing to God. And in that, we find true happiness.

Accepting Jesus, then, is not a one and done deal. Intellectually, we get to know about Him, His works, and His love. Intellectually, we say within ourselves, “This makes sense. He makes sense. Therefore I believe.” But we are called to trust Jesus. It can all make sense, but if we don’t give ourselves to Jesus, if we don’t trust and accept Him, it remains only in our mind. Trusting Him means we allow these ideas, these principles of love and concern, to fill our hearts, our entire being. When this happens, our actions truly reflect what is in our heart.

One miracle that must be mentioned is the raising from the dead of His friend, Lazarus. John’s Gospel was the last of the Gospels to be written. By this time, the realization of the significance of Jesus’ own rising from the dead is understood. The conquering of evil, even death itself, shows Jesus to be not only a man, but also the Lord and Master of the universe.  He was God, as well. John places the telling of Lazarus’ raising as the last miracle done by Jesus. The remaining chapters of John’s Gospel speak to the events leading up to the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is this miracle, however, that John uses to portray the very nature of Jesus. Jesus tells Martha, “Your brother will rise”. She responds she knows that on the last day all will rise in the resurrection. To which Jesus tells her, “I am the Resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies will live.”-2 The miracle of raising Lazarus is a “sign, therefore, both of the final resurrection and of the rising from sin that takes place in the soul of the believer-3

Before we end this talk, we have to see it as it applies to us in our own lives. We learn of Jesus, not through direct face to face encounters with Him, but through others, through their beliefs and reflections, through the impact He has had on their lives. We saw that Jesus, at His baptism, hears the words, “This is my beloved Son…” This human, Jesus,  understands possibly for the first time, that there is something special about Him. If our baptism makes us adopted sons of God, then there is something special about us, as well. From before the existence of time, God saw each and every one of us, complete with good and bad actions, and He loves us. He waits for you, for me, for everyone to accomplish His plan. He waits for our trust in Him, so that He can work through us to bring about His kingdom.

-1 Mark 1:9-11
-2 John, 11:23
-3 The Jerome Biblical Commentary

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