Jesus Christ preached for a little over two years before he was crucified. Yet, today, every third person on earth is a Christian. And, Christian or not, many around the world celebrate Christmas on 25th December.
WORDS: MADHURI. Y
Herod the Great’s rule was nearing its end. It was sometime between 6-4 BC. A Jewish king and a Roman vassal, Herod had been ruling Judea since 37 BC. Far away in Nazareth of Galilee, Mary, wife of Joseph, the carpenter, was pregnant.
Ceaser Augustus, the Roman Emperor couldn’t have chosen a worse time to decree that all the Roman land must be taxed. Trouble was, people were taxed not where they lived, but where they were born. Joseph had no choice but to make the journey to Bethlehem with Mary. And in Bethlehem, Jesus was born.
When the three wise men came from the east of Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the King of Jews who is born?” King Herod was worried.
He asked the wise men to return with word of the child.
Following the star that appeared in the sky, they reached the manger in Bethlehem where baby Jesus was. After wishing the child and gifting treasures, they heeded the warning that came in a dream and left without informing King Herod. The furious King ordered all children below the age of two years to be killed.
Fearing for his child, Joseph fled to Egypt with Mary and Jesus, returning to Nazareth only when King Herod was dead.
JESUS IS BAPTISED
When Jesus was 30 years old, he travelled from Nazareth to Capernaum, a village on the north corner of the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum was also the home town of his apostles Peter, James, Andrew, John and Mathew.
This was the year when John the Baptist baptised Jesus. It is said that Jesus was now full of the Holy Ghost, and he returned to Jordan. He then spent 40 days in the Desert of Judea, resisting the Devil’s temptations.
When the king imprisoned John the Baptist, Jesus returned to Nazareth. Here, he proclaimed in a synagogue that he is the bread of life which comes down from heaven. The offended citizens threw him out of the city for, how could a mere carpenter utter these words!
JESUS BEGINS TO PREACH
After the king had John the Baptist beheaded, Jesus began to preach, saying, “The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
Jesus moved to Capernaum in 29 AD. For the next two years, he travelled, preaching in the synagogues of Galilee. He performed miracles, turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana of Galilee; he walked on the sea and he saved his disciples on the ship when a great storm rose. He healed people, giving sight to a blind man and healing a man suffering from leprosy.By now, people followed him from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and from beyond Jordan. On Galilee’s hillside in Capernaum, he selected his 12 disciples. Standing in their company, he spoke to the great numbers of people who came to hear him speak.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgement you judge, you shall be judged; and with what measure you give, it shall be measured to you again.”
HE THAT IS WITHOUT SIN
When Jesus was teaching at the temple, the people brought a woman to him and asked, “This woman committed adultery. Moses has commanded that such a person should be stoned. What do you say?”
Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.”
THE LAST DAYS
Meanwhile, Jesus was making enemies of the priests. In January, 30 AD, he raised Lazarus from the dead in the town of Bethany to which Mary Magdalene belonged. Lazarus had been dead for four days and was laid in a cave with a stone on it.
Hearing of this miracle, the chief priests worried, “What do we do, for this mad man does many miracles. If we let him alone, all men will believe in him and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.” They plotted his death during the Jewish Passover which was soon to come.
While he travelled in Galilee, Jesus made the prophecy about his last days. He left Galilee for the last time. In March 30 AD, he passed in Jericho and on the Sunday before Passover, he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (the messiah, according to Jewish tradition) where the people welcomed him. The temple priests notice this excitement.
With his disciples, he went into the Mount of Olives and came to Gethsemane. There he prayed and they slept. It is here that Judas betrayed him, coming with men and officers who bound Jesus and took him away.
The priests led Jesus into the hall of judgement and handed him over to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor. Pilate found no fault with him, but the people wouldn’t back down from their demand for crucifixion. It was the preparation of the Passover and the sixth hour.
Seeing that he could not prevail upon them, Pilate gave the sentence. The Governor’s soldiers led Jesus to the common hall, stripped him and crowned him with a crown of thorns. They placed a timber cross on his shoulders and Jesus carried it to Calvary with his mother Mary, watching him with the crowd.
The soldiers laid him on the cross, tied him to it, nailed his hands and feet and crucified him. It was the third hour on Friday, 15th April 30 AD.
People said, “You who were to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself. If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
To which, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
His mother, her sister, Mary Magdalene and John stood at the cross.
At the ninth hour, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
When he was thirsty, a sponge was filled from a vessel full of vinegar, put on a reed and given to him. Jesus said, “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit. It is finished.” He bowed his head and gave up the ghost.