Jesus was born in an obscure village known as Bethlehem. He grew up in still another village called Nazareth, where He worked as a carpenter until He was thirty years of age. Then for three years He was a wandering preacher.
He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He did not go to college. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He did none of the things one usually associates with greatness. He had no credentials but himself.
He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to His enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for His clothing, the only property He had on earth. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Almost 2000 years have come and gone. Today He remains the central figure of the human race, and the leader of mankind’s progress. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this planet so much as that of Jesus Christ!
We are going to study the life of Jesus Christ.
In this first lesson, we will look at His early life.
Tell us something about your early life that we may not be aware of?
1. THE PREEXISTANCE OF JESUS.
According to (John 1:2), where was Jesus in the beginning?
n Jesus was with God in the beginning. The life of the Lord Jesus did not begin, as does the life of all other persons, at the moment of conception. He came into the world from a preexistent state.
n Jesus said in John 8:58 that “before Abraham was born, I am!”
n Not only did Jesus say that He existed before Abraham; He also applied God’s holy name (I am—Exodus 3:14) to himself. Jesus is not a created being, for He is eternal.
n Jesus was active in the creation:
& (John 1:3) “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made...”
& (Col. 1:16) “For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.”
& (Heb. 1:2) “but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe.”
n God the Father is the designer, and His Son, Jesus, is the intermediate agent in creation.
2. THE PHYSICAL BIRTH OF JESUS.
From (Luke 1:34-35), how was the Lord conceived?
n Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He did not have a natural father. The birth of Jesus to a virgin is a miracle that many people find hard to believe. These 3 facts can aid our faith: (1) Luke was a medical doctor, and he knew perfectly well how babies are made. It would have been just as hard for him to believe in a virgin birth as it is for us, and yet he reports it as fact. (2) Luke was a painstaking researcher who based his Gospel on eyewitness accounts. Tradition holds that he talked with Mary about the events he recorded in the first two chapters. This is Mary’s story, not a fictional invention. (3) Christians and Jews, who worship God as the Creator of the universe, should believe that God has the power to create a child in a virgin’s womb.
God used Mary, a young, poor, female to aid in the birth of the Savior. How does that encourage you knowing that God uses ordinary people to accomplish His will?
n God used Mary. Mary was young, poor, female—all characteristics that, to the people of her day, would make her seem unusable by God for any major task. But God chose Mary for one of the most important acts of obedience He has ever demanded of anyone. You may feel that your ability, experience, or education makes you an unlikely candidate for God’s service. Don’t limit God’s choices. He can use you if you trust Him.
Explain a time when God used you to accomplish His will.
Micah the prophet in (Micah 5:2-5) predicted the Messiah would be born in what city?
n Jesus was born in the town of David (Luke 2:4), known as Bethlehem sometime in the late 5 BC or early 4 BC.
n Bethlehem is a town located about 5 miles SW of Jerusalem. In Jacob’s time it was called Ephrath and was the burial place of Rachel (Gen. 35:16, 19). After the conquest of Canaan it was called Bethlehem in Judah (Ruth 1:1). David was probably born in Bethlehem because his father Jesse was from there (1 Sam. 16:10-11). Bethlehem became a significant city because that is where King David grew up.
3. THE INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD OF JESUS.
After Jesus’ birth, the Bible tells us (Matthew 2:1-12) that the Magi came to Jerusalem seeking Jesus. Why did they come looking for Jesus?
n They came to worship Jesus (who was probably around a year old at the time). The Magi traveled thousands of miles to see the king of the Jews. When they finally found Him, they responded with joy, worship, and gifts. This is so different from the approach people often take today. We expect God to come looking for us, to explain himself, and prove who He is. But those who are wise will come looking for Jesus the author and perfecter of life. We should come to Him, not for what we can get, but for who He is.
n After finding Jesus and worshipping Him, the Magi were warned by God not to return through Jerusalem as they had intended. Finding Jesus may mean that your life must take a different direction, one that is responsive and obedient to God’s Word. Are you willing to be led a different way?
From (Matthew 2:19-23; Luke 2:39), the Bible reveals that Jesus and His family moved to Nazareth. What do you think Jesus’ family was like?
n Here is a description of Jesus’ family by J. W. Shepard (The Christ of the Gospels).
Jesus grew up in an exceptional home. His foster-father Joseph belonged to the middle industrial class, being a carpenter. He planned and constructed houses. In Nazareth he seems to have attained by his character and industry to a special place of esteem and usefulness, and was called by the title “the carpenter” (Mt. 13:55). He seems not to have lived long (Mark 3:32; In John 19:26,27, it appears that Joseph was deceased prior to the crucifixion of Jesus) and to have left a considerable family when he died to the care and responsibility of Jesus, the oldest son.
Mary, His mother, is known to us as the mostly highly favored of all women. She was a woman of beautiful humility, pure, saintly, loving character and disposition, an intelligent student of the Scriptures, of fervent, poetic and patriotic idealism; deeply religious and loyal in her convictions; a capable wife and a fond and careful mother. Doubtless Jesus learned from the lips of His wonderful young mother many tender caressing words in the Aramaic language, such as Talitha, “My Lamb,” which He used at the bedside of the little daughter of Jairus as He took her by the hand and raised her up to a new life (Mark. 5:41).
In the family of Joseph, there were four half-brothers younger than Jesus and at least two half-sisters. Then names of the brothers were James, Joses, Judas, and Simeon (Mark 6:3), two of whom we know in the epistles of James and Jude. They did not become disciples of Jesus during His ministry but only after His resurrection. They were not sympathetic with His work. Once when He had gained great popularity in Galilee and was working with such intensity that He scarcely took time to eat, they persuaded His mother to come with them and take Him home, saying that He had gone crazy. On another occasion later on, they cast in His face the sneering accusation of being a “Secret Messiah,” because He would not manifest Himself in Jerusalem. From the picture we thus piece together, we can reasonably conclude that they were rather severe and unsympathetic with Jesus. There is doubtless some ground for saying that His pathetic expression: “A prophet is not without honor save in his own country and in his own household,” had its basis in part in experiences which He suffered for many years before His public ministry began.
(Luke 2:41-50) reveals that Jesus along with His parents traveled to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of the Passover. From this passage, what can we learn about Jesus’ spiritual condition?
n It was the custom of Jesus’ parents to travel to Jerusalem each year to observe the Feast of the Passover. This was one of the three feasts which the Israelites were to observe at the central sanctuary. This particular Passover had great significance to this household for, as Arndt notes:
n When a Jewish boy was 12 years old (the Talmud says, “at the age of puberty”), he through a special ceremony...was acknowledged a “son of the Law.” At that age he was supposed to have learned enough to be sufficiently mature for following the mandates of the Law of God. From now on he would be expected to attend the festivals in Jerusalem whose attendance the Law prescribed.
n While Jesus’ parents returned home, “the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem” (Lk. 2:43). Joseph and Mary realized that Jesus was not with them. After 3 days they found Him in the temple discussing Scripture with the teachers. Of course they were upset with Jesus, but He simply said, “Didn’t you know I had to be in My Father’s House?”
n Theologians have speculated as to when Jesus first became conscious of the fact that He was God’s son in a peculiar sense and of his Messianic mission. We turn to these words as the sole clear self-revelation of Jesus in His boyhood years. In them we find His feeling of a distinct disappointment, that His parents did not understand Him better. He reveals in them the consciousness of a unique relationship to His Father. He expressed in them a clear sense of His primary obligations to God, which for the time had so engrossed His attention that He almost lost sight of time and His human relationships.
n Jesus’ reply to His parents rebuke shows that at this time He was fully conscious of His person, His relationship to His Father, and His mission.
1. This concludes our brief look at the early life of Jesus.
2. Our next lesson will focus on the baptism and temptation of Jesus.
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