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Two of our best-loved hymns talk about "telling the story" of Jesus. One is entitled "Tell Me the Story of Jesus." The other is "I Love to Tell the Story." Both of them emphasize the fact that everyone needs to know the story of who Jesus is, what He did, and what He teaches.
1 Corinthians 15:1-5 says that the truth about Jesus is the foundation of the gospel. And Jesus is the central theme of the Bible. So everyone needs to hear the story of Jesus.
One of the songs says: "I love to tell the story, For some have never heard, The message of salvation, From God's own holy Word."
Many Bible examples show that, when teaching people who do not know or understand the life and character of Jesus, faithful gospel preachers always taught them about these basic truths (see Acts chaps. 2,3,8,10, etc.).
So, knowing about Jesus' life and character is absolutely fundamental to fellowship with God. People who are not Jesus' disciples need to hear about Jesus, because they must believe and obey the gospel message to be saved (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
Another verse in the song says: "I love to tell the story, For those who know it best, Seem hungering and thirsting, To hear it like the rest."
God's children need to be reminded of the life and character of Jesus (2 Peter 1:12,13). We need to be reminded of the evidence on which our faith is based (Rom. 10:17), of God's great love for us (1 John 4:9,19), and of the perfect example Jesus set (1 Pet. 2:21ff).
Understand that "the story of Jesus" is not just Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And preaching Jesus is not just preaching about things He did. Preaching Jesus includes preaching what He taught, including the teachings He inspired His apostles and prophets to teach. In short the entire New Testament is the story of Jesus.
But the focus of this study will emphasize what Jesus did and who He is. We will use the verses of "Tell Me the Story of Jesus" to outline of our main points. The questions I hope you will ask yourself as we study are: (1) Do you love to hear the story of Jesus? And (2) Do you love to tell the story of Jesus? If so, how diligent are you in telling it to others? Do you seek opportunities to talk to people about the gospel of Christ?
Consider the following facts about Jesus that we need to understand based on the Bible teaching about His birth:
Jesus' existence did not begin with His birth. He existed from eternity with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Micah 5:2 - From Bethlehem would come a ruler, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. This passage is applied to Jesus in Matt. 2:4-6. He was born in Bethlehem, but He existed from eternity.
John 1:1,2 - The "Word" (Jesus - v14) was in the beginning with God, and was God. He is a separate Being or Individual from the Father (He was "with God"), but He possesses the nature of Deity just as the Father does (He "was God").
[Psa. 90:1-4; 93:2; 55:19; Heb. 1:12; cf. Psa. 102:24-27 with Heb. 1:8-12; Isa. 9:6; John 8:58]
John 1:3 - All things were made through Him, and nothing was made without Him. Not only did Jesus exist from eternity, but He is the eternal Creator of all created things.
Colossians 1:16 - By Jesus were all things created. If Jesus made everything that was created, then He Himself must not have been created. He is eternal - the eternal Cause of all that exists. Surely the eternal Creator must possess Deity, so these verses affirm Jesus' Deity.
So, the first thing to know about Jesus is that His life on earth was not the beginning of His existence. He existed from eternity with the Heavenly Father, and He was, in fact, the eternal Creator of the entire universe.
[Cf. Heb. 1:2.]
Philippians 2:5-8 - Though He existed in heaven in the form of God, Jesus did not insist on holding to the honor and blessings He had there. He emptied Himself to live on earth as a man, and humbled Himself even to the point of dying on the cross
2 Corinthians 8:9 - He had great riches (in Heaven), but He gave this up and became poor (when He came to earth). As a result of this sacrifice, we can become rich.
Jesus had the glory and privileges of being honored as Deity in Heaven. But He gave that up that honor to come to earth to live as a man. Deity took the place of man - God in the flesh. We will see why as we proceed.
[Cf. Heb. 2:14-17; John 17:5.]
Genesis 12:3 - As part of one of the greatest promises in the Bible, God told Abraham that his descendant would bring a blessing on all families of the earth.
Acts 3:25,26 - Jesus fulfilled this promise by offering the sacrifice by which all men can be saved from their sins. God planned from before Jesus was ever born, that His coming would bless every nation of people on earth in fulfillment of a fundamental Divine promise.
God also promised King David that his descendants would continue to rule God's people (2 Sam. 7:12-16; Jer. 23:5). The Old Testament frequently predicted the coming of the kingdom that would be subject to this Anointed Ruler (the Messiah or Christ) (Dan. 2, etc.).
Luke 1:32,33 - The angel told Jesus' mother Mary that He would have the throne of David and would reign over His kingdom forever.
Matthew 1:1-16 (note v17)- Jesus' genealogy is traced back through David, to show He was David's heir (cf. Luke 3:23-38 Acts 13:22,23).
By right of inheritance, Jesus deserved to rule as King. We will learn more of this as we proceed.
Some people today deny the Virgin Birth. But this view denies a fundamental proof of Jesus' nature and also denies the inspiration of the Bible, for the Bible clearly affirms it.
Luke 1:26-35 - Mary is clearly described as a "virgin." An angel told her that she would conceive and bear a son. She did not understand, since she had no relations with a man; so, the angel explained that this would occur by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:18-25 - She was betrothed to Joseph, but she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit before she and Joseph were united (he did not "know" her sexually till after Jesus was born). An angel assured Joseph that this had occurred by the power of God, not as an act of immorality; so Joseph proceeded to take her as wife.
God brought Jesus into the world by a miracle. At the very beginning of His earthly existence, God used a supernatural event to prove that Jesus was no ordinary man.
This miracle also symbolizes Jesus' dual nature: His conception and birth by a woman shows His human nature. His conception by the Holy Spirit (Deity), without a human father, shows He is not just human but is also Divine. The nature of man and the nature of God were united in Jesus.
Though He came to be a King and was in fact the Eternal Creator, yet Jesus was born and lived in the most humble of circumstances.
Luke 2:1-18 - Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Yet, angels announced that He would be the Savior, the Christ (Anointed One), and Lord (master, ruler). This miraculous event also proved the special character of the One who was born.
Matthew 2:13-23 - Having been honored by the wise men, Jesus had to escape death at the hands of Herod. So, Joseph and Mary took Him to Egypt, then later returned to Nazareth, one of the most humble of cities (John 1:46). Here He grew up as a carpenter's son (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3).
This is the story of Jesus' birth. Do you believe this story to be true? Do you love to tell the story to others? What efforts have you made to give others the opportunity to hear and believe?
We could spend hours discussing Jesus' life and teachings. We will concentrate on just a few events that demonstrate His character and His purpose for coming.
Matthew 3:13-17 - Jesus was baptized to "fulfill all righteousness" (v15). The gospel teaches that we today need to be baptized to receive remission of sins (Acts 2:38). But Jesus had no sins to be forgiven, so He was not baptized for the same reason as us. But He still had to be baptized to obey God's will.
Hebrews 5:8,9 - Jesus learned the meaning of obedience from personal experience. People tend to think that other people don't understand us: kids think parents don't understand, wives think husbands don't understand, etc. So, we might also think that God does not understand us but just sits in an ivory tower making rules. But by living, suffering, and dying as a man, Jesus assures us that God does understand and cares about us.
As Jesus was being baptized, the Holy Spirit came in the bodily form of a dove, and the Father spoke from heaven. This shows that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct Beings or individuals.
But though Jesus is a separate individual, yet the Father and the Holy Spirit affirmed their unity with Jesus and their approval of Him. The miraculous voice of the Father and the miraculous appearance of the Spirit constitute Divine proof that Jesus was the Son of God.
Just as God miraculously demonstrated Jesus' special nature when Jesus was born, He again demonstrated Jesus' special character at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry.
Matthew 4:1-11 - Jesus fasted in the wilderness 40 days and nights. Satan then came to tempt Him. This teaches us:
Jesus answered every temptation saying, "It is written." We should do the same.
1 Corinthians 10:13 - We can overcome every temptation, just as Jesus did. There is always a way of escape, so there is never an excuse for sin.
Ephesians 6:10-18 - Using the armor God provides, we are able to stand against Satan, and quench all his fiery darts.
Jesus' temptation shows us we can overcome Satan, and shows us how to do it: by trusting in God's word.
Just as Jesus overcame Satan's temptations in this case, so He did throughout His life. Though Satan tried repeatedly to defeat Him, Jesus overcame every time.
1 Peter 2:21,22 - He lived without sin, setting a perfect example for us to follow. Though we have sinned and need forgiveness, this was never true of Jesus. His life set an example and a goal for us to strive for: we should strive to live above sin as He did.
Hebrews 4:15,16 - Jesus was tempted in all points like we are, but He did not sin. Again, this shows that God understands what we go through when we face temptation. If Jesus' had not suffered as we do, we might think that God demands too much. But Jesus' life proves God does understand and sympathize, but there is still no excuse for sin.
Jesus was the only man ever to live without committing even one sin, so He is the only one who truly deserves to be counted righteous before God. Later we will see that this sinless life was necessary for Him to be a perfect sacrifice for our sins.
[Cf. Matt. 10:25]
We will not spend much time here considering the specific content of Jesus' teaching, but we can notice some general points about it.
Matthew 17:1-5 - At the Transfiguration, God again affirmed that Jesus is His Son so we must listen to Him. God again miraculously demonstrated His Divine approval of Jesus' teaching.
Matthew 28:18-20 - We must observe all Jesus' commands, because He had authority to command men to obey.
Jesus' teachings were not human opinion or human wisdom. They were the absolute will of God. Jesus came as God in the flesh to reveal a message to man from God.
[Heb. 1:1,2; Acts 3:22,23]
John 6:63,68 - Jesus' words are spirit and life. He has the words of eternal life.
John 14:6 - He is the way to the Father. No one can come to the Father except by Him.
Acts 4:12 - No one but Him can provide salvation.
Jesus' teachings are not optional. We must accept and obey them, both because they come from God, and because they show us the only way to receive eternal life. No one should say he believes in Jesus but sees no need to follow His teachings. Following Jesus' teaching is the only way to benefit from Jesus' life and death.
[Cf. 1 John 5:11,12; John 12:48]
Luke 10:16 - Jesus sent the disciples to speak His will, so we can be sure they spoke truth from God, even as Jesus Himself had done.
John 16:12,13 - Specifically, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide them to speak truths that Jesus did not reveal during His lifetime, because the time was not yet right. But all truth would be revealed to the apostles through the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 14:37 - The Holy Spirit guided these men to speak and write the will of God. The result is that the written word we have in the New Testament today constitutes the very commands of Jesus Himself.
Jesus not only spoke for God but He enabled His apostles and prophets to speak for Him and for God. You and I can know God's will for us today through the message these inspired men wrote.
[Cf. Matt. 10:19,20; Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 3:16,17]
Matthew 7:21-27 - To enter the kingdom of heaven, it is not enough to just believe in Jesus or even to confess Him as "Lord." We must also obey the will of the Father, which Jesus revealed. To be truly wise, we must both hear and do what Jesus taught.
Mark 16:15,16 - Jesus said His gospel must be preached to all. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. But he who disbelieves will be condemned.
Hebrews 5:9 - Jesus is author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.
Those who truly believe in Jesus must not only believe in His miraculous birth and sinless life, they must also believe that He was the Son of God and a Divine spokesman from God. And we must recognize our need to believe and obey His teachings as the only way to receive eternal life. His teachings are revealed for us in the Scriptures.
[See also John 8:24,31,32; Luke 6:46; 2 John 9; 1 Pet. 1:22-25; Rom. 6:17,18.]
How do we know that the claims made about Jesus in the Bible are really true? Anyone can claim to come from God or to speak for God. What proof is there? From the many proofs available, we will consider just two categories.
Claims that Jesus fulfilled prophecy
Luke 24:25-27,44 - Jesus affirmed that events in His life fulfilled Old Testament prophecy.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 - Jesus' apostles also affirmed His life fulfilled prophecy.
Men can predict the distant future in detail only if God guides them. So if men predict in detail that someone would come to be a ruler of God's people and an inspired spokesman for God, and then someone comes and fulfills those prophecies, we must conclude that person really did come from God. So, we should listen to His message.
[Cf. John 5:39; Acts 2:25-36; 3:18-26; 10:43; 13:27-39; etc.]Some examples of prophecies Jesus fulfilled:
** Born in Bethlehem (cf. Micah 5:2 to Matt. 2:1-6)
** Descendant of David (cf. Jer. 23:5 to Acts 13:22,23)
** Prophet from God (cf. Deut. 18:17-19 to Acts 3:20-23)
** Fore-runner to prepare His way (cf. Isa. 40:3,4 to Luke 3:2-5)
** Death by crucifixion for others' guilt (cf. Psa. 22:16-18; 34:20; Isa. 53:4-12 to John 19:18-37 and 1 Pet. 2:21-25.)
** Resurrection (Psa. 16:10 cf. Acts 2:24-32)
Jesus' miracles proved He was from God.
Miracles sometimes accomplished various purposes, but the one purpose always accomplished by Jesus' miracles was to demonstrate that God was working through Him.
John 5:36 - Jesus' works testified He was from God.
Acts 2:22 - Jesus was approved of God by miracles.
John 20:30,31 - We have not seen the miracles today, but we believe on the basis of the eyewitness testimony in the Scriptures that Jesus did miracles.
[Cf. John 11:47,48; 4:48.]Examples of miracles that confirm who Jesus is
We have already read about some of these miracles:
** Virgin birth - Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-35
** God's testimony at His baptism and the Transfiguration - Matt. 3:13-17; 17:1-5
** Raising the dead - John 11:17-44
** Walking on water and calming a storm - Matt. 14:22-33; 8:23-27
** Feeding thousands with a few loaves and fishes - Matt. 14:13-21; 15:32-39
** The resurrection - Rom. 1:4
God purposely planned for Jesus to give evidence sufficient for any honest person to be convinced who Jesus really is. If you seek to know the validity of the Bible's claims about Jesus, you need to consider the evidence with an honest desire to know the truth.
This is the story of Jesus' life. Do you believe this story to be true? Do you love to tell the story to others? What efforts have you made to give others the opportunity to hear and believe?
We learned that fulfilled prophecy and Jesus' miracles are two of the greatest proofs that He really was from God. The most important of the miracles that occurred was His resurrection from the dead. If Jesus really arose from the dead, that would be amazing. But even more amazing is the fact that His resurrection was predicted ahead of time.
Luke 24:44-46 - Jesus explained that His resurrection fulfilled the predictions of the prophets.
Acts 13:34-38 - For example, David predicted one whose flesh would not see corruption and his soul would not remain in Hades. This could be true only if one arose from the dead.
Isaiah 53:7-12 - He would die, but "He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days" (v10). How could this be? Only by resurrection.
[Cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Acts 2:23-31; 17:2,3.]
John 2:18-22 - Jesus' predicted that the Jews would destroy His body (temple), but He would rebuild it in three days.
Matthew 16:21 - Jesus plainly told the disciples that He would be killed and would rise again the third day.
Imagine a man making such a prediction. If he were a fake, shortly after his death, everyone would know he was a fake. But Jesus made the prediction; and instead of losing His following, we will see that many people testified that they personally saw Him alive again after He had died.
[Cf. Matt. 17:9,23; 20:19; 26:32; 27:63; Mk. 8:31; 9:9,10,31; 10:34; 14:28; Luke 18:33; 24:4-7.]
Matthew 26:1-4,14-16 - Jewish leaders determined to kill Jesus, because He had revealed their sins to the multitudes. Judas, one of Jesus' disciples, was also a thief. He agreed to betray Jesus to His enemies for thirty pieces of silver.
Matthew 26:36-41 - After teaching His disciples how to partake of the Lord's Supper in memory of His death, Jesus went to Gethsemane. There He prayed that He might avoid the suffering of the cross, but even so He was willing to obey the Father's will.
Matthew 26:47-56 - Judas came bringing soldiers to capture Jesus and showed the soldiers which man to arrest by kissing Him. When Jesus refused to allow His disciples to defend Him, they all forsook Him and fled. Later Peter denied Him three times, just as Jesus had earlier predicted he would.
Most of us can only imagine how terrible this would be. But if you have ever had a friend turn his back on you, then you have a tiny taste of what Jesus experienced. He had left the joys of Heaven, had come to earth, and had spent years teaching His disciples. Yet when it appeared that His enemies were about to defeat Him, one of His disciples betrayed Him for money, another denied Him three times, and all the others forsook Him. Yet He accepted all this so He could save them and us from sin.
We will not discuss many details, but consider some of the evidence that Jesus was innocent and not worthy of death.
Matthew 26:57-67 - In the Jewish trials, Jewish leaders sought grounds to kill Jesus, but could not find valid proof even with the help of many false witnesses. Finally they convicted Him of blasphemy because He claimed to be the Christ. But it was easy to prove that He claimed to be the Christ. The question was: Was the claim true or false? The Jews never even considered that. They just ignored all the evidence that he was the Christ and convicted Him of making a blasphemous claim!
Matthew 27:3-5 - Judas admitted He had betrayed an innocent person, and hanged himself.
Luke 23:1-11 - Jesus was taken before the Roman governor Pilate, where the Jews accused Jesus of teaching people not to pay tribute to Caesar, despite the fact that they knew He had really taught just the opposite (Matt. 22:15-21).
Luke 23:8-11 - Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, who mocked Him and sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate (vv 13-16) then told the people that neither he nor Herod found any fault in Jesus worthy of death.
Matthew 27:15-26 - Pilate repeatedly stated that Jesus was innocent and tried to release Him, but the Jews refused. Pilate's wife sent him a message saying she knew Jesus was innocent. But the Jews said they and their children would bear responsibility for His death, so Pilate called for Jesus to be crucified.
Matthew 27:27-54 - Read Matthew's account of the actual crucifixion.
John 18:31-34 adds that Jesus' side was pierced with a spear to guarantee He was dead.
So no one ever proved Jesus was guilty of any wrongdoing. His betrayer, two of His judges (Pilate and Herod), and even a wife of one of the judges all declared Him to be innocent. Yet He was crucified as a criminal.
Matthew 27:57-60 - Jesus' disciples prepared the body for burial and placed it in the cave tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
Matthew 27:62-66 - The Jews remembered that Jesus had promised to rise from the dead. So with Pilate's permission, they sealed the stone over the entrance and placed guards outside to make sure the body did not leave the tomb.
Everyone dies eventually. To many people, Jesus' death may not seem extraordinary. But His was the most important death ever to occur. In fact, it is essential to our salvation.
Hebrews 2:9 - Jesus tasted death for every man. He did not die for His own sins - He didn't have any sins. Nor was His death simply a miscarriage of justice. Jesus died for our sins.
1 Peter 2:24 - He bore our sins on the cross, so we could live to righteousness. He was a sacrifice. He was the sinless Son of God dying as a penalty for those of us who were guilty, so we could go free.
Romans 5:6-9 - It would be amazing to find someone willing to give his own life in the place of a righteous person, but Jesus died for us while we were sinners.
2 Corinthians 5:21 - He did not commit sin, but was made to be sin on our behalf. This is why it was essential that Jesus live a sinless life. If He had sinned, He would have to be punished for His own sins. But because He lived a sinless life and did not deserve to die, He was able to suffer for others who did deserve to die.
Amazing as all this is, it is even more amazing to realize that He came to earth knowing all along that He would have to die for the sins of others. The Creator took the form of that which He had created, in order to suffer as a sacrifice to save His own creatures. If Jesus had not died, none of us could be forgiven of sins. We would all have to die for our own sins (Rom. 6:23). We can be saved only because Jesus died for us.
[Cf. John 3:16; Rom. 4:25; 1 John 4:9; etc.]
1 Corinthians 15:16,17 - If Jesus had simply died without being raised, Satan would have been the victor. He would have defeated Jesus, and we would all still be in our sins. In order to defeat Satan and thereby justify us, Jesus had to arise from the dead.
Matthew 28:1-10 - All four of the gospel accounts affirm that Jesus was raised. All four record accounts of eyewitnesses who saw Him alive after His death. Different writers record different appearances. No one writer gives a complete list of all the appearances.
1 Corinthians 15:5-8 - Paul lists several of Jesus' appearances, including the appearance to Paul himself on the road to Damascus.
John 20:24-31 - This example shows the factual, historical nature of Jesus' appearances. Thomas had said he would not believe Jesus had been raised until he personally saw Him alive. When Jesus gave Him the proof, Thomas confessed Him to be "my Lord and my God." John affirms that all of us must believe this too, but we don't have to see to believe.
John 19:35; 20:30,31; 21:24 - Here is how we can believe. The testimony of the eyewitnesses has been recorded in the Scriptures. Their testimony says Jesus did do miracles, He did die, and He did live again after He died.
Romans 1:4 - God proved Jesus to be His Son by raising Him from the dead. The resurrection is the most basic and fundamental of all Jesus' miracles. The only way you can be saved from sin is to believe it to be true (Rom. 10:9,10).
Jesus showed Himself alive by "many infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3). What will you do with this proof? Honest people must investigate and reach an honest verdict.
[1 Pet. 3:21; Heb. 2:14; Rom. 4:25]
Acts 1:2-11 - Having appeared to His disciples over a period of 40 days, and having discussed with them about His kingdom, Jesus ascended to heaven. Angels promised He would someday return in the same way.
The kingdom had been a major theme of Jesus' teaching. He had promised to build His church, which is His spiritual kingdom (Matt. 16:18,19). He said this kingdom would come with power in the lifetime of His disciples (Mark 9:1). Here He promised that the power would come when the Holy Spirit came just a few days later.
Acts 2:29-38 - The Holy Spirit did come in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. It gave the apostles power to speak in other tongues (vv 1-4). Peter preached that Jesus is now on David's throne as Lord and Christ. But to do this, Jesus had to be raised from the dead.
To be saved from our sins, we must believe in Jesus as our sacrifice and our Lord, and we must repent of sins and be baptized. Those who do this are added to Jesus' church (v47), which is His kingdom (Col. 1:13,18).
Philippians 2:9-11 - Because Jesus achieved all these great works on our behalf, God has exalted Him to a position of honor and authority, above all other authority (Eph. 1:21-23). To be saved we must submit to His authority and confess His greatness.
This is the story of Jesus' earthly life, death, and resurrection.
Matthew 25:31-46 - When Jesus ascended, the angels said He would return. He will not return in order to begin ruling as King; He began ruling as King when He ascended, and He will continue ruling till He comes again (1 Cor. 15:21-26). He will return as our judge to reward us for how we have served Him. Those who serve faithfully will receive eternal life; those who do not serve will receive eternal punishment (vv 41,46).
Acts 17:30,31 - To prepare for this judgment, we must repent of our sins. To repent means we must "change our minds" about sin, deciding to turn from it and live for Jesus. As we learned earlier, we must then confess Christ and be baptized so His blood can forgive us, and then we must live a faithful life.
The lesson for us to learn from this story is that Jesus is our Creator, Savior, and Master. How you and I react to that story will determine our eternal destiny. We have a choice to serve Him and receive eternal life, or refuse to serve Him and receive eternal punishment.
This (very briefly) is the story of Jesus. Do you love to hear this story? Do you love to tell the story? If you understand, believe, and appreciate what Jesus has done for you, you need to make a commitment to serve Him. Then you need to tell the story to others. What is your choice?
Copyright 2011, David E. Pratte; gospelway.com
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.