If you’ve recently heard someone talk about Jesus Christ, or you’ve read something about Him, or if you’re wondering if maybe He is drawing you to Him, how do you begin to get to know Him better? My suggestion would be to begin reading through the four short writings, also called the Gospels, about Jesus’s life, especially during the three years before His return to heaven. Much has been written about Jesus, but those four books provide the most reliable information because they were written under the inspiration of God and by men who either directly encountered Jesus or who interviewed those who knew Him, including His mother, Mary. All four books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are found in the New Testament portion of the Holy Bible.
Actually, as we mature in our relationship with Jesus Christ, we realize the whole Bible, all 66 books, help us understand Him more fully. Finding Jesus in the Old Testament could be the subject of several blogs, and I may take up that challenge even though I am a “common person” and not a theologian per se. Many people are much more scholarly than me and many have spent more time with Jesus Christ through prayer and study, but in a mysteriously gracious way, God wants us to know and love His only Son and God is eager to help us as we read the Bible. For starters, though, here is a summary about the Gospel that appears first in the New Testament.
Matthew, the first Gospel, focuses upon Jesus as the King, the longed-for Messiah who had been promised for thousands of years. Who would most want to know the promise had been fulfilled? The Jews who had waited for His coming. Matthew begins: The book of the ancestry of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed, the son of David, the son of Abraham…(Matthew 1:1) The Jewish history is in the Old Testament, so the book of Matthew cites passages there and points out how Jesus fulfilled prophecies about His coming.
Matthew had lived around Capernaum (Photo via Pixabay)where he worked as a tax collector and practiced his Jewish traditions. Tax collectors are rarely esteemed by the public, and because the Jewish people no longer had their land or kingly rule, the selection of Matthew as a disciple might have raised a few eyebrows. The Romans appointed individuals to positions and working for a harsh government that held contempt for Jewish traditions and faith meant Matthew wasn’t the first guy to invite to social functions.
Jesus asked Matthew (also known as Levi) to leave the tax table and follow Him. What does that say about Jesus and how might that be good news for us? Matthew may have been the disciple most used to a predictable and sizable income before he left all that security to follow Jesus. In some parts of the world, following Jesus today results in losing a job or losing the respect of family and friends. If you are reading this and are a believer in Jesus Christ, join me in praying for those who risk much to learn about Jesus Christ, God’s promised Messiah, the Son of God who came to die for us sinners so we could know Him in our daily lives now and live with Him forever after our deaths.
The book of Matthew is written with an awareness that Israel remembered the days of their kings and their position as a respected nation before the Jewish people were overpowered by invaders. Often in their quiet gatherings, the people remembered “the good old days” and they talked of the promises God gave to their nation: One day His anointed One would come and King David’s throne would go on forever. Matthew wants his Jewish readers to know that Jesus, the “forever King” came from heaven to earth on a mission. Early in the book, we read that Persians traveled, following a specific star, because they wanted to find the child born King of the Jews (Matthew chapter 2, verse 2).
Quoting and paraphrasing from Dr. Henrietta Mears’ book (see where to purchase below), here are specific instances of how Jesus Christ is portrayed as King:
- A King’s name – Immanuel (Chapter 1, verse 23)
- A King’s position – Ruler (Chapter 2, verse 26)
- A King’s announcement – Prepare the way for the Lord (3:3)
- A King’s coronation – God saying, “This is My Son whom I love…” (3:17)
- A King’s due respect – Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only (4:10)
- A King’s loyalty – those not with Him are against Him (12:30)
- A King’s enemies – those who rejected Jesus’s authority begin plotting His death (16:21)
- A King’s love – The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (20:28)
- A King’s glory – Jesus will call His followers, those blessed by His Father/God, to their inheritance (25:31, 34)
- A King’s sacrifice – Jesus’s crucifixion and death on a Roman cross upon which was nailed, in ridicule, This Is Jesus, The King of the Jews. (27:35, 37)
- A King’s victory – “He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.” (28:6)
Dr. Henrietta Mears’ succinct book entitled What the Bible Is All About, provides helpful information and is available online, new, used, audio, etc.. The visualized version with 500 photos/illustrations can be ordered without shipping charges from Abebooks by clicking here.)
Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, came to redeem, to buy back each of us from sin’s enslavement, regardless of race, status, or past. He came to prove God loves each of us and wants to be in fellowship with us. We cannot win God’s blessing now or go to heaven when we die simply by doing good things, although doing good things for others shows us at our best behavior. Have you lived long enough to detect your own selfishness? I have, but I didn’t want that to continue. Have you ever been good mostly to win the favor of others or of God? That’s an easy thing to try to do, and it’s often excused or expected by others. Do you know God loves us even though we’re basically selfish, prideful people? He does. That’s why Jesus Christ came from heaven.
I came to a time in my life when I knew I needed to apologize to Jesus for having to pay for my selfishness and to thank God for letting Jesus take the punishment my sin would have earned me. I had often heard about Jesus Christ because our family went to church each week. I think I was very fond of Jesus and I liked learning about Him through our Bible lessons and the hymns we sang. I liked hearing others tell how God was working in their lives. But during one sermon, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sinfulness. I “owned” my part in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, even though His abuse and death occurred almost two thousand years before I drew my first breath. That night I realized the truth: Sinless Jesus came from God to pay the wage sin earns so that we repentant sinners could be given eternal life! (Romans 6:23: For the wages which sin pays is death; but the bountiful free gift of God is eternal life through/in union with, Jesus Christ our Lord.) That night, I began my journey with Jesus as the Savior, the only One who could save me from the punishment sin deserves.
Jesus Christ came to be not just the “King of the Jews” but the King of all of us who believe in Him as our Savior and Lord. Who is the “king” of your life? Jesus came to forgive all our sins and to bring us into the kingdom of God through faith in Jesus Christ. You can become part of His kingdom by praying to receive Him as your Savior and Lord. I’m grateful God loved me enough to provide for my salvation and I’m thankful I know His presence in my life each day.
Interested in learning more about Jesus? Here is an online resource that opens the book for you. If you don’t have a copy of the Book of Matthew handy, you can read it in your language and preferred version by going to Biblegateway.com. It has the whole Bible online. You can specify “Matthew” in the search portion and spend time learning about One who loves you more than anyone else possibly could. The book of Matthew is a good beginning in knowing more about Jesus Christ, the King who will reign uncontested one of these days.
In separate blogs, I will summarize the other three Gospels that provide incidents from the earthly life of Jesus Christ.