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One Monticello Life: Jesus Christ

April 12th, 2008 by

2 years ago, Jeff told about the life of Jesus, as the One Monticello Life for Easter Sunday. I suppose that featuring my Saviour has become an Easter tration, but if Christ hasn’t become the most important part of your life, he’is there waiting to accept you, as the hymn says, “Just As I Am”.

There’s not a more deserving subject for this week’s feature. Jesus, the One who has changed more lives than anyone else who ever walk on the earth, including mine. After reading, be sure to play the video at the bottom.

May God bless you all. – Joe Burgess

—————————————

Today is Easter and celebrated many ways throughout Monticello. Children enjoy the candy received from new-found Easter eggs. Spiral ham, mashed potatoes and fresh rolls are served at many family gatherings. Much of this happens after a time of reflection and celebration at one of the 50+ Christian churches in the area. The Holy One that is celebrated on this holiday isn’t a local, but Jesus Christ is found in the hearts of many Monticellonians. This is His story.

Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, Israel. Roman historians subsequently used the birth of Jesus as the dividing line of history using A.D. (Anno Domini, which is Latin for “the year of our Lord”) to mark the coming of Christ.

picture-2.jpgJesus was born into humble circumstances. His mother’s name was Mary who was of the Israelite tribe of Judah. At best, the circumstances of his birth were complicated. Mary was engaged to marry Joseph, also of the tribe of Judah. Joseph could trace his lineage back to Abraham. Jewish lineage and ancestry was sacred to the Israelites. However, before they were married, Mary confessed to Joseph that she was pregnant but claimed that the pregnancy was a result of news she had received from an angelic messenger.

Of course, Joseph was not only skeptical but immediately began to make plans to divorce Mary. (A divorce was necessary because a bethrothal in Jewish society was binding as marriage). However, Joseph too received an angelic visit soon after and became convinced that this pregnancy was of God. They proceeded with the marriage, in spite of public ridicule and disbelief. The New Testament records that Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth and her husband who was a priest believed Mary. When Mary went to stay with Elizabeth and Zachariah for a time, Elizabeth claimed that her own unborn baby “in my womb leaped for joy.”

Joseph and Mary moved to Egypt for while when Jesus was about two years old. The relocation was due to a warning received from God about King Herod’s intentions to find and kill Jesus, whom he believed to be the Messiah. Herod and many Jews believed the Messiah would set up an earthly kingdom and reign from Jerusalem. That obviously conflicted with Herod’s own political ambitions. Kill the Messiah; preserve his reign, was his reasoning.

After Herod died, Joseph and Mary and Jesus moved back to Israel and settled in a small town called Nazareth, where Joseph continued his carpentry business. The young Jesus learned from his earthly father the trade as well. Because Nazareth was so out of the way, many believed that all its residents were insignificant and unlearned.

Jesus was raised like other Jewish boys, being taught the Books of the Law and the Prophets. The most important command in all Judaism was called the shema, and is found in Deuteronomy 6.4-9:

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Jesus’ early interest and awareness of his role and identity is evident from his encounter with the religious leaders and teachers in the temple when he was 12 years old. His parents had gone to Jerusalem for the Passover, but after its conclusion had started on their way home with a large caravan of family and friends from the same area. Believing Jesus to be somewhere in the caravan with friends or family, they didn’t realize that he wasn’t until after the first day of travel. Upon their worried and frantic return to Jerusalem, they discovered Jesus in the temple, sharing and questioning with the religious leaders.

Jesus’ response? “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

No one knows exactly when Joseph died, but his absence becomes obvious in accounts of Jesus’ life. At age 30, Jesus began a very public ministry. His teaching immediately attracted followers because he spoke with such passion and authority about God the Father. He selected 12 men to be his disciples (other Jewish rabbis also selected a limited number of close follower/students.) For the next three years, Jesus and his disciples, men from small towns and lower social classes managed to turn Jewish society upside down.

Everyone was talking about Jesus, his ministry of love, and his miraculous deeds. As his popularity grew, so did the hatred of existing religious leaders. Because Israel was under Roman rule, they began to seek ways to prosecute Jesus, to eliminate his influence with the people. However, they could find none other than their understanding that Jesus claimed to be one with the Father, which was blasphemy in Jewish law, punishable by death.

Everything was brought to a climax during the Passover celebration when Jesus was 33 years old. He apparently knew that a showdown was coming and began to teach his disciples that the Messiah “had to die and be raised again.” This was new and strange information to God-fearing Jews who assumed that the Messiah would establish an earthly kingdom and bring supernatural peace to the world and nature. In fact, his disciples seemed to totally overlook his teaching about the Messiah’s death.

The religious leaders were able to locate Jesus when he was away from the crowds, with the help of Judas, one of his disciples who agreed to betray him for money. The evening after the Passover meal, soldiers arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was brought before Jewish authorities and tried that very night, after being passed back and forth between the religious leaders, King Herod Antipas (son of the first King Herod), and the Roman governor, Pilate.

The Jews demanded his death by crucifixion, and in spite of Pilate finding their charges against Jesus baseless, he gave in to the political and crowd pressure and surrendered Jesus to them. He was crucified on Friday, with the priests’ worriedly hoping that he would be dead by the beginning of their Sabbath (sundown on Friday).

Jesus was buried that evening by his followers, and the Jewish leaders, concerned about his followers possibly trying to steal his body, insisted that Pilate post a Roman guard at Jesus’ tomb. However, by the morning of the third day, something dramatic had happened. Some of the Roman guards fearfully made their way back to the Jewish authorities asserting that an angel had appeared and rolled away the stone. Jesus was gone.

However, as his disciples learned of Jesus’ “disappearance” from some of the women who had gone to properly prepare his body for burial that morning, a different realization occurred. He was risen! Within the next several hours, fantastic stories of amazing appearances by Jesus became commonplace. By that evening, the remaining 11 disciples had all seen Him, including Thomas, whom Jesus coaxed to touch the places on his wrists and side where he had been pierced.

Eyewitness accounts as recorded in the New Testament say that Jesus spent the next 40 days teaching his disciples from the Old Testament about his identity as the Messiah and helping them to understand the concept of a suffering Messiah that would pay for the sins of the Jews and the Gentiles, for all people. Undoubtedly, he used passages like Isaiah 53, Daniel 9.25-26, Psalm 22 and others to help them see that the military Messiah they hoped for was not the Messiah the type of Messiah that God had promised His people. The apostle Paul says that Jesus even appeared to more than 500 people at one time.

Jesus ascended into heaven and commissioned his disciples to “make disciples of all nations.” Followers of Jesus Christ have been continuing that ministry, in his spirit, for more than 2000 years.

For Monticello, Jesus has had an incredible impact. One can say that without Christ in the hearts of many believers, Monticello would lack compassion, service and blessings. Because so many put their trust in Him and live according to His promises, Monticello experiences His presence. Although life is not perfect in Monticello, it is by the grace that Jesus gives that many receive blessing after blessing. However, the best way to know Jesus is to find out for yourself. His life here on earth was for each person individually. And it is faith in Him alone that one can experience Him best. May Easter find you amazed in the Holy One – Jesus Christ, one Monticello life.

8 Responses to “One Monticello Life: Jesus Christ”

  1. Tony Hudson says:

    Of all the lives profiled, this is the most important one that could ever be written. I realize this is not an “interview”. But like many of you, I look forward to the day that I can ask Jesus questions.

    I am thankful for the many blessings that God has provided me and my family. Even when we feel as if the whole world is crashing down around us God never leaves us or forsakes us. He is carrying us in His loving arms protecting us and caring for us.

    Monticello is blessed in many ways by God. Unfortunately, most people take it for granted or don’t even realize how blessed we are. I am just like most people wishing for Monticello to have more industry, more jobs, more restaurants, etc. Everything will happen in God’s time frame not ours. If we could all come together praying for our town there would be so many blessings bestowed upon us that we can’t even begin to imagine.

    I thank God for giving us the chance to get to know Him and for Jesus sacrificing everything for us to get to go to Heaven. This should be a daily event and not just on Easter Sunday. I pray I will be ever mindful of that every day myself.

    Thanks Jeff for a great message. May God continue to bless you and your family’s mission.
    Tony Hudson

  2. Martha Barbee says:

    Thank you for telling the story of Jesus. This may be the only time that a person may hear about Jesus.

    I pray that after reading this story that someone will accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour!

    Thank you again!

  3. Jim says:

    The pinnacle of those who could be profiled…great job!

  4. Shelley says:

    Awesome job, Jeff. Hopefully you can witness to others through this story!

  5. AJ says:

    Thanks for putting this on the site. Hope someone will read this and have there life changed forever!

  6. Josh says:

    Jeff: This was a great piece, and you did a wonderful job. So many forget the true meaning of Easter, kind of like they do the true meaning of Christmas. We as a society have become so commercialied and have focused our holidays around fictional characters, we forget the real meaning and what is really important. Those two days of the year impacted every Christians life, and we should stop and reflect on what Jesus did for us; not jut on Easter, but all year long.

    Tony made some great comments above. It is true that Monticello has been blessed and there are some wonderful Christian people in Monticello, but just think if we all come together. There is such an opportunity for people to have a remarkable and wonderful relationship with Christ. The thing about it is what he is offering us if free. There is no price, he paid the price for all of us, long before our existance.

    Thanks Jeff for taking the time to use this site to display and honor the true celeration of Easter. I hope that someone who reads this will open their eyes to what God offers them, and they won’t go another day with an empty heart.

  7. Diana says:

    Thank you Jeff for this wonderful article. Watching The Passion again this week brings it home to me what a sacrifice Jesus made for us. This is a very appropriate One Monticello Life!

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