"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests!" (Luke 2:14). That is what the angels were singing when Jesus was born. God's plan for the salvation of mankind continued to move forward as His son who is to be the savior of all who believe was about to begin His ministry here on earth. The Gospel according to John tells us, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There came a man who was sent from God. His name was John the Baptist. He came as a witness to testify about the Light, so that through him everyone might believe. He himself was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. The true Light who gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified concerning Him. He cried out, saying, "This is He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.'" From His fullness we have all received grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is at the Father's side, has made Him known" (John 1:1-18).
In chapter one of the book of Genesis we learn about the creation of the world that we know, and the Apostle John tells us that Jesus was right there from the beginning. Now at this point, Jesus has come to the earth, according to the will of the Almighty God, to fulfill God's plan of salvation for mankind. From the moment Jesus came to the earth He was immediately under attack by Lucifer and his many followers. Satan, also known as the devil, was relentless to end the life of Jesus before He could grow to manhood. However, the Almighty God protected Him from the attacks of the devil. We now know that Satan's plots and ploys against Jesus were specifically designed to end God's plan for the salvation of mankind, yet for all his efforts he failed. In spite of this, to this day Satan continues to be a cunning adversary bent on keeping as many souls out of heaven as he can through his lies of deception.
After Jesus' birth, he continued to live with his family in Nazareth until around the age of 30. In Matthew's gospel account, we learn that one day Jesus set out to the wilderness to the Jordan River where John the Baptist baptized him. John had been drawing great crowds there as he preached the message of repentance preparing the way for the kingdom of heaven. Many came to hear John's message and be baptized as they placed their faith in his message. On that day that he baptized Jesus, Matthew tells us that when Jesus came up out of the water heaven opened, and John saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove upon Jesus. At the same time a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17).
After Jesus was baptized, he went into the wilderness and fasted, eating no food, for 40 days. During this time Jesus was tempted by Satan, the devil, while He was in his weakened condition. "The devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." But Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone.'" Then the devil led Him up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. "I will give You authority over all these kingdoms and all their glory," he said. "For it has been relinquished to me, and I can give it to anyone I wish. So if You worship me, it will all be Yours." But Jesus replied, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.'" Then the devil led Him to Jerusalem and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple. "If You are the Son of God," he said, "throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: 'He will command His angels concerning You to guard You carefully; and they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.'" But Jesus declared, "It also says, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time" (Luke 4:3-13).
After His time of fasting in the wilderness, Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and the news about Him spread throughout the surrounding region. Jesus taught throughout the region in the synagogues and was glorified by everyone who heard Him speak. Then Jesus returned to Nazareth, where He grew up. Therefore, as was His custom, He entered the synagogue there on the Sabbath and was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah to read. Unrolling it, He found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Then He rolled up the scroll, returned it to the attendant, and sat down" (Luke 4:18-20).
At that very instance Jesus was about to proclaim that what the prophets had spoke of concerning the coming messiah was written about Him. After He rolled up the scroll the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him and He said, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." All spoke well of Him and marveled at the gracious words that came from His lips. "Isn't this the son of Joseph?" they asked. Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to Me: 'Physician, heal yourself! Do here in Your hometown what we have heard that You did in Capernaum'" (Luke 4:21-23)
Jesus then said, Then He added, "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his hometown. But I tell you truthfully that there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and great famine swept over all the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to the widow of Zarephath in Sidon. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet. Yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian." On hearing this, all the people in the synagogue were enraged. They got up, drove Him out of the town, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him over the cliff. But Jesus passed through the crowd and went on His way" (Luke 4:24-30).
After leaving Nazareth, Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath He began to teach the people in the crowds that formed there. The people were astonished at His teaching, because His message had authority unlike what they were used to hearing from the religious leaders of that day. In the synagogue, there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon who cried, "Ha! What do You want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!" But Jesus rebuked the demon. "Be silent!" He said. "Come out of him!" At this, the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without harming him. All the people were overcome with amazement and asked one another, "What is this message? With authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!" And the news about Jesus spread throughout the surrounding region" (Luke 4:34-37). The people who were there to hear and see Jesus were coming out in great numbers to hear Him speak.
Later, after leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the home of Simon also known as Peter, whose mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever. The people there appealed to Jesus to make her well, and so standing over her Jesus rebuked the fever, and it left her making her well. Therefore, she immediately got up and began to serve and minister to the needs of those in the house. It was at sunset when all who were ill with various diseases were brought to Jesus, and He laid his hands on each one healing them. Jesus also cast many demons out of many people, and while Jesus confronted these demons they shouted, "You are the Son of God!" Upon hearing this, Jesus rebuked the demons not allowing them to speak, because they knew He was the Christ! The next day at daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place, and the crowds were looking for Him to see what more He would do or say and they came to Him attempting to keep Him from leaving their town. However, Jesus told them, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well, because that is why I was sent." And He continued to preach in the synagogues of Judea" (Luke 4:43-44).
Over the next three years, Jesus would continue to perform countless miracles casting out many demons and teaching the people the gospel message that would fulfill God's plan for the salvation of mankind. The religious leaders of that time were greatly frustrated by Jesus, as His message of the coming kingdom of God did not align with their interpretation of the scriptures. Things got so bad that these religious leaders made many plots to kill Jesus and yet in the end these plots failed. However, the enemies of Jesus had to be careful in trying to silence him because of Jesus' great popularity with the people. Therefore, they tried to find ways to trap him without aggravating the people who followed Jesus. On one occasion, the chief priests and the elders came to him asking, "By what authority are you doing these things?" "And who gave you this authority?" Then Jesus replied, "I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism-where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?" The chief priests and the elders discussed this among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' But if we say, 'From men'-we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We don't know." Then Jesus said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things" (Matthew 21:23-27).
Nevertheless, in the end the religious leaders, influenced by Satan, were determined to end their problems with Jesus by having Him killed. Satan would not miss this opportunity to end the life of the Messiah foiling God's plan and leaving mankind separated from God forevermore. Furthermore, what makes this heart breaking is that God's own chosen people, the Jews, who were supposed to embrace the Christ, were now bent on killing Him. What's more, the most wretched acts of the unrighteous, all to be witnessed by mankind, were about to unfold.
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Part 8 - The Ministry Of Jesus
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