Jesus lived and walked on earth for about 33 years in the early years of the 1st century AD. For most of his life he worked, probably as a carpenter, in the obscurity of Nazareth, a busy town in northern Israel. It was only in the final three years of his life that he took to the road as a prophet, teacher and healer, attracting both followers and enemies, and also the ordinary people, who gathered in large numbers to hear his words and seek his healing powers.
This famous passage telling the story of the birth of Jesus, shows how he was born among the ordinary, everyday people of Bethlehem – the shepherds. And yet his birth was also extraordinary, with music provided by a choir of angels.
About that time Emperor Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books. These first records were made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to go to their own home town to be listed. So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David’s hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David’s family. Mary was engaged to Joseph and travelled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby, and while they were there, she gave birth to her first-born son. She dressed him in baby clothes and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn. That night in the fields near Bethlehem some shepherds were guarding their sheep. All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord, and the brightness of the Lord’s glory flashed around them. The shepherds were frightened. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid! I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy. This very day in King David’s hometown a Saviour was born for you. He is Christ the Lord. You will know who he is, because you will find him dressed in baby clothes and lying on a bed of hay.” Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God. They said: “Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God.” After the angels had left and gone back to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about.” They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and they saw the baby lying on a bed of hay. When the shepherds saw Jesus, they told his parents what the angel had said about him. Everyone listened and was surprised. But Mary kept thinking about all this and wondering what it meant. As the shepherds returned to their sheep, they were praising God and saying wonderful things about him. Everything they had seen and heard was just as the angel had said. Luke 2:1-20
Jesus was raised in the northern town of Nazareth by his mother Mary and Joseph, one of the local carpenters. Jesus himself probably worked as a carpenter, until he was about 30 years old, when he travelled south to be baptized in the river Jordan by a fiery new prophet called John. This event marked a new beginning for Jesus. He started travelling, teaching, healing and gathering a group of followers.
So John the Baptist showed up in the desert and told everyone, “Turn back to God and be baptized! Then your sins will be forgiven.” From all Judea and Jerusalem crowds of people went to John. They told how sorry they were for their sins, and he baptized them in the Jordan River. John wore clothes made of camel’s hair. He had a leather strap around his waist and ate grasshoppers and wild honey. John also told the people, “Someone more powerful is going to come. And I am not good enough even to stoop down and untie his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!” About that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. As soon as Jesus came out of the water, he saw the sky open and the Holy Spirit coming down to him like a dove. A voice from heaven said, “You are my own dear Son, and I am pleased with you.” Mark 1:4-12
Three days later Mary, the mother of Jesus, was at a wedding feast in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited and were there. When the wine was all gone, Mary said to Jesus, “They don’t have any more wine.” Jesus replied, “Mother, my time hasn’t yet come! You must not tell me what to do.” Mary then said to the servants, “Do whatever Jesus tells you to do.” At the feast there were six stone water jars that were used by the people for washing themselves in the way that their religion said they must. Each jar held about twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants to fill them to the top with water. Then after the jars had been filled, 8he said, “Now take some water and give it to the man in charge of the feast.” The servants did as Jesus told them, and the man in charge drank some of the water that had now turned into wine. He did not know where the wine had come from, but the servants did. He called the bridegroom over and said, “The best wine is always served first. Then after the guests have had plenty, the other wine is served. But you have kept the best until last!” This was Jesus’ first miracle, and he did it in the village of Cana in Galilee. There Jesus showed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. John 2:1-11
Jesus went back to Capernaum, and a few days later people heard that he was at home. Then so many of them came to the house that there wasn’t even standing room left in front of the door. Jesus was still teaching when four people came up, carrying a crippled man on a mat. But because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they made a hole in the roof above him and let the man down in front of everyone. When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.” Some of the teachers of the Law of Moses were sitting there. They started wondering, “Why would he say such a thing? He must think he is God! Only God can forgive sins.” Right away, Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he said, “Why are you thinking such things? Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and pick up his mat and go on home? I will show you that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth.” So Jesus said to the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home.” The man got right up. He picked up his mat and went out while everyone watched in amazement. They praised God and said, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2:1-12
At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus called 12 people to be his disciples. This famous passage tells the story of how two sets of brothers left their family businesses to follow Jesus. After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee and told the good news that comes from God. He said, “The time has come! God’s kingdom will soon be here. Turn back to God and believe the good news!” As Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew. They were fishermen and were casting their nets into the lake. Jesus said to them, “Come with me! I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish.” Right then the two brothers dropped their nets and went with him. Jesus walked on and soon saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in a boat, mending their nets. At once Jesus asked them to come with him. They left their father in the boat with the hired workers and went with him. Mark 1:14-20
In his home town, Jesus reads inspiring words from the Old Testament which describe what he had come to do – to bring good news to the poor and give sight to the blind…
Jesus went back to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and as usual he went to the meeting place on the Sabbath. When he stood up to read from the Scriptures, he was given the book of Isaiah the prophet. He opened it and read, “The Lord’s Spirit has come to me, because he has chosen me to tell the good news to the poor. The Lord has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners, to give sight to the blind, to free everyone who suffers, and to say, ‘This is the year the Lord has chosen.’ “ Jesus closed the book, then handed it back to the man in charge and sat down. Everyone in the meeting place looked straight at Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “What you have just heard me read has come true today.” Luke 4:16-21
Anyone who hears and obeys these teachings of mine is like a wise person who built a house on solid rock. Rain poured down, rivers flooded, and winds beat against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on solid rock. Anyone who hears my teachings and doesn’t obey them is like a foolish person who built a house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded, and the winds blew and beat against that house. Finally, it fell with a crash. Matthew 7:24-27
The next time Jesus taught beside Lake Galilee, a big crowd gathered. It was so large that he had to sit in a boat out on the lake, while the people stood on the shore. He used stories to teach them many things, and this is part of what he taught: Now listen! A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field. While the farmer was scattering the seed, some of it fell along the road and was eaten by birds. Other seeds fell on thin, rocky ground and quickly started growing because the soil wasn’t very deep. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and dried up, because they did not have enough roots. Some other seeds fell where thorn bushes grew up and choked out the plants. So they did not produce any grain. But a few seeds did fall on good ground where the plants grew and produced thirty or sixty or even a hundred times as much as was scattered. Mark 4:1-8
That evening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the east side.” So they left the crowd, and his disciples started across the lake with him in the boat. Some other boats followed along. Suddenly a windstorm struck the lake. Waves started splashing into the boat, and it was about to sink. Jesus was in the back of the boat with his head on a pillow, and he was asleep. His disciples woke him and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re about to drown?” Jesus got up and ordered the wind and the waves to be quiet. The wind stopped, and everything was calm. Jesus asked his disciples, “Why were you afraid? Don’t you have any faith?” Now they were more afraid than ever and said to each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:35-41
Jesus and his disciples crossed Lake Galilee and came to shore near the town of Gerasa. When he was getting out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit quickly ran to him from the graveyard where he had been living. No one was able to tie the man up anymore, not even with a chain. He had often been put in chains and leg irons, but he broke the chains and smashed the leg irons. No one could control him. Night and day he was in the graveyard or on the hills, yelling and cutting himself with stones. When the man saw Jesus in the distance, he ran up to him and knelt down. He shouted, “Jesus, Son of God in heaven, what do you want with me? Promise me in God’s name that you won’t torture me!” The man said this because Jesus had already told the evil spirit to come out of him. Jesus asked, “What is your name?” The man answered, “My name is Lots, because I have ‘lots’ of evil spirits.” He then begged Jesus not to send them away. Over on the hillside a large herd of pigs was feeding. So the evil spirits begged Jesus, “Send us into those pigs! Let us go into them.” Jesus let them go, and they went out of the man and into the pigs. The whole herd of about two thousand pigs rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. The men taking care of the pigs ran to the town and the farms to spread the news. Then the people came out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had once been full of demons. He was sitting there with his clothes on and in his right mind, and they were terrified. Everyone who had seen what had happened told about the man and the pigs. Then the people started begging Jesus to leave their part of the country. When Jesus was getting into the boat, the man begged to go with him. But Jesus would not let him. Instead, he said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how good he has been to you.” The man went away into the region near the ten cities known as Decapolis and began telling everyone how much Jesus had done for him. Everyone who heard what had happened was amazed. Mark 5:1-20
The person in charge of the Jewish meeting place… was Jairus, and when he saw Jesus, he went over to him. He knelt at Jesus’ feet and started begging him for help. He said, “My daughter is about to die! Please come and touch her, so she will get well and live.” Jesus went with Jairus. Many people followed along and kept crowding around… While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from Jairus’ home and said, “Your daughter has died! Why bother the teacher anymore?” Jesus heard what they said, and he said to Jairus, “Don’t worry. Just have faith!” Jesus did not let anyone go with him except Peter and the two brothers, James and John. They went home with Jairus and saw the people crying and making a lot of noise. Then Jesus went inside and said to them, “Why are you crying and carrying on like this? The child isn’t dead. She is just asleep.” But the people laughed at him. After Jesus had sent them all out of the house, he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples and went to where she was. He took the twelve-year-old girl by the hand and said, “Talitha, koum!” which means, “Little girl, get up!” The girl got right up and started walking around. Everyone was greatly surprised. But Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened. Then he said, “Give her something to eat.” Mark 4:22-24, 35-43
In the crowd was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. She had gone to many doctors, and they had not done anything except cause her a lot of pain. She had paid them all the money she had. But instead of getting better, she only got worse. The woman had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him in the crowd and barely touched his clothes. She had said to herself, “If I can just touch his clothes, I will get well.” As soon as she touched them, her bleeding stopped, and she knew she was well. At that moment Jesus felt power go out from him. He turned to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” His disciples said to him, “Look at all these people crowding around you! How can you ask who touched you?” But Jesus turned to see who had touched him. The woman knew what had happened to her. She came shaking with fear and knelt down in front of Jesus. Then she told him the whole story. Jesus said to the woman, “You are now well because of your faith. May God give you peace! You are healed, and you will no longer be in pain.” Mark 5:25-34
When Jesus saw the large crowd coming toward him, he asked Philip, “Where will we get enough food to feed all these people?” He said this to test Philip, since he already knew what he was going to do. Philip answered, “Don’t you know that it would take almost a year’s wages just to buy only a little bread for each of these people?” Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the disciples. He spoke up and said, “There is a boy here who has five small loaves of barley bread and two fish. But what good is that with all these people?” The ground was covered with grass, and Jesus told his disciples to have everyone sit down. About five thousand men were in the crowd. Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he passed the bread to the people, and he did the same with the fish, until everyone had plenty to eat. The people ate all they wanted, and Jesus told his disciples to gather up the leftovers, so that nothing would be wasted. The disciples gathered them up and filled twelve large baskets with what was left over from the five barley loaves. John 6:5-13
Right away, Jesus made his disciples get into a boat and start back across the lake. But he stayed until he had sent the crowds away. Then he went up on a mountain where he could be alone and pray. Later that evening, he was still there. By this time the boat was a long way from the shore. It was going against the wind and was being tossed around by the waves. A little while before morning, Jesus came walking on the water toward his disciples. When they saw him, they thought he was a ghost. They were terrified and started screaming. At once, Jesus said to them, “Don’t worry! I am Jesus. Don’t be afraid.” Peter replied, “Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come on!” Jesus said. Peter then got out of the boat and started walking on the water toward him. But when Peter saw how strong the wind was, he was afraid and started sinking. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Right away, Jesus reached out his hand. He helped Peter up and said, “You surely don’t have much faith. Why do you doubt?” When Jesus and Peter got into the boat, the wind died down. The men in the boat worshipped Jesus and said, “You really are the Son of God!” Matthew 14:22-33
A man once asked Jesus, “who are my neighbours?” Here’s Jesus’ response. As a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, robbers attacked him and grabbed everything he had. They beat him up and ran off, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road. But when he saw the man, he walked by on the other side. Later a temple helper came to the same place. But when he saw the man who had been beaten up, he also went by on the other side. A man from Samaria then came travelling along that road. When he saw the man, he felt sorry for him and went over to him. He treated his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next morning he gave the innkeeper two silver coins and said, “Please take care of the man. If you spend more than this on him, I will pay you when I return.” Then Jesus asked, “Which one of these three people was a real neighbour to the man who was beaten up by robbers?” The teacher answered, “The one who showed pity.” Jesus said, “Go and do the same!” Luke 10:30-37
A rich man’s farm produced a big crop, and he said to himself, “What can I do? I don’t have a place large enough to store everything.” Later, he said, “Now I know what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I can store all my grain and other goods. Then I’ll say to myself, ‘You have stored up enough good things to last for years to come. Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.’ “ But God said to him, “You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?” This is what happens to people who store up everything for themselves, but are poor in the sight of God. Luke 12:16-21
If any of you has a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost, what will you do? Won’t you leave the ninety-nine in the field and go look for the lost sheep until you find it? And when you find it, you will be so glad that you will put it on your shoulder and carry it home. Then you will call in your friends and neighbours and say, “Let’s celebrate! I’ve found my lost sheep.” Luke 15:4-6
What will a woman do if she has ten silver coins and loses one of them? Won’t she light a lamp, sweep the floor, and look carefully until she finds it? Then she will call in her friends and neighbours and say, “Let’s celebrate! I’ve found the coin I lost.” Jesus said, “In the same way God’s angels are happy when even one person turns to him.” Luke 15:8-10
Once a man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, “Give me my share of the property.” So the father divided his property between his two sons. Not long after that, the younger son packed up everything he owned and left for a foreign country, where he wasted all his money in wild living. He had spent everything, when a bad famine spread through that whole land. Soon he had nothing to eat. He went to work for a man in that country, and the man sent him out to take care of his pigs. He would have been glad to eat what the pigs were eating, but no one gave him a thing. Finally, he came to his senses and said, “My father’s workers have plenty to eat, and here I am, starving to death! I will go to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son. Treat me like one of your workers.’ “ The younger son got up and started back to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him. The son said, “Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son.” But his father said to the servants, “Hurry and bring the best clothes and put them on him. Give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. Get the best calf and prepare it, so we can eat and celebrate. This son of mine was dead, but has now come back to life. He was lost and has now been found.” And they began to celebrate. The older son had been out in the field. But when he came near the house, he heard the music and dancing. So he called one of the servants over and asked, “What’s going on here?” The servant answered, “Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father ordered us to kill the best calf.” The older brother got so angry that he would not even go into the house. His father came out and begged him to go in. But he said to his father, “For years I have worked for you like a slave and have always obeyed you. But you have never even given me a little goat, so that I could give a dinner for my friends. This other son of yours wasted your money on prostitutes. And now that he has come home, you ordered the best calf to be killed for a feast.” His father replied, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we should be glad and celebrate! Your brother was dead, but he is now alive. He was lost and has now been found.” Luke 15:11-32
This strange and beautiful event in the life of Jesus comes just after the disciples have been debating who they think he is: Is he a prophet? Is he someone from the Old Testament, come back to life? Or what? The event on the mountain seems to be an answer to their questions.
Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him. They went up on a high mountain, where they could be alone. There in front of the disciples, Jesus was completely changed. And his clothes became much whiter than any bleach on earth could make them. Then Moses and Elijah were there talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Teacher, it is good for us to be here! Let us make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But Peter and the others were terribly frightened, and he did not know what he was talking about. The shadow of a cloud passed over and covered them. From the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, and I love him. Listen to what he says!” At once the disciples looked around, but they saw only Jesus. As Jesus and his disciples were coming down the mountain, he told them not to say a word about what they had seen, until the Son of Man had been raised from death. Mark 9:2-9
Someone from the crowd said, “Teacher, I brought my son to you. A demon keeps him from talking. Whenever the demon attacks my son, it throws him to the ground and makes him foam at the mouth and grit his teeth in pain. Then he becomes stiff. I asked your disciples to force out the demon, but they couldn’t do it.” Jesus said, “You people don’t have any faith! How much longer must I be with you? Why do I have to put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” They brought the boy, and as soon as the demon saw Jesus, it made the boy shake all over. He fell down and began rolling on the ground and foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” The man answered, “Ever since he was a child. The demon has often tried to kill him by throwing him into a fire or into water. Please have pity and help us if you can!” Jesus replied, “Why do you say ‘if you can’? Anything is possible for someone who has faith!” Right away the boy’s father shouted, “I do have faith! Please help me to have even more.” When Jesus saw that a crowd was gathering fast, he spoke sternly to the evil spirit that had kept the boy from speaking or hearing. He said, “I order you to come out of the boy! Don’t ever bother him again.” The spirit screamed and made the boy shake all over. Then it went out of him. The boy looked dead, and almost everyone said he was. But Jesus took hold of his hand and helped him stand up. After Jesus and the disciples had gone back home and were alone, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we force out that demon?” Jesus answered, “Only prayer can force out that kind of demon.” Mark 9:17-29
Two men went into the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood over by himself and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not greedy, dishonest, and unfaithful in marriage like other people. And I am really glad that I am not like that tax collector over there. I go without eating for two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all I earn.” The tax collector stood off at a distance and did not think he was good enough even to look up toward heaven. He was so sorry for what he had done that he pounded his chest and prayed, “God, have pity on me! I am such a sinner.” Then Jesus said, “When the two men went home, it was the tax collector and not the Pharisee who was pleasing to God. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honoured.” Luke 18:10-14
Jesus and his disciples went to Jericho. And as they were leaving, they were followed by a large crowd. A blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus son of Timaeus was sitting beside the road. When he heard that it was Jesus from Nazareth, he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” Many people told the man to stop, but he shouted even louder, “Son of David, have pity on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him over!” They called out to the blind man and said, “Don’t be afraid! Come on! He is calling for you.” The man threw off his coat as he jumped up and ran to Jesus. Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man answered, “Master, I want to see!” Jesus told him, “You may go. Your eyes are healed because of your faith.” Right away the man could see, and he went down the road with Jesus. Mark 10:46-52
Jesus arrives in Jerusalem at the beginning of the week of the Jewish passover festival. Just five days later, he had been arrested, tried and put to death.
When Jesus and his disciples came near Jerusalem, he went to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives and sent two of them on ahead. He told them, “Go into the next village, where you will at once find a donkey and her colt. Untie the two donkeys and bring them to me. If anyone asks why you are doing that, just say, ‘The Lord needs them.’ Right away he will let you have the donkeys.” So God’s promise came true, just as the prophet had said, “Announce to the people of Jerusalem: ‘Your king is coming to you! He is humble and rides on a donkey. He comes on the colt of a donkey.’ “ The disciples left and did what Jesus had told them to do. They brought the donkey and its colt and laid some clothes on their backs. Then Jesus got on. Many people spread clothes in the road, while others put down branches which they had cut from trees. Some people walked ahead of Jesus and others followed behind. They were all shouting, “Hooray for the Son of David! God bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hooray for God in heaven above!” When Jesus came to Jerusalem, everyone in the city was excited and asked, “Who can this be?” The crowd answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21:1-11
Probably the most famous meal in history. Jesus gathers for one last time with his closest friends for what turns out to be his final meal on earth. Christians remember and re-enact this moving event by breaking bread and drinking wine together in a service which is known by many names: mass, Lord’s supper, eucharist, communion…
On the first day of the Festival of Thin Bread, Jesus’ disciples came to him and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal?” Jesus told them to go to a certain man in the city and tell him, “Our teacher says, ‘My time has come! I want to eat the Passover meal with my disciples in your home.’ ” They did as Jesus told them and prepared the meal. When Jesus was eating with his twelve disciples that evening, he said, “One of you will surely hand me over to my enemies.” The disciples were very sad, and each one said to Jesus, “LORD, you can’t mean me!” He answered, “One of you men who has eaten with me from this dish will betray me. The Son of Man will die, as the Scriptures say. But it’s going to be terrible for the one who betrays me! That man would be better off if he had never been born.” Judas said, “Teacher, you surely don’t mean me!” “That’s what you say!” Jesus replied. But later, Judas did betray him. During the meal Jesus took some bread in his hands. He blessed the bread and broke it. Then he gave it to his disciples and said, “Take this and eat it. This is my body.” Jesus picked up a cup of wine and gave thanks to God. He then gave it to his disciples and said, “Take this and drink it. This is my blood, and with it God makes his agreement with you. It will be poured out, so that many people will have their sins forgiven. From now on I am not going to drink any wine, until I drink new wine with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. Matthew 21:17-30
The kingdom is also like what happened when a man went away and put his three servants in charge of all he owned. The man knew what each servant could do. So he handed five thousand coins to the first servant, two thousand to the second, and one thousand to the third. Then he left the country. As soon as the man had gone, the servant with the five thousand coins used them to earn five thousand more. The servant who had two thousand coins did the same with his money and earned two thousand more. But the servant with one thousand coins dug a hole and hid his master’s money in the ground. Some time later the master of those servants returned. He called them in and asked what they had done with his money. The servant who had been given five thousand coins brought them in with the five thousand that he had earned. He said, “Sir, you gave me five thousand coins, and I have earned five thousand more.” “Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!” Next, the servant who had been given two thousand coins came in and said, “Sir, you gave me two thousand coins, and I have earned two thousand more.” “Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!” The servant who had been given one thousand coins then came in and said, “Sir, I know that you are hard to get along with. You harvest what you don’t plant and gather crops where you haven’t scattered seed. I was frightened and went out and hid your money in the ground. Here is every single coin!” The master of the servant told him, “You are lazy and good-for-nothing! You know that I harvest what I don’t plant and gather crops where I haven’t scattered seed. You could have at least put my money in the bank, so that I could have earned interest on it.” Then the master said, “Now your money will be taken away and given to the servant with ten thousand coins! Everyone who has something will be given more, and they will have more than enough. But everything will be taken from those who don’t have anything. You are a worthless servant, and you will be thrown out into the dark where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain.” Matthew 25:14-30
When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all of his angels, he will sit on his royal throne. The people of all nations will be brought before him, and he will separate them, as shepherds separate their sheep from their goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, “My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me.” Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, “When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?” The king will answer, “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” Then the king will say to those on his left, “Get away from me! You are under God’s curse. Go into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels! I was hungry, but you did not give me anything to eat, and I was thirsty, but you did not give me anything to drink. I was a stranger, but you did not welcome me, and I was naked, but you did not give me any clothes to wear. I was sick and in jail, but you did not take care of me.” Then the people will ask, “Lord, when did we fail to help you when you were hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in jail?” The king will say to them, “Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me.” Matthew 25:31-46
After being betrayed to his enemies by Judas, one of the 12 disciples, Jesus was tried firstly by a Jewish court, and then passed on to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, for sentencing. The Romans were the occupying power in Israel at the time, and only they could pass the death sentence. Pilate was reluctant to have Jesus killed, but like all politicians, he was susceptible to public opinion…
During Passover the governor always freed a prisoner chosen by the people. At that time a well-known terrorist named Jesus Barabbas was in jail. So when the crowd came together, Pilate asked them, “Which prisoner do you want me to set free? Do you want Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate knew that the leaders had brought Jesus to him because they were jealous. While Pilate was judging the case, his wife sent him a message. It said, “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man. I have had nightmares because of him.” But the chief priests and the leaders convinced the crowds to ask for Barabbas to be set free and for Jesus to be killed. Pilate asked the crowd again, “Which of these two men do you want me to set free?” “Barabbas!” they replied. Pilate asked them, “What am I to do with Jesus, who is called the Messiah?” They all yelled, “Nail him to a cross!” Pilate answered, “But what crime has he done?” “Nail him to a cross!” they yelled even louder. Pilate saw that there was nothing he could do and that the people were starting to riot. So he took some water and washed his hands in front of them and said, “I won’t have anything to do with killing this man. You are the ones doing it!” Everyone answered, “We and our own families will take the blame for his death!” Pilate set Barabbas free. Then he ordered his soldiers to beat Jesus with a whip and nail him to a cross. Matthew 27:15-26
Crucifixion was a terrible, humiliating death, reserved for the worst criminals. Jesus was forced to carry part of his cross on the walk to his execution – but his strength failed and someone else carried it for him. Then he was crucified.
Two criminals were led out to be put to death with Jesus. When the soldiers came to the place called “The Skull”, they nailed Jesus to a cross. They also nailed the two criminals to crosses, one on each side of Jesus. Jesus said, “Father, forgive these people! They don’t know what they’re doing.” While the crowd stood there watching Jesus, the soldiers gambled for his clothes. The leaders insulted him by saying, “He saved others. Now he should save himself, if he really is God’s chosen Messiah!” The soldiers made fun of Jesus and brought him some wine. They said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” Above him was a sign that said, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals hanging there also insulted Jesus by saying, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and save us!” But the other criminal told the first one off, “Don’t you fear God? Aren’t you getting the same punishment as this man? We got what was coming to us, but he didn’t do anything wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into power!” Jesus replied, “I promise that today you will be with me in paradise.” Around noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until the middle of the afternoon. The sun stopped shining, and the curtain in the temple split down the middle. Jesus shouted, “Father, I put myself in your hands!” Then he died. When the Roman officer saw what had happened, he praised God and said, “Jesus must really have been a good man!” Luke 23:32-47
Jesus appeared alive again after his death to all his followers, but his first appearance was to Mary Magdalene early on the Sunday morning after the Friday when he had been crucified.
On Sunday morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance… Mary Magdalene stood crying outside the tomb. She was still weeping, when she stooped down and saw two angels inside. They were dressed in white and were sitting where Jesus’ body had been. One was at the head and the other was at the foot. The angels asked Mary, “Why are you crying?” She answered, “They have taken away my Lord’s body! I don’t know where they have put him.” As soon as Mary said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she did not know who he was. Jesus asked her, “Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener and said, “Sir, if you have taken his body away, please tell me, so I can go and get him.” Then Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him, “Rabboni.” The Aramaic word “Rabboni” means “Teacher.” Jesus told her, “Don’t hold on to me! I have not yet gone to the Father. But tell my disciples that I am going to the one who is my Father and my God, as well as your Father and your God.” Mary Magdalene then went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord.John 20:1, 11-18
Quickly find that famous story. These pages show the life of Jesus as a timeline. There are four different ways to view it. You can see the major events in Jesus’ life, from his birth to his death and resurrection. You can also look at his parables and soundbites, and at his miracles. Each version of the timeline has plenty of links which lead to the original stories of Jesus, written in his own time by his first followers.