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The Founder


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Jesus Christ - The Founder

More than two thousand years since Jesus Christ was put to death on a cross in Jerusalem, an obscure corner of the Roman Empire, the faith that carries His name has spread throughout the world.

How is it that the beliefs of a handful of persecuted and frightened people has not only survived two millenia but grown into a worldwide faith?

Beginning with a small band of often hesitant followers in the Roman provinces of Judaea, Christianity has grown to become the faith of a thousand million of the earth's inhabitants, about one-third of the world's population.

Approximately two thousand years ago, a child is born to a peasant woman in the small Jewish village of Bethlehem. The scene was unremarkable, except that it heralded the beginning of the most exciting events in history, for this child was the one foretold by the prophet Isaiah, when he wrote:

    For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
    And the government will rest on His shoulders;
    And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor,
    Mighty God,
    Eternal Father, Prince of Peace

We're all familiar with the story, of the Christ child, born in a manger, Joseph and Mary, the wise men and shepherds, kneeling in worship. For most of us, Christmas is idealized as a happy times. For too many of us, our memories of the season have little to do with Christ.

From what we know of Jesus' childhood and early years, it was anything but ideal. Herod, the king of Judea, sought to kill him as a baby. The family fled for their lives. As he grew, Christ knew the hardships of life and the long hours of apprenticeship as a carpenter, as he lived it.

At approximately the age of 30, Jesus began to preach in the synagogue in Nazareth, and his challenging words were not always appreciated by his neighbors. Who was he, after all, but the carpenter's son? In Judea, he became known as a rabble-rouser, and only three years later he was executed at the Place of the Skull, just outside Jerusalem.

But this wasn't the end. It was a beginning.

Israel at the time of Jesus

The Message

As he preached to the townspeople at the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth, Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah, saying:

    The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
    Because He has appointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor,
    He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
    And recovery of sight to the blind,
    To set free those who are oppressed,
    To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.

Then he outraged his neighbors with the claim: Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.

Then He got on with the task of assembling a group of twelve followers, a nucleus of a new people of God to replace the old 12 tribes of Israel. His disciples were mostly ordinary people, fishermen, tax collectors, and merchants. Together they traveled the country, preaching a message of deliverance - not from Roman rule, as many believed, but of a whole new beginning for mankind.

People followed Him everywhere, not only to hear Him speak, but also for his healings. People crippled from birth were healed and made to walk, the insane were made sane, and even the dead were raised back to life.

As was to be expected, His teachings were not well received by everyone. Jewish zealots, dedicated to freeing themselves from Roman rule, wanted a violent revolution, not a message of peace and love.

Jewish leaders, criticized by Jesus for their hypocrisy and false teachings, were on the alert and out to get Him. In the third year of His ministry, the religious leaders saw their opportunity. Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover festival. The time was right.







Overview of Bible Study