Written by: Beth Davies-Stofka
All four Gospels tell the story of Jesus' adult life, arrest and trial, crucifixion, and resurrection. The stories of Jesus' miracles, stories (called parables), sermons, exorcisms, and the raising of the dead are interwoven with reports of his debates with prominent Jews and conversations with his disciples. At the end of three years of ministry in and around Roman Palestine, the Gospels report that Jesus was arrested in Jerusalem at the time of Passover. They relate how he was whipped, taunted, nailed to a cross, and left to die.
According to the story, Jesus died on a Friday and was quickly buried shortly before sunset, just as the Sabbath was beginning. After the Sabbath, some of his followers went to care for his body, but his tomb was empty. They began to report appearances of Jesus. His followers were convinced that Jesus was resurrected, or come back to life.
The Book of Acts reports that Jesus remained with his followers for forty days, instructing them in God's plan for them. He promised to send them the Holy Spirit, and cautioned them against calculating the time of his return, saying that no one can know the date or time. He then ascended to the sky until a cloud hid him.
The end of the story of Jesus' life in earth is not quite the end of the story. After Jesus' ascension, Christians believe, Jesus went to reign in heaven with God, whom Jesus called Father. Jesus is also still invisibly present in the world among his followers. Someday, he will return to judge both the living and the dead, and to usher in a golden age on earth.
1. In what ways do followers of Jesus connect with Jewish narratives?
2. What does the New Testament reveal about Jesus' life?
3. How are the gospels similar? Where do they differ?
4. How does the Christian narrative continue, even after Jesus' death and resurrection?