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Frequently Asked Questions On Jesus

The following series of questions about Jesus were asked by a Bible student from Malawi in Africa. Some are straightforward, but others require deeper study.

How long did Jesus live on the earth?

Luke states that he began his ministry when he was about 30 years old (3:23). However, comparing the gospel accounts, we can calculate the length of Jesus’ ministry as being no longer than three and a half years. This would make him 33 years old when he was crucified.

How long after his resurrection did Jesus ascend to heaven?

The answer is 40 days as referred to in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. The account contains very important information about what Jesus said to them during this period and we can learn much from his answers to the disciples. We are told that:

  • He presented himself alive "by many infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3) The Apostle Paul refers to some of these incidents in the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 15.
  • During the 40 days he spoke to the apostles about the Kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
  • He told them that they were to receive the Holy Spirit – God’s special power to assist them in spreading the gospel. (Acts 1:5)
  • They asked Jesus: "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6) Jesus’ reply is important. He said: "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority". (Acts 1:7) And he assured them that they would be assisted by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of thegospel of Jesus in Jerusalem, throughout Israel and to the world. (Acts 1:8)
  • The restoration of Israel's kingdom is a fundamental part of the gospel plan. The promises to Abraham and David, the promise made to Mary before the birth of Jesus, and the testimony of the Old Testament Prophets,require the restoration of Israel as the centre of the future Kingdom of God on earth. The exact time frame is not revealed, but on that significant 40th day after his resurrection, the apostles saw Jesus ascend to heaven andwere given a far-reaching promise. They were given an assurance by twoangels of the future purpose of God to send Jesus back to the earth: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw him go into heaven."
    • Acts 1:11

Was Jesus "already there" before he was born of Mary?

Yes, Jesus was "already there", but only in the sense that he was in the mind and purpose of God from the very beginning. However, he had no physical existence before his birth. Jesus was the subject of many Bible promises before he was born of the virgin Mary. Look up the following prophetic passages in the Old Testament, written many centuries before his birth, which show that Jesus was already part of God's plan, waiting to be revealed at the right time.

  • Genesis 3:15 speaks of a 'seed' (male child) to be born who would deal a

fatal blow to the serpent which represented sin.

  • Genesis 22:18 (amongst others) speaks of a 'seed' (offspring) of Abraham

who would bring blessings to all nations.

  • 2 Samuel 7:12-16 speaks of a 'seed' (descendant) of David who would be

God’s son and would occupy David’s throne for ever.

  • Isaiah 9:6-7 speaks of a child to be born, who would be king. He would

occupy David's throne ruling over the restored Kingdom of God and bringing good government and peace for ever.

  • Isaiah 53 is a remarkable prophecy showing beforehand the sufferings,

death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and foretelling his saving work through his sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. God's plan, centred in Jesus Christ, is fully demonstrated.

  • Galatians 4: 4 shows that at exactly the predetermined time in His purpose,

God acted: "But when the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law".

Which Church did Jesus belong to?

Jesus was a Jew born into the tribe of Judah. The first verse of the New Testament tells us that he was "the Son of David, the Son of Abraham".

  • Matthew 1:1

He was the man of promise, the offspring, or ‘seed’, who fulfilled God’s promises recorded throughout the Old Testament as noted above. He was the Messiah longed for by men and women of faith in Israel, and spoken of frequently by the Prophets. As a Jew, he was subject to the requirements of the Law of Moses and he would have attended the local synagogue. The gospels refer to him speaking in the synagogues and in the temple at Jerusalem. Luke records a most powerful address at the synagogue in Nazareth. Here he read from Isaiah 61, a prophecy all about himself, and concluded with the words: "Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing"

  • Luke 4:16-21
At Capernaum, a first century synagogue from Jesus’ time has been found below the floor of a later building.
Photograph by Lein Ritmeyer - Dutch-born archaeological architect

He was brought up as a faithful Jew, obedient to the Law of Moses and revering the Old Testament scriptures as the Word of God. He would have attended local synagogue congregations and would have travelled to Jerusalem three times a year to the major feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, in obedience to the Law. However, to answer this fully, we could say that Jesus was and now is the true church! For his whole life’s work was to fulfil the Law of Moses called "the Old Covenant". His death, to atone for sin, replaced all the animal sacrifices made under the Law of Moses. Jesus became the foundation of a new order of things, called the "New Covenant" which was sealed and ratified in his blood. In the New Testament the word "church" is translated from the Greek word "ekklesia", which refers to a community of believers. After Jesus ascended to heaven, the true church or "ekklesia" consisted of his disciples, believers who dedicated their lives to following his doctrines and obeying his teaching.

Were there other prophets during the time of Jesus?

Yes, there were, but as in other ages, there would have been false prophets making false claims. Anna, a faithful 84-year-old prophetess, was present in the temple when Jesus was brought there. Anna witnessed to all the people "who looked for redemption in Jerusalem", recognising the birth of Jesus as the fulfilment of God’s promises.

  • Luke 2:36-38

The Bible also refers to Jesus' relative, John the Baptist, son of Elizabeth, the cousin of Jesus' mother Mary. John's work was to announce the coming of Jesus, as shown in John 1:19-34. Indeed, the coming of John the Baptist was foretold in the Old Testament as "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the LORD".

  • Isaiah 40:3

Jesus endorsed John's work when he said: "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

  • Matthew 11:11

John's life was cut short when King Herod arrested him, because he openly spoke out about the king's illegal marriage and divorce. The details of his cruel death are recorded in the gospels (see for example Matthew 14: 1-12).

Why was the cross of Jesus placed between two others?

This is a matter of fulfilled prophecy. Isaiah chapter 53, written some 700 years earlier, stated that the grave of the suffering servant (Jesus) would be "with the wicked".

  • Isaiah 53:9

The "wicked" turned out to be two thieves condemned to death for their crimes, one on either side according to Mark 15:27. However, Luke records that one of the robbers repented, but the other one did not.

  • Luke 23:39-43

The lesson for us is that all humanity falls into two camps – true believers and unbelievers, repentant and unrepentant. There are those who recognise their sinful position and want to do something about it, and there are the vast majority who don't believe. This was demonstrated at the crucifixion by the attitude of the two robbers – one believed, but the other remained locked in unbelief. On the one hand Jesus heard one say: "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom".

  • Luke 23:42

And when you think about it, that is the prayer of every faithful disciple of Jesus. The other robber reviled Jesus in the same way as those mocking below: "If you are the Christ, save Yourself and us."

  • Luke 23:39

How wrong they were! Our attitude and subsequent reaction to Christ's sacrifice, and the reason he died and rose again, will determine our future salvation, just like the repentant thief.

Justin Giles
London, UK
Source Light on a New World reprint from Volume 34.2

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