The story of Jesus'

as told in the gospels.

We have four gospels from which Jesus’ time on earth can be derived. However, the gospel writers’ intent was to record Jesus’ ministry, not provide a biography. Also, each writer penned his gospel for different audiences and different purposes. Consequently, we do not have perfect harmony between them, but by drawing from the three Synoptic Gospels, we do have a good understanding of the timeline and geographical areas in which Jesus carried His message.

Jesus’ birth and early years

The angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she is to be the mother of Jesus, and that her cousin, Elizabeth, is pregnant with a boy whose name will be John (he will be John the Baptist). The circumstance of Mary’s pregnancy is explained to Joseph, alleviating any suspicions he has, enabling him to marry her.

A census requires Joseph and Mary to travel to Joseph’s home town Bethlehem where Mary, because of lack of accommodation, has to give birth to Jesus in a stable. The birth is announced by angels to some local shepherds who visit the child, then tell everyone they see what has happened.

Some time later a group of Magi arrives in Jerusalem. Following an audience with Herod, they are led by a star to where Joseph, Mary and Jesus are now staying. They worship the child and present him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Having been warned in a dream by God not to return to Herod, the Magi head back east by a different route.

Joseph is told in a dream to go to Egypt to escape Herod as he is intending to have the child killed. Because the magi didn't return to him and tell him where Jesus is to be found, Herod has all the boys in Bethlehem of two years or younger killed, their age being according to the time when the Magi first saw the star appear.

When Herod dies, and because his son Archelaus is now on the thrown, Joseph heads for the area of Galilee and settles in Nazareth. Here Jesus grows  up, and the Grace of God is upon Him.

When Jesus is twelve years old, he is taken by his parents to Jerusalem for Passover, but on their way back home they realise he is missing. Returning to Jerusalem, they find Jesus in the temple with the teachers, astonishing everyone with his understanding.

Jesus’ baptism

Some eighteen years later, John is baptising people in the Jordan river when Jesus approaches and is baptised by John. The Spirit of God descends upon Jesus and God declares, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Jesus then goes into the desert and fasts for forty days and nights, after which he is tempted by the Devil three times. In response to each temptation, Jesus refuses and quotes from Deuteronomy. The Devil then leaves and angels come to minister to Jesus.

Jesus’ ministry in Galilee

Having chosen Andrew, Peter, Philip, and Nathaneal to be amongst his disciples, Jesus returns to Galilee. At a marriage in Cana, Jesus performs his first miracle when he turns water into wine.

After a short visit to Capernaum, Jesus goes to the Passover at Jerusalem where he confronts and expels the merchants and covertly foretells his death and resurrection.

While Jesus is in Jerusalem, he performs miracles resulting in many people beginning to believe in him. There, Jesus teaches Nicodemus that people must be born again to enter the kingdom of God.

Jesus now begins his journey back to Galilee and passes through Samaria where he meets a woman at Jacob’s well and converts her, followed by many from her village. Jesus goes to his home town of Nazareth and then to Cana where he restores the health of a nobleman’s son, leading to the conversion of all his household.

Jesus now goes to Capernaum, which is to become his base whilst ministering in Galilee. He selects Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John to be included in his disciples. In the synagogue he heals a demon-possessed man and Jesus’ fame spreads throughout Galilee. Multitudes come from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and beyond the Jordan to hear Jesus speak and to be healed.

Jesus goes up a mountain with the crowds following him. His disciples gather around and Jesus, specifically addressing his disciples, preaches the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, teaching them what it means to be a true follower of Christ.

As they are coming down from the mountainside, Jesus heals a man with leprosy, then in Capernaum he heals a Roman centurion’s servant. At Peter and Andrew’s house he cures their mother-in-law of a fever, then in the evening Jesus heals many, casting out demons.

Later, crossing a lake, a furious storm frightens the disciples, but is calmed by Jesus rebuking the winds and waves.

On the other side they are met by two demon-possessed men. Jesus permits the demons to enter some pigs that then rush into the water and drown.

Back across the sea at Capernaum, Jesus tells a paralytic man his sins are forgiven and then tells him to get up and walk, demonstrating to the scribes his Messianic authority.

It is after this that Matthew leaves his job as a tax collector to become one of Jesus’ disciples.

When Jesus is on his way to a ruler’s house where he raises his daughter back to life, a woman, who had been suffering from bleeding for twelve years, touches Jesus’ cloak and is immediately healed. After leaving the ruler’s house, he is followed by two blind men whose sight he restores, and later, a demon-possessed mute is healed and is able to speak again.  

It is at this point the Pharisees claim that Jesus is driving out demons with the authority of the Devil.

Because there are now a great number of people in need of his ministering, Jesus gathers his chosen twelve disciples and commissions them to go and preach, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, but only to the lost sheep of Israel. They are given authority to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and to cast out demons.

Back in Galilee, Jesus confirms to two of John the Baptists disciples that he is the Messiah. As they leave, he turns to the crowd and praises John the Baptist, then speaks against the cities where most of his good works had been done for not repenting, mentioning Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum by name.

Some time later, Jesus justifies to the Pharisees why his disciples should have plucked and eaten ears of corn on the Sabbath when hungry, then heals a man with a withered hand and again justifies his action.

Later, a blind and dumb man, possessed with a demon, is brought to Jesus and is completely healed by him. The people begin to recognise that this man might be the son of David. The Pharisees again accuse Jesus of casting out demons in the name of the Devil and ask Jesus for a sign. He again rebukes them and, referring to Jonah, covertly foretells his death and resurrection.

From a boat a little way offshore, Jesus speaks to the crowd in parables, referred to as the kingdom parables. They are the parables of the sower, the tares, the mustard seed, the leven, treasure hidden in a field, a pearl of great price and the dragnet.

Jesus then returns to Nazareth to teach in the synagogue, but the people question how the son of a carpenter could possibly attain such abilities. Because of their unbelief, Jesus no longer ministers in Nazareth.

Jesus withdraws from Galilee

Because of a rash promise during his birthday celebration, Herod the tetrarch had John the Baptist beheaded. He now fears that Jesus might be John the Baptist risen from the dead.

Hearing of his cousin’s death, Jesus crosses the sea by ship to a quiet place, but the crowds catch up with him. Filled with compassion for them, he heals their sick. When evening comes, 5000 men plus women and children are miraculously fed from just five loaves and two fishes.

Jesus tells his disciples to return across the sea then goes to pray alone. During the night, Jesus walks on the water to catch up with the disciples. Peter attempts to walk on the sea but lacks faith and has to be saved by Jesus. The disciples then worship Jesus, acknowledging he is the Son of God.

Later, the Pharisees ask Jesus why his disciples do not go through the ritual required of washing their hands before they eat. Jesus rebukes them and later explains to his disciples that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth, which is from the heart.

To Phoenicia

In the region of Tyre and Sidon Jesus reluctantly heals a Gentile woman’s daughter after establishing her great faith.

On a mountainside by the Sea of Gaililee, great multitudes of people come and many sick people are healed over a period of three days. Jesus then feeds four thousand men, besides women and children, again by the multiplication of food as with the five thousand.

At the coast of Magdala, Jesus warns his disciples to beware the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees, by which he means their doctrine.

To Caesarea Philippi

At the region of Caesarea Philippi, Peter acknowledges Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. From this point on, Jesus begins to explain that he must go to Jerusalem where he will be killed and will rise again on the third day.

Six days later, Peter, James and John witness Jesus’ transfiguration and meeting with Moses and Elijah. The three are told not to mention what they have seen to anyone until after his resurrection.

Soon after, Jesus heals a man’s son who is possessed, but who the disciples were not previously able to heal. Jesus tells them that this kind of exorcism would have required prayer and fasting.

Jesus’ last ministry in Galilee

Jesus again tells his disciples how he will be betrayed and killed, but will rise again on the third day.

At Capernaum, Jesus avoids causing offence concerning payment of taxes by miraculously providing tribute money from the mouth of a fish caught by Peter.

Jesus encourages humility amongst his disciples, then gives instruction on how to deal with unrepentant sinners.

He then emphasises the extent to which forgiveness should be exercised by the parable of the unforgiving servant.

In Judea

Now in the area of Judea, when the Pharisees question Jesus concerning divorce he quotes Genesis 2:24, upholding God’s institute of marriage.

Jesus sends seventy of his disciples out to preach the gospel. They later return with joy reporting the success they had experienced, including being able to exorcise spirits.

The parable of The Good Samaritan is given as an example of what is meant by loving your neighbour.

On an occasion when Jesus is at Martha’s house, Martha complains that her sister is spending time sitting at his feet leaving her to do the work. He tells Martha that Mary is right to take the opportunity to care for her soul rather than the things of this world.

Asked by one of his disciples, Jesus teaches them to pray, encouraging them to always ‘ask, seek and knock’ through prayer.

Jesus later casts out a demon and warns it is possible for a person to be repossessed to a greater degree if precautions are not taken once cleansed. He then tells the crowd that people are most blessed when they hear the word of God and keep it.

Jesus again condemns the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, pronouncing woes against the Pharisees and the lawyers in his condemnation.

When a large crowd has gathered, Jesus turns to his disciples and again warns them against ‘the leaven of the Pharisees’, against reticence in professing the gospel and in blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, and against covertness, teaching his disciples to first seek the kingdom of God and live in dependence on Him. Another parable warns them they will not know the hour when he will return, but meanwhile they are to expect trouble and persecution because of their faith.

Jesus then speaks to all the people warning them to be prepared in time for the judgement to come, emphasises the necessity of repentance, then using the parable of the fig tree he teaches the importance of bearing fruit in one’s life.

Later, in a synagogue on the Sabbath, Jesus heals a woman who has been afflicted for eighteen years, then puts to shame the ruler of the Synagogue for his indignation that this healing work was done on the Sabbath. He then repeats the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast to warn against false teaching in the church.

In and around Perea

Continuing his journey towards Jerusalem, passing through Perea, Jesus again emphasises the importance of knowing him, is defiant toward Herod’s murderous intentions towards him, then foretells his death at Jerusalem and pronounces judgements on that city.

In response to the Pharisees continuing criticism when Jesus heals on the Sabbath, emphasis is placed on the need for humility and charity, and not the things of the world.

Later, when a great number of people are with him, Jesus warns of the need to give serious consideration to the personal consequences of discipleship.

The parables of the lost sheep, the lost silver, the prodigal son and the shrewd manager cause offence to the Pharisees who Jesus then rebukes, relating a parable about the fate of the rich man and Lazarus, warning against covetousness and lack of compassion.

Jesus teaches his disciples to take care not to give offence, to readily forgive offences against them, to keep increasing their faith, and exercise humility in their service to God.

Passing through Samaria and Galilee, ten lepers are cleansed, but only one, notably a Samaritan, gives thanks and glorifies God.

Jesus tells his disciples about the coming of the kingdom of God and how it will be at an unexpected time. Meanwhile, fervency in prayer and an attitude of humility are essential

Some little children are brought to Jesus for a blessing. Then a rich young man is disappointed by Jesus’ suggestion he should give up his wealth to follow him, indicating how much more difficult it might be for a rich man to enter the kingdom. Peter is told that, having given up everything to follow Jesus, the disciples will be sitting on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Anyone who surrenders family or possessions for Jesus’ sake will receive much more and inherit eternal life, which is available even to those who come to him very late in life.

Jesus again tells his disciples he will be betrayed, is to suffer and be killed, but will be resurrected on the third day. He then reminds his disciples that they, like him, should not expect to be served but should serve others.

When leaving Jericho, two blind men’s sight is restored and they join the others and follow Jesus.

The triumphal entry

Jesus finally arrives at Jerusalem and makes his triumphant entry on a colt with many crying out Hosanna to the Son of David. He then goes to the temple Court of the Gentiles creating havoc with those selling animals for sacrifice, and overturns the moneychangers’ tables. The blind and lame are brought to the temple and are all healed by Jesus, to the considerable displeasure of the chief priests and scribes. Jesus then stays the night at Bethany.

The next morning, Jesus curses a fig tree causing it to wither. He tells his disciples that they will be able to do much more than this if they ask in prayer and believe.

At the temple, Jesus has exchanges with the chief priests, elders, theirs and the Herodian’s disciples, the Sadducees and the Pharisees, but confounds them all with his responses to their attempts at entrapment to the extent they dare not challenge him again. Jesus then berates the scribes and Pharisees’ hypocrisy as religious leaders, prophesies the destruction of the temple, then tells the Jews they will not see him again until they acknowledge him as the Messiah.

On the Mount of Olives, Jesus warns his disciples they will be persecuted, predicts the fall of Jerusalem, and teaches about his second coming when there will be a judgement of mankind, but tells that the hour of his coming will not not be known. In the meantime, they must bear fruit for the kingdom and always be prepared for his coming.

Meanwhile, the chief priests, scribes and elders have assembled before the high priest Caiaphas to discuss how they might kill Jesus, but avoiding doing so on the feast day.

At Simon the leper’s house, Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ sister anoint Jesus’ feet, then Judas goes to makes an arrangement with the chief priests to deliver Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

In the evening, Jesus tells them one of them will betray him. He breaks bread and shares a cup of wine, initiating communion in remembrance of him. Later, on the Mount of Olives, Peter is told he will deny Jesus three times before the cock crows.

At Gethsemane, Jesus prays three times whilst Peter, James and John fall asleep. Each time he asks his Father if there is another way remission of sins can be accomplished, but there is not. Then Judas arrives, betrays Jesus with a kiss and the disciples scatter whilst Jesus is taken to Caiaphas to be tried. Peter follows and sits amongst the servants.

Jesus’ trial, death and resurrection

At his trial, no testimony is given sufficient to condemn Jesus. He doesn’t answer any accusations, but has to admit he is the Christ, the Son of God when asked under oath, enabling those assembled to claim he has blasphemed and can be condemned to death. He is spat on and abused. Peter denies knowing him three times before the cock crows, then leaves and weeps bitterly. Judas, having betrayed innocent blood, unsuccessfully attempts to return the thirty pieces of silver.

The Jews, having had no authority to execute anyone for some years now, takes Jesus before Pilate, but Pilot is unable to find anything against Jesus according to Roman law. He fears the mood of the people and allows them to choose Barabbas to be released and Jesus to be crucified. Pilate publicly washes his hands of the matter before handing him over to be scourged and mocked, then led away to be crucified at Golgotha between two thieves. When Jesus gives up his spirit, the temple veil is torn from top to bottom and the earth quakes.

In the evening, Pilate allows Joseph of Arimathaea to take Jesus’ body. Joseph wraps Jesus in a clean linen cloth, lays him in his own sepulchre and rolls a great stone in front of it.

On the Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James) and Salome go to the sepulchre, are greeted by an angel and told that Jesus has risen. They run and tell the disciples what they have seen, then Peter and John run to the sepulchre to see for themselves.

That same day, Jesus appears to two disciples on their way to Emmaus and explains how the scriptures had foretold all that had happened, but they don’t realise it is Jesus until they are all eating together. He then vanishes from their sight.

Jesus then appears to his disciples, but Thomas isn’t there and doesn’t believe he has risen until eight days later when he appears to them all.

Later, the eleven disciples go to Galilee where Jesus meets them for the last time. Here he commissions them to go and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit before ascending to heaven.