Notes for Life of Christ

Lesson One

Date of Jesus' Birth

Jesus was born before Herod the Great passed away
It is now thought that Herod passed away in the spring of 4 B.C.
At one time it was thought he passed away in 1 B.C. Thus Jesus would have been one year old in A.D. 1.
Jesus was probably born sometime in the period 7 B.C. to 5 B.C.
Some suggest the star the Magi (the word for astrologers) saw was an event in 7 B.C.

Time of the visit of the Magi (astrologers)

When living in a house (Matt. 2:11)
After the visit to the temple for purification sacrifice (Luke 2:22)
That happened 40 days (41 days as Jews counted) after birth (Lev. 12:2-4)
Within the age of two years according to the time the baby boys were killed (Matt. 2:16)
Thus sometime between 40 days old and two years old.

Killing the Baby Boys in Bethlehem.

Source: Morton Scott Enslin's Christian Beginnings

Secular history does not record the killing of the baby boys in Bethlehem.
However, it does tell us that Herod killed the 10 closest people around him.

  1. His brother-in-law Aristobulus the high priest (drowned by baptizing)
  2. His uncle Joseph
  3. His wife's grandfather Hyrcanus (the former high priest)
  4. His minister Sohemus (29 B. C.)
  5. His favorite wife Mariamne (29 B. C.)
  6. His mother-in-law Alexandra
  7. His sister's husband Costobarus
  8. His son Alexander (7 B. C.) (plus 300 supporters were stoned)
  9. His son Aristobulus (7 B. C.)
  10. His son Antipater
One of Herod's last acts was to execute 40 pious Jews who torn down the Roman eagle from the east gate of the temple.
           Hyrcanus (High Priest) (3)         ??????
               |                              |    |
           Alexandra (6)              Antipater__  Joseph (2)
           |       |                  |          |
  Aristobulus (1)  Mariamne (5) = Herod = Doris  Salome = Costobarus (7)
  (H.P. drowned)   |      |    (9)    |     |           |
           Alexander (8)  Aristobulus | Antipater (10) Bernice (= Aristobulus)
  Sohemus (4)            _____________|________             ____|_____
  (minister)            |        |     |       |           |     |    |
                    Archelaus    |     | Herod Philip = Herodias | Herod Agrippa
                                 |    Herod Antipas = |      Herod  |
                                Philip = = = = = Salome    = _______|______
                                                         =  |     |        |
                                                      Bernice  Agrippa  Drusilla
The four Herods mentioned in the New Testament are in bold. Herod the Great (who had the baby boys killed) and his son Herod Antipas (who had John the Baptist killed) are in the Gospels, while Herod Agrippa (who had James the brother of Jesus killed) and his son Agrippa and daughters Bernice and Drusilla are in the book of Acts.

Lesson Two

Date of John the Baptist's Preaching

John began preaching in the wilderness around the Jordan River in the fifteenth year of the reign of emperor Tiberius Caesar.
Augustus died and Tiberius became Caesar on August 19, AD 14.
In the Roman way of counting years, the 15th year was from August 19, AD 28 to August 18, AD 29).
In the Syrian way of counting years, the 15th year was from Sept/Oct 27 to Sept/Oct 28.
We don't know which system Luke was using, but we do know that John started preaching sometime between Sept/Oct AD 27 and August 18, AD 29.


The word baptize comes from the Greek word baptizō, which means "dip, immerse, sink."

The Three Temptations of Jesus

John's Kinds of Sins Eve's Temptations Jesus' Temptations (Luke's order)
desire of the flesh good to eat turn stones to bread
desire of the eyes good to look at have all the kingdoms you can see
pride in things of life it will make one wise prove you are the Son of God by jumping off the temple
The devil tempted Jesus by quoting scripture (Psalm 91:11-12). However, the left out "in all your ways." Jumping off the temple was NOT one of the "ways" of Jesus; it was not what he came to do.
Jesus quoted scripture to overcome the temptations. Prayer is always good, but when one is praying, one thinks about the temptation. Quoting scripture drives the temptation out of the mind.

Lesson Three

Misunderstood Metaphors

When Jesus said that one must be born again/from above, Nicodemus thought he was talking about re-entering his mother's womb. Jesus said that a birth of flesh only produces flesh. He was talking about a birth of the Spirit which produces spirit. So he clarified that one must be born of water and the Spirit. In Acts 2:38 Peter says that when one is baptized [in water] he or she receives forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Some people want to say that the birth of water refers to the breaking of the bag of waters in physical birth rather than talking about baptism. However, the Greek word used here is hydatos "of water." If Jesus had been referring to the breaking of the bag of waters in physical birth, he would have used the Greek word hydropos "of the breaking of the bag of waters" (see LSJM lexicon, p. 1845).
When Jesus told the Samaritan woman that He could give her "living water," she thought He was talking about running water, not that which leads to eternal life.

The Samaritan's Mountain

The Samaritans worshiped on Mount Gerizim, where they had previously built a temple. That temple had been destroyed in the time between the Old Testament and the New Testament by the Jewish king John Hyrcanus.

Lesson Four

Salt Loose Its Flavor

Salt in the ancient world was impure, a mixture of several substances. When it picked up mosture, the pure salt disolved, leaving "salt" that was tasteless.

Jesus Came to Fulfill the Law

In context, the statement of Jesus that he came to fulfill the Law (that is, of Moses) means that he came to give the Law its full meaning. The command "You shall not murder" is not just about killing but also about getting angry and calling names. Anger leads to murder. The command "You shall not commit adultery" is not just about the sex act but also about the lust that leads to the act. And so forth with the other commands and sayings he lists. The full meaning of the Law starts with the heart and mind.

Lesson Five

Single and Wicked Eye

In Matthew 6:22-23 Jesus refers to the eye as the lamp of the body. He makes a distinction between the single eye and the wicked eye. A number of English translations render this as healthy eye and bad eye, as if it has to do with eyesight. This is to miss the Hebrew idom. The term "wicked eye" was used to refer to someone who was stingy or grudging in his sharing and giving. The word "singleness" is used in scripture with the meaning "liberality" or "generosity." So a person with a "single eye" is a generous person, while a person with a "wicked eye" is stingy. Thus in the next verse, the stingy person is serving "mammon" (the word for wealth), while the generous person is serving God. Jesus says that a person cannot serve both at the same time.

Lesson Six

The Faith of the Centurion

Jesus said that the centurion (military commander over 100 men) had great faith because he did not believe that Jesus had to be present to perform a healing. When he exercised his authority to go and do something, he did not have to be present for it to be done. In the same way, he believed that Jesus did not have to be present because He had authority. Most Israelites wanted Jesus to be present for a healing.

The Question of the Disciples of John the Baptist

When John sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He were the Christ (that is, the Messiah, the Anointed One), Jesus did not answer directly. Rather, He pointed out all the miracles that He was doing that Isaiah had prophecied that the Messiah would do.

The Unforgivable Sin

The unforgivable sin is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, that is insulting the Holy Spirit. The Jewish leaders had just accused Jesus of casing out demons by the power of Beelzebul (that is, master prince, referring to the devil; also called Beelzebub, master of flies). They were in effect calling the Holy Spirit the devil.

Lesson Seven

The Size of the Baskets

When Jesus fed the 5000, there were 12 handbaskets of leftovers taken up. When He fed the 4000, there were 7 large baskets of leftovers taken up. So actually there was more leftover food from the feeding of the 4000 than from the feeding of the 5000 because the baskets were larger.

The Reference to Dog

When Jesus speaks to the Syrophonecian woman, he refers to the children (meaning Jews to which He was sent) and the dogs (meaning non-Jews). In English this sounds like a great insult. However, the word that is translated "dog" here is the word for "pet dog, doggie, little dog," the kind of dog kept in the house as a pet, not the mongrels that roamed the streets.

Lesson Eight

Types of Parables

Some parables are allegorical in which each element has its meaning. For example, in the Parable of the Sower, the sower is Jesus, the seed is the word of God, the path is the hard hearts of people who do not understand the word, the rocky ground is the shallow hearts of people who quickly respond but soon fall away, the thorny ground is the crowded hearts of people who let concerns of the world push out the word, and the good ground is the good hearts of people who hear and do the word.
The other kind of parable is those that only have one main point. The parable of the treasure hidden in a field means that the kingdom of God is worth giving up every thing else.

Purpose of the Parables

Jesus strangely says that He teaches in parables so that people will not understand. His disciples however want to understand so they ask Him the meaning and He explains. For people who do not care to understand, they will not do so. But for those who want to understand, it is possible, although not always immediately.
Last updated on October 6, 2021
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