Palestine At The New Era (Continued)
Jesus the Christ is the royal king of all who have and who will live on this earth in any age. In all ways the Savior Jesus Christ is a miracle among mankind—an everlasting symbol of all we can be to each other. We sing his praises. He is beloved by those in Heaven who attend him, as well as those mortals who serve him on earth.
He belongs to the ages.
The four gospels, unfortunately, are protracted in their reports of the life of Jesus. They present few comments on his childhood and early life as a young Jewish man, working for his father as a carpenter and learning the ways of men. Even the records of his short ministry are void of any long narratives or time lines. The result of this dearth
of material has been that most of the mortal life of Christ, Son of God and son of Man, is unavailable to us. Or is it?
From those several narratives, prophecies and insights from the Old Testament and a close attention to those eternal principles which Jesus taught us, it is possible to come to a fuller understanding of the way our Master perceived himself and his mission among the Hebrews and Romans he met and influenced for good. Though little of what he said is recorded, it is obvious that he spoke a great deal
to multitudes of people in his travels. Greater insight can be gained from his messages to them through pondering the ideas he taught, his demeanor among his disciples and the deeper, less obvious meanings which were essential to his ministry.
Though volumes have been filled with echoes of the prophecies
made about the birth and saving mission of Jesus, who among us
is really aware of the extent of Jesus’ love for the Torah and other Jewish writings or his intense devotion for his Heavenly Father? What can we say of his effort to convince his contemporaries of the truth of his discipleship and his mission? What essential lessons do his parables have for us? We can only wonder at his own anxieties and triumphs as he taught, healed, performed miracles and finally
let himself be overcome at the hands of one of his own apostles and then, without using his divine power to save himself, Jesus allowed the Jewish Court of Sanhedrin to condemn him to death, the infinite sacrifice from which he rose in glory.
Only when we understand how perfectly he lived the ideals he
taught can we really understand that Jesus Christ was the living embodiment of divine, eternal principles. Then we can more fully appreciate the greatest truths of all; that he lives, that he administrates this earth and its creatures whom he saved forever from physical and spiritual death, and that he will return to live among usin the majesty of perfect grace.
The birth date of Jesus cannot be known but might be very
roughly estimated. Luke, in his gospel, says that Jesus was baptized in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, about 29 a.d. (See Luke 3) Luke’s timing may not have been more than an estimate, for he says that Jesus at that time “began to be about thirty years of age,”(Luke 3:23) thirty being only the then legal age for proselytizing
in that region. According to Matthew’s account, Jesus was born
during the reign of King Herod the Great, who died several years later, rumored to be around 4 a.d.
Errors in calculating the Christian calendar used then (the
Dionysian system, which asserts Jesus was born 753 years after
the founding of Rome) make it impossible to know for certain, but various scholars have estimated the birth of Jesus to be between 5-1 b.C. Latter day scripture places the birth at 1 b.C. (Doctrine and Covenants 20:1, 21:3) We know that Jesus’ crucifixion occurred prior to the death of Herod Phillip in 33 a.d. and the historian Josephus records it occurring that year on April 3rd,1 so it is reasonable to assume that Jesus (the mortal) lived fewer than forty years on earth.
Jesus appeared on earth at a time when there was favorable
spiritual thinking. In prior centuries the Jews had been subject to Greek culture and language, which had spread over the Occident. The Jewish Diaspora (dispersion after the destruction of Israel and then Judah) saw many thousands of Jews adopt Greek ways or outwardly appear to embrace them under fear of death should their own ceremonies, held mainly in secret, be discovered. In Jerusalem there was at the time internal accord and what seemed like prosperity in the Greco-Roman world, known as the Pax Romana.
The Greeks spread culture, language, and philosophy. The Romans built the roads and ruled in the Mediterranean and the Roman Empire spanned the borders of Britain, Mesopotamia and Egypt.2 Under no threats of war for a time, they kept a somewhat tolerant political rule. A great era of trade was opening up, not to be rivaled until the nineteenth century. Travel for Jews was common then and encouraged throughout the region—the gospels record Jesus’ journeys with his apostles as far north as Tyre in Syria.
Part 3 of Chapter one next week.