The life of Jesus

When we meditate upon the life of Jesus we can take different aspects of His life. In general we can think about two stages in His life. First, His hidden life. Second, His public life or public ministry.

First the hidden life of Jesus  would imply birth of Jesus and his childhood days. It includes the Annunciation to the Blessed virgin mother by the Archangel Gabriel and the entire story of the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, and the other childhood days like Jesus with the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph going to Egypt and so the childhood life of Jesus in Egypt, that’s a very interesting passage, though very briefly narrated that would include definitely how Joseph and Mary lived with a baby in a foreign country Egypt. At that time Egypt was a fertile country, a world power so to say. So how Joseph found work in a rich country like Egypt just like today many people go to Arab countries, gulf countries or Singapore or America or England and so on to find a good job. Similarly Joseph along with his child and mother did find a job and protected the family. Later after a short time in Egypt they came back to their original country but they settled down in Galilee. At that time along with the child Jesus at the age of twelve they visited the temple of Jerusalem; they made a pilgrimage, an annual pilgrimage. Afterwards, from the age of 13 to the age of 30, for about 18 years nothing is mentioned about the life of Jesus in the Bible. Therefore we find nothing about the adulthood period of Jesus. So this part of His life is considered as the hidden life. Therefore the birth of Jesus, the life in Egypt, His visit to the temple of Jerusalem and His teenage life, is his life as a worker, Jesus as a son of a carpenter. All these things come under hidden life, so thirty years practically, we can say this first stage of Jesus.

The second stage that is most commonly known and written about in the Bible, is His public ministry. All the four gospels, Gospel of St. Matthew, Gospel of Mark, Gospel of St. Luke and Gospel of St. John, all of them talk more of his public life. His public life we can say has two big sections namely, Jesus’ preaching and his works and second, the climax of his life namely his passion death and resurrection. Now let us concentrate upon the earlier part namely, His childhood, his teenage and his adult life as the son of a carpenter.

Very little is spoken but in general  we can think about together with the Holy Family  namely, Blessed Virgin, the mother, St. Joseph, the God-father and Jesus. We can meditate on this holy family which is mysterious, a family chosen by God in the plan of salvation. God’s plan of salvation for the entire humanity is executed through particular hands of people. In the Old Testament for instance we find Noah, who was chosen by God. When the entire universe was filled with sinfulness, God chose a man of faith, Noah and his family. Noah became a messager for God’s people because he believed in God and he worked according to the good will of God, he became an instrument of God’s message to the world.

In brief the faith of Noah is ultimately the message of God to the people, he believed in God and he lived according to the plan of God. After Noah so many things happened in the Universe and the humanity spread far and wide but along with the expansion of the humanity there was also lot of sinfulness in the world and therefore God wanted to execute his plan by sending a savior in to this world. God chose one single man called Abraham.

Abraham is a man of faith, and this Abraham’s faith is ultimately the instrument of Salvation. Abraham chosen by God and God gets him separated from the kith and kin, family. So God tells him, “Abram, leave your family, leave your people, leave your country, I will take to a place where I want”. So separate from the people, separated from his kith and kin, separated from his own soil, Abraham was planted in the promised land as it is called the land of Cannan and there God protects him and for a long time he did not have a child but still Abraham believed in God and in his old age as God promised him he gave him a son, Issac, so in a  way Issac became the promised  child, and afterwards the story continues, from Issac  Jacob is chosen and his 12 sons and the story continues with one of the sons of Jacob, Judah. Judah becomes another instrument, from there God chooses David.

David again becomes a very big offshoot of Jesse and from this particular generation as we know Joseph and then Mary and Jesus were born. So the entire salvation history is going round by chosen people from among many. Abraham becomes a big race, the entire race is called Israel and from that Israel God is choosing once again one particular family, a particular man Jesse and from whom David a king, from David’s dynasty onwards it becomes a kingdom, from among that kingdom, God chose a family once again.God choose Blessed Virgin Mary and that family protected by Joseph and from there a child is born, Jesus. So what we find ultimately it is God’s word completely becoming more and more active. Now this particular Jesus is God who became flesh and that is what we are meditating and so the entire salvation history is a history of God’s word. Ultimately its God’s word that becomes our salvation. Now, Jesus, the Word Incarnate becomes our salvation, so when we are reading about his personal life again, ultimately what God wants is the same story as we find in the book of Genesis.

God wanted Adam and Eve to accept God’s word but they failed to accept God’s word, that’s why sin entered into this world as St. Paul says in his letter to the Romans ‘Sin entered into this world and in order to save us from that sin once again God’s Word became flesh’ and this incarnate word, the Son of God, Jesus now He speaks to us.

He is calling us once again for deep faith in God’s Word and very strongly Jesus public ministry begins with that,  Jesus after his baptism is led by the Holy Spirit in to the desert. The three first Gospels, the Synoptic gospels as we call, Matthew , Mark and Luke, describes the big battle between Jesus and the devil, the biggest battle we can say described in the Gospels between Jesus and the devil is the battle between God’s Word and those who deny or those who throw away God’s Word. Jesus was hungry and Satan came to him and it is narrated in the form of three different types of temptations but all the three temptations ultimately make the same meaning.

The devil is calling Jesus, if you are the Son of God, make these stones into bread. the reply which Jesus gives is very interesting, ‘Man lives not by bread alone but by every word that comes from God’s mouth’. So ultimately the reply of Jesus is that God’s Word, God’s Word trust in that word and you can live it, ultimately life for humanity comes from God’s Word just as God spoke there was light similarly God’s Word gives us life, life to the entire humanity, My word is life for you if you take my word, if you carry my word you will live my Word is eternal life for you. That’s why Jesus later on gives his own flesh as food because ultimately the word that became flesh becomes life for us.

Today when we meditate upon Jesus public ministry we can meditate His preaching, his different miracles and finally his own climax of his life, His death and resurrection. Therefore if you put it his preaching, his healing ministry and his passion all these things will come to one  important  basic message to us namely faith in God’s Word that will make you alive that will give you life and in a summary as our Lord says ‘Man lives by God’s Word. Every Word that comes from God’s mouth will make you alive that’s the word Jesus himself.

By Rev.Dr.Fr.V.Ignatius S.J