"..maybe, just maybe, Jesus—the real Jesus—is infinitely more than we ever imagined."
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It’s been six years since a publisher approached me about turning our past year’s Bible study, A Search for the Real Jesus, into a three-part series available to a larger audience. At the beginning, the idea of focusing our attention solely on Jesus for thirty-six weeks seemed so, well, basic. Sure, without Jesus there is no Christianity. True, the Gospel writers exalt Jesus as the climax of the story the Bible is telling. But shouldn’t we already know Jesus?
Moving through the Gospels chronologically (as if a 13th disciple) affirmed everything good and right and beautiful we knew of Jesus. Looking through the eyes of the culture, we began to see how radical Jesus really is. Uncovering things that were obvious to his first century audience—but completely foreign to us 21st century Westerners—brought new meaning not only to the Gospels, but also shed light on the Old Testament Paul’s writing.
About The Study
In its entirety, A Search for the Real Jesus is comprised of three books containing thirty-six lessons. While each individual book has been created to stand alone, the heart and intent behind this project is to survey Jesus’ earthly ministry from the announcement of John the Baptist's conception (Luke 1) through the first Pentecost following Jesus' ascension (Acts 2). Since thirty-six lessons seemed like too much to bite off at one time, the project has been broken into three equal parts consisting of twelve lessons each.
Book 1: Conception Announcements through Jesus’ Second Year
Book 2: Jesus’ Third Year of Ministry
Book 3: Jesus’ Final Push to Jerusalem through His Ascension and Pentecost
A Harmony of the Gospels by Robert L. Thomas and Stanley N. Gundry (New American Standard Version copyright 1978) serves as our guideline. In Harmony, the writer’s arrange the Gospels chronologically and parallel the passages covered by more than one Gospel writer. While not necessary, using this book for your personal primary reading will prove greatly beneficial in your journey.
Ultimately, the desire of our search here is Jesus—to behold His character (one not sullied by the enemy’s distortion campaign), to understand His mission and ministry, and to grasp His invitation to us. Additionally, as a writer/teacher, one of my heart’s desires is that through this journey our love and ability to study God’s Word for ourselves would increase. Therefore, each of the twelve lessons include: Scripture readings that propel Jesus' earthly journey forward, cultural information in order to help us understand the mindset of the original audience (first century Jews), and questions to engage us in observation, which will hopefully lead to interpretation and application. A lesson is designed to be spread over a week’s time, and the individual events designated by the Scripture references lend themselves to natural breaks (for those who wish to do a little each day). Of course, work as slowly or as rapidly as you would like.
This journey can certainly be taken alone, but how much more fun would it be with friends? The GOOD NEWS of GREAT JOY about which the angels sang was for ALL the people! And Jesus commissioned His disciples—from the first century through to the twenty-first century and beyond—to spread that GOOD NEWS, making disciples of all the nations. Inviting others to join you is a great way to step into fulfilling the Great Commission. If you chose to lead a study, helpful tips and further resources are found in the back of the guidebook and here, on the website under Leader.