Why did I write this book?
There is one simple reason why I wrote this book and it started with a need to understand why Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and what it all meant. I began to study the New Testament starting with the first book of Matthew and found that some of the verses coincided with the books of Mark, Luke and John. At this point, I found it necessary to start grouping the Gospels into chronological order to attain a better understanding of the three years of ministry that Jesus had and to fully understand where, when and why Jesus took the path that he took.
After combining the Gospels into chronological order, it became clear that as a baptized and confirmed Roman Catholic, that I did not know Jesus and that his message was not what I thought. Until this time, I have never read any of the Gospels in their entirety or studied the teachings of Jesus Christ. After much contemplation, I became inclined to think that I may not be the only person that may struggle with attaining a full understanding of the life of Jesus as recorded by those that walked, spoke, ate, and were taught by him. His disciples, friends and family personally witnessed his miracles, his compassion, his anger, and his love. My purpose for writing this book is to help others to do the same. The underlying concept to be learned and understand is that Jesus came to this earth to “seek and save the lost”. He showed us through his actions and taught us with his words, often using parables, or stories, to help we the people, understand and apply his teachings to reforming our lives and keeping ourselves on the right track for the rewards of eternal life in Heaven.
How is this book useful?
Unlike any other book placing the Gospels into chronological order, this book takes the verses of the four Gospels in their written form and combines them. As the accounts from the different writers overlap, so do the details in this book; creating one consecutive account for easy reading, and quick study and reference. Previously, I found myself with three fingers holding the pages of the four Gospels, flipping back and forth to get the full meaning of them. What I am providing you, the reader, is not a replacement for the Bible in any way, shape or form. I am simply providing a tool to help learn and study the Bible. I strongly encourage the reader to use a Bible with the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) and the New Testament and footnotes to get the full meaning of the events of Jesus’s life and how hundreds of prophesies from the Old Testament came true with the coming of Jesus Christ the Messiah.
This work is all that you need to get started understanding the life of Jesus and what the message of hope and happiness on earth, and eternal happiness in the kingdom of Heaven. This message is for all humanity, regardless of one’s past beliefs or deeds. This may be the best self-help book that you have ever read because it requires no diet, therapy, or the purchase of exercise equipment. Just the opposite, the actions needed are at no cost and no risk, just to hear and react to the message. It allows you to heal from within, allowing your inside to radiate outwardly and to help heal others simply by sharing the message.
Who are the authors?
Matthew, born Levi, was a tax collector by trade, despite his upbringing and formal education to be a Rabbi. Tax collectors were despised by the Jews due to their allegiance to Rome and the exploitation of money from fellow Jews. The advantage that Matthew had was that he was trained in the art of short-hand and quick calculating skills, that had helped him in his trade as a successful tax-collector
Matthew was the first to write his first-hand account of Jesus in his “The Gospel according to Matthew” around 57 AD or possibly shortly before. It is important to note that this Gospel was written with the intention to describe Jesus as the “King of Israel”. For Matthew knew that Jesus was sent to the earth to seek and save the lost children of Israel, and was the fulfillment of the Laws and prophesies spoken of by the Prophets. Matthew writes of “the kingdom of Heaven” in seven different forms: the birth of the Messiah; the proclamation of the kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount; the use of missionaries to proclaim the kingdom of Heaven; the warnings of hardships that the missionaries will encounter; Peter as the leader of the disciples and the rules to be followed; the warnings of the persecution by the Jewish leaders; and the need of suffering for victory as shown by Jesus in the Passion.
It is also important to note that Matthew views Jesus as not just a form of the “new Moses”; in that the new Laws that Jesus spoke of simplified and replaced the Laws given to Moses; but that the Messiah is the King of Israel, spoken of by the prophets. With Jesus’ coming, all people can be saved and renewed because the requirements are that one must simply believe with all their heart, mind and spirit, and love others. The Laws written by Moses, through the course of Jewish history, became lengthy and corrupted by the leaders of the Temple to serve themselves and their own desire of power, rather than to serve God. This often became a tool to establish dominion over the masses. Jesus revised these Laws and established the true, untainted path to heaven.
Mark, born John Mark, was just a young teen that followed Jesus and Peter when they were in town. Mark was in town when Jesus had his last supper with his Apostles prior to his arrest and crucifixion. It is even remarked that the Last Supper took place in his parents’ upper chamber. Mark had a fondness for Peter, and later served as a scribe for him, writing Peter’s eye-witness account of his life with Jesus called “The Gospel according to Mark” around 63 AD. This gospel differs from that of Matthew, previously published. Mark depicts Jesus as a servant for the entire world. Jesus refers himself as “the Son of man” often in all the Gospels, but Mark shows Jesus as a modest and servant leader. He acknowledges that Jesus was truly the Messiah that the Jews had been awaiting; here on earth to save Israel from sin if they would only hear his message. His divinity is mentioned throughout the accounts of miracles and casting out evil spirits, and ranking over the all powers of the Evil One. He is shown for his true being as one with God, ranking at a higher level than God’s angels. In Mark 10:45, Jesus clearly proves that he is the true “servant” to humanity, especially those that hear his message, by telling his Apostles, “For the Son of man himself came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark also focusses on the actions of the people; the mockery, the refusal to accept to the message Jesus was teaching, and even the hostile and violent actions leading to the crucifixion.
Mark, though extremely loyal to Peter, was summons to travel with Paul of Tarsus on his crusade to convert the gentiles. This was an inner struggle for Mark, due to his loyalty to Peter and witnessing the arguments around the requirements of the gentile converts, and the arguable show of strength. The differences of Peter and Paul revolved around one main concept: should the gentiles have to convert to Judaism to be Christians? The requirements of gentiles becoming Jews was agreed to have no relevance to the gentiles. Mark was requested to assist Paul on his journeys to Antioch to covert the gentiles of the Mediterranean areas. Later Mark went on to establish the Church of Alexandria in Egypt.
Lukas and his family were born slaves to a master named Theophilus. Theophilus raised Lukas as a son; after his family and many of his salves and aids had died of disease; and noticed that Lukas was inquisitive and had many talents, especially in the field of medicine. Theophilus recognized these talents and enrolled him in a university in Tarsus to pursue medicine, where he changed his name to Luke. There he met Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee and a devout persecutor of the new sect of Judaism referred to as “Christians”. Luke pursued his medical studies and opened a free clinic to help the poor, largely funded by Theophilus.
Luke never met Jesus, for Jesus had died on the cross decades before he learned of him. It was not until Saul of Tarsus; on his way to Damascus to imprison and kill the followers of Jesus with a written decree from the Pharisees in Jerusalem; was knocked off his horse by an overwhelming light and the voice of Jesus coming from the sky, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me [Acts 9:5]?” At this point his life changed and he was known as Paul of Tarsus and became an outspoken promoter of Jesus’ message to the gentiles. As a result, he converted Luke, who in turn converted Theopolis, his former slave master, to the message of Jesus Christ the son of God. At this point Luke, a well-educated and gifted writer, began writing his Gospel in chronological order, using Matthew and Mark’s gospel as a foundation. The account of Luke is given great merit, in that he travelled to Ephesus, where Mary the mother of Jesus was living, and recorded her eye-witness account as well. This account was valuable since she was with Jesus from the conception, until the crucifixion, through the resurrection and the appearance after death. Luke was an inspiration to the newly formed Christian faith when he wrote “The Gospel according to Luke” around 80 AD; an account of Jesus’ life in chronological order. He is also the author of “The Acts of the Apostles”, which accounts for life after the death of Jesus and the formation of the Church. In Luke’s gospel, he shows not only Jesus’ humanness, but his gentleness of Jesus. This gentleness is unique to Luke’s account; especially by the act of forgiveness toward sinners, and compassion for the poor, down-trodden, diseases or maimed and powerless. Strikingly, Jesus did not punish the wicked for their sins while on earth, but the promise of the final judgment at the end of time will be when they receive their sentence. Luke’s gospel not only identifies the humanness, and gentleness of Jesus Christ, makes many references to the Holy Spirit. For the understanding of the Holy Spirit as one with the Father and the Son needed to be understood.
John was one of the first four called by Jesus at the Sea of Galilee. John was known in his gospel as “the one that Jesus loved.” John wrote his version of the time that he spent with Jesus as “The Gospel according to John” lastly, just before the end of the 1st century. John’s focus was the divinity of Jesus, showing his evidence of being the Son of God. John used the reference “the Word” to refer to Jesus in the first two verses of his prologue: “In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. ” He later speaks of Abraham, the father of all tribes of Jews. Jesus declares his divinity when he said in Jn 8:58, “In all truth I tell you, before Abraham ever was, I am.” John writes of Jesus being sent to earth for the mission of; bearing witness of what is hidden in the kingdom of God; to give God’s message to be proclaimed throughout the world so that people will listen and react, thus be saved; and when his mission has been completed, he must return to Heaven until the Last Day where he has been given the power to return to earth and judge all mankind.
John also writes of the role of Satan as “the prince of this world” and he is known as “darkness”. Satan has been given power on earth, for he has been rejected from heaven and has challenged God’s power and has been sentenced to his domain on earth. John mentions God’s victory over the Evil One, Satan, in John 12:32-3, “Now sentence is being passed on this world; now the prince of this world is to be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all people to myself.” On the Last Day, all will be judged, leaving no one to escape the dramatic, face to face, judgment that will take place. The glory of the righteous on Judgment Day bring the hope and the answer to those that reject Satan’s evil and choose a path of devotion to God, an answer that the people were looking for.
Later in his life, Roman Emperor Diocletian sentenced John to be tortured and killed by being boiled in a cauldron of hot oil for his failure to disown his ministry of Jesus Christ. Though he was boiled, he was not harmed much to the rage of the Emperor. As a result, he was imprisoned on the island of Patmos to work in the mines. It was there that he wrote “The Book of Revelation” around 95 AD. Evidence shows that John was linked to the priesthood. As the author of the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, his accounts showed remarkable knowledge of the inner workings of the rituals performed by the priests. John also wrote three letters of the New Testament: “The First Letter of John”, “The Second Letter of John”, and “The Third Letter of John”.
What is my source?
The complete source of this book comes from The New Jerusalem Bible. New York, New York. Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1985.
I choose this source, even though there are so many other Bibles that are in print, because this Bible is the only one that I own. I was given this Bible in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in March of 2006 as a going away present by a man that I worked with, Mike Wallk. He and I used to converse back and forth about common sense and living a good life by performing acts of kindness. I let him know that I was a Catholic and attended Catholic schools for twelve years. I felt confident that I was performing the works that I needed to get to heaven, as if I was buying my way there.
On my last day of work in Milwaukee, this man gave me a hardback copy of The New Jerusalem Bible. He stated that he has only read one book in his life…the Bible. His source of inner peace comes from the fact that he reads it and when he completes it, he reads it over and over again. I started reading my new gift for about two days and put it aside for about a year-and-a-half. At this point, I decided to read from Genesis (the first book in the Old Testament) through the Book of Revelation (the last book of the New Testament); all 2052 pages. This only lasted about two months, and I made it through Deuteronomy (fifth book of Old Testament). After I put my Bible back on the shelf and proceeded to worry about the cares of life, raising a family, and climbing the corporate ladder.
In the summer of 2011, I was actively flicking through the television channels with my remote control and stopped on a station that had skateboarders performing tricks and talking about their encounter with knowing Jesus and being “saved” while citing Bible verses that were appearing on the television screen. I could not move my thumb to change the channel, I was frozen. I dropped the television remote and picked up a pen and the first piece of paper that I could find, and began writing down these Bible verses that they were quoting.
Some of these professional skateboarders were around when I used to skateboard in the late 1980’s and 1990’s.
One of which was Christian Hosoi, a skateboarder that was in every skateboarding magazine that I knew of. He was what we used to consider “a god” in the skateboarding world. He and others gave their testimony of how fun led to fame which lead to substance abuse and other immoralities which never brought true happiness, only regret; and that it was when he learned of Jesus Christ, his life had changed and he was “saved”. He had repented of his sins and his shame, and decided to give his life to God and walking in the path of righteousness.
A little while later in the television show, the narrator offer a chance to pray to God and apologize for the wrongs that we have done throughout our lives and the sins that we have done. I took this chance, alone in my bedroom, and repeated the prayer that they were saying and vowed to change my life and give it to God and repent of my sins. At this point, on my knees, I began to sob uncontrollably for about twenty minutes and I truly did not want to do wrong any longer, but I realized that the temptations of the world that we live in, with all of its opportunities for instant gratification, that it was too hard for me to accomplish it alone. At this point I admitted that I was not strong enough to handle it by myself without the intervention of God, and I asked God to watch over me and help me to reform. I also learned that repenting of your sins is not just being sorry for what you have done, but that it requires you change your behavior and actively accept God in your life. At this point, I guess I could say that I was undoubtedly changed, or even “saved”.
The next day I picked up my Bible, that I had put aside for so long, and began looking up the verses that I wrote down. I instantly found hope that I could live the life that I needed to, and became instantly curious about what else was written almost two-thousand years ago that I did not know about. At this point, I opened up page one in the New Testament and began reading the Book of Matthew, then Mark, followed by Luke and John. Being an avid lover of history, I was confused on the chronological order of events and when that they took place. I became inspired to rewrite a book to help others follow the path of Jesus Christ and what his life meant, not only to the Jews, that are considered the Chosen people; but the gentiles, the non-Jews as well.
In fact, Jesus was sent by his Father, God, for one mission: to seek and save the lost, by freeing mankind of unattainable laws presented by the institution of the Temple and its leaders. He had given his life on the cross for our sins, like an unblemished lamb on the altar; which was the Jewish tradition for the repentance of sin. He performed many miracles of healing in front of great crowds, and even brought back to life the dead in front of great crowds. He rose from the dead on the third day and ascended into heaven in front of witnesses. These miracles were captivating for me to discover, and my wish is that you will enjoy your present journey or your new found journey to discovering eternal happiness and life in Heaven through the life of Jesus through the witnesses that wrote the four Gospels.
Differing Sources, but one purpose
The act of discrediting this book may be discussed because the use of it as a source due to the fact that The New Jerusalem Bible contains additional books and extra chapters that have been added to the Old Testament (often called the Apocrypha). Compared to other more popular versions; such as the most common, the King James Version; these few Apocryphal books and chapters have separated Christians for centuries. Regardless of which version of Bible that one uses, the study of the Bible is the key to ministering and helping save people through the Word of God. The separation of churches is a purely human activity based on differences in beliefs, traditions, interpretations, and throughout the course of history, the desire for power over a group of people, congregations and even nations. These acts of control are not just recent history, for Jesus indicted the scribes and Pharisees for their interpretations and strife for control which lead to power. In my work, the Gospels still remain the same in reference to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John’s account. A Christ follower can come from different churches, faiths, or even a lack of faith; but the message is still the same: Mark 13:13 “You will be universally hated on account of my name; but anyone who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Despite the different sects of Christianity, different churches, different or lack of rituals or the different versions of the Bible, the remaining conclusion rings out, the life of Jesus Christ transformed the world. There has been no other person to ever walk the face of the earth that has touched so many people in the last two-thousand years. Because of his life that he gave, many have been saved and have come to know Jesus and all that have been devout understand that there is an inner peace to their lives and they have transformed who they are for the better knowing that this life is limited, but the kingdom of God is eternal. The best part of the kingdom of God is that it is only for believers, excluding evil and those focused on doing evil. It is pure, good and Holy, and all worries will be cast aside.
These wonders are all promised by Jesus in John 3:5 for one price, and one price only: “no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born through water and the Spirit.” So, the idea of being born through water is simple, like Jesus, one must be baptized through which the Holy Spirit enters you and helps to guide you as a believer of God because at this point you, at a mature age, or if at an infant age, your parents or guardians have taken an oath to God to help guide you along this path. I have viewed the ritual of baptism in many different forms of water. I have seen baptism performed in rivers, lakes, at the altar of churches, and even in a cattle trough. The remaining similarity is that they are all performed with water. The use of water in the New Testament and Old Testament has a deep rooted importance. In the desert climate of Egypt, Persia and Palestine; consisting of Syro-Phoenicia, Judaea, Idumaea, Samaria, Decapolis and Galilee, water was not always abundant. The wells that were dug provided water for people and livestock as well. This water was known as “the living water” that has been and is being provided by God. This comes to light when we consider that the planet earth is the only planet that we know of that contains water.
The difference between the age baptism occurs is a striking difference between Protestant and Catholic denominations. In Protestant sects, a person has to wait until they are of age to make the oath to God, and most Catholic sects allow baptism to occur at infancy and allow it at any age as well. In the Catholic faith, a renewing ritual called “Confirmation” occurs when a child or adult is of age, renewing their baptismal vows that they may not have been old enough to remember. Even without Confirmation for those that have fallen away from the Church, the first step for an individual, baptism, has been achieved, often at an early age, allowing the individual to achieve the second requirement when they are ready to come back to God. It is encouraged to stay on the path of righteousness, for we do not know the hour of our death and do not want to be unprepared. I will not say that one way is better than the other, for Jesus said in Luke 15:7: “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repenting than over ninety-nine upright people who have no need of repentance.”
The second requirement of being born in the Spirit is a little more complicated to achieve. The obvious thought is that one must believe in God and accept Jesus as the son of God. This will allow a person to feel that they have achieved “the Spirit”; but what is “the Spirit”? Jesus clarifies the concept of the Holy Spirit as an invisible force that is amidst us during his conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:8 when he said: “Do not be surprised when I say: You must be born from above. The wind blows where it pleases; you can hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is confined to believers only at this point. When one takes a leap of faith and believes in the Father and Son, the Holy Spirit is mysteriously activated in their lives or in fact, causes the leap of faith for those to do God’s will on earth. It comes and goes as it pleases, opening doors and laying a path for believers only. In some regards, Jesus tells Nicodemus that it is for members only, but membership is free and the rewards are eternal, costing nothing except a code of conduct and self-control and commitment.
Jesus makes a clear distinction between the people that accept his teaching and the skeptics when he said in John 3:11-15: “In all truth I tell you, we speak only about what we know and witness only to what we have seen and yet you people reject our evidence. If you do not believe me when I speak to you about earthly things, how will you believe me when I speak to you about heavenly things? No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Son of man; as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up so everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” At this point, Jesus makes it clear that one must accept God, but more importantly, they must accept him, who was sent by his Father. This message to Nicodemus, a leader of the Jewish Temple, occurred within the first six months of his three years of ministry. Yet he foretold his destiny as the ultimate sacrificial lamb offered for the sins of the world. This sacrifice was not for his sins; as the Jewish ritual of animal sacrifices that was required to be performed by the priests for the people; but for the sins of all. He tells Nicodemus; in the most known verse of the Bible John 3:16-17, “For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.”
The promise of obedience in following these two requirements of being baptized in the water and the Spirit come with one eternal reward. For many obvious pleasures of the human body and mind and deeds must be repented and not revisited by abandonment. This is often a tough life to choose and requires self-control, a strong focus, and continual renewal. This is not an easy life to lead, but the rewards are great, long after the human body is dead and decayed. It may become a little easier to understand when you consider that we are a spirit, living in a human body, which possesses a soul. The idea that we are a spirit living in a human body allows us to explain the idea of the conscience. We are able to decipher right and wrong and feel guilt through the use of our conscience. Often times, it is the human bodily needs or desires that allow us to disregard or justify what the conscience tells us. When we disregard the conscience, which is designed to be pure and good, this is where sin is committed.
A conscious effort to disregard the good of the conscience has not been restricted to human beings only. God’s angels, good spirits and servants to God’s will, were with God in heaven far before the birth of man. They are the spiritual workers that carried out the wishes of God, even when the Universes were being developed. The spirit of these angels was good, until the exception of a few that chose to band together and demand power of their own like God’s, known as fallen angels. They were led by the most famous fallen angel, Lucifer. Lucifer was banished and cast out of heaven with his band of fallen angels and sent to earth when he would live until the final Judgment Day. Lucifer still has a chance to repent for his sins, but is focused on evil and is known through the Bible as, the Evil One or Satan. Satan is known in the Gospels as “the prince of this world” for his domain is here and this is the realm in which he has power over people.
Our human bodies possess a soul which is unexplainable to modern science and cannot physically be located. The meaning of the word and idea of the soul is difficult to understand, but it is the part of your existence that determines whether you will ascend to heaven or descend to Hell at the Last Judgment at the end of time. A soul is seen as you true passion internally and will be held accountable during Judgment Day. It is what you have done in works and actions as well as your thoughts and intentions. Your soul is not what people can see on the outside, but what you are truly made of, not viewed by any human other than yourself, for you alone know what intent and belief you possess. Human beings are the only species on earth that possess a soul. Animals cannot possess a soul because their genetic makeup allows them only a primal psyche. They must find food to eat, whether hunting or gathering. They reproduce based off of instinct and survival, not for pleasure. It is for the primal need for strength in numbers. The genetic discovery of the DNA gene also allows us to dismiss the belief of the Evolution, since DNA strands cannot transfer from animal to human. Animals and humans cannot intermix naturally. Humans are designed to be strictly human. Animals are not permitted to sin, for they have no soul, only instinct of survival. A pet at home may destroy furniture with their claws or scatter the contents of a trashcan looking for food scraps, but this is not sin, it’s their primal need to eat or strengthen their defense mechanisms in the form of claws.
Our soul is what remains in the kingdom of Heaven if we accept Jesus and practice the message that he has given us. This design allows you the control of the destiny of your soul and how it will be judged at Judgment Day. With the knowledge of human beings as a spirit, in a body, possessing a soul; after Judgment Day, those that are found to be righteous, will no longer experience bodily concerns or ailments. Regardless of bodily imperfections, disabilities, diseases, and impairments; we will be renewed to perfection in Heaven through our soul for eternity. All will be made new and as Jesus describes in Matthew 13:43: “Then the upright will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
As you progress further into the Chapters and verses of the New Testament Gospels, I would like you to keep in mind that this book is designed as an easy reference book. It does not replace the Bible itself. A complete Bible of Old and New Testament will allow you to grasp the bigger picture, as this is a snapshot in history of the most important thirty-six years on the face of this earth. Jesus Christ was the Messiah that was prophesied by the prophet Isaiah in 734 BC. He lived and taught common people, as well as a few leaders of the world, and through miracles and love he healed, fed, cast out evil spirits and brought back to life the dead. He revised the original Laws that God gave to Moses, for so many additional laws were added, and the hearts of men are easily corrupted, in the desire for power and control of a population of people. The true meaning of the Law was overshadowed by the desire for the few at the expense of the many. He was killed for this reason, but the leaders of the Temple had no idea that he would rise from the dead on the third day and come back to earth to meet with his disciples and followers. Jesus fulfilled the scriptures of the Old Testament.
As you continue your journey to better your understanding, by not only reading this, but contemplating the true meaning of everything that had happened, I want to warn you that once you know the Truth, you must react to it. Suppressing the knowledge that you know and the message of Jesus or claiming ignorance will not play out favorably for you. Jesus said in Luke 9:62: “Once the hand is laid on the plow, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Meaning, don’t look back, don’t suppress your discovery, share it with all that you want to see in Heaven, push forward and achieve eternal salvation. Jesus warns and then encourages us in Matthew 7:13-14:“Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to destruction is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” It is at your fingertips. You must be relentless!