Jesus, Joseph and John the Baptist #AtoZChallenge

This year my A to Z challenge is about Christmas, a major festival in the Christian Church. Another major festival is Easter, which I wrote about for the A to Z Challenge in 2020.

Jesus is the name the angel told Mary to give to her son. Luke 1:26-38.  The Old Testament name Joshua is another form of the name, Jesus.  It may be translated as Jehovah is salvation. From my A to Z Challenge in 2015

A short blog post is nowhere near long enough to cover everything that is known about Jesus. The gospel written by St John (one of Jesus’ disciples) ends with the idea that the whole world could not contain all the books that could be written about his acts! John 21:25

John’s gospel begins with Jesus (The Word) being with God before creation. He is from everlasting to everlasting and yet he was born as a baby in Bethlehem. The incarnation was explored more in my post for the Letter I.

A brief summary of Jesus’ life on earth follows:

He was born in Bethlehem in a stable. His birth year was not the precise year from which our calendar begins to count for A.D. (The year of our Lord) or as it is now known common era, CE (a year in our time). Changing the name of the calendar reflects a tendency to remove Jesus from history, but every part of the Bible either points towards him or is about him.

His parents, Mary and Joseph, took him to Egypt to escape from Herod. After Herod died they returned to their home town of Nazareth, where Jesus grew up. When he was 12 years old the family made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

His ministry began when he was about 30 years old. He gathered together twelve disciples and taught them about the kingdom of God. They travelled around towns and villages and he taught great crowds and performed many miracles of healing. He also multiplied food to feed the crowds on two occasions. His first miracle (or sign) had been to turn water into wine at a wedding.

The Chief Priests and others did not like what he was doing. This resulted in his execution by crucifixion, which is remembered particularly on Good Friday, but also in the Eucharist.

He rose from the dead on the third day after his death. After his resurrection he was seen by many people and could appear and disappear. He ascended into heaven. He sent the Holy Spirit to help his followers. He will return to judge the living and the dead.

Joseph in the Christmas story is a carpenter of builder from Nazareth, who married Mary the mother of Jesus. (There is another famous person named Joseph in the Old Testament. I wrote about him here from the point of view of one of his brothers.)

Little has been written about Joseph. He was descended from King David. Joseph saw angels in his dreams before Jesus was born and when it was time to return from Egypt. He was a carpenter with a large family including Jesus’ brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas as well as an unspecified number of daughters. Matthew 13:55-56

John the Baptist was mentioned in my post for E about his mother Elizabeth. He prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry by calling people to repentance and baptising them in the River Jordan. He is particularly remembered during Advent although his saint’s day is 24th June. He could be described as the first New Testament martyr. Matthew 14:1-12

On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry is an Advent hymn about John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.

While this year’s A to Z badges by Anjela Curtis honour the late Jeremy Hawkins, I hope that my posts about Christmas honour Jesus Christ, ‘who was and is and is to come’. Revelation 1:4


Justice #AtoZChallenge

This year for the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge I have chosen a single word for each letter of the alphabet. Each of these words is important in the Bible. I am including a story in each post. Links from biblical references go to Bible Gateway.

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter J

Justice is a word associated in the Bible with fair laws for living and how to deal with people, who do not obey the law. It occurs 130 times in the New International Version of the Bible.

The rules for behaviour set out in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy include justice for various vulnerable members of society. The God of the Bible loves justice.

The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Zechariah and Malachi all spoke about justice.

Jesus Christ claimed to be the one spoken about by Isaiah, who would bring justice. Matthew 12:17-21 

Hebrews 11:32-34 Speaks of the judges, Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, and about about David and Samuel and the prophets listing their acts of faith, which included administering justice.

The Book of Job and the Psalms include the word justice many times.

Unjust and just rulers

The law-abiding prophet, Samuel, had sons who perverted justice. 1 Samuel 8:1-3

Samuel had appointed them to rule over the people, but as they accepted bribes and perverted jujstice, the people asked for a king. (Up to this point Israel was unlike the surrounding nations, who had kings. God was the ruler of Israel; however he allowed the people to have a succession of kings and directed Samuel in the choice of the first kings.)

The kings were responsible for justice and resolving disputes. The first king was Saul, followed by David, who had been a shepherd boy and killed the giant Goliath. After David’s death his son Solomon became king. He began his reign well. God asked him in a dream, What would you like me to give you?

Solomon replied that he needed discernment in order to govern the people. This unselfish request pleased God, who also promised him wealth and (if he obeyed God’s laws) long life.

A story of how Solomon administered justice concerns two mothers with babies born days apart. They were living in a house together. Unfortunately one of the babies died in the night. The two mothers went to Samuel because they could not agree about whose the living baby was. Samuel asked someone to bring a sword. When he said they were to cut the baby in half and give each mother half, one of the mothers was horrified. She was not prepared to let that happen. ‘Don’t kill him. The other woman can have the baby as long as he lives’, she cried.

Solomon knew that this was the true mother of the baby and restored the child to her.

His reputation for wisdom and knowledge spread far and wide.

The story may be found in 1 Kings 3:1-28

J is for Jesus Christ, Joseph of Arimathea and Judas Iscariot

My posts for the A to Z Challenge this year are all about the Easter Story, recorded in 4 books of the New Testament: the Gospels. Image in sidebar links to Theme Reveal post.

Image in sidebar or below post links to Theme reveal

Three of the characters, who appear in the Easter story and have names beginning with J, are the subject of this post.

Jesus Christ (also known as Jesus of Nazareth) is the central figure in the Easter story, which tells of his entry into Jerusalem, arrest, trial, execution, burial and resurrection from the dead. The links to the story all appear in my Theme reveal post, but I am including them here at save you a click!

The four accounts in the New Testament are Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24 , John 12-16 (Jesus teaching before his trial and execution) and John 17-21. (The central part of the Easter story and evidence for the resurrection)

Joseph of Arimathea appears in the story after Jesus’ death, when he offered the tomb he had prepared for himself for Jesus burial. Matthew 27: 57-60, Mark 15:42-47 and John 19:38-42 The day this post is published is Low Saturday, when we remember Jesus’ body lying in the tomb.

Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples, closest to Jesus. (Letter D) He looked after the purse for Jesus and the group. He has gone down in history (and in the Christian creeds (statements of belief) as Judas, who betrayed Jesus. He had already gone to the chief priests to offer to hand him over to them before they celebrated the Passover meal or Last Supper. Mark 14:10-11, Matthew 26:14-16, Luke 22:1-6  and John 13:18-30

He left during the meal and led the chief priests to Jesus and his disciples in Gethsemane (Letter G). Matthew 26:45-57 and Mark 14:41-53

After he had betrayed Jesus, Judas Iscariot died, although accounts of the manner of his death differ in Matthew’s Gospel and The Acts of the Apostles, which is a continuation of Luke’s gospel. Matthew 27:5 and Acts 1:15-19