Jesus’ Story – Day 1


You are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime!  Just imagine you were living back in the First Century, going about your daily business, when a new Teacher came through town looking for disciples.  What are the chances you would drop everything and spend the next three years of your life traipsing around the country with Him?  When a couple of guys asked Jesus what He was up to He simply said, “Come and see!”  They did.  Their lives were changed forever.

I’m inviting you to walk with me through the Story of Jesus for the next forty days (Lent Season.)  Each day’s reading should only take 10-15 minutes.  By the time we reach the climax of the story (Jesus’ Passion Week) you will have read everything contained in the four Gospels of the New Testament.  That’s right, every story, every conversation, every miracle recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John has been woven together into one story –just the way He lived it.

After we finish this part of it we’ll keep going through Books II and III of the “Trilogy” which cover the New Testament books of Acts and Revelation.  When we’re done (about 2 ½ months from now) you will have a very different perspective on who Jesus is and, like His first disciples, something about your life will have radically changed.

February 18, Wednesday

Gabriel Zach TemplePROLOGUE

Many have already written about the life of Jesus Christ. Relying on eye-witnesses and reputable sources, this record is offered to you as an orderly account of the events as they occurred.

In the beginning God spoke. He expressed who He was using words. We begin our story with The Word. Mysteriously, this “Word” was with God, and in fact, was God. We are told that this “Word” created everything that exists, so we recognize Him as the Source of all LIFE. That LIFE is light-filled. It can diffuse the darkness (ignorance) that permeates our world.

Even more mysterious is the fact that this God-Word became a human child and grew up and lived right here in our neighborhoods. This light-source shone on the world He’d made, but the darkened human race didn’t recognize Him. But whoever did take hold of Him was given the gift of a life-time: a new identity as one of God’s own children, not based on their credentials or efforts but just because that’s what God desired for them.

John, the one who baptized, came on the scene before Jesus went public. He prepared the way by announcing Jesus’ arrival and encouraging everyone to “see the light” of Who He was. John was quick to acknowledge that he himself was not the Light, but that Someone was coming who had existed long before John had been born. (More will be said shortly about John’s miracle birth.) In his introduction, John made it clear that although no human had ever seen God, Jesus had; and, coming from the heart of the Godhead, Jesus would make it possible for mankind get to know God. John also hinted at the major shift in how humans would relate to God. “This Jesus,” he declared, “was not bringing laws like Moses did. He was bringing something called grace.” Grace and truth would be the hallmarks of Jesus’ message.

In case some might mistake Jesus, the God-man, for an alien or think of Him as other-than-human, we have the genealogies of His mother, Mary, as well as His earthly (not biological, but that will be explained in a few pages, too) father, showing that He can trace His human blood-line through King David, the Patriarchs, and all the way back to Adam.


During the reign of Herod over Judea, the Jewish temple duties were handled by a rotation of authorized priests. Among the duties was the burning of incense in the Holy Place day after day. Our story begins when this routine was interrupted by a supernatural visitor who startled a priest named Zacharias. Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth were up in years and had prayed in vain for a child, an heir, which was so important in their culture. They had lived as faithful God-followers even though their prayers had gone unanswered.

So on this day when it was Zacharias’ turn to do the temple chores, he was working inside the sacred room, putting the daily incense on the altar.  Suddenly an angel was standing in front of him beside the altar. Naturally, he was struck with fear, which the angel perceived. “Nothing to be afraid of, Zacharias. I’m here to tell you that your many prayers have been heard; and your dear wife, Elizabeth, will become pregnant.  You are going to have a son!”

The angel went on to explain that his name would be John; he would have a special assignment, some dietary restrictions, and the tremendous privilege of preparing the entrance of the long-awaited Messiah. He also noted that this miracle baby would experience the infusion of God’s Spirit even while in the womb. “He will turn many of Israel’s children toward the Lord their God,” he went on to say, “and in the spirit and power of Elijah he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and cause rebels to listen to the wisdom of those who are godly.”

I’m sure you can appreciate Zacharias’ skepticism, knowing that both he and his wife were way beyond child-bearing years. He asked, rather doubtfully, how this could possibly happen.

Now, the angel Gabriel wasn’t used to anyone questioning his word, especially when he knew it had been given him by the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. You can almost hear the edge in his voice as he answers, “I am Gabriel who stands in the very presence of God Almighty! He sent me with this exciting news; but since you doubt my words, I’m going to strike your tongue so that from this hour until all this takes place you won’t be able to say a word.”

Meanwhile, the crowd outside was wondering why Zacharias’ routine tasks were taking so long. As he emerged and they saw that he couldn’t speak, they realized through his gestures that something out of the ordinary had taken place. Once his term of service was completed, Zacharias returned home to Elizabeth. And she conceived. For the next five months she stayed out of the public eye, astonished that the Lord had “looked on her” in this special way.

Psalm 119 – ך Resh

Bible carriedRescue me, consider my affliction
Your law I don’t forget but keep with great conviction.

Redeem me, plead my cause I pray
You spoke Your word of promise, revive my life today.

Rebels Your salvation cannot know
because Your laws and statutes they forego.

Revive me in Your perfect justice, Lord
let tender mercies on Your servant be outpoured.

Replete with persecutors and enemies
but I’ll not swerve from Your testimonies.

Repulsed by how the traitors act
because Your word they won’t enact.

Restore, revive me in Your love
I love Your precepts from above.

Reliable and true, Your word is pure
forever will Your righteous laws endure.

© J Dan  Small

Psalm 119 – צ Tsadhe

hands on Bible tṣad·dîq, righteous and just, Lord, in all that You do
Your judgments impartial, trustworthy, and true.

tṣiw·wî·ṯā, all Your commands, testimonies, decrees
are utterly perfect because they’re from Thee.

tṣim·mə·ṯaṯ·nî, all torn up inside, I’m upset and dismayed
at how all my enemies Your laws degrade.

tṣə·rū·p̄āh, pure and refined, proven right every time
Your word, Lord, I love, gladly claim it as mine.

tṣā·‘îr, small and looked-down on, by others despised
I look to Your precepts, by me they are prized.

tṣiḏ·qā·ṯə·ḵā, Your righteousness forever will unchanging stand
Your Torah, the truth, an enduring command.

Tsunamis of trouble have swept over me
still I will delight in Your righteous decree.

tṣe·ḏeq, so right are Your words they will last evermore
help me understand so I’ll live, I implore.

This Hebrew letter is unusual for English-speaking tongues to verbalize.  That’s why the only common word in English that starts with the ts sound is tsunami.

© J Dan  Small

Psalm 119 – פ Pe

BiblePə·lā·’ō·wṯ, so wonderful are Your statutes to me
that’s why my soul gladly with them doth agree.

Pê·ṯaḥ, unfolding Your word is like turning on lights
through them simple-minded gain vital insights.

Panting and thirsting to learn more from You
Your mitzvoth I long for because they are true.

Please turn in great mercy Your face upon me
just as You do unto all who love Thee.

Plant my steps firm in the path of Your word
let sins domination of me be deterred.

Protect me from all the oppression of man
I’ll keep all Your precepts as best as I can.

pā·ne·ḵā, make Your face shine in favor on me
teach me Your statutes, Your laws and decrees.

Plenty of tears I have shed with heartache
for sinners who foolishly Your laws forsake.

Psalm 119 – ן Nun

lampNêr, a lamp to my feet and a light on the way
Your word shows the path so I won’t go astray.

Now swear I an oath and confirm with my word
to keep all the laws from Your mouth I have heard.

Needy, afflicted, with sufferings fraught
revive me, O Lord, with the word You have taught.

Niḏ·ḇō·wṯ, freewill off’rings, O Lord, please receive
and teach me your laws and decrees to believe.

Never will I Your commandments forget
not even when my fragile life faces threats.

Nefarious foes lay their traps in my way
yet from Your good precepts I refuse to stray.

Nā·ḥal·tî, I’ve inherited the laws You impart
forever my treasure, the joy of my heart.

Newly resolved my heart wants to obey
Your rules and Your laws every step of the way.

© J Dan  Small

Psalm 119 – י Yodh

potterYour hands shaped and fashioned me
help my heart learn from Your decrees.

Ye ones who fear the Lord rejoice
because I’ve made His word my choice.

Yes, Lord, Your laws are just and right
Your discipline keeps me contrite.

You promised cov’nant loyalty
now may Your word my comfort be.

Your law, O Lord, is my delight
in mercy, come, that live I might.

Yê·ḇō·šū, shame on those who slander
but on Your precepts I will ponder.

Yet may all those who fear You see
that in Your statutes we agree.

Yielded and pure my heart would be
that from all shame I might be free.

© J Dan Small