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A Note to Readers
Two thousand years have passed since the execution of Jesus of Nazareth. Today, 2.2 Billion people believe he is God and attempt to follow his teachings. A lot has been written about this man who shaped the world. But little is known for sure. While the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are written from a spiritual perspective, this title is a fact based book and relies on evidence from classical texts. The authors do not refer to Jesus as the messiah. They present him as a man who held the attention of many while teaching a message of peace and love. The powerful enemies he made turn the story into a violent one. To understand Jesus’ accomplishments, one must understand the time in which he lived. Rome was the world superpower. Life expectancy could be less than forty years and human life wasn't worth a lot. Jesus would offer people hope.
Book I: The World of Jesus
Early one morning in March, 5 AD, soldiers descend on the city of Jerusalem. They have been ordered to kill every baby boy under the age of two. Reining King Herod the Great is cruel and especially brutal towards anyone that threatens his sovereignty. Over the past thirty years of rule, he has outwitted every plot against him. Jewish prophets, for centuries, have been predicting the arrival of a new king to lead their people. Five signs were said to be needed to confirm the messiah’s birth. There was to be the appearance of a giant star; the baby would be born in Bethlehem and be a descendant of King David. The child’s mother would also be a virgin and important men would travel to worship him.
Herod knows that the first two have already occurred. What he doesn't know is that actually all five may have come to pass. Wealthy scholars known as magi have visited the baby Jesus. His mother, Mary, is insistent that she remains a virgin even though she was pregnant. Jesus is also a descendent of King David.
The magi had alerted Herod to the birth when they visited him on the way to see Jesus. They assume that he would know where the child was. Herod is a Jewish convert but does not practice the faith. He knows nothing about the teachings and summons religious scholars to tell him what they know. Herod attempts to trick the magi and asks them to return to his place after they find the child. He says that he too would like to know where the baby is so he can worship him. When they do not return, Herod sends his soldiers to Bethlehem.
From the palace, the Herod can see the temple of Jerusalem. It was first built by King Solomon in the tenth century BC. After its destruction by the Babylonians in 586 BC it was rebuilt. Herod had also recently expanded it.
By the time of the infant massacre, Jesus and his parents have already visited the temple. During one visit an old man named Simeon approached them and asked to hold the baby. He prayed over Jesus and assured the surprised parents that their child was going to cause the rise and fall of many in Israel. He also warned Mary that a sword would pierce her own soul...