There are many things about the life of Jesus that can get a little confusing. So I wanted to take a couple of weeks leading into Holy Week and just kind of explain some facts about the world in which Jesus lived, and His message, and why that message was so radical, at the time in which He lived and still today.
For starters, the most import fact that all of us need to understand about the first century Palestinian world, is that it was a world in which one had to be careful about everything one did. If you did the wrong things, or said the wrong things, or acted the wrong way, you wouldn’t last long because it was a dangerous place to live. One had to be careful because it was a place that was controlled by a powerful Roman empire that controlled pretty much all of the world at the time. The Romans had conquered and had been occupying Palestine with their armies for a couple of generations by the time of Jesus. However, even before the Romans, this was a place that was always being conquered by some Empire. Going back 600 years, before the Romans it was the Greeks that controlled Palestine, before the Greeks it was the Persians, before the Persians it was the Babylonians. Needless to say, the people were used to being careful, playing it safe, and not rocking the boat too much, with all these foreign conquers.
The territories were not great places to visit either. They didn’t really have any famous sights or tourist attractions. The climate wasn’t great, it was kind of dry. The only city it had was a place that was sort of chiseled out of a hilltop in the desert, which was the city of Jerusalem—Jerusalem meaning the city of peace. Which is kind of ironic considering all the turmoil that had taken place there for really thousands of years. Although at the time it wasn’t particularly important to the empire, it was an unusual place. It was unusual because it was the only place in the world that was the populated with worshipers of the one true God of everything. For the Jewish people, this was where their history happened. This was their city, this was where the one God that created everything came to dwell, and His people came to live. So that made this city and this land, the most important place in the world to the Jewish people, and unique and unusual in the Roman empire because they were ones that believed in multiple pagan gods.
Join us this week for part two of, Jesus: His World & His Message