Something happened in this world 2000 years ago that changed everything. The closest friends and students of a "prophet" from a town in Israel called Nazareth claimed that, following his crucifixion by the Romans, he was buried in a tomb -- a hole carved into the side of a cliff. A large stone was used to seal the tomb. That was on Friday. On Sunday morning, the stone had been moved, his body was gone, and his grave clothes were inside. That man then appeared alive to them, not as a ghost or spirit being, but in flesh and blood. That man was Jesus. His resurrection, as it is called, inspired his closest friends and followers to spread his teachings. They told his stories. They shared what he had done prior to his crucifixion and resurrection. He had healed people who were blind, had cured diseases, had cast out demons, had even raised the dead. They shared what he taught about himself and about something he called "The Kingdom of God," which is what the world would look like if God reigned as King. They told others the good news about Jesus. They knew that Jesus' death and resurrection changed everything, including their Jewish religion, their understanding of God, and their understanding of themselves. They knew first hand what forgiveness felt like, what hope felt like, what God's love felt like. They began to understand who Jesus really was: the Son of God, the Messiah (Anointed one of God), the Savior of the world, the Lord of life, the Way, the Truth, the Life.
As more and more people heard the good news about Jesus, they believed the story, and in doing so, their lives were transformed. For 2000 years since, people from every nation, from all walks of life, from all religious perspectives, and from all social backgrounds have discovered the truth of Jesus and in doing so, their lives have been changed. They have found hope, love, forgiveness, purpose, and help through this life. Jesus offers that still today.
For the past 2000 years, volumes of books have been written about Jesus and his impact. Millions of people can share their own personal stories about how trusting Jesus has changed their lives. The original stories that record the events of Jesus' life are found in the "New Testament" in the Bible. These stories have inspired millions of people to want to know this Jesus not just as a historical figure, but as the Living Lord who is present with those who choose to follow him. While through the centuries there have been many points of disagreement about the meaning of what Jesus said and did, this much is true: Jesus is such a unique figure in all of human history, he demands our attention.
The place to begin to learn about him are the records of his teachings and activities as told by four writers named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Their telling of the "Jesus story" is found in the collection of writings called the New Testament in the Bible. In addition to their writings, a man named Paul wrote about Jesus' impact in a series of letters that he wrote to gatherings of Jesus followers called "churches." A collection of these letters are also found in the New Testament. These letters were written to specific gatherings of Jesus' followers in various parts of the Near East. They addressed specific issues that these groups of followers were dealing with 2000 years ago. Burried in those writings is a treasure for us today: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
On every page of the New Testament, no matter who wrote it, when, or to whom, one thing is clear. Jesus is the answer. Jesus is the answer to our human brokenness, to our lack of meaning, to our need for spiritual healing, to our desire for love, to our need of forgiveness, to our search for purpose in this life and hope beyond this life. Unlike any other figure in all of human history, Jesus is the one and only one who is worthy of our trust, our worship, and our lives.