Jesus, the greatest hero to ever walk the earth was almost murdered before he had a chance to live. His Jewish parents had to flee for their lives with their child soon after Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem.
King Herod, who ruled over Judea, caught wind of the news that the Messiah had been born. Feeling threatened, the ruthless ruler ordered the massacre of all male children under the age of two living within the greater vicinity of Bethlehem.
After the birth of Jesus and the visits of the shepherds nearby and the wise men from the East, Joseph and Mary heard the terrifying news. They were warned by an angel to escape with their baby to Egypt.
So, Jesus, the Son of God, started life as a refugee in a strange land. His parents remained in Egypt until an angel told them Herod was dead and it was safe for them to return.
Joseph and Mary were in for another scare when Jesus was twelve years of age. His parents were headed home to their town of Nazareth, following a visit to Jerusalem, when they noticed He was missing. They searched for Him in a panic until they tracked Him down back in Jerusalem, discussing the Law of God in the temple with religious leaders. Jesus told His parents He had to be "about His Father's business."
Many years later, when Jesus was aged thirty-one, He sought out His cousin, John, to baptize Him. John the Baptist had been powerfully preaching about the importance of repenting from sin. He declared that someone more powerful was coming soon. He was preparing people for the soon arrival of Jesus.
After Jesus had been baptized by John and came up out of the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit rested on Him like a dove. The voice of God called Jesus "Son" and said He was "well pleased" with Him. There was no question; this was indeed someone very special.
After the climactic experience of baptism, the Holy Spirit led this ultimate hero into the wilderness where He fasted for forty days. At the end of this period, Satan came to Jesus to tempt Him. First, he told the starving Jesus to turn stones into bread to prove He really was the Son of God. Jesus refused.
Satan then took Him to the top of the temple, challenging Jesus to jump off. He told Jesus that the angels would prevent Him from being injured if He really was the Son of God. Again, Jesus refused.
Finally, Satan brought Jesus to the top of a very high mountain overlooking the world and its riches. Satan said he would give Jesus everything if He would bow down and worship him. Jesus held strong and refused. The Devil finally left and angels came to help Jesus, who had remained faithful to His mission no matter the cost.
After surviving the wilderness experience, it was public ministry time for Jesus - the lion of Judah. This biblical hero had the power to do anything, but He chose to kick off this new chapter by doing a big favor for His mother. They were attending a wedding in Cana when the grape juice ran out. Jesus turned jars of water into fresh grape juice for all the guests.
Jesus recruited an inner circle of twelve disciples whom He would train for the extremely dangerous mission of sharing God's Word with the world. He also began to preach and perform miracles. Jesus restored sick people to health and raised His friend Lazarus from the dead. It was an amazing time and His message and notoriety spread like wildfire.
His teachings were unlike anything people had ever heard before. He spoke truth through parables and other simple illustrations that even a child could understand. Speaking of children, He loved them and specifically made time to talk to them.
Jesus showed God's love. He spoke of His Father's kingdom. This was a heavenly kingdom, not one that would overthrow earthly powers like the Roman conquerors of Judea.
Initially the disciples were not exactly superheroes. Many were uneducated fishermen. They all had quirks. Peter was a loud mouth with a quick temper. Thomas was a sceptic whose lack of faith held him back. Judas would go on to betray Jesus. They all had ego issues. Yet Jesus befriended them and worked alongside them. These twelve men became His helpers and companions here on earth.
These imperfect followers (with the exception of Judas who killed himself after betraying Jesus) would go on to do amazing work after Jesus returned to heaven. They would be persecuted, imprisoned and executed for their faith. But they would also serve as powerful witnesses to the power of Jesus and call people to accept His love.
The last week of Jesus' life was a rollercoaster of dramatic ups and downs. As Jesus entered Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, He rode on a donkey and the crowds welcomed Him like royalty.
He shocked His disciples by taking on the role of a servant, washing their feet during what came to be known as the last supper. Jesus served bread and grape juice as emblems of His body and blood. He instructed His disciples to eat and drink in remembrance of Him. Ever since, Christians have celebrated this custom through the practice of communion, a memorial to this hero and His ultimate sacrifice for humanity.
A tragic moment cast a shadow over the last supper. Jesus knew Judas was about to betray Him, so He turned to Judas and told him to go and do what he had to do quickly. Soon afterwards, Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas had led the captors straight to Jesus.
The all-powerful hero then endured unfair and appalling treatment by Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest and the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who literally washed his hands of Jesus even though he could find no fault with Him.
Jesus was sentenced to death due to pressure from the religious leaders who felt threatened by His message and popularity. Roman soldiers nailed Him to the cross on Friday in front of a jeering crowd and His devastated followers. As He hung dying on the cross, this biblical hero thought of His mother who was in agony. Upon seeing His disciple John, Jesus said to Mary, "Mother, this is your son" and to John, "This is your mother."
Two thieves were also crucified with Jesus. One was hostile to Jesus. The other protested, saying that unlike the two of them, Jesus had done nothing wrong. He then turned to Jesus, asking to be remembered when Jesus came to His Kingdom. Jesus promised the thief he would be with Him in Paradise.
During His final moments on the cross, Jesus felt the searing pain of total separation from God. He called out, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
Finally, He cried out, "It is finished" and died.
There is a happy ending to the story of this hero's time on earth. Jesus was buried on Friday. A wealthy Jew, Joseph of Arimathea, buried Jesus’ body in his own tomb. The body of Jesus lay there from Friday and over Sabbath (Saturday) but something amazing took place the following day.
On Sunday morning the guards who had been stationed by the tomb were petrified and fled the scene when an angel rolled away the tombstone and Jesus rose from the dead. He had conquered death!
The first of Jesus' friends to see Him alive was Mary Magdalene, a loyal woman whom He had saved from a difficult past. Jesus then appeared to His disciples and many others before He was taken up to Heaven.
That isn't the end of the story for this ultimate hero. In heaven, Jesus represents us before God and is preparing a place for all those who love Him and accept His sacrifice.