At this point, the history of the Old Testament is over. The prophets had spoken. God’s glory had left the temple. God was now silent. Four hundred years would go by. During those years the Greeks took over the Persian Empire. Then the Romans took over the known world. What is God doing? Not all of the Jews moved back to Israel, which means there are Jews scattered all across the nations. They couldn’t go back to the temple, so they built synagogues. The Greeks brought about a common language, and the Romans built roads for travel. This would be important when the gospel started to spread. Political groups have formed: the Sanhedrin, Scribes, Sadducees, Pharisees, Publicans, and Zealots.
Main Events of the Gospels:
Why is learning about the Old Testament important? (Have the children give answers. Then read Matthew 1:1-17. As the kids hear names they recognize, have them raise their hands.) The Old Testament isn’t just a bunch of stories. It is filled with books about history. People who really lived. Events that really took place. Without knowing the history of the Old Testament, the New Testament can seem confusing.
The history of the New Testament is told in five books: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. All of the other New Testament books are letters written by real people. Just as four people can describe the same thing using different words, so did the writers of the gospels. All four of those books tell about Jesus, but the authors write about Him using different words because they are writing to different groups of people and for different reasons.
Matthew was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He was an eye witness. He was a Jew and he was writing specifically to Jews.
Mark was not one of the twelve, but he did travel with Paul and probably had come in contact with many of the twelve disciples. In his gospel account, Mark wrote all about the acts of Jesus. When you read the book, try to count how many times you see the word, “immediately.”
Luke was not one of the twelve, but he traveled with Paul as well. He was also a Greek and a doctor. He paid a lot of attention to details and research. Luke wrote his gospel for the Gentiles and wanted to show Jesus as being the Son of Man, God in human flesh.
John was one of the twelve disciples and was the last disciple to die. He lived to be an old man, whereas all of the other apostles were probably martyred. Many preachers think that John wrote his gospel for us, those who would have to believe in Jesus through faith and not by sight. John made sure in his gospel to show that Jesus was the Son of God.
All these writers were different, but all of the gospels have the same message and historical facts recorded:
1) Jesus was born and lived on earth.
2) Jesus was a great teacher.
3) Jesus performed miracles.
4) Jesus traveled around Israel.
5) Jesus taught the twelve disciples.
6) Jesus died on the cross.
7) Jesus was buried in a tomb.
8) Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
Life Application of the Gospels
Why is all of this important? (allow answers) If you don’t know the facts of the gospel, then you won’t be able to tell someone the gospel when God places you in a situation to tell about Jesus. Choose to be knowledgeable. Don’t expect someone else, like your pastor, teachers, or parents, to be the only ones talking about Jesus. If He has saved you, then you should be talking to others about Him. The gospel is not hard. In fact, if you go back to the list above, the main Truths you need to tell are in red. And if people accept the fact of Jesus rising from the dead, then that is a Truth they will need to deal with because that means Jesus is God.
So why do you need to know the history of the Old Testament? Because you need to know why people need a Savior. God created us. And because of man’s choice, all people are now sinful. There is nothing we can do about it. We are separated from God. This means all people should die, end of story. But God loves us. He sent Jesus to this earth. He was born. He lived. He died on a cross. He was buried. After three days He was resurrected from the dead. He appeared to many. Jesus is God. The Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” Do you believe? If so, what should you now do for Him?