Jesus Christ

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Jesus of Nazareth (4 BC - 30-33 AD) is considered by Christianity to be the Messiah and the Son of God. He was a carpenter who was born in Bethlehem, in modern-day Palestine, and who was known for performing miracles near the end of his life.

Virgin Birth[edit]

The New Testament records that Jesus was born to Mary, a virgin who was betrothed to a Nazarene carpenter named Joseph. It records that an angel came to her and told her she had been chosen by God to bear His child, and that he should be called "Jesus." When Joseph found her pregnant, he wanted to put her away quietly, but an angel appeared to him and informed him that the child was of God, and that her conception fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." [1][2]

Shortly prior to his birth, a Roman census was decreed, so Joseph took his pregnant wife from Galilee into Judea, to Bethlehem. While they stayed in a Bethlehem stable (for there was no room in the inn), Mary gave birth to Jesus. They were soon visited by shepherds, who were visited by a host of angels and informed of the Christ's birth.[3]

Some time later, wise men from the East witnessed a bright star in the heavens and followed it to Jerusalem. There, they spoke with the king of Judea (Herod), asking him, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him."[4] Herod's scholars informed the magi and the king that the prophet Micah wrote that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem, and there the magi found and gave the infant Jesus gifts. When they did not return to tell Herod where he could find the child, he became angry and ordered the execution of every male under two in Bethlehem, but an angel warned Mary and Joseph, so they fled to Egypt until Herod's death. [5]


Ministry[edit]

Disciples[edit]

Jesus had many followers, but from these he chose twelve as his closest disciples. These were Simon (called Cephas, or Peter), Andrew, James (the brother of John), John, Philip, Thomas, Matthew (who was Levi, the tax collector), James (the son of Alphaeus), Thaddeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas Iscariot, and Bartholomew. [6]

Of these twelve closest disciples, three were given special attention. Simon Peter, John, and James the brother of John. These three witnessed Christ's transfiguration, where he was taken up into the sky and transfigured before their eyes, and where he was seen with Moses and Elijah.[7]

Parables[edit]

Jesus gave many teachings in parables - fictional stories containing truth. The reason for this, as he informed his disciples, was this:

To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.[8]

Miracles[edit]

The Gospels record a host of miraculous signs and wonders performed by Jesus during his earthly ministry. Among these were healing the sick (including those crippled or blind from birth), walking on water, calming a storm with a word, resurrecting Lazarus, and multiplying five loaves and two small fish to feed five thousand men (not counting women and children) with enough leftovers to fill twelve baskets.

Clashes with the Jewish Authorities[edit]

On more than one occasion prior to his trial and execution, Jesus found himself in conflict with the Pharisees and teachers of the law.

In one instance, the teachers of the law came to him with tests. The first group asked him whether it was lawful to give taxes to Caesar; Jesus asked them whose face was on the coin (Caesar's), then said, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's." The second asked him about a woman, who was lawfully married to seven brothers over time, and whose husband she would be in the next life; Jesus replied that there would be no marriage in heaven. The third came from a scribe who had heard the other questions, who asked what the greatest commandment was; Jesus answered, "Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength."[9]

On another occasion, upon entering the temple and seeing the moneychangers (who exchanged "unclean" money for "clean" temple money at a cost), he became enraged. He fashioned a whip and drove them out, shouting, "Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise."[10]

Perhaps most infamously, Jesus excoriated the Jewish Authorities for their insistence on extra-Scriptural laws, hypocrisy, and wicked practices. He called them a "brood of vipers", "whitewashed tombs", "devourers of widows' houses", and "children of the devil"[11][12].

The Last Supper[edit]

Jesus was executed the day after the Passover feast, but that evening he called his disciples together to celebrate the Seder in Jerusalem. There, he startled his disciples by washing their feet, an act of humiliating service that was unexpected of a Rabbi. After doing so, he commanded his disciples to follow his example through similar service.[13]

During the meal, he signified that he knew Judas was to betray him and sent him to do what he must. Later, during the breaking of bread traditional in the Seder, Jesus gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take, eat; this is my body," equating his upcoming death with the sacrificial lamb symbolized by the bread. And then, after the meal, he took a cup of wine (the "Cup of Redemption" in the seder) and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."[14]

When the meal was over, they went into the garden of Gethsemane so he could pray and await his arrest.

Trial and Death[edit]

Judas Iscariot brought the Jewish Temple guards to Jesus to arrest him. When they asked him if he was Jesus of Nazareth, he replied, "I am he," and they were blown backward.[15] Other than this, Jesus offered no resistance to the arrest. Simon Peter, having brought a sword, struck off the ear of the high priest's servant, Malchus. Jesus rebuked him and restored the ear.[16]

In defiance of Jewish law, Jesus was tried by the Sanhedrin (the Jewish priestly court) before sunrise. They could not get the two matching witness testimonies required by Jewish law, so they sought to catch him directly in blasphemy. Caiphas, the high priest that year, asked Jesus directly, "Are you the Son of God?" Jesus answered, "I am," and they counted that the highest blasphemy and sentenced him to death.

However, in those days it was forbidden for the Jews to carry out capital punishment, so when day came they took Jesus to the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate. Pilate could find no reason to execute Jesus under Roman law, but offered to free either him or the murderous zealot Barabbas in order to appease the Jewish leaders. They chose Barabbas, and Pilate washed his hands of Jesus' execution but allowed it to take place.[17]

In 33 AD, Jesus was crucified alongside two other criminals, whose names were never revealed in the Bible. He breathed his last on the cross after three hours.

That evening, Joseph of Arimathea came to Pilate asking to bury Jesus before the Sabbath. Pilate was surprised to hear Jesus was already dead, and ordered a soldier to spear him in the side to ensure his death before he was taken down. The soldier did so, and blood and water came from the wound (because the blood had already separated - Jesus had been dead for some time).[18]

Jesus was prepared and buried in Joseph of Arimathea's family tomb before sundown. Pilate, fearing Jesus' disciples would take away the body, had a large stone rolled over the tomb's entrance and posted guards to ensure the body was not disturbed.[19]

Resurrection[edit]

The day after the Sabbath, women went out to anoint Jesus' dead body. Before they arrived, there was a great earthquake, and an angel came to roll away the stone of the tomb. The guards who were guarding the tomb were terrified and passed out, and the angel told the women that Jesus was no longer in the tomb, but risen from the dead as he had foretold.[20]

Following his resurrection, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, two disciples walking to Emmaus, the disciples (save Thomas), all the disciples, and up to five hundred at one time.[21][22]

Perception in Islam and Judaism[edit]

In Islam, he is said to not have been crucified, but brought into Heaven by Allah. In accordance with the Shahadah - "There is no god but Allah, and Mohammad is the messenger of Allah" - it is blasphemous idolatry to claim that Jesus was the Son of God or God himself.

Judaism says that his crucifixion meant that he was rejected by God. Therefore, Jews do not consider him the Messiah.

References[edit]

  1. Isaiah 7:14 (KJV)
  2. Matthew 1
  3. Luke 2
  4. Matthew 2:2, KJV
  5. Matthew 2
  6. Luke 6:13-16
  7. Matthew 17
  8. Matthew 13:11-13, KJV
  9. Mark 12
  10. John 2
  11. Matthew 23
  12. John 8
  13. John 13
  14. Matthew26
  15. John 18
  16. John 18, Luke 22
  17. Luke 23
  18. John 19
  19. Matthew 27
  20. Matthew 28
  21. John 20-21
  22. I Corinthians 15