Who is Jesus?
Jesus was born around 4 BC. He was the son of a carpenter and his father died most probably during his teenage years. He was one of at least 7 children with 4 brothers and at least 2 sisters. (Mk 6:3)
His birth was a miraculous event fulfilling scriptures written over 600 years before. Even at the age of 13 he amazed the religious leaders of the time at the temple with his level of understanding and questions.
At age 30 he became a full time teacher and gathered a team of 12 disciples (apprentices) taken from ordinary walks of life. He repeatedly performed many miracles, healing everyone brought to him. He taught the crowds that gathered about God’s love for them and the importance of love, humility and care for one another.
He taught an ‘upside down' kingdom. Instead of a world based on power, wealth, influence and control he taught one which was based on serving others, caring for the weak, equality amongst people, forgiveness and developing supportive relationships. At that time the world was dominated by the Romans and religious leaders who controlled every aspect of life in their own interests. He spoke through memorable stories (parables) and taught the ‘Kingdom of God’, describing it as belonging to those who came to God, recognising their failures and choosing to follow Him.
To his disciples he revealed himself as God’s son. It was not some wistful claim. They lived alongside him and watched him in daily life as he poured himself out for others, helping one life after another. They saw him continually do miracles and he involved them in many. He healed hundreds, if not thousands of people. On three occasions he brought dead people back to life to truly reveal who he was to them. They watched as a few loaves of bread multiplied in their hands to feed 5,000 people. Peter walked on water with Jesus.
In his last year of ministry, as they came to fully realise and believe in who he was, he explained to them that he would die at the hands of the authorities. He explained that he came for two reasons.
- Firstly to reveal the heart of God and to help the world understand the Father’s love. He longs to rescue us from the damaging consequences of how we often live and for a relationship with us to help us live a better way.
- Secondly to die for us. He taught them that our wrongdoing is not without consequence and that all of us will one day be called to account. Jesus' death as an innocent man would pay the price of our forgiveness and allow each of us to choose forgiveness and to enter into a living relationship with him.
At his last meal with them, knowing he would be arrested and executed on trumped up charges the next day, he spoke at length about our relationship with him and how that would work after his death. He told them about the Holy Spirit - God’s living presence - that would enter them and would continue to help and teach them after his death. He also explained how after his death he would come back to life in 3 days and would see them again.
Jesus was tried by the Roman governor, Pontus Pilate, but no charges were found that could merit any punishment. It became very political with the Jewish leaders claiming Jesus called himself a ‘king’ which was in defiance of the Roman state and that if Pilate did not impose the death penalty they would tell Rome that he had supported an insurgent. Pilate knew what was going on but by then the Jews had gathered a riotous assembly and Pilate succumbed to the pressure, literally washed his hands of the matter, and then had him crucified. Pilate set a guard over the tomb and sealed it to prevent anyone taking the body and claiming a ‘resurrection’.
The disciples were crushed by the event but on the third day when two of them went with the women to the tomb the guards had gone, the tombstone was open and the tomb empty except for the body wrappings lying there still wrapped around as though the body had evaporated through them.
As the disciples rushed to report it to the rest, Jesus appeared to Mary. Shortly after he appeared to two disciples walking to a town nearby, then later he appeared to all but one of the disciples. Thomas was missing and refused to believe the others, famously proclaiming he would never believe unless he could put his hand on Jesus crucifixion wounds. A while later Jesus appeared again and invited Thomas to do just that.
Over the next 40 days he went through what he had been teaching them while he had been with them but which they could now fully grasp. He appeared to 400 people at one time. Finally he commissioned them to spread his kingdom and take the good news (gospel) of God’s love and a better way of life to the world around them. He then left them, rising to heaven.
A few days later, during a major religious event called Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came on the disciples and empowered them to teach and speak in different languages to the crowds that gathered from other nations. Thousands believed.
From that day onwards the message slowly spread from life to life across the face on the Roman world and then beyond into all nations. It faced great opposition but grew strongly. By 64AD just 30 years after Jesus death there were so many Christians in Rome that Emperor Nero could blame them for the great fire of Rome (it’s believed that he started it to clear an area for his building project and needed people to blame).
This faith has transformed Western values and brought huge changes to our world. A life born in Bethlehem and ministering in and around Capernaum for 3 years has had a transforming impact and is itself evidence of who he was and is. It is described in ‘One Solitary Life’ (click here to read).
His birth, life, teaching & ministry, betrayal, death, resurrection and restoration to God’s right hand are all prophesied in detail. They were recorded beforehand so that we would recognise him at his coming. Copies of the prophecies in Isaiah have been found from 100 years before his birth.
Jesus life is recorded by eye witnesses at the time (Matthew & John) and Mark (who recorded Peter's teaching) and one was written by Luke after researching with some of those involved and writing a full account. John says this:
"We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us.
We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ." 1 John 1:1-3 (NLT)
There is a battle in every person’s heart that hears the message of Jesus - to believe who he is or not - to choose the self based life of doing ‘whatever I like’ or choosing to come to God, say sorry for stuff we’ve done wrong and receive his forgiveness which washes it all away. And to then live a new life based on serving others with God’s help and strength and in relationship with him. In this we enjoy the support and love of his family of believers.