Childhood and family background Edit
The Bible describes Jesus variously as the Son of God, the Messiah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and the Saviour of lost man; it also indicates that he was born in the town of Bethlehem, while Nazareth in Galilee was his childhood home.
Jesus's mother was Mary. Two of the Gospels (Matthew and Luke) report that the Holy Spirit of God miraculously caused Mary to conceive, giving rise to a Virgin Birth, meaning that Joseph was Jesus's foster father. The other two Gospels, Mark and John, make no mention of Joseph, but in their first chapters refer to Jesus as the Son of God. The focus of each of the gospel accounts is primarily found in his later life, with special emphasis on the three-year period of ministry prior to the crucifixion: events following his baptism, his teachings and ministry, and the events leading up to his death.
Mark 6:3 reports that Jesus was "Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon," and also states that Jesus had sisters. The Jewish historian Josephus and the Christian historian Eusebius (who wrote in the 4th century but quoted much earlier sources now unavailable to us) refer to James the Just as Jesus' brother (see Desposyni). However, Epiphanius argued that they were "Joseph's children by his (unrecorded) first wife", while Jerome argued that they were "Jesus' cousins", which the Greek word for brother used in the Gospels would allow. These alternatives support the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox tradition that Mary remained a perpetual virgin, thus having no biological children before or after Jesus.
Works and miracles Edit
According to the Gospels, Jesus began his public ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing soon after he was baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus' precise relationship to John, a major figure whose activities required the intervention of King Herod Antipas, is not clearly established in the gospels. Though the gospel of Matthew portrays John attempting to decline baptizing Jesus, the earlier gospel of Mark says nothing of his reluctance.
The Gospel of John mentions three separate Passovers during Jesus' ministry, so most scholars conclude that it was a period of approximately three years. However, the other Gospels only mention one, and a few scholars suggest that a ministry of more than three years is possible.
Jesus used a variety of methods in his teaching and made extensive use of illustrations (cf. Matt 13:34, 35). The detailed nature of Jesus' spiritual teaching cannot be fully agreed upon because accounts are fragmentary and because he made extensive use of paradox, metaphor and parable, leaving it unclear how literally he wished to be taken and precisely what he meant.
According to the Bible, Jesus performed various miracles in the course of his ministry. These ranged from cures to exorcisms, with several others that showed his dominion over nature. Scholars in mainstream Christian traditions as well as many secular scholars view these as claims of supernatural power. Scholars employing various methods of higher criticism have sought to explain biblical events without recourse to supernatural occurrences, such as explaining the text as allegory.
Jesus also preached the imminent end of the current era of history, in some sense a literal end of the world as people of his time knew it; in this sense he was an apocalyptic preacher bringing a message about the imminent end of the world the Jews knew.
Jesus generally opposed stringent interpretations of Jewish law, preaching a more flexible understanding of the law. His teachings show an inclination to following a teleological approach, in which the spirit of the law is more important than the letter of the law, and the Gospels record him as having many disagreements with the Pharisees and Sadducees. In other places Jesus suggests that the Pharisees were not strict enough in their observance of the law.
Among the various discussions with religious leaders are question-and-answer debates common between religious teachers of the period. In a conversation with a group of Sadducees, Jesus makes use of the Law of Moses to answer a question regarding the resurrection of the dead (in which the Sadducees did not believe). A few modern scholars thus believe that Jesus may have been a liberal Pharisee in some respects, or an Essene (a sect with whom he shared many views). In this view Jesus was later cast as an enemy of the Pharisees, because by the time Christians transcribed the Gospels, the Pharisees had become the dominant sect of Judaism. This view receives some support in the Acts of the Apostles, where Jesus' apostles were generally attacked by Sadducees but were sometimes protected by Pharisees with more liberal interpretations of Jewish law. Evidence against this view is found in the understanding that some of the gospel materials were compiled before the destruction of the temple in AD 70. It was around this time in which the Pharisees came to power.
By the time of his death, Jesus had taught a number of his disciples, or apostles, to preach his teachings and to perform healings of both Jews and Gentiles alike after they had been empowered by the Holy Spirit, which he was to send to them following his Ascension.
In his role as a social reformer, Jesus threatened the status quo. He was unpopular with many Jewish religious authorities, though following his death the book of Acts and some of the Epistles say that numerous priests and Pharisees became followers of his teachings. According to the Gospels, his unpopularity among the leadership of the area was because he criticised it and, moreover, because Jesus' followers held the controversial and inflammatory view that he was not only the Messiah but God himself.
Preaching the kingdom of God Edit
According to the Bible, the theme of Jesus' preaching was "Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near" (Matthew 4:17). Jesus' commission from God was to preach about his father's Kingdom, and he trained his disciples to do the same work. "Let us go somewhere else," he told his first disciples, "that I may preach there also, for it is for this purpose I have gone out" (Mark 1:38; Luke 4:43). Later, after extensively training twelve apostles, Jesus instructed them: "As you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near'" (Matt 10:7). Some months later, after training 70 others, he sent them forth with the command: "Go on telling them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you'" (Luke 10:9). Clearly, Jesus wanted his disciples to be preachers and teachers.
Then Jesus "designated seventy others and sent them forth by twos in advance of him into every city and place to which he himself was going to come." These were not just to preach in public places but were also to contact people at their homes. Jesus instructed them: "Wherever you enter into a house say first, 'May this house have peace'" (Luke 10:1–7).
And toward the end of his ministry, he explained: "For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth" (John 18:37). So he occupied himself with preaching the kingdom of God.
Sexuality and love Edit
The Bible does not explicitly indicate that Jesus had any romantic relationships, and most scholars and Christians think that he had none. Jesus is reported to have praised the value of celibacy, saying that some have made themselves "eunuchs" for the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt 19:12). This was not uncommon at the time; although most Jews married (including those who were Pharisees), others, like the Essenes, promoted celibacy. Jesus also affirmed marriage by attending the wedding at Cana and performing his first miracle there; by affirming Moses' restrictions on divorce and extending them by narrowing the circumstances in which divorce is permissible; and by affirming marriage as part of the created order, quoting the book of Genesis.
Final days Edit
According to the Bible, Jesus came with his followers to Jerusalem during the Passover festival. He was involved in a public disturbance at the Temple in Jerusalem when he overturned the tables of the moneychangers there. At some point later, he was betrayed to the Jewish religious authorities of the city — either the full council (Sanhedrin) or perhaps just the High Priest — by one of his apostles, Judas Iscariot. The High Priest of the city was appointed by the government in Rome, and the current holder of the post was Joseph Caiaphas. The Romans ruled the city through the High Priest and Sanhedrin, so often the Jewish authorities of the city had to arrest people in order to obey Roman orders to maintain the peace. Jesus' disciples went into hiding after he was arrested.
Jesus was crucified by the Romans on the orders of Pontius Pilate, the Roman Prefect of Judea in Jerusalem. The Gospels state that he did this at the behest of the Jewish religious leaders, but it may have been simply that Pilate considered Jesus' ability to incite public disturbance as a potential Messiah to be a threat to Roman order. Pilate was known as a harsh ruler who ordered many executions for lesser reasons during his reign; he had also been in trouble twice with his Roman superiors for being too harsh in his rule. Furthermore, the plaque placed on the cross was used by the Romans to detail the crime of the crucified individual. In the case of Jesus, the plaque read, IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDAEORVM (INRI) — meaning either "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" or "Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews", indicating that Jesus was crucified for the crime of rebellion against the authority of Rome by being declared the "King of the Jews". In the Aramaic it would have been Yeshua HaNazarei v Melech HaYehudim: Jesus the Nazarei, King of the Jews.
All the Gospel accounts agree that Joseph of Arimathea, variously a secret disciple or sympathiser to Jesus and possible member of the Sanhedrin, arranged with Pilate for the body to be taken down and entombed. According to most accounts, Jesus' mother Mary and other women, notably a female follower of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, were present during this process. John the Apostle is the only one of the twelve disciples mentioned as being present at the crucifixion itself.
According to the Christian Gospels, Jesus' disciples encountered him again on the third day after his death, raised to life. No one was a witness of the actual resurrection event, though all four Gospels report that women who went to anoint the body found the tomb empty. After the resurrection the Gospels give various accounts of Jesus meeting various people in various places over a period of forty days before "ascending into heaven".
In addition to the Gospels, the resurrection is mentioned briefly again in Acts. In Galatians Paul makes special mention of Jesus' appearance to him after his resurrection, as well as referring or assuming the resurrection took place in his other epistles. The book of Revelation also gives an account of Jesus appearing to the author in a vision and testifying to his resurrection (Rev 1:18). These other mentions of the resurrection are generally much less detailed than that found in the gospels; in the case of Paul's epistles, many of them are generally believed to have been written earlier than the gospels.
Luke reports that two followers en route to Emmaus were unable to recognize Jesus at first after the resurrection because "their eyes were restrained", and John says that Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus after the resurrection — even after he spoke to her — until he called her by name. Both Luke and John report other encounters between Jesus and followers who had no difficulty recognizing him; all post-resurrection encounters in Matthew and Mark mention no difficulties in recognizing Jesus.
According to most Christian interpretations of the Bible, the theme of Jesus' preaching was that of repentance. During his public ministry, Jesus extensively trained twelve Apostles to continue after his departure his leadership of the many who had begun to follow him, mainly in the towns and villages throughout Galilee, Samaria, and the Decapolis. Most Christians who hold that Jesus' miracles were literally true, not allegory, think that the Apostles gained the power to perform healing for both Jews and Gentiles alike after they had been empowered by the Holy Spirit of Truth (to pneuma tēs alētheias, John 14:17, 26; Luke 24:49, Acts 1:8, 2:4) that he had promised the Father would send them after his departure — a promise that according to Acts 2:4 was fulfilled at Pentecost, poignantly the Jewish feast that, in addition to other Scriptural events, commemorates also the giving of the Law to Moses. For Christians the legacy Jesus left was one of sacrifice; they believe that Jesus was sent by God to die as a sacrifice in place of all humanity. Christians hold that this sacrifice had to take place because all humans sin (they claim God's penalty for sin is death and separation from God), so God sent his son to die in their place. Most non-Christians reject these claims which are based primarily on the text of the Bible. Jesus is held as an important person, a great teacher or a prophet by many other religions (who deny him as God).