Who is Jesus?
Statue of Christ the
Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro
Our record of Jesus is laid out in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (all NT). These are the four 'gospels'; accounts of where Jesus went and what he did, and what he said (some Bibles helpfully print Jesus' own words in red).
December 25 is when we celebrate Jesus’ birth; he was born to an engaged Jewish couple, Joseph (a somewhat older man, a carpenter) and Mary, a young teenage virgin. The Bible tells us that Jesus was an ‘immaculate conception’ (not fathered by a human, but by the Holy Spirit. This helps us to understand that not only spiritually, but physically (in his DNA, if you like), Jesus is truly the son of God.
Joseph and Mary were poor, simple people, and Jesus grew up in the family home in Nazareth, learning Joseph's trade. It wasn't until he was around 30, and he was baptised by his cousin, John the Baptist, that Jesus began his public ministry—leaving the family home, choosing his disciples, and travelling the land to point people to God, through himself.
In John chapter 14, he is recorded as saying, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (‘Jesus’ is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means ‘the Lord saves’.)
Many Jews, especially religious leaders, were incensed by Jesus’ behaviour. Who did he think he was? Even worse, he sought out and spent time with society’s outcasts—lepers, prostitutes, sinners, tax collectors, the insane and the possessed.
Often the priests set Jesus elaborate verbal traps, trying to show him up as a charlatan. They never succeeded, but were often challenged by the new way in which Jesus explained the scriptures (what Christians now know as the Old Testament).
Jesus and his disciples wandered the land teaching and performing miracles. He drew heavily on scripture, bringing his points alive with ‘parables’ (short fictional stories in a contemporary setting), which made his new style of teaching easier to understand.
Both the occupying Romans and the Jewish authorities wanted rid of Jesus, who claimed to be God. This troubled the Romans, who saw their emperor as god, and the Jews who, although they knew that scripture promised a messiah, awaited one they felt comfortable with, perhaps dressed in gold and purple. They didn’t think Jesus was the one: they saw Jesus as blasphemous and a threat.
They conspired with Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples, to betray Jesus. After a show-trial with Pontius Pilate, the Roman representative in the land, Jesus was condemned to death by crucifixion (a frequent method of execution for criminals) and hung on a cross alongside two common thieves. He was just 33. Jesus had warned the disciples of his impending death, and the crucifixion is precisely foretold in the OT—sometimes in astonishing detail.
Christians believe Jesus died on the cross, his body placed in a tomb. But that wasn’t the end: it was just the beginning. He rose from the dead three days later, appeared to many people, and then rose into heaven.
Pray: Jesus, I hear your name more often as a swear-word than I do as a saviour. Please move alongside me and help me to get to know the real you. Amen.
Read what CS Lewis said about Jesus—that he had to be either mad, bad or God
Watch the worship act of painting Christ’s face (painting begins after about 5 seconds)
Watch a video clip of Amena Brown, spoken-word poet, talk about Jesus
Find out more about Jesus and the evidence for him at Rejesus
Watch the music video for I Can Only Imagine (Meeting Jesus)
See how Hebrew scripture (the OT) points to Jesus as the Messiah who has come
Watch the Jesus movie online
Hear contemporary quotes about Jesus
Look at the many faces of Jesus through the ages
Read about Jesus' social class
See the painting The Light of the World by Holman Hunt. Jesus, bearer of light, knocks at a door which can only be opened from the other side...
See the painting Man of Sorrows by William Dyce
Watch the music video In Christ Alone
Look up Jesus Christ in Wikipedia
See Jesus’ family tree
Read the book Who is Jesus? by Nicky Gumbel
Read the book The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel
Read the book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham
Read the book Jesus: An Intimate Portrait of the Man, His Land, and His People by Leith Anderson
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