Jesus Christ (c. 4 BC – AD 30) is the only-begotten son of God, incarnated in the virgin Mary, and crucified for us under Pontius Pilate. The Nicene Creed, the most widely accepted confession of the Christian faith, explains that Jesus will return to earth at the end of days to judge the living and the dead. The birth of Jesus is celebrated by Christians worldwide on Christmas, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after crucifixion and death is celebrated as Easter.
Accepting the truth of Jesus Christ is the best way to turn one’s life around, overcome addiction, attain happiness, and understand more.
The coming of Jesus was prophesied in Jewish scripture, where he is his referred to as “the messiah,” or anointed one. He changed the world forever with teachings of love and faith and forgiveness, using parables like the Prodigal Son that flow from the existence of God. “Jesus triumphed over the Devil, and personally set the ultimate example for mankind, by enduring the horrific process of scourging and death by crucifixion under the ancient Roman regime in obedience to God’s will.” Laws against blasphemy prevented Jesus from describing himself as God, so he repeatedly referred to himself in the Gospels as the Son of Man, which can be translated as “the Son, a man.”
Jesus is the only Son of God and prophesied Messiah who, at the appointed time, was sent by His Father and became a man to be the payment for the penalty of sin that separated us from God and to reveal to us the loving nature of God and the way to salvation through his human person (1 John 4:10; 2 Corinthians 5:19). Although He was sinless, he bore the penalty for sin upon Himself for us, and is our true Savior.
Speaking to his disciples, Jesus says,
|“|| John 14:1-15
Believers will be in his Father’s house
Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. “And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”
Jesus himself is the only way people can access his Father and his Father’s house
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
If you know Jesus, you know his Father
“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary, and became man in an event known as the Incarnation, as referred to in Isaiah 7:14. Indeed, the calendar itself reflects this truth, with the traditional calculation of Jesus’ birth marking the first century A.D., that is, “in the year of Our Lord….” The apostle John wrote in his gospel the following regarding Jesus Christ: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
When he was about thirty, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, inaugurating his ministry. Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ or Messiah, prophesied in the Old Testament (Greek: Χριστός; Aramaic: ‘משיחא’). Jesus proclaimed that “[t]he time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe in the Gospel.” As signs of these truths, Jesus performed various miracles.
However, not all who heard the Lord believed in him, and, because he “was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God”, some sought to put him to death. Jesus was handed over to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and crucified. But it was through his redemptive death, as the scriptures had foretold, that Jesus reconciled mankind with God. And so, on the third day, in a truly historical event, Jesus physically rose from the dead, making possible salvation and eternal life for those who believe in him. Indeed, his very name, Yeshua (Hebrew ‘יהושע’) means “Salvation” and is the concatenated form of Yahoshua, ‘YHWH is salvation’. After appearing to his disciples on various occasions, Jesus ascended to Heaven, where he acts as our mediator, assuring, by his constant intercession, the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The Pre-existence of Jesus before His incarnation
Though it is commonly thought that Jesus had his beginning with His birth or with His conception in the womb of Mary, and that personality begins with birth and develops with age, the Person of Jesus on earth was one and the same Person as was the Son of God in the presence of the Father before the incarnation. That is why the transition of His becoming a man on earth is considered such a great act of humility and self forgetfulness – to have left it all, for us, for which He will always be honored and extolled.
Though he was in the form of God , He did not cling to this equality with God, but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are, and being found as a man, he was even humbler yet, even to accepting death, even on a cross. But God raised him high, and gave him the name which is above all other names, so that all beings, in the heavens, and on the earth, and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus, and that every tongue should acclaim, Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11
Incarnation of the Son of God
The Son of God, who was always with the Father before all creation, took upon himself flesh, that is, become a human being, taking the flesh of manhood from his mother Mary but without her being impregnated by any man. He was born of Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Gospel of John begins,
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God… and the Word become flesh and dwelt among us”
. There are two understandings of this. Though both hold that the Son of God, Divinity Himself, became a man, they understand differently the beginning of the Gospel of John.
The first understanding sees in the Son of God being the Word (“logos” in Greek) that He is the communication of the Father and thus in some sense the purpose of His coming was to mediate the knowledge of God to man among whom He would dwell and be one with them. But as mediator He is in no way inferior to the God He communicates because He Himself is God. The Trinity is emphasized though by implication (the word “Trinity” is of later usage to describe the phenomenon as presented by the New Testament). This understanding rests upon the use of “logos” in Philo and elsewhere meaning “reason”, “word”, “rationale”
The second interpretation, while in no way negating His coming to be the communication of the Father to man necessitating the incarnation and explicating the Trinity, rather says that we need to look not to Philo and the “logos” philosophy but to the Aramaic Jewish thought of the time. Doing so, we can see that the Gospel of John intends to rip away a veil, and in doing so, will show us that it was God Himself and no mediator, that leaped down to take the form of a human being, and that this is to be spoken of boldly.
Here is how this second understanding is developed:
The Hebrew text is very clear in visualizing the God of Israel in physical terms, even if meant to be understood metaphorically. But the Aramaic Jewish translations of the Hebrew Scriptures will not allow it to be so presented, but will rather speak around it (paraphrase) or use an intermediary word between the physical description and God. In Genesis 32, Jacob is wrestling with “a man” but after the bout, Jacob says, in the original Hebrew text, “I have seen God face to face and my life has been saved”. In the Aramaic translation, however, Jacob is made to say, ” I have seen the angel of God face to face and my life has been saved”. At times, the intermediary word is the word “Word” – in Aramaic, Memra (the root is Aleph, Mem, Resh as in the Hebrew word ‘Omer). Whereas the Hebrew text (Gen. 3:8) has it, “They (Adam and Eve) heard the sound of the LORD God walking about in the garden”, the Aramaic has it, “they heard the sound of the Memra of the LORD God walking about in the garden” Apparently, walking about in the garden conjured up too much of rustling of leaves and bushes to take figuratively, and so it was the “Memra” that was heard and not the LORD God. This is the pattern in other places in Genesis. Prof. David Flusser of the Hebrew University notes that it is to this mindset that we owe our understanding of John 1:1 and not to Philo and the Alexandrian “logos” philosophy. “In the beginning was the Word (Memra) and the Word (Memra) was with God.. and the Word (Memra) was God. John 1:1 is meant to rip away the distinction between God and the Memra, so assiduously held to by contemporary Judaism, and so declare that they, the Memra and God, are in reality one, …and this One has, indeed, come down and has become flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone. John, in his epistle would later say in wonderment, ” Whom we have handled, we have touched and held Him.”
The Flight to Egypt
King Herod, in his thirst for power and his paranoia at the news that someone was born, whose “star from the east” indicated that there was indeed a claimant to his throne, the Messiah of Israel, sent his garrison, most probably from the fortress Herodian which over looked the town of Bethlehem, Bethlehem, the home of David, the most Illustrious of Israel’s kings, would soon experience the death of its two years and under male children, in Herod’s pursuit of retention of his power. This has been called the Massacre of the Innocents. But Jesus was not among them as his father Joseph, being warned in a dream, had spirited the family to Egypt. And there they remained until Herod was dead, and Archelaus, Herod’s son, was reigning in his stead. But the “Holy Family” was not to return to Bethlehem, but to Nazareth of Galilee, and so Jesus would grow an Israelite and a Galilean, and his first disciples, Galileans. But the fight into Egypt and the return from Egypt to the land of Israel, is seen by the Gospel of Matthew to have another reason intended for it by the Father. The son of God in the writings of Moses was, of course, Israel itself, and the Prophet Hosea would later write, God Himself speaking, “When Israel was a youth, hadn’t I loved him, and hadn’t I called my son out of Egypt?” But Matthew would write, speaking of the return of Jesus to Israel, from Egypt, in direct reference to the Prophet Hosea’s prophesy, “Out of Egypt have I called My Son”, thereby letting us know, in his own way, who Jesus is – He is the Son of the Father, the son, who had and would not fail. He is Israel, the remnant, and through Him, the nations of the world would be blessed, along with His people, Israel. In this way does Matthew share in the kalaidoscopic image of who He is. He is the Son of God, the Son of Man, and the Son of the Father, Israel, who not failing, neither in the forty day temptation in the wilderness, nor through any part of His life on earth, became worthy and holy to become the sacrifice for the sins of the others.
At Twelve Years Old
The account of Jesus’ parents finding him in the temple impressing the “teachers” with his knowledge of the scripture is the only detailed event between Jesus’ infancy and adult life that is known.
|“|| Luke 2:41–51
Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
At this early age of twelve years old, there is clearly shown an inner positional or relational commitment of Jesus. Nor is there any indication that this had not been present prior to His twelfth year. His deepest belonging, that against which all other belongings were to be judged, confirmed, rejected, etc. was to the Father, the Father’s House, the Father’s concerns. This commitment would reverberate at later times, severing ultimate claims on Him of his closest – mother, brothers, sisters, etc. In the presence of these and to their hearing, He would ask, “Who are my mother, and brothers, and sisters? He that does the will of my Father in Heaven is …” This, in His own life, was the moral authority to demand the same of all others, “You cannot serve two masters…” The memory of what had happened in the Temple when He was twelve, pondering it in her heart, would stand Mary in good stead, when she would see her son hanging on the cross. She also would be found with the disciples in the upper room, praying, and waiting for the coming of the Spirit which He had promised.
From Heaven’s View
But seen from heaven, a spark had entered into the Temple’s precincts, and around that the time, there was to evolve the extra-biblical ceremony and practice of Judaism, which would try to make sense of the need to be anchored into the ancient tradition of God, with the need to make new for every generation the relevance of it for each Jewish youth. And so developed the Bar Mitzvah, the “Son of the Law” ceremony and concept. At the age of 13, a Jewish boy, so it developed, would read or sing out in the synagogue, the Shabbat of his birthday, the prophetic portion (the Haftorah) for that Sabbath assigned to the Torah portion (from the 5 books of Moses, read consecutively), raining down upon him from the Women’s Section (Ezrat Nashim) – the Help of Women) above or to the side, hard sweet candy signifying the hope of sweetness set before him. For at that time, the Jewish boy becomes a Jewish man, taking upon himself, the obligations for fulfilling the Law of Moses, and is no longer absolved from this responsibility by the mediation of his father’s fulfillment of the Law of Moses for him.
At this time, seen from Heaven, a spark entered in, another way, sometimes seen in other young boys and girls, but in a dim way, an intense concentration on the Father above all things and people, looking and judging all surrounding him from the viewpoint of Him flooding the soul, listening, speaking, believing. So Jesus reasoned with the rabbis, never being encompassed by them, in the house of His Father. Was it told to us showing what He was and what we could be, or at least, learn to follow in His steps, or was it shown to us to allow us to view another step in His being made perfect, growing in favor with God and Man, totally consumed with the doing of His Father’s will, and thus, “being made perfect”, to take our place upon the Cross, for our sakes and for our salvation?
The gospel of Mark begins with the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, which appears to be the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus came to the River Jordan, where John was preaching and baptizing people in the crowd. After Jesus had been baptized, and had risen up out of the water, Mark states Jesus ‘saw the heavens torn apart and the Holy Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased’ (Mark 1:10–11). Luke adds the chronological anchor that John the Baptist had begun preaching in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, approximately in 28 AD (Luke 3:1) and that Jesus was thirty years old when he was baptized (Luke 3:23).
The meaning of Baptism for Jesus:
Jesus insisted over the protests of John that He be baptized at the hands of John. John’s protests are natural enough as John’s baptism was for those who were sinners, and implied in baptism was the understanding that the baptizer was somehow greater than the one baptized. John believed that he needed to be baptized by Jesus and not the other way around. But Jesus’ understanding of His being baptized was two-fold:”Baptism” meant suffering unto death, and it implied that His impending mission was to be in behalf and in place of the real sinners, the humanity for whom He would die. Jesus would later use “baptism” in the first sense when he said to disciples, “Can you be baptized with the baptism which I will undergo?” The Spirit coming down on the Son in the form of a Dove (Yonah = “Jonah” in Hebrew), and the voice of the Father, “This is My Beloved Son” was the Divine empowerment, and authorization for Jesus’ mission to come entailing His sacrificial death, three days, not in the belly of the fish, but in the bowels of the earth, and after that, resurrection. As Baptism for Jesus meant, looking forward, His joining sinful humanity to the point of bearing their sins to the death of the cross, so the later New Testament understands, looking backward, that sinners believing in Jesus are also to join Him in His death through the waters of baptism “in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” – according to the command of the Risen Christ. See Christianity for Jesus’ self consciousness.
After this baptism, according to Matthew, Jesus was brought into the desert by God where he fasted for forty days and forty nights. During this period, Satan appeared before him and tried three times to tempt Jesus into demonstrating his supernatural powers as a proof of his divine status; each temptation was refused by Jesus, with a scriptural quote from the Book of Deuteronomy.
Jesus then began to preach. John describes three different passover feasts that Jesus attended, thus implying that his ministry lasted three years.
The reason behind the Temptation:
The Temptation occurred just as told in the Gospels. But behind the happening, another message lies revealing the identity of Jesus to a people who would understand it. At the foothill of Mt. Hermon, in between the servile Roman infatuated people of Tiberius to the south west of the Sea of Galilee, and the rabidly nationalistic, anti- Roman Zealots of Gamla to the north east, Jesus asked His disciples who He was. The Messiah, the Son of the Living God, was the answer. And Jesus explained who He was and why he had come in terms that fit their experience – not to rule and throw out the Romans, nor to uphold their ways and laws but rather something on a different plane all together – to give His life settling it on the cross.
To a later believing people, those who were not Jewish, who He was would be understood in terms fitting to who they were – He had come the Second Adam, to give His life and to provide new life to those who were not Jewish, but also including the Jews, to all the lost and wandering children of Adam.
In the Temptation, it is the those who knew the Old Testament, the physical children of Abraham primarily, who could see in the long range, and not primarily dictated to by the political passions of the moment, and who could wonder who they were and where they had gone wrong, and wonder also who would be the One to take them out. It is they, Israel, who had been in the wilderness for 40 years, and they that had succumbed to the temptations of selling out for food and drink, though they were a “Son” whom God with a strong arm and outstretched hand had taken out of the bondage of Egypt, they had turned traitor, driven by their own lust and pride. And here now, in Jesus, was One who resisted the devil in the wilderness, also “for forty”, preferring the will of God as His food rather than all the world could offer, Who was He? He was Israel! The only true one left, the faithful remnant spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, the servant true to the end. As the letter to the Hebrews saw, “Though He were a Son yet learned He obedience by the things He suffered, and being made perfect, He became the author of Eternal life…”. This is the understanding of the Gospel of Matthew, in interpreting a passage from Hosea which was manifestly speaking of Israel the people and applying it to Jesus who also came out of Egypt with His parents at the death of Herod, “Out of Egypt have I called my Son”. Who was Jesus? He was Israel who had not failed come to redeem Israel who had, and also out of all the peoples of the world.
Disciples and Apostles
Jesus Christ (Artist’s impression)
The larger part of this was directed towards his closest followers, the apostles, although all of his followers were considered disciples. At the highest point of his ministry, Jesus attracted disciples and audiences numbering in the thousands; in particular in the area of Galilee. Many of Jesus’ most well-known teachings were given during the Sermon on the Mount, such as the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus often used parables in his rhetorical technique, such as the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats; these teachings encouraged unconditional self-sacrificing love for God and for all people. During these sermons, he also discussed service and humility, forgiveness of sins, how faith should be applied, the Golden Rule, and the necessity of following the spirit of the law as well as its wording.
Christ And The Rich Young Ruler by Heinrich Hofmann (1824–1911), 1889.
Their choosing and their purpose: Among the many who came to Jesus, from afar and from the surrounding villages of the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, were those moved by his insight into the nature of life, or touched deeply by His seemingly knowing them from the inside, by His intimacy with the God and Father they had only known “about”, or impressed by the miracles done before their very eyes, and many, by His deep compassion for the people, so evident in all that He did. Jesus would sprinkle His words upon them as seed in a path, some to take root, and some to be blown away by the wind. But to those who heard and wanted more, they would get that more, receiving explanation, and move closer to His association. Those that would not, would receive only that which was commensurate to not wanting – more parables, silence. Never the revealing of the “Secrets of the Kingdom”. Yet, there was no prohibition and no limit for getting closer to Jesus. Those that did, became His “learners” – the disciples, understanding the meanings of His word by the demonstration of His life and putting them into practice. Among these were another group, some that had been with Him from early on, possibly some from the time of His baptism at the hands of John. These He would hold in His mind for an additional and different reason.
Then one night, he ascended a hill praying about them, and came down knowing who they were to be. 12 in number, chosen not because of their virtue, or even what He would do in them in the future, but rather solely chosen by His Father to be deputized, delegated, or commissioned by Jesus to be sent out for a mission. He gave them the name “Shaliach” (meaning all that), which was translated into Greek as “apostolos” and so our Apostles.
The mission of the Apostles (see “Example 5.” of New Testament understanding through the Jewish perspective) was to do all that they saw Jesus was doing, healing the sick, raising the dead, and with all this, to tell about the fast coming Kingdom of Heaven, the rule of His Father, and urge people to repent and get ready for it. He gave them His power and authority to do all this. But it was to be 12 in number, not more and not less, that number surviving even the suicide of one of them, Judas from the village of Kyriot, requiring an “election” to bring back the number from 11 to 12. And that was because the special additional reason for their appointment was to sit on the 12 thrones of the 12 tribes of Israel (the sons of Jacob) and lead them by whatever it takes – that is the meaning of the biblical term “Judge” (Shofet)*. For the community of the “little ones”., was to be, in some sense, an Israel within Israel, or a new Israel, a sort of beachhead for the onslaught of the Kingdom of God in its invasion (or sometimes, infiltration into) into and onto the Kingdom of the unjust occupier and enemy of all Goodness, the Devil, to overthrow him and all his works. This truer and newer Israel, He called His “Called Out ones” (Eklessia=Church) against whose onslaught the Fortified city of Hell with its defensive bars to its massive gates, would not prevail. Many captives would be released. The Church, then, was the community counterpart to what was known as the “Synagogue” (Greek), meaning “gathered together ones” (Beit Knesset – house of the gathering, Hebrew). It was the Synagogue of Jesus the King and Messiah, and aligned with and the focal point of the Prophetically promised and hoped-for Kingdom of God and the rule of Heaven on Earth. And the disciples and apostles of Jesus all had their place in the unfolding of it all.
Jesus also often conversed with social outcasts, such as the publican (Roman tax collectors who were unpopular for their practice of extorting money).
Jesus showed no partiality toward outcasts, and neither did He do so to those who were in society. But being an outcast was a category beyond the reach of all others which were in society. Jesus was not for the male over against the female, the Jew over against the non Jew, townsman over against the man of the field. He was impartial and penetrating in His love for all. But all of these had a certain standing in Society, they were part of it, though all being in it, could vie for more of it as their share. But all were united, and could work in concert against what they were not – the outcast. The love of Jesus and the love of His Father through Him, could not rest lightly on any one of them, until it would reach and rest on the one beyond the fringes, the outer edges, and down below – the outcast. This demonstrated in the life of Jesus what the Cross would later show and the Apostles preach – all were outcast to the Holiness of God, and all could be loved by Him and, indeed, were.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus performed many miracles including healing the sick and possessed, feeding 5000, and even raising from the dead.
Miracles were an intrusion of the ordinary, but the ordinary of a different and far-superior Kingdom, into the sordid and sin sick kingdoms of this world. They showed what life was really like there in that Kingdom which was coming and how weak, unstable, subject and cringing were the powers of this corrupted world, “bent” under the heel of God. That a widow should have her dead son restored to her alive, that outcasts such as lepers should be restored to the community, and as a result of their being healed, that darkness should give way to light and sight, that a woman deserving stoning find solace and forgiveness, all of these are the way things are and ought to be in the Kingdom of God because of the way He is. They were, at one and the same time, signs of the Kingdom which was coming and great works of compassion done here below which will never by surpassed or forgotten. And Jesus the Messiah was bringing them in!
Note: See Example 5 of New Testament understanding through the Jewish perspective for the assault and infiltration of God’s Kingdom on and into the Kingdom of Satan.
His Preaching was Offensive to the Established Authority
As He preached, Jesus ran afoul of the Sanhedrin, the recognized Jewish religious authorities, who were allowed to have considerable religious, political and monetary influence under Roman rule. Jesus chastised them, accusing them of making laws for the people to follow that were the laws of men, not God. The Sanhedrin tried to set traps for Jesus by asking Him questions to either discredit Him with the people or get Him in trouble with the Roman authorities, but all of their efforts failed and they gave up. They lacked the means to stop Jesus until Judas Iscariot came to them and offered to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. He would tell them where Jesus would be that night so they could seize Him.
Notable among Jewish established authorities were the Pharisees, the Saduccees, and the Herodians.
The Pharisees, believing that at the time God had given to Moses the “written Torah” (Torah shebikhtav), He had also given to Moses an “Oral Torah” (Torah shebe’al peh) which would apply the written Torah to all situations and times, and that that Oral Torah had been handed down from generation to generation, finally, it itself written down, making, in the days of Jesus, the beginning of the Talmud. Thus it was necessary to be able to “fill in the rabbis” from whom the teaching came (see Judaism) – “Rabbi Tarfon says in the name of Rabbi…” But this man Jesus, goes straight to Moses, and straight to Heaven! “You have heard it said…but I say unto you…” and himself speaks as the Mouth of God!
The Saduccees, not believing in an Oral Torah, and believing much of the written Torah to be irrelevant and impractical in the modern times that they lived, believed that the “blanks” and how the Torah was to be applied in these days, must be decided by the Kingdoms of the World, namely, Roman law and requirement. But this man Jesus speaks of another Kingdom and another King, and not of Rome!
The Herodians saw clearly who their enemy was and who their Savior was and wherein their safety lie – Herod the King of the Jews and all the aura and the might that he possessed. And their enemy was anyone who would claim, or live in the claim of others, that it was he that was the King of the Jews and not Herod (and the royalty after Herod) – such as was doing the man Jesus of Nazareth
Note: Judaism does not have a “unified” theory of Inspiration or practical authority of Scripture. That is, The most authoritative, and capable of being regulatory to life as “law” is the five books of Moses. After that, the Prophets. And after that, the “Writings.” The Scripture of the Saduccees was just the Five books of Moses, and since there is little if anything about the resurrection from the dead and the after life in the the Five Books of Moses, they believed in neither. The Pharisees, believing in the on-going of revelation extending, though with lesser authority, to the Prophets (such as Daniel) and the Writings, believed in both.
The Turning Point
It was at the city built in honor of Herod’s son Phillip, Ceasarea Philippi, dedicated to the worship of Pan at the subterraenean breakout of the spring which was tributary to the Jordon River, the Ban(Pan)ias, that Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I am?, Simon finally answered, You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Jesus responded that flesh and blood had not revealed this fact but His Father had. Then Jesus gave him his new name Peter, meaning rock, and told him that he and the Church to be built on the rock would be thrown against the very gates of Hades itself, gates which would be unable to withstand the onslaught, setting Hell’s captives free. (See Example 5. of New Testament understanding through the Jewish perspective). From that place of confession, and from the time of Peter’s confession itself, Jesus began to refine to His disciples, excluding all doubt and ambiguity from their minds as to the purpose of His coming, what it was all about. He the Messiah had come to die. They were to go up to Jerusalem, and there he would be rejected and denounced by the priests and elders, handed over to the Gentiles, and be put to death. And so began the 3 days journey from Caesarea Philippi, then along the eastern shore of the Sea of Galillee, along the Jordon river valley, through Jericho, and then the ascent to Jerusalem, Jesus telling his followers repeatedly the same message of His rejection and death, and then, if they could take it in, in such a way as not to suppress from their consciousness the main message He needed to instill into their acceptance, that of his humiliation and death, His subsequent resurrection form the dead. As the Gospel of Mark would record the words of the Lord, “For the Son of Man has not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life for the ransom of many”
Last Days of Jesus’ Life
God and man at table are sat down:
It happened before – “Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu. and seventy elders of Israel. They saw the God of Israel…they gazed on God. They ate and they drank.” Exodus 24: 9-11
It would happen after – “Now while He was with them at table, He took the bread and said the blessing, then He broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and recognized Him. But He had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, Did not our hearts burn within us as He talked to us on the road, and explained the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:30-32
Eating before the Lord or with the Lord, would be used as the highest form of friendship – Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any one hears My voice and opens the door I will come in to him and share my meal with him, side by side.”. Revelation 3:20-21 (NIV)
At the Passover Seder, the last meal the Lord would eat with His followers, His presence so permeated the atmosphere, and what He said and did at that special time, and especially they having received His command to do just what He was doing before them at this time, whenever they would meet together, the Apostles of the Lord and the Gospels after them could not speak of bountiful and miraculous times of the Lord’s gracious giving of food feeding the multitudes, without mentioning that which otherwise would not have been mentioned – He took the bread, looked up to heaven blessing the bread, He broke the bread, and He gave it to them. That is what the Lord did before them, and that is what He commanded them to do after Him, and thus provided for them, and for the Church after them, the one of two universal services – the Lord’s Supper, or Eucharist, or Holy Communion.
But in addition, He gave His own particular understanding to the unleavened bread of the Passover and ceremonial cup of wine, the 3rd and “Thanksgiving cup” of wine drunk immediately after the Passover meal was eaten. In slightly varying words, the Gospels and the Church after would perpetuate that understanding by repeating what the Lord Himself said at that Last Supper – “This is My Body which is given for you… This is My blood, the blood of the New Covenant which is shed for you, and for the many, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this as my own Remembrance”. And so He signified to His followers that His life would be given in sacrifice for them and for their benefit. How this benefit would be effected, would be explained by Jesus by other sayings, “Do not think that I have come in order to be served. I have not come to be served but rather to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.”
But His presence remained with them at the continual celebration of this new Christian Passover of the Communion. Though He had vanished from their eyes as He would return to the Father, yet through the Spirit which He had promised to be in His stead, He was there with them to remain- “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I!”…” Even so, Come Lord Jesus!”
Note 1: The word Maranatha, comes from the Greek word which is translating the Aramaic which comes in two forms according to the accent given. Marana tha – “O our Lord, come!”, and Maran atha – “Our Lord has come”. This appears in the earliest liturgies of the Eucharist, and was used either as an invocation for the Lord to come, a sort of invite, or as an exclamation that the Lord has indeed come, just as He said He would. In either case, it was a witness to the belief that the Lord was indeed with them when they participated in the Remembrance which He had commanded.
Note 2; What the Lord said, “This is my body… This is my blood…Do this!” (the “Words of Institution”, His instituting the Holy Communion until His coming again), is absent in the Gospel of John when recounting the last time of the Lord with His disciples. This is not an oversight, as the Gospel of John, from all contextual indications, has already spoken of the matter in the 6th chapter.
Garden of Gethsemane
Jesus knew that His time was short and that He was about to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. He had His last supper with his disciples and went with them to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed vehemently knowing what was about to come.
Decision, certainty, from a distance is clearer and easier than when the time approaches for decision’s implementation. That is because the here and now, leaves no room for imagining a rescue from all that is around us and in us. Leaving us confused or uncertain, needing assurance, or a once again revelation, of what it was that brought us to decision in the first place. John knowing from the beginning that his cousin Jesus was the promised Messiah, when years later, found himself in prison, and things not going the way he had expected, understood or hoped, required assurance that Jesus was really the One he had thought Him to be. Jesus responded forcefully and completely to that so human request – Tell John what you see, the dead are raised, the sick healed, and the poor are being told of the good news of the Kingdom of God. And it was enough.
Jesus, knowing why He had come, and that He was to mount the cross, to bear the sins of the world, knowing also what that must mean, He who had never “known” sin, now to know it in a way, that man could never know, man who all the time was in it, inured to it, accustomed to it, Jesus prayed. There was a movement in His prayer, taking on anew, the certainty and decision of old, feeling the enormity of it at close hand, and in the garden, he prayed three times, each time agonizing* dripping great drops of sweat, each time making movement in the direction from If there be another way, The Father knows and will show, but He would do whatever the Father wills, towards being the Father’s will, He would do it. There really is no other way. And then it was done, He had settled it within Him anew, having prayed, and having received the deep silent Amen of the Father within His soul. It was enough. He was ready.
- note: “Agonize” of the text is from the Greek word “to struggle”.
Tried before Jewish Authorities
Jesus was betrayed by Judas into the hands of the Jewish religious authorities who took Him away and secretly put Him on trial during the night, trying to find justification for their desire to have Him killed. Finally, they convicted Him of blasphemy. For the location of the Jewish trial, see Example 6 of New Testament understanding through the Jewish perspective
Tried before Roman Authorities
As they did not have the authority to put a man to death, they took him to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Palestine, with their charges and demanded his execution. Pilate avoided the issue by sending him to King Herod since Jesus was a Galilean, but Herod sent him back to Pilate. Pilate at first tried to release Jesus with a flogging, and then gave the crowd a choice to either spare Jesus or a criminal called Barabbas as part of the passover tradition. The crowd chose to free Barabbas [Aramaic: “Son of a (the) Father”) and Pilate washed his hands to signify that he bore no responsibility for Jesus’ death before ultimately condemning Him to crucifixion.
The penalty of crucifixion was always preceded by scourging (flogging) with the Roman flagellum. a short ox-hide whip knotted with pieces of zinc, lead, and bone which removed swaths of the victims’ skin with every stroke. Although the Bible mentions the scourging of Jesus only very briefly, it must have been particularly brutal from the relatively short amount of time Jesus lingered on the cross after the punishment. Victims who suffered less blood loss from the scourging were known to remain alive on the cross for two or three days.
The scourging and physical affliction of Jesus, though not overtly alluded to, may have a significance for benefit to come. There was a prophecy of the Suffering Servant to come:
“Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses,
and He carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded Him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:4
The Gospel of Matthew would see in this prophesy a foretelling of the various healings and deliverances that Jesus gave to the people, “so that what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: He Himself took our weaknesses and carried our diseases (Matt. 8:17) If not the scourging itself, then all of the sufferings of the Lord, culminating in His sacrifice on the cross, was the source not only for forgiveness, but also for all the many types of healings and restorations for the people.
Death on a Cross
Jesus died after suffering and giving up his spirit.
Behind the Cross was the sum total of all the maladies of mankind, that the Old Testament unveiled : Pesh’a – conscious and “high handed” rebellion, for which , under the Old Covenant, there was no forgiveness provided, Khet – an unintended “missing of the mark”, as in the deviation from the bull’s eye of the bowman, Shigi’a – the mistakes, some causing great harm to others, which come about by plain ignorance, and ‘Avon “iniquity” or distortion – the inner twistedness, that causes failure and suffering, seemingly from the very structure of our persons regardless of our intent. These were the sins Godwards as well as towards man, and these are all, Scripture revealed, repugnant to the nature and standard of a Holy God.
On the Cross, in a way which is unfathomable to man, but nonetheless believable, the repugnance fell upon Jesus, the Son of God, and again in a way not fully understandable to us, but believable nonetheless, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not considering us the sinners but rather His own dear Son who had no taint upon Himself. A great transaction had taken place by the imposition of Himself of Christ in our place, absorbing, as if He were a blotter, all the reaction of a Holy God upon Himself, in our place, that we might go free. Unfair to Him, Mercy to us. Yet Jesus was not forced to do it. He did it both in His great love for us and in His obedience to the way that the Father had decided. “No one takes my life from me. I have power to take it and I have power to lay it down…I lay down my life for the sheep”. Peter would say, “The Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.” Paul would say, “He was made to be sin, He who did not “know” sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”. That was Friday.
On Saturday, when all were at Sabbath’s rest, Jesus was not. His body dead, He passed in spirit to those that had died before, those in the period of Noah, and proclaimed, as Peter taught, what He had done. On Sunday, the first day of the week, He would rise from the dead.
The Cross of Christ, and the atonement He accomplished on it, is the very grounds that anyone who will be saved can be saved. The shedding of His blood brings salvation, to anyone who will respond, according to the ability that they have, that is given them. That brings forgiveness and acceptance, even welcome, to the murderer such as Paul, the adulteress such as the “woman taken in adultery”, the tax-collecting extortionist, a seeker in the night turned believer, as hopefully Nicodemus proved to be, people that just know that they are sinners without any “grave sin” to specify, and also the “fetus” whose life was cut off in the womb as a “thing”, and the severely retarded child banging his head in the institution he finds himself. All, according to the light given them, and repentance and turning to God given to them, will one day know just what was the basis for their salvation – the Cross of Christ. Those who reject, will also one day know the basis by which they could have been saved if they had not rejected – the Cross of Christ
See main article: Resurrection of Jesus Christ
On the third day after his death, Jesus rose bodily from the dead. The Christian apologist Michael Horner of CRU has an excellent resource which offers a defense of the resurrection of Jesus Christ entitled Did Jesus really rise from the dead?. In addition, Dr. Gary Habermas offers an online audio library which defends the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was no mere reassembling the molecules of His dead and disintegrating body, but it was a new union of His Spirit and body, in a way that could only be called by the Apostle Paul, in reference to ourselves, when we, in turn, following His pattern, a spiritual body. Having risen from the dead, He was physical enough to eat and drink with His disciples, and we can assume to digest, as well as ingest, and to be touched and felt, having Thomas’ hand thrust into His spear riven side, and yet, strangely not held by the physical laws of before, passing through the door to the room where the disciples were assembled, “Peace be upon you!”, and to physically ascend, in the sight of all, from a location on the Mount of Olives into the presence of the Father In some way, even the disciples on the Road to Emmaeus, could not recognize Him, perhaps an aspect of the changed body, perhaps the power of the will of Jesus himself blinding them to the fact that It was He, until the breaking of the bread. Jesus had risen, the stone unrolled, not to let Him out, but to let others in – to have the basis for their testimony, that He is risen indeed! By the regaining of His life in the resurrection from the dead (Scripture asserts that it was by the power of the Holy Spirit that this took place) Jesus was “certified” to the Church, and to all that would come after, that He was indeed the Son of God, that the verdict of death to Him given by men, was not so much overturned, but used in a far superior way by the Father to accomplish His will for redemption, and has given Him, at the last, vindication.
And for mankind, its individuals in the millions through the centuries who had believed in Him, there came the certainty, that death was also not to be their end, that they too will arise with Jesus, that death, the annihilation of all, or a future only to be dreaded, was not to be their end, that the Presence of Jesus who had gone before them, was a welcoming one, that He had found a way, and now they would be with Him forever and ever, and with good hope for the sight of loved ones again. Death had been conquered and fear could be too.
In recent history, Dr. Gary Habermas is considered the foremost Christian apologist for defending the resurrection of Jesus. Other notable defenders of the resurrection include: William Lane Craig, Ben Witherington, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, Edwin M. Yamauchi, N.T. Wright, and Michael Horner. In addition, much has been written defending the resurrection of Christ in the field of Christian legal apologetics. In addition, legal scholars, legal authorities, and eminent lawyers such as Simon Greenleaf, John Warwick Montgomery, Lord Darling, John Singleton Copley, Hugo Grotius, Lord Caldecote, J. N. D. Anderson, Lionel Luckhoo, and many others have asserted that western legal standards argue for the resurrection of Christ.
Appearances of Jesus to His followers
For forty days after his rising from the dead Jesus made appearances to His followers. These appearances were different from other risings from the dead, both in the Old Testrament and in the New Testament. These others are best understood as resusitations from lifelessness. That is, the people had really died, and really had been brought to life but there type of life was no different in kind from what it was before their death. A prime examploe in the New Testament was Lazarus. All of them, died a second time, waiting for the Resurrection. The very first to attain to the Resurrection was Jesus Christ, and as the first he came the “first fruits” of us all. The resurrected body of Jesus was both the same and different from what it was prior to His death. It could pass through “solids”. It coulo be changed, if this be the right interpretation, in such a way as be unrecognizable. And yet it was no mere vision, unreality, or a non-physical “spiritual” reality. He could eat and drink and be touched and felt. He was real in the ways that we know realness. And we too, according to Paul, will be one with Him in having “spiritual bodies”. “And that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve, after that, He asppeared to 500 of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living,though some have fallen asleep.Then He appeared to James, and then to all the apostles, and last of all, he appeared to me…”I Corinthians 15:5-8
Ascension into Heaven
He was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him form their sight. They were still staring into the sky when suddenly two men in white were standing near them and they said, “why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky. Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen Him go there.” Acts 1:9-11
Scripture posits two purposes related to man for the ascension of Jesus: 1. it was to the right hand of the Father (showing favorable disposition of the Father to the Son to hear His requests) from which position Jesus intercedes to the Father on our behalf, and 2. Having ascended to the Father, He received from the Father the Spirit. The Father pours out the Spirit “through the Son” upon the Church. The “first Pentecost”
Return of Jesus from heaven to earth
I gazed into the visions of the night and I saw coming on the clouds of heaven, One like a son of man. He came to the One of Great Age and was led into His presence. On Him was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship. And men of all peoples, nations, and languages became His servants. His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away. Nor will His empire ever be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14
The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout and with the voice of the Archangel and with the Horn of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are still alive remaining here will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so will we ever be with the Lord. 1 Thess. 4: 16,17
You were converted to God and became servants of the real, living God; and how you are now waiting for Jesus, His Son, whom He raised from the dead, to come from heaven to save us from the retribution which is coming. 1 Thess, 1:9,10
See Revelation, Book of (historical exegesis)
Jesus’ Self Consciousness
Jesus, conceived of the Holy Spirit, presented a disturbing surprise to his earthly father, Joseph, knowing he had not impregnated his fiancée, Mary. She would ponder the meaning of this miracle all the days Jesus would grow and finally she would behold her son expire on the cross. But Joseph, told by the Lord who his son really was, and how he had come about, and being warned by the Lord to flee the murderous Herod, took his family to Egypt – until the death of Herod made it safe (“Out of Egypt have I called My Son”) to return to Israel. The family settled in Nazareth on the elevated rim of the Jezre’el Valley where he grew well and observably no different from the other youth. But when he was about 12 years old, he was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem, and displayed his consciousness that His real Father was God rather than Joseph (“Didn’t you know that I must be here about the matters of My Father?”.
They returned to Nazereth in Galilee and it wasn’t until 28 years later that He began to publicly show His consciousness as to who he was. This was at his baptism at the Jordan River by John, when the voice came, to him, to John, and to the people privileged to be around, “This is my Son, the Beloved, Listen (Shma’a) to Him!” Here and now, against even the desire of John the Baptizer, Jesus, knowing that sin was not in him, chose to identify with sinful mankind in this baptism of John for repentance of sin, knowing that at the end of his time on earth, he would then be giving this sinless life of his on the cross, bearing the sins of the world upon himself.
Back, now, in Galilee, he would begin to do works of mercy, miracles of compassion, healings of deliverance, and overthrowing the devastations of Satan upon the people of God’s compassion – in short, bringing in the Kingdom of Heaven and of God and supplanting the Kingdom of Darkness. He began to gather around him his followers, simple fishing folk and others, spending most of his time in the area around the north shore of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). among the Jews of this Jewish area. He was bringing in the Messianic Kingdom to those who would understand it best, the Jews. But all the time, there was burning within him the knowledge that the blessings of Abraham would be extended, according to the promise, to all the peoples of the earth, the Gentiles, and there would be a new Kingdom, a new nation, transcending both Jews and Gentiles, the Kingdom of the people of God the Heavenly Father. He began his forays then into gentile areas, Phoenecia, the Decapolis, and other locales, and finding faith there such as he had not found “even in Israel”.
A crossroads occurred, then, in the choice of Jesus, and consequently in the options of his disciples. It occurred in the Tetrarchy of Philip, at the foothills of Mt. Hermon, at the town of Caesarea Philipi. He knowing who he was, would force the question upon others – “Who do people say Me to be?”. From the lips of Shim’on, whom he would call Peter, as leader of the others, He would hear – “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!” It was enough. Jesus would then begin imparting to them what the nature of His mission to be – not to expel the Romans from the Holy Land, but to go to Jerusalem, to be betrayed, to be spurned and rejected by the High Priests and the Elders of the People, to be hung on a Roman cross at the hands of the Gentiles, to die. Casesarea Philipi was in between, on one hand, Gentile pervaded Roman Tiberius to the southwest of the Sea, and on the other hand, anti-Roman nationalistic and zealotic Gamla to the north east of the Sea. (This latter would end their rebellion against Rome by suicide on Matzada in 73 A.D). Those two polarities were present in the minds of the disciples and Jesus began, on one hand, to divest from their minds the one, the warrior role of the Messiah against the Romans, and the other, to renew their thinking and their commitment to Him as the self sacrificing Lamb of God, the Prince of Peace and the true Messiah of Israel, on the other hand.
This took place on the long 3 or 4 day journey by foot from Galilee to Jerusalem, along the Jordan River valley, coming to Jericho, ascending to Jerusalem from the east. It was in Jerusalem that he prepared and settled the matter for the perpetuation of the Church at the Lord’s last supper of the Passover, to be made palpable later by the descent of the Holy Spirit. It was in Jerusalem, in the Garden of the Oil Press, that what He had been lead to believe about his mission and the meaning and manner of his death was fully embraced and accepted with no reservation or turning back. “Your will be done, Father, if there is no other way”, and “There is no other way, Your will be done Father!” It was a perfect decision and commitment, perfecting his life to be a perfect sacrifice. And it was to the west just outside Jerusalem that His teachings came to a concretization and realization on the cross. And just outside of Jerusalem that His Father would vindicate him by raising him from the dead.
“No man takes my life from me. I have power to take it and I have power to lay it down… I lay down my life for the sheep.” 
“Though He was in the form of God, He did not think equality with God something to grasp onto. But He emptied Himself and took to Himself the form of a servant and was made man, And being found in the form of a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. For this reason, God has exalted Him…”
Jesus and the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit was sometimes referred to as the Spirit of Jesus. This was to point out the special relationship that Jesus had to the Holy Spirit. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, rather than having been sired by Joseph. He was filled by the Holy Spirit from the time of His baptism at the Jordon river at the hands of his cousin John, and He was led by the Holy Spirit, not only into the desert to be tempted by the devil, but also all His life on earth. His empowerment to do “works” and miracles came through the Holy Spirit given Him, as the Holy Spirit would afterwards be given to all his followers, and not solely by virtue His being the Son of God. But, beyond this, there was a more special and unique relationship that Jesus had to the Holy Spirit. He taught, and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles of Paul would later echo, that the Holy Spirit would be given and poured out, to His followers through Jesus ascended to the Presence of the Father, and that, in some way, perhaps mysterious but concrete, Jesus Himself, would be with them once again, in and through the presence of the Holy Spirit which they would receive. He had gone back to the Father in order to return in a new and more complete way through the Holy Spirit. He would not leave them orphaned. This Holy Spirit, then, with Jesus and the Father, constituted the reality which would reverberate through the ages for all new believers being bought into the Church, the Body of Christ (for every body needs a spirit) – ” In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”.
Following Jesus, believing in Him
It is sometimes said that there are two faiths in the New Testament. That of Jesus and that of Paul. Paul’s religion is that of believing in Christ as Lord and Savior, and as the divine Son of God, and that of Jesus is of following Him in the sense of living and doing as He has taught. But in reality, there is only one faith and the two not in contradiction. For the Jesus of the Gospels, besides setting forth the life that He himself lived, as a pattern for all His followers, also said, “No one knows the Son, except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son choses to reveal Him”, and “I and the Father are One”, and “If you see Me, you see God”. .And Paul, aside, from saying that “if you believe in the Lord Jesus you shall be saved”, and “therefore, being justified by Faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”, also said “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”, and “Owe no man anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
Mark 16:16 “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. And he who does not believe, shall be condemned”, Jesus said. It is belief in Jesus which brings a person to the waters of baptism, and it is through the waters of baptism, that one enters into the fellowship of the Church, the people of God who are being brought, day be day, one with the other, to the life that Jesus taught about. And so his new belief and his being and living and doing are all unified under the direction of Christ and His under-shepherds. And if one will not believe, of course, then it goes without saying, he will not be baptized.
Dating Jesus’ Birth
Modern historians generally place the actual date of Jesus’ birth between 7 and 4 B.C., due to problems reconciling the Roman and Jewish calendars with the Gregorian Calendar which is in use today throughout the industrialized world.
Historicity of Jesus
Occasionally, non-historians deny the historicity of Jesus (Having to do with the question of whether Jesus was in fact a real person who had a real life on earth), but few scholars take this seriously. Tacitus, a Roman historian, wrote about Jesus in A.D. 115, and Josephus, a Jewish historian who did not believe in Jesus’ divinity, wrote about him. Dr. Gary Habermas wrote an extensive analysis of the historicity of Jesus in his work The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ, which discusses many historical sources that mention Jesus.
Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Christ contains a number of interviews with experts on the historical Jesus and a defense of Jesus’ resurrection, and is a good resource on this subject.
Unreasonableness of the Jesus Myth position
See also: Atheists and historical illiteracy
In an article entitled Scholarly opinions on the Jesus Myth, Christopher Price wrote concerning individuals who insist that Jesus Christ was merely a mythical figure:
|“||I have often been asked why more academics do not take the time to respond to the Jesus Myth theory. After looking into this question, I discovered that most historians and New Testament scholars relevant to the topic have concluded that Jesus Mythers are beyond reason and therefore decide that they have better things to do with their time.||”|
Price also indicates:
|“|| In his book, I Believe in the Historical Jesus, Howard Marshall points out that in the early to mid 20th century, one of the few “authorities” to consider Jesus as a myth was a Soviet Encyclopaedia. He then goes on to discuss the work of GA Wells which was then recently published. There is said to be a Russian encyclopaedia in current use which affirms in a brief entry that Jesus Christ was the mythological founder of Christianity, but it is virtually alone in doing so. The historian will not take its statement very seriously, since … it offers no evidence for its assertion, and mere assertion cannot stand over against historical enquiry. But more than mere assertion is involved, for an attempt to show that Jesus never existed has been made in recent years by GA Wells, a Professor of German who has ventured into New Testament study and presents a case that the origins Christianity can be explained without assuming that Jesus really lived. Earlier presentations of similar views at the turn of the century failed to make any impression on scholarly opinion, and it is certain that this latest presentation of the case will not fare any better.
Professor Marshall was correct that neither any earlier attempt nor Wells have swayed scholarly opinion. This remains true whether the scholars were Christians, liberals, conservatives, Jewish, atheist, agnostic, or Catholic. And even GA Wells himself has now conceded that a real figure called Jesus lay behind some of the teaching contained in the synoptic Gospels.
The bible doesn’t tell us much about the meaning of the name Jesus, but does tell us who gave the name, when the name was given, and a reason the name was given. Luke 2:21 tells us that his name was given (1) “by the angel,” (2) and it was given “before He was conceived in the womb.” The reason for naming him Jesus seems to be given in Matthew 1:21, which says, “…you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
The Greeks derived the name from the late Hebrew or Aramaic name Yoshua, today’s version of which is “Joshua”. The earlier Aramaic form was Jehoshua (Y’hoshua) or Joshua., deriving from Hebrew Yah, short for Yahweh, and Aramaic y’shuoh meaning “salvation”. The name thus meant “Jah is salvation”. Both Joshua and Jehoshua were common names in the time of Jesus.
Although it appears that “Jesus Christ” is composed of a first and last name, and indeed, the New Testament at times considers the names together as a first and second name, in origin, and through much of the New Testament, “Christ” is used as a title. It is the Greek translation for “Mashiach” (Hebrew), and Meshicha (Aramaic) – meaning “Anointed”. Thus He was called, “Jesus, the Anointed One”. Kings priests, and prophets were often anointed with oil to consecrate them for their task, and so was Jesus for His task by the descent of the Spirit when He was baptized by John. The Spirit descended on Him and dwelt within Him. This was in fulfillment of Isaiah 61 – “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me for He has anointed (Mashach) Me; He has sent Me to bring good news to the meek, to console the broken hearted, to call out Freedom to the captives, and to prisoners Release.” When Jesus ascended into the presence of the Father, the Father sent the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, through the Son, upon the believers and they too, as their Master, were “anointed” for their living and their task.
Note: The change from a title to a name is much more authentic and understandable in Aramaic language than in English. There is no inner connection from “Jesus the Christ” to “Jesus Christ” in English but in Aramaic the connecting bridge is the vocative “O Christ” (O, Anointed One)! “O Christ” and “The Christ” is the same in Aramaic – Meshicha.
Teachings of Jesus
Jesus’ special method of teaching was very different from what we know as “class room” teaching, and different from “teaching from definition”. Though His students sometimes sat around Him and listened, He often taught them through the actual every day events of life, by parable and much more – as they traveled, as they ate, as they met people. All of life was His text book. He took them from what they understood to what they were to understand, and brought them to understanding of what He meant, by how they saw it enacted and displayed in His own life. His life was the commentary to what they heard from His lips. That is why, besides that He was the Savior of the World, the believers in Him need be followers as well – to learn of His ways by intimate association. They would remember the words of the Savior later on and understand even more once His Spirit would be given them. His Spirit would then be their Guide, just as Jesus had done for them when He was on earth.
The Teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ are found in the four Gospels and other holy documents.
Sermon on the Mount This is the greatest sermon Jesus ever preached. It contains the Lord’s prayer, the beatitudes, the golden rule, and practical advice for Christian living.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom
and the power
and the glory forever.
See The Lord’s Prayer for the Greek and the interlineal transliterated Aramaic and Hebrew versions.
The golden rule:
“Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you!”
Prayer To Receive Him Now
“Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Thank you for coming to Earth and dying so that I could have eternal life. Please forgive all my sins. I am going to follow You with my life now. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit and direct my steps. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” 
Resources on becoming a Christian
Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane by Heinrich Hofmann.
see also: Resources on becoming a Christian
Below are some resources on becoming a Christian:
Tips on choosing a Christian church:
Spiritual growth as a Christian: