Who is Jesus?

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, probably about 3 BC (those who re-set the calendar to 0000 to honour his birth have probably miscalculated by a few years). He was born to Mary (considered a virgin, so as to fulfil a prophecy by the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah) and to Joseph. Jesus was a Jew. If we look at Jesus’ family tree (Matthew’s gospel) we’ll see that Jesus is related, many generations back, to King David. For this reason Jesus is called “Son of David”. David was Israel’s finest king, a godly man, although not perfect. God promised to David that his kingdom would never end; a descendant of his would always be king. Christians believe that it was through Jesus that God made good this promise, Jesus, of course, is king in the eternal kingdom of heaven.Jesus, as a Jew, was circumcised as a baby, and grew up in the Jewish faith; his scriptures were what we call the Old Testament, plus a fair bit of “oral tradition”. The only childhood story we have is when, as a young boy, Jesus travelled to the Temple in Jerusalem and was separated from his family group on the way home. He was found by Mary and Joseph, in the Temple, “about his Father’s business”, suggesting his Father is God.Jesus began his ministry when he was about 30 years old. John the Baptist was preparing the people for Jesus’ coming by “baptism and repentance of sins”, Jesus was baptised by John and received the Holy Spirit, so initiating his ministry of about 3 years.

There were many people at the time who believed that Jesus was God’s messiah, or “anointed one”. The Jewish people had for a long time been expecting a Messiah to save them. They’d had a long and difficult history. After King David the kingdom was split into two and both countries were invaded. The most recalled event is about 500BC when Jerusalem was destroyed, including the Temple, and the people taken into exile in Babylon. After several generations the people returned to rebuild the Temple and the city, but things were never quite the same and many were dissatisfied with the worship. In Jesus’ day the country was under Roman rule and the people longed for liberation. The belief was that God’s Messiah would bring this freedom and there was an expectation of a figure like King David, a successful warrior King. Christians believe that Jesus is God’s messiah; he followed King David but didn’t lead an army. Jesus brought liberation from the bondage of sin and initiated the new relationship with God through his life, death and resurrection. This new relationship with God is “the new covenant” and it made many of the practices at the Jerusalem Temple redundant (Christianity doesn’t, for example, offer sacrifices on an altar).Jesus had 12 disciples (Apostles) plus close friends, including women. He preached that through himself the kingdom of heaven was drawing near and people were to repent and follow his teaching, he forgave people their sins in God’s name. Jesus taught by telling stories (parables) and did many miracles. In all he said he did he showed what God was like and what the kingdom of heaven was like, (there was healing, forgiveness, judgement, mercy etc.) Jesus had a particular ministry to the poor and the outcasts, and he challenged the religious authorities of his day.

In the early days of Christianity the followers of Jesus worshipped in the synagogues but they were eventually “thrown out”, the major disagreement being that Christians believed Jesus was God’s messiah whereas faithful Jews will claim him as a prophet but are still waiting for the Messiah.

Jesus was crucified by the Roman authorities, after an unfair trial, and at the request of some of the Jewish people. His crime was insurrection. He was betrayed, after the last supper, by Judas and crucified between 2 criminals, above his cross was the title “King of the Jews”. Jesus was dead when the Roman soldiers came to break the legs of those who were still alive, but they pierced his side. The body was taken down and placed in a tomb, wrapped in cloth and the tomb sealed shut with a huge stone. The church remembers the crucifixion on Good Friday.

On the Sunday morning women went anoint his body, following the Jewish custom, only to find that the stone had been moved, the cloths were lying there, but the body had gone. Mary Magdalene was the first witness of the resurrected Jesus, she mistook him for the gardener. There were other, for example, Thomas, Peter, the disciples on the road to Emmaus. The church celebrates the resurrection of Easter Sunday, and Sunday is “the Lord’s day”.

Jesus is described as “Son of God”, because he is believed to be both fully human and fully divine. The Holy Trinity, is God the Father, God the eternal Son an

d God the Holy Spirit. In Jesus God the eternal Son came to earth. “Son-ship” is not about being male, it’s about being in eternal relationship with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. God isn’t male. Jesus was a man but the most important thing about him is his humanity, not his gender!