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Jesus Christ

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Jesus Christ is the second person of the triune God, who took on human form in order to reconcile mankind to God.

He lived almost his entire earthly life in Roman-occupied Israel. He was born in human form circa 4 BC, in Bethlehem,[1] was raised in Nazareth, was executed circa 30 AD in Jerusalem, and then rose from the dead and soon after returned to heaven.

Contents

Purpose

Jesus' purpose in coming to Earth in human form was to provide a way for humans to be reconciled to God. Soon after creation, Adam, the federal head of the human race, disobeyed God, which prevented him and his descendants from being in harmony with God.

Upon dying on the executioner's cross, Jesus took the punishment that we deserved, and having taken that punishment upon Himself for us, allowed us to be once more in harmony with God.

Name

Jesus is the name that an angel told Jesus' earthly father, Joseph to give Him.[2] It is the Latin form of the Greek Iesous, which is the equivalent of the Hebrew Yeshua, which we know as Joshua.

The name is based on the name of God, Jehovah and the name Hosea, which means saviour, so the name Jesus mean God saves.

Christ is the Greek word for the Hebrew messiah.
The Messiah was the one promised in the Old Testament who would come to save God's people.
So Jesus Christ can be read as Jesus the Messiah.

Earthly life

Birth

Jesus was born to Mary, a virgin who lived in the town of Nazareth. She was betrothed to, or committed to marry, Joseph, when she became pregnant through the Holy Spirit.[3]

However, Jesus was not born in Nazareth. Because of a Roman census, Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem, near Jerusalem. It was there that Jesus was born.

When he was born, angels appeared to shepherds and gave them the good news. The shepherds immediately went and found Jesus in Bethlehem, and there they worshipped Him.[4]

Some "wise men" from a country to the east also visited Jesus some time after his birth. They had seen a special star in the sky, which prompted them to travel to Israel, then to Bethlehem, to honour Jesus and give Him gifts.[5] From these visitors Herod, the king of Israel, learned of Jesus' birth, and wanted to eliminate Him, so he ordered all the boys up to two years old in and around Bethlehem executed. Joseph was warned by an angel and he fled with Jesus and Mary to Egypt he where stayed until the death of Herod. Herod's son Archelaus had become the King of Judea, so he avoided going there and returned to Nazareth in Galilee. [6]

Ministry

Apart from a visit to the temple in Jerusalem when He was twelve years old, the Bible records very little more about Jesus until He began His ministry when He was about 30 years old.[7] At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus went to meet his cousin John the Baptist near the River Jordan and asked to be baptized despite his protestations.[8][9][10] After his baptism, Jesus went to fast in the desert for forty days and was tempted by Satan but he resisted all the temptations.[11][12][13] John had been arrested by the tetrach Herod Antipas for offending him and his wife Herodias,[14] so Jesus returned to Galilee.[15] He gathered twelve disciples who would follow Him and learn what He had to teach and pass it on to others. During His three years of ministry, Jesus travelled around Israel and adjacent areas, teaching and healing and doing miracles.

Following His ministry in Galilee, Jesus departed with his disciples for Jerusalem. As they were approaching the city, Jesus had a donkey brought to Him and rode on its back to Jerusalem. He was welcomed by many of the citizens who threw their clothes and palm leaves on His path.[16] After his arrival, Jesus went to the temple and drove out the merchants from there, enraged that they had turned the holy place into a place of merchandise. His teaching upset some of the religious leaders who plotted to get rid of Him. They were afraid to arrest Jesus in public because the people revered Him as a prophet so they offered a reward to anyone willing to turn Him over to them.

Arrest

As Passover was approaching, Jesus sent some of his disciples to prepare the Passover meal for them. As they were eating, Jesus revealed that one of his disciples would betray Him. This was His apostle Judas Iscariot who was tempted by Satan to go to the Pharisees to whom he offered to deliver Jesus for thirty silver coins. Jesus had gone to pray on the Mount of Olives near Getshemane during the night, as was His custom with three of his disciples. Judas came there with a group of armed men and Jesus was arrested and taken before the Sanhedrin for questioning. The Pharisees attempted to find evidence to prove His guilt but the only one was a testimony that Jesus had claimed He could rebuild the temple in three days if it was destroyed. Finally Jesus was asked whether He was the Son of God, to which He replied that He was. This convinced them that he was guilty of blasphemy.

Jesus was taken before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea to be condemned. He was accused of attempting to incite a revolt against the Roman authorities by claiming that He was the King of the Jews. Pilate did not consider Him guilty and sent Him before Herod Antipas, since Jesus was from Galilee. Herod expected Jesus to do a miracle before him, but when Jesus refused to answer his requests, Herod and his soldiers began to mock Him and had Him sent back to Pilate. Pilate attempted to let Him go after deciding He would be scourged, but the crowd was incited to demand His death. It was the custom to release a prisoner during the celebration and Pilate suggested them to choose Jesus but they chose a criminal named Barabbas instead. Pilate then ordered Jesus to be sentenced to death by crucifixion.

Execution

Jesus was mocked and beaten and then forced to carry His own cross, until He was physically unable to continue to do so. Another was then forced to carry it for Him. Jesus was crucified along with two criminals on a hill named Golgotha. During the midday, a darkness fell over the earth and lasted until the ninth hour. After His suffering, Jesus gave up His spirit and physically died. At the moment of His death, the curtain of the temple was torn and the earth began to shake. As the Sabbath was approaching, the people did not want the bodies to remain on the crosses so Pilate ordered the soldiers to take them down and break their legs. They did not do this to Jesus, since He was already dead but a soldier pierced Jesus's side with his spear. The death of Jesus fulfilled numerous prophecies made in the Old Testament, including Isaiah 53.

Resurrection and ascension

The body of Jesus was given to a rich man named Joseph of Arimathea who was secretly his disciple. Jesus was buried in a cave that Joseph had recently prepared for himself, according to the customs of the time, and the cave was sealed. Because the stories got around that He would rise from the dead, Herod had soldiers guard the tomb. Nevertheless, on the third day after his crucifixion, Jesus rose from death.

Jesus then appeared to numerous different disciples, including over 500 at one time. Shortly after, many of His disciples saw him ascend up into the clouds into Heaven. Angels appeared and promised that He would return one day the same way. That day is yet to come.

Divinity

The divinity of Jesus is clear from a number of passages in the Bible.

In a well-known passage, the Gospel of John opens by describing Jesus as "the Word", and explicitly equating that with God: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men."[17]

When Jesus healed a paralysed man in Capernaum, He did so by telling him that his sins are forgiven.[18] Only God could forgive sins, and his audience realised that this amounted to a claim of being God, and some therefore accused Him of blasphemy.

On another occasion, Jesus said of Himself, "before Abraham was born, I am!"[19] In saying this, He was indicating that He pre-existed Abraham, and was also using a term that God used of Himself in talking to Moses[20] which, by avoiding the past tense, also conveyed that He was eternal.

In the letter to the Hebrews, Jesus is described as the "the exact representation of his [God's] being", and also record God describing Jesus as God: "But about the Son he says, 'Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever...'"[21]

The author of the letter to the Romans says the following:

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."[22]

In saying this, he was quoting the prophet Joel, who wrote that "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved"[23]. Joel was talking of God, while Paul was making the same claim about Jesus.

Historicity

Although quite a few atheists reject not only the divinity of Jesus but also His very existence, essentially no serious historian doubts the historicity of Jesus.[24]

References

  1. Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, Bethlehem…Of Course, Biblical Archaeology Review
  2. Matthew 1:21
  3. Matthew 1:18-25
  4. Luke 2:1-20
  5. Matthew 2:1-11
  6. Matthew 2:13-23
  7. Luke 2:41-51
  8. Matthew 3:13-17
  9. Mark 1:9-12
  10. Luke 3:21-22
  11. Matt 4:1-11
  12. Mark 1:13
  13. Luke 4:1-13
  14. Luke 3:19-20
  15. Matt 4:12
  16. Luke 19:28-38
  17. John 1:1-4
  18. Matthew 9:2-3, Mark 2:5-7, Luke 5:20-21
  19. John 8:58
  20. Exodus 3:14
  21. Hebrews 1:3,8
  22. Romans 10:9-13
  23. Joel 2:32
  24. Bart Ehrman, Interview on The Infidel Guy.

External Links

The Deity of Christ

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