Jesus of Nazareth also known as Jesus Christ and Jesus the Christ—is the central figure of Christianity, and within most Christian-based religions he is considered as the Son of God and as God incarnate. Believers in Christ also known as Christians also view him as the Messiah foretold by the Old Testament and the one in whom we concentrate when we meditate on the holy word (also known as Christian meditation); however, Jewish authority reject the claims of the Messiah.
Most historic and biblical scholars believe that many parts of the New Testament are very useful in reconstructing Jesus' life. Many of them agree that He was a Jew from birth who was regarded as a divine teacher and healer. They also agree that Jesus was water baptized by John the Baptist, and was crucified in Jerusalem on the orders of Pontius Pilate, a Roman of Judaea, and charged with sedition against the Roman Empire. Scholars have offered competing theories of Jesus as the awaited Messiah, but many of the Old Testament prediction far outweigh their theories and point to Jesus as the Messiah.
The chief source of information, and the starting point regarding the life of Jesus are the four canonical gospels; Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. A small group of scholars believe that other texts such as the Gospel of Thomas are relevant as historical documents.
The Christian view of Jesus centers around the belief that Jesus is the Son of God and God himself incarnate as human. And as such is the Messiah whose coming was prophesied in the Old Testament for the salvation of the world. Being the Son of God means he is God the Son, the second person in the Trinity who came to provide salvation and reconciliation between man and God through his crucifixion, death, and resurrection.
This belief of salvation makes Christianity very unique. No other religion claims to have the knowledge or power to allow man into the presence of God. It is through the acceptance of the resurrected Christ that a person becomes a believer and accepted as unblemished by God.
Other religions offer “ways” of purging oneself from sin. These forms include denial of food (fasting), systematic prayer, prayer movements, and chanting mantras. In the gospels Jesus Christ describes himself as being one with God, or God the Son of the Trinity that makes up God as one, and only he has the power to atone for all sin for mankind. And through faithful believe a person could in fact live in His perfect spirit.
Other Christian beliefs include Jesus' virgin birth, the raising of the dead, walking on water, miraculous healings, physical ascension into Heaven, and his future Second Coming. While the doctrine of the Trinity is widely accepted by most Christian faiths, a small minority reject it as partly non-scriptural.
Christian meditation based around Jesus Christ as the savior, healer, teacher, and the Son of God allows for most people to freely experience the power of God.
CHRISTIAN MEDITATION AND THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS
The main source to learn the teachings of Jesus is the four canonical gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, found in the New Testament (Bible). Critical scholars have found valuable historical information about Jesus' life and ministry in the gospels but cannot neither confirm nor deny much of the miraculous and theological content. One major point of agreement is that many of the principles delivered, illustrated, and expounded by Jesus have had a tremendous impact on morality and code of conduct of our society. Scholars can also point out that some of the greatest charitable efforts are also directly related the teachings of Jesus.
Christian meditation is hidden in plain view in the four gospels of Jesus Christ. The two most prominent locations are John 14:23 and Matthew 6:22.
John 14:23 says that the believer should love God through the study of the word until it is translated into the presence of God. This is also know as deep meditation that transforms the personality.
Matthew 6:22 states that the "eye", or the vision of the mind, is the "lamp of the body" or what allows the entrance of God. "If our eye is good (sound with the word of God) the your whole body will be full of light"
In other words, if our time of meditation transforms our inner being and mind into the likeness of God's spiritual principles in the bible the presence of God will fill us. That's Christian meditation!
SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES AMONG THE CHRISTIAN GOSPELS OF JESUS
Three of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are known as the synoptic Gospels because they display a high degree of similarity in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence and paragraph structures. These Gospels are also considered to share a similar point of view. The fourth canonical Gospel, John, differs greatly from these three.
It’s hypothesized that Mark might be the source for Matthew and Luke, both of whom also independently used a now lost sayings source called the Q Gospel. Mark’s gospel defines the sequence of events from Jesus' baptism to the empty tomb and included parables of the Kingdom of God. Without actually witnessing the creation of the text scholars cannot be sure.
CHARACTER OF JESUS and CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
Each gospel portrays Jesus' life and its meaning from a slightly different perspective. For example, the John’s gospel is a theological representation of Jesus as the divine Logos (the personification of God’s wisdom). Mark depicts Jesus as a bold and compelling man of action who performed great deeds in front of many witnesses. Matthew describes him especially as the fulfillment of Hebrew prophecy and as a greater Moses. Luke emphasizes Jesus' miraculous powers and his support for the poor, women, and Gentiles.
JESUS AS LOGOS
The Gospel of John begins by identifying Jesus as the divine Logos, or the Word of God manifest, that formed everything in the universe. John describes the Logos, the word of God becoming flesh, and identifies him as Jesus Christ. According to the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ is God active in the creation, revelation of Light, and in the redemption of man for life with God. Jesus' earthly life was the Word of God incarnate.
many cases Jesus compared the word of God as His own body. He also
repeatedly taught that any who "drinks" of His blood, or who "eats" of
His flesh will have eternal life.
Anyone who meditates on His word enough to be transformed in heart,
soul, and mind is the one who has taken in His life. Another bold
emphasis on Christian meditation by Jesus Christ.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT JESUS
GENEALOGY AND FAMILY OF JESUS
The gospels of Matthew and Luke give accounts of Jesus' genealogy. Both gospels trace his lineage back to King David and from there to Abraham. Naturally these lists are identical between Abraham and David, but they differ between David and Joseph. Matthew starts with Solomon and then proceeds tracing his lineage through the kings of Judah all the way to the last king, Jeconiah. After Jeconiah, the line of kings terminates when Babylon conquered Judah. Matthew traces Jesus’ lineage as a descendant of the kings of Israel, while Luke's genealogy is longer and goes back to Adam and provides more names between David and Jesus.
Joseph, the husband of Mary, appears in the portrayal of Jesus' childhood but no further mention is made of Joseph during the Jesus’ ministry.
The New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, and Galatians describe of Jesus' relatives, including words that could be translated as "brothers" or "sisters". Luke mentions that Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, was a "cousin" or "relative" of Mary, which could make John a distant cousin.
BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE OF JESUS
According to Matthew and Luke, Jesus was born to Mary, a virgin, by a miracle of the Holy Spirit. It’s described that Jesus’ birthplace was Bethlehem of Judea. In Luke’s gospel, the angel Gabriel visits Mary and tells her that she was chosen to conceive the Son of God. Later, an order from Caesar Augustus forces Mary and Joseph to leave Nazareth and to the home of Joseph's ancestors for the Census of Quirinius. After Jesus was born, the couple is forced to use a manger as a crib because of a shortage of accommodation. An angel announces the birth of Jesus to shepherds who left their flocks and visited with the newborn and who subsequently publicized what they had witnessed throughout the area.
In the gospel of Matthew, the “Magi” or "Wise Men" (who were also known as astronomers and mathematicians) deliver gifts to the new born Jesus. The reach the new born after being guided by an unusual star which they believe was the sign of the King, the King of the Jews was born. When King Herod hears of Jesus' birth from the Magi he tries to kill him by decreeing a massacre on all the male children under the age of two in Bethlehem. Jesus’ family escapes to Egypt and wait until Herod's death. Later they return to Nazareth and avoid living under the authority of Herod's son and successor Archelaus.
Throughout the scriptures the child Jesus and family had a home in Nazareth and place him and other events in Jesus' life throughout ancient Israel.
The gospel of Luke accounts an incident when Jesus left his parents and was later found teaching in a temple. This incident is the only event recorded during Jesus’ early years before his baptism. According to the gospel of Luke, at the time of Jesus’ baptism Jesus was about thirty years old.
Mark call Jesus “the builder” and “a builder's son”. Most people believe Mark calls him “the carpenter” but the Greek word used in this gospel is "tekton" which means "builder", which might suggest that he could have been involved in bigger projects or some type of artisan work.
BAPTISM AND TEMPTATION OF JESUS
The three synoptic Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe Jesus being baptized by “John the Baptist”. This event launches Jesus' ministry into the public. According to the gospels, Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River during a time when “John the Baptist” was preaching and baptizing crowds of people. In the gospel of Mark it’s described that when Jesus came out of the water Mark saw the heavens part and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven saying: “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”
After his baptism, Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in the desert. The account is that, the Devil appeared and tempted him three different times. Each time, Jesus rejects the temptation and repudiates the Devil with a quotation from the Book of Deuteronomy. Then the Devil departs and God’s angels come to nourish Jesus.
THE MINISTRY OF JESUS
The gospels teach that Jesus had a preaching and healing ministry. It’s described that He preached through the territory of ancient Israel. Jesus teaches people with stories and parables. He shows his disciples how to heal people and haw to cast demons out. The signs and wonders would often astonish crowds. He spoke with authority and was questioned by many.
The main focus of his teachings in the Kingdom of God, and would often speak in a long discourse describing a better life for his listeners by relinquishing the ways of the world and by adopting the ways of God so that they could experience the Kingdom of God within.
Christian meditation is the best way to experience the kingdom of God as it allows us to ever-increasingly commune with the Holy Ghost. This is also revealed by John 14:23 and Matthew 6:22.
JESUS' PURPOSE and CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
Jesus said of himself and of his purpose, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. These as well as many other statements are statements that many Jewish authorities considered blasphemous since only God gives life.
In Mark it’s stated that Jesus came to "give his life as a ransom for many". Luke describes him as the one sent to "preach the good news of the Kingdom of God". John, says "those who believed in him would have eternal life".
Those who believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God can, and will experience the Kingdom of God during times of deep relaxation and meditation.
Further evidence of Jesus’ true mission in located in the book of John throughout verses 14 through 17 where John accounts Jesus’ words as “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No comes to the Father except through me.”, “I and the Father are one”, “that they (people) may be one, as You Father are in me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us.”
These statements point to the main topic of Christianity, salvation, in which Christ becomes the central figure in the annulment of sin and entry in the Kingdom of God.
DURATION AND LOCATION OF JESUS’ MINISTRY
Based on mathematical calculation Jesus’ ministry lasted approximately two years and a couple of months. This is calculation based on the description of John’s Passover feasts in the gospel of John. Others believe that Jesus’ ministry lasted only a year. No one really knows for sure how long his ministry lasted but we can safely assume that it probably lasted between one to two years.
Jesus traveled throughout the land of Israel preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God. The main location of ministry is Galilee. Later he travels to Jerusalem and cleanses his Father’s Temple and is executed.
THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS
In all four Gospels, Jesus calls twelve Jewish men to be his Apostles. All of them seem to have been working class people. What is described is that one was probably involved in agriculture, four were fishermen, and one was a tax collector. Three of them were asked to accompany Jesus on special occasions, such as the transfiguration on a mountain. Other special occasions include the raising of a little girl from death, the daughter of Jairus, and what is now known as the Agony in the Garden.
Jesus speaks of discipleship requirement. He tells a rich man to go and sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor, and then follow him. He states that the penalty for this action will be a division and loss of family and possessions. He describes later that the gain acquired for obeying his words would be a new more blessed family and riches both in this world and in the kingdom (heaven).
In the Synoptic Gospels of Mathew, Mark, and Luke Jesus’ main message is about the Kingdom of God, how to posses it, and why it’s important. In Matthew and Luke he expounds on mortality and the importance of prayer. In the book of John, Jesus describes himself as being one with God and part of the holy Trinity which makes up one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In this gospel he decrees the most famous of all bible passages, John 3:16 which states “for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (Himself), that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (Salvation)
Later in verse 17 he says of himself that God doesn’t want to condemn the world but to save it through Him, Jesus. In other scriptures he describes how God provides all things even beyond his audience imagination. He goes on and describes beautiful dwellings prepared for humanity in the kingdom. Later in the book of Revelation (of Jesus Christ) he describes the kingdom more clearly and explains that there are “streets of gold” and “walls of Jasper…and precious stones”
The bible reveals that people where genuinely amazed and captivated by his words. Throughout the gospels Jesus speaks as if he could into the Kingdom while describing it to his audience. At the height of his ministry, Jesus attracted large crowds in the thousands, primarily throughout Galilee and Perea (today known as Israel and Jordan).
The most impactful sermon Jesus ever delivered is credited with changing the course of human history. The Sermon on the Mount, which contains the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer is a discourse scholars say most people (in any religion) point to as foundational principle to spiritual perfection and benevolence in the world.
Other famous teachings include: the Parable of the Ten (or Foolish) Virgins, the Parable of the Sower, the Parable of the Mustard Seed, and the Parable of the Talents. Most of Jesus’ moral teaching instructed people to love each other as God loved them. This might have meant in some cases to have a self-sacrificial love for God and people. He also emphasized the importance of following the spirit and letter of Jewish law.
In the Synoptics, Jesus describes how the end of the current world will come unexpectedly. He further explains that God has appointed him to return and judge the world, so he calls on believers to ever vigilant and faithful to his words. In Mark he describes how God’s kingdom is a divine government due to come at any moment. He also shares with his audience that false Messiahs will rise, disasters will occur, tribulations of all kinds will happen, and signs in the heavens will be the precursor to his return.
JESUS’ OUTREACH MINISTRY
As a Jew, Jesus was expected to follow Jewish custom and law. Throughout his ministry Jesus reaches out to sinners, children, the poor, women, Samaritans, and foreigners, many times breaking the letter of the law but following the spirit of the law. Jesus defends his cause in front of the Pharisees by pointing out that it is the sick that need a doctor and not the healthy.
Jesus also defended his disciples against purity charges when eating. Jesus points out that purity comes from the heart and physical dirt, demonstrating again that the spirit of the law is more important than the letter of law.
THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS AND HIS DIVINE ROLE
In the synoptic gospels, Jesus chooses three disciples, Peter, John, and James to follow him to the top of a mountain. They ascend to the top and Jesus turns facing them and is transform before their eyes. His face shined like the sun and his clothes were as brilliant as white glowing light. Then both Elijah and Moses (prophets from the Old Testament) appear next to him. Next, a cloud descends on them a voice, believed to be God, says “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased”.
The transfiguration marks a turning point for Jesus’ ministry and is now seen as divine or the holy one of God. Jesus becomes more outspoken about his divine identity as God and about his mission on earth. He teaches with authority and begins to declare hard to believe statements like, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you”. This statement and others similar to it imply that through faith and believe in his Father anyone can perform miraculous deeds. His divine role is clearly depicted in the gospel of John when he declares that by believing in him a person would receive eternal life. He further explains that he is the bread of life, the light of the world, the door to the kingdom, the good shepherd, the way, the truth, and the life. In many of these statements Jesus uses the words “I am” which is the same words God used to describe himself to the Hebrews.
THE ARREST, TRIAL, AND DEATH OF JESUS
Jesus’ most controversial act leading to his death was his entry through the city gate where a large crowd met him and shouted, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” Following this event Jesus drove out the money changers from the temple by overthrowing their tables and saying “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations. But you have made it a den of thieves.”
Later in the week, Jesus celebrates the Passover meal with his disciples. This event is now known as the Last Supper. During the Last Supper he prophesied that one of his disciples would be betrayed him, and would eventually lead to his death. At the Last Supper he took bread and wine in his hand and said: "this is my body which is given up for you" and "this cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood". Then he instructed his disciples to "do this in remembrance of me.” Following the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples went to Garden of Gethsemane to pray.
In the gospels, Jesus is described as very anguished at facing his fate and appears as sweating blood. In the garden he expresses his anguish in prayer but ultimately he accepts God's will.
In the gospel of John, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples then he gives the farewell discourse, explaining the Paraclete, the persecution of believers, the coming of the Holy Spirit (or the Spirit of Truth), and more. He pronounces a long, final prayer which outlines perfect unity between himself, God the Father, and all believers before heading to the garden where he knows Judas will betray him.
BETRAYAL AND ARREST OF JESUS While in the Garden, Jesus is surrounded by the soldiers of the Sanhedrin. Caiaphas, the high priest send the order for Jesus’ arrest in the middle of the night to avoid a riot. Jesus is located by the betrayal of one of his disciples, Judas. During the arrest Simon Peter attacks on of the guards cutting his ear of. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus immediately heals the soldiers’ ear and rebukes Simon Peter. Judas, the betrayer of Jesus is so troubled by the betrayal that he later commits suicide.
TRIALS OF JESUS BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN AND PILATE
In the face of execution Jesus asserts that he is the Son of God, the predicted Messiah, King of Israel before the Sanhedrin (Jewish authority).
The Jewish leaders turn him over to Pilate (a roman governor) under the charge of sedition and treason, the penalty is execution. Pilate is reluctant to charge Jesus with a crime. In his attempt to save Jesus' life, Pilate offers the Jewish crowd a chance to pardon him, but instead they choose to pardon Barabbas, man sentenced for many crimes and stirring up riots.
Pilate then washes his hands and disclaims any responsibility over the death of Jesus. Luke further explains that Pilate sends Jesus to Herod Antipas, who has authority over the Galileans, but Herod also finds him not guilty of any charge.
DEATH OF JESUS In the gospel of Mark its described that Jesus is stripped, mocked, tortured, and then crowned with thorns. He is crucified on a cross of wood between two convicted robbers and on his cross his crime is stated as “king of the Jews”. In his final hours he recites part of Psalm 22, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me.", then he cries out in a load voice and dies.
According to all four Gospels in the New Testament, Jesus died some time before the later part of the afternoon at Calvary, also known as Golgotha. In Luke’s account, Jesus faces his crucifixion without emotion. Jesus asks God to forgive those who accused him and crucified him. One of the thieves crucified with him states that Jesus has done nothing wrong and asks Jesus to remember him in the Kingdom, to which Jesus replies that the He and the thief will be joined Paradise. The Gospels also tells of a darkened sky from noon until about three in the afternoon. Matthew also recounts of an earthquake and of the ground breaking open and numbers of righteous departed or dead people rising out the graves and walking into Jerusalem of Israel. The tearing of the temple parokhet (curtain), upon his death is referenced by Matthew, Mark and Luke and is commonly thought to represent the tearing of the veil between man and God.
RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION OF JESUS
Jesus is described as rising from the dead on a Sunday and reveal that Jesus' tomb was empty when visited. In the gospel of Matthew, God send a powerful angel and appears near Jesus’ tomb and announces his resurrection from death to both Mary Magdalene and "another Mary" who had just arrived to anoint Jesus’ body. Its recorded that Jewish elders offer a bribe to the soldiers who accept it to guard the tomb and to spread the rumor that Jesus' disciples took his body.
The gospel of John states Mary looked into the tomb finding it empty. Two angels then asked her the reason for her tears, and as she turned she failed to recognize Jesus until he spoke to her.
All the Gospel records describe Jesus’ appearances after death, including an appearance to the eleven apostles. In the book of Mark, Mary Magdalene, two disciples who are in the country, and eleven of his disciples see the resurrected Jesus, at which time Jesus commissions them to proclaim the “good news” or the gospel to world, and for all to be baptized and to be saved through their belief, and to perform miracles.
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus appears to two disciples in the country and to the eleven. He then proves to them that he is the resurrected Jesus in body by opening their minds with understanding about the Messiah in the scriptures. He then directs them to Jerusalem to wait until they are filled with power from above. In the book of John, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene and to his eleven disciples. He then gives physical proof of his resurrected body to a doubting Thomas. Later Jesus appears to seven of his disciples who were fishing. He talks to Peter, foretelling his death and assigning him as the shepherd of a new community. Many experts believe Jesus saw a future church forming out of His sacrificial mission.
In the gospels of Mark and Luke, Jesus is described as ascending into the heavens after his post death appearances. Luke writes that Jesus ascended on Easter Sunday evening in the presence of his disciples. Mark says that Jesus ascended to heaven, where he sits at the right hand of God. Whereas John leads readers to believe that Jesus returned to his Father but doesn't describe a physical ascension.
Frequently scholars have used scientific historical methods to develop possible reconstructions of Jesus' life. Over the last two hundred years, the theoretical image of Jesus scholars have reconstructed is different from the image of Jesus presented by the self proclaimed eyewitness accounts of the gospels. Other scholars say that the image of Jesus portrayed in the gospels is the real Jesus. In-arguably the principal source of information regarding the life of Jesus is the Gospels of the New Testament. There are no surviving historical documents other than the gospels of the person of Jesus written during his lifetime. A vast majority of historians and biblical scholars agree to the historical existence of Jesus.
RECONSTRUCTING A HISTORICAL VIEW OF JESUS
Historians have repeated analyzed the gospels trying to construct the historical man of Jesus. They’ve compared what the gospels describe to relevant historical times, events, and places where the gospels were written. They’ve tried to answer historical questions about Jesus but ultimately conclude that without having been an eyewitness to the events it’s impossible to create a highly accurate picture and can only approach what may have been true.
Most scholars agree that the Gospel of Mark was written around the when the Jewish Temple was destroyed by the Romans under the rule of Titus, around the year 70 AD. It’s believed that the other gospels were officially written between 60 and 90 AD. This theory assumes the possibility that parts of the gospels could have been written during Jesus’ ministry to be finished later. The historical view of Jesus relies on a critical analysis of the New Testament with a special focus on the books of the gospels. Many scholars have tried to produce an image of Jesus through other societal dimensions like political, religious, cultural, and the movements in late Second Temple of the Jews and, in Roman-occupied Palestine territory, this includes differences between Galilee and Judea, differences between Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots, and in terms of historical conflicts between Jews and Romans over occupation.
HISTORICAL DESCRIPTION OF JESUS
Jesus is generally and historically viewed as a teacher and healer passionate about restoring people to God's kingdom. Almost all historians agree that he was baptized by John the Baptist, and that John the Baptized existed. They also agree that Jesus was crucified by Roman rule fueled by Jewish fear. Both Jewish and Roman rulers in were very suspicious of outspoken Galilean patriots, many of them advocated and even launched violent uprisings against Roman rule. The gospels depict Jesus as a very charismatic leader who drew the attention of thousands of people and so was regarded as a potential troublemaker for the Jews and was executed on political charges.
John the Baptist was considered to be a messenger of God who warned people to straighten their ways before the coming of the Lord. His preaching demanded repentance and baptism as a way to become straight before God. All the while John pointed out that the coming Messiah would baptize them not with water but with the fire of the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus was baptized by John in the witnessed of several hundred. Historians nearly unanimously accept Jesus' baptism as a historical event.
Based on folklore and era documents historians observe Jesus taught in very straight-to-the-point parables with striking images. He taught people by likening the principles of God’s Kingdom with common things understood by his audience, such as seeds and yeast. He used his vivid illustrations to stimulate responses and discussions from the crowd. Jesus regularly spoke of God as not only his Father, but the Father of all.
NAMES AND TITLES OF JESUS
Jesus hometown was Galilee and for most of his life he spoke Aramaic, possibly some Hebrew and Greek. The name "Jesus" comes from an alternate spelling of the Latin (Iesus) which is believed to come from the Greek name Iesous. In the Septuagint translations of the scriptures, it’s used as the Greek version of the Hebrew name Yehoshua which means "God delivers" coming from Yeho from Yahweh and [is] shua` or deliverance/rescue or deliverer.
The word Christ started as a title and not as a name. It has often been used as a name for Jesus as an Anglicization of the Greek word, christos. In the Septuagint, this term is used as the translation of the Hebrew: Modern – Mašía, Tiberian - Mašî, the "Anointed One" and in reference to high priests, and kings. In the Old Testament books of Isaiah and Jeremiah the word began to appear as a way to describe the future ideal king. In the New Testament the word is used some 500 times and applied to Jesus. The word Christ is sometimes used generically or in the absolute sense, namely to describe Jesus as the Anointed One, the Messiah, or the Christ.
Other titles and names commonly applied to Jesus are "The Wonder Counselor", "Son of God", “Son of Man”, "Divine", "God", "Lord", "God from God", "Redeemer", "The Prince of Peace", "Liberator", “the Door”, “the Good Shepherd”, “Teacher”, “Light of the World”, “the Rock”, “the Word”, ”the Way”, “the Truth”, “Life”, “King of Kings”, “King of Glory”, “the Bread of Life”, “the Just King”, and "Savoir of the World"
"Emmanuel" or "Immanuel" is derived from the Hebrew name Immanu-El, which is translated as "God with us" and based on the Messianic interpretation of a predictive verse in Isaiah 7:14 in the Old Testament, "They shall call his name Immanuel".
RELIGIOUS GROUPS IN EXISTENCE DURING THE TIMES OF JESUS
To better understand Jesus' life scholars have referred to the early 1st century religious life.
Pharisees Historians are not certain whether or not Pharisees were around in Galilee during the times of Jesus. What is well documented is that the Pharisees were a Jewish religious group who attempted to live in a state of constant purity. They did this following Oral Law (passing of the law verbally through generations) as well as the Torah (the written law).
Pharisees were very influential during 1st-century Judea. There is some speculation that Jesus himself might have been a Pharisee, but there is no concrete evidence to confirm this theory. This theory is largely based on a harmony between Jesus’ teachings and that of the Pharisee. Examples of similar teachings include: believing in afterlife, retribution or judgment after death, and divorce.
During Jesus' ministry, there were two main camps of thought among the Pharisees. One came from the House of Hillel, and the other came from the House of Shammai. Jesus' often called the Pharisees hypocrites which may have been directed toward the stricter House of Shammai. During Jesus’ time he commented on the greatest commandment and the Golden Rule which is out of the teachings of the House of Hillel's (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a).
Sadducees The Saducees where members to an ancient religious group who accepted the literal interpretation of the Torah (the written law) rejecting Oral Law and the belief in the afterlife, resurrection, angels, retribution, and spirits.
It’s believed that it was the Sadducees who had Jesus arrested after he caused a disturbance at the Temple. After Jerusalem’s fall, they disappeared.
Essenes Essene were members to a Jewish religious group that consisted of only men and who shared property. They practiced celibacy and observed the Sabbath. Although not mentioned in the New Testament some scholars, including Pope Benedict XVI, believe that Jesus, and possibly his family were at least close to the Essene community.
Apocalyptic sect This sect taught that God would intervene at anytime to restore Israel. Many scholars believe, but cannot be altogether certain, that Jesus led an apocalyptic movement, expecting God’s intervention at any moment.
"Nazarene" Nazarene was sometimes used as a religious affiliation. Since Jesus was born in Nazareth, the label Nazarene could imply an affiliation with Jesus of Nazareth
Zealots Zealots were a group of Jewish rebels who attempted to oust Roman presence from Palestine. Their final attempt to overthrown Roman rule led to the destruction of the temple in the year 70 AD.
In the gospel of Luke, Simon the disciple, is called a "zealot", which might have meant he was a member of the Zealots (which would mean that the Zealots were already in existence at the time of Jesus). The theory notion that Jesus was a Zealot does not do harmonize with the early Synoptic material.
CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURE ABOUT THE HISTORICAL JESUS
Historians look at text and events that are most genuine to construct a historical portrait of Jesus. The gospels provide several authentic fragments of historical documentation and Jesus teaching.
Today we know that there is a high likelihood that the New Testament was finished around 11 AD, making its books historically relevant. The custom in those days was to pass information orally, so it’s believed that much of Jesus’ life and teachings was documented until later. This is one theory which may or may not be true. Another theory is that the words of Jesus were so impactful and rich with meaning they were documented early on and then transcribed along with an oral history of into what we know today as the New Testament.
The works describing Jesus were in fact written in Greek which was later translated into other languages. Bart D. Ehrman a critic, cites that there are many instances where it appears that Christian scribes manipulated the original text when translating it.
Critical scholars multiple texts as more plausible when consider scriptural accounts when forming a historical view of Jesus. Another valid point of view is the "criterion of embarrassment" which holds that a contrary account would likely not be included because of the embarrassment it could cause. A principle example of the "criterion of embarrassment" is the fleeing of Jesus' followers after his arrest or Peter’s denial of Jesus. Despite the potential for embarrassment the text was included which provides scholars with more validity.
MYTHICAL VIEW OF JESUS
A few have questioned and even rejected the existence of historical Jesus. Bruno Bauer a 19th century non-historian was among the first to write about this subject. Another supporter appeared in 1944. Will Durant’s book Caesar and Christ he cites the lack of eyewitnesses, lack of direct archaeological evidence, and the absence of Jesus’ name in certain ancient works.
Books like The Jesus Puzzle and The Jesus Mysteries are examples of popular works that promote a non-historical hypothesis. Another most recent book, and later turned into a movie, is the Da Vinci Code which sensationalized a non-historical view which later was later disclosed by the author to be fiction.
An opposing view comes from classicist Michael Grant who stated that “a standard historical criterion prevents one from rejecting the existence of an historical Jesus”.
RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVES ON JESUS
The Jewish community still reject Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah. Catholics, Reformers, and the Christian Church have produced extensive material about Jesus over centuries.
Small Christian sects have often defined themselves by competing descriptions of Jesus. While other religious groups such as Gnostics, Muslims, Mandaeans, Baha'is, Manichaeans, and others have given Jesus a prominent place in their own religious accounts.
CHRISTIAN VIEWS OF JESUS
The following text describes the general views of many Christian faiths of Jesus and his role in humanity.
JESUS AS SAVIOR AND REDEEMER
Christians acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament. Their acknowledgement includes that through his life, death, and resurrection, he restored humanity's communion with God which was accomplished by the blood of the New Covenant. Through human faith in his death on a cross humanity is redeemed to God, being reborn as a new Godly creation. This redemption is the source of humanity's salvation and the atonement of all sin which had entered the human family tree through Adam and Eve.
In the Christian faith Jesus is acknowledged to have been executed by crucifixion, and then rising in bodily form from the tomb. This definitive miracle foreshadows the resurrection of humanity at the end of time. Christ will come again to judge both the living and the dead, resulting in entrance into heaven or not. Jesus' resurrection brings reconciliation with God and therefore life to mankind and it is through his resurrection that Christian believe that the power of death is destroyed, and the remission of sins ensues.
JESUS - FULLY MAN AND FULLY GOD
Christians acknowledge Jesus Christ to be God the Son, the eternal Word, and the Lord. The principle assertion is that God became man and was incarnated as Jesus the man so that whosoever believes in him might have everlasting life with him. Based on the gospels Christians further belief that he was born of Virgin women through the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
The virgin birth highlights salvation as a supernatural act of God toward humanity rather than an act of human intervention. This supernatural act of God reinforces the purity of Christ as it relates to mankind.
Between 325 and 681 AD, nature of Jesus was refined and articulated by a series of well developed ecumenical councils. Jesus is described as one of the three divine persons of God, known as Holy Trinity. The Son is defined as one substance with God yet able be an individual entity. Together, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are a single substance of the One God. A further declaration of the councils was that Jesus was fully human and a fully divine. This doctrine is called the Hypostatic union.
JESUS AND CHRISTIAN MINISTRY
In Jesus’ lifetime he proclaimed the "good news" of coming Kingdom of Heaven. He made it known that the Kingdom was readily accessible and made available to all through him. He further explained that his word was the seed of the kingdom which the contrite in spirit could use to enter it. In the end Jesus establishes Peter as the foundation of a new Church.
At the Last Supper Jesus institutes the sharing of bread and wine as a way of remembering his sacrifice and the blood New Covenant. This and baptism allow believers of Jesus to partake in a spiritual knowledge with Christ.
JESUS AS PROPHET, PRIEST, AND KING
Jesus Christ proclaimed “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” As mediator for the human race he fulfills the rolls of Prophet, Priest, and King. This assertion was came about by Eusebius of the early church which was later developed John Calvin and John Wesley.
NONTRINITARIAN VIEWS OF JESUS
There are a small minority groups of Christians that do not accept the Trinity doctrine. These include: Jehovah's Witnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Oneness Pentecostals, and Christadelphians.
Latter-day Saints (Mormons) assert that the Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct beings who are equally and eternally divine. The three individual beings together makeup the Godhead or mind of God, each being plays a distinct role in the Godhead.
Latter-day Saints (Mormons) also believe that Christ and the Father appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820 to who was revealed more gospel truths by translating mysterious golden tablets. The way Joseph Smith says he translated this language, which he called “reformed Egyptian”, was by looking at a stone in a hat. The Mormon philosophy, commands, and rituals (such as hand and dance movements) are largely renounced by the traditional Christian faith.
Traditional Christians point out that both the Old Testament and New Testament say that nothing should be added or taken away from the Word of God, making the Book of Mormon obsolete.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus was God's (Jehovah's) son, but not God. Jehovah's Witnesses also believe that Jesus was the same as the Archangel Michael, and that God transferred his life into Mary thereby making a perfect human being and only a human being.
They also believe that he in fact is "the word of God" out of John 1:1 understood as God's spokesman but not as fully stated in John 1, “In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In the original Greek word for “was” can actually be translated as “I”, “was”, “be”, or altogether summarized as “is”.
Jehovah's Witnesses view the words "Son of God" as an indication of Jesus' importance to God the creator. God’s "only-begotten Son" is associated by Jehovah's Witnesses as the firstborn of all creation. This is in direct contrast to traditional Christian scholarly view which points out that the scriptural Greek word translated as “only-begotten” means “sole” or “only one” and not “first born” concluding that there is only one Son that exists as God and not a first born human male.
The Unity Church has considered Jesus to be a “show-er of the way", citing that Jesus frequently calls to imitate him rather than to be worshiped. In the Unity Church Jesus is not worshiped as God, but instead he is regarded as a person who achieved complete union with God the Father.
Traditional Christian scholars point out that this is direct contrast to Jesus’ own words. In one example, John 8:21-23 Jesus states “Where I go you cannot come.” “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are from this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I Am (He), you will die in your sins” Scholars point out that Jesus asked us to simply believe and by simply believing in Him we have a new life in God. In these scriptures Jesus a makes it very clear about where he is from. He speaks as fully conscious in God and declares the fate of those around if they don’t believe.
Scholars also note, that by approaching perfection with God as an achievement it removes the supernatural act of God of salvation which voids even more scriptures where Jesus declares Himself as the way to the Father and not a way to be followed. Furthermore, in the mentioned scriptures Jesus uses the words “I Am” and “I come from” which reveals both his personality and his place of origin. He speaks as God and coming from within God which is a place where people cannot exist as the glory of God would consume them, and therefore edifying His divinity as God.
Christadelphians do not believe that Jesus is God the Son. Instead they believe that he was God’s Son as a human created at the time of his birth. They believe that God's plan for Jesus began at the time of creation. To support this they quote Hebrews 2:10-14 and 2:17-18 to which traditional Christian scholars reply that there is no mention in the entire bible of a plan of God to create Jesus at the time of birth. In fact, traditionalist point out that many of the Hebrew words used to describe God in the Old Testament, including the book of Genesis, is a mistranslation and should read as God in the plural, or Gods. This further supports the triune view of God from the beginning of creation. Scholars also eagerly point to the New Testament Gospel of John about the beginning, “In the beginning was the Word (or Christ), and the Word (or Christ) was with God, and the Word (or Christ) was (or is) God.” which maintains constancy throughout the scriptures that God exists in three different ways as one.
OTHER CHRISTIAN VEIWS OF JESUS
There are many other views about who Jesus was. Most scholars and historians point to the scriptures and a study in its original language as the best way to know who Jesus was.
ISLAMIC VIEWS OF JESUS
Islam recognizes Jesus as a prophet, or messenger of God but not as a Savior. In particular Muslims, describe Jesus as a Messiah sent to guide the Israelites (referred to as the "Children of Israel" in the Qur'an, or bani isra'il) with a new scripture, the Injil (gospel). According to the Islamic Qur'an Jesus was in fact born to the Virgin Mary as a miraculous event between God and Mary.
To help Jesus him in his quest, God gave Jesus miraculous powers which included speaking from the cradle, curing the blind, healing the sick and lepers, as well as raising the dead. Furthermore, Jesus was assisted by a band of disciples. Islam rejects historian assertions that Jesus was crucified by the Romans, instead claiming that he never was crucified. Islamic traditions recount that he will return to earth near the day of judgement to restore justice and defeat al-Masi? ad-Dajjal (lit. "the false Messiah", also known as the Antichrist) and the enemies of Islam. As a just ruler, Jesus will then die.
Jesus was considered to have been a Muslim, as he preached for people to adopt the straight path in submission to God's will. Islam denies that Jesus was God or the son of God, stating that he was an ordinary man who, like other prophets who were divinely chosen. Islamic texts prohibits the association of God with men, emphasizing divinity of God (tawhid). As such, Jesus is referred to in the Qur'an frequently as the "son of Mary" ("Ibn Maryam"). Numerous titles are given to Jesus in the Qur'an, such as mubarak (blessed) and `abd-Allah (servant of God). Another title is al-Masi ("the Messiah; the anointed one" i.e. by means of blessings), although it does not correspond with the meaning accrued in Christian belief. In Islam Jesus is thought to be a precursor to Muhammad, and is believed by Muslims to have foretold the latter's coming.
Under Islamic rule the Bible is looked at as worthy scriptures but the Qur'an is view as a superior book. They note that any contradictions between the Qur'an and the Bible, the Qur'an takes precedence over historic Bible Scriptures.
AHMADIYYA VIEWS OF JESUS
The Ahmadi Muslims say that Jesus never died on a cross. He was just thought to have died but then was resuscitated from his tomb and then journeyed east to Kashmir to further teach until his natural death.
Furthermore, the Muslim tradition predicts the second coming of Christ is not actually Christ, but someone similar.
JUDAISM'S VIEW OF JESUS
Judaism does not regard Jesus as God, as the Son in the Trinity, or as a mediator between man and God. Judaism maintains that Jesus had not fulfilled the Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh (Old Testament) and that he did not embody the personal qualities of the Messiah. Jewish tradition dictates that the last prophet was Malachi. Malachi lived almost four centuries before Jesus was born. By Jewish decree Jesus had not fulfilled the messianic requirements found in the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) and therefore was not recognized as the Messiah. Jewish scholars say that even if Jesus had fulfilled the messianic requirements no prophet could speak against the laws found in the Torah, which Jesus did.
MESSIANIC JUDAISM VIEWS OF JESUS
The Messianic Judaism is both Christian and Jewish in nature, although both Jews and Christians point out that it more a Christian faith than Jewish. Messianic Judaism combines elements of Christianity and Judaism into a single faith.
Like Christians, Messianics believe that Jesus, called Yeshua by followers, is the Messiah and resurrected Divine Savior. Most Messianic Jews professes Yeshua as God the Son in the Trinity. They also accept Yeshua as the word (Torah) made flesh.
BAHÁ'Í VIEWS OF JESUS
The Bahá'í Faith, founded in Persia during the 19th-century, considers Jesus and others like, Muhammad, Krishna, Buddha, and Zoroaster as messengers to humanity who reveal aspects of God through the course of human history.
HINDU VIEWS OF JESUS
Hindu religious leaders consider Jesus in high regard as an incarnation God and the epitome of perfection. Some Hindu leader who recognize as a supreme deity include: Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, and Paramahansa Yogananda who thought Jesus was a student of John the Baptist and the reincarnation of both Elisha and Elijah.
BUDDHIST VIEWS OF JESUS
There different views among Buddhists about Jesus. Most teach that Jesus was a bodhisattva, a person dedicated to the welfare of others. Many consider him an enlightened being.
SIKH VIEWS OF JESUS
Sikhism does not profess that God can come in the form of a man but they specifically point out that salvation can be reached through either the Sikh Religion or through other religions including Christianity. In the Sikh Holy Book, Jesus is mentioned as "Issa" along with Buddha and Allah.
OTHER VIEWS OF JESUS
The New Age movement considers Jesus as a holy being of God and that Christhood is something that can be attained. Many new age followers believe that Jesus was reincarnated many times before bringing new wisdom each time.
Many writers and observers of Jesus study and apply the moral and ethical principles he taught and disregard the spiritual aspects of his teachings.
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