Who is Jesus? A look at the Christian faith

Key events in the life of Jesus

His Birth:

Mary was the mother of Jesus, but the Bible teaches clearly that her pregnancy was miraculous as she remained a virgin at the time of his conception and birth. While every other aspect of his life showed him to be fully human, the implantation of the divine Son of God into the womb of the young lady Mary was performed by the power of God and not by human action. Joseph, who was engaged to Mary at this time, accepted the task of adopting Jesus as his own son, and there is no reason other than the tradition of the church to believe that, following the birth of Jesus, the couple did not enjoy a normal married life, with the Bible seeming to refer to various other children of the couple as brothers and sisters of Jesus.

The Fulfilment of many ancient prophecies:

St Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus is particularly full of references to the prophets of the Old Testament revealing how events and actions within the life of Jesus fulfilled the promises and prophecies given many hundreds of years earlier and well understood by the people of Jesus’ time as referring to the coming Messiah. Of course, Jesus could have ‘manufactured’ some of these acts of fulfilment by deliberately doing so, but as many of these related to events out of his human control – including his birth – this cannot detract from the truth that many key events in the life of Jesus had been foretold long before they occurred.

His Baptism:

At the start of his public ministry, Jesus came (along with many others) to the River Jordan where a man by the name of John (known as “The Baptist”) was calling on the people of Israel to express their repentance – their turning away from selfishness and turning towards God – by allowing him to immerse them in the waters of the river as a sign of spiritual cleansing. [The events surrounding John’s birth six months before that of Jesus are also told in the Bible.]

When Jesus came to be baptised, John recognised that Jesus had no sin, and therefore no need of Baptism – but Jesus called on John to perform this act as a recognition that Jesus would one day carry the sin of the world.

As he came out of the water, the three persons of the Trinity were revealed as the Holy Spirit came to Jesus in the visible form of a dove, while the voice of the Father was audibly heard to identify Jesus as his Son.

His Death:

There is no historical doubt about the fact that Jesus lived, nor about the manner of his death – executed by crucifixion outside Jerusalem during the time of the Roman Governor known as Pontius Pilate. It really happened – it is well documented, clearly described, was witnessed by many – both friends and enemies, and the suggestion made by some that he didn’t actually die but that he was still alive when taken down from the cross is frankly more unbelievable than the idea of resurrection.

The Romans didn’t make mistakes when it came to executing people, and the account of what happened to Jesus body before it was taken down from the cross showed medically that he was dead, although the writer wouldn’t have realised that: he simply wrote what he saw, that Jesus’ side was pierced by a spear and ‘blood and water’ flowed.

His Resurrection:

There is also no reason, other than blind belief that it can’t have happened, to doubt the resurrection. The historical and circumstantial evidence both point to it being true. No one, not even his enemies, question the fact of the empty tomb on ‘the third day’, that is about 36 hours later. Jesus was hurriedly buried late afternoon on the Friday, before the Sabbath began at Sunset. The tomb was then sealed. Mary Magdalene and some others came to the tomb at first light after the Sabbath – that is Sunday morning – and discovered the tomb open and empty. Mary was then the first to encounter Jesus alive again. When she told the other disciples, they (quite naturally) refused to believe her.

Yet something turned this group of frightened, grieving and disillusioned men into people who just days later would boldly proclaim in Jerusalem and eventually across Europe and beyond, that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. Most of them ultimately paid with their lives for their proclamation. Would so many have done so for what they knew was not true? The number of eyewitness testimonies to having seen Jesus alive over the coming six weeks ran into hundreds, and those who wanted Jesus dead had no answer to this because they could not refute the evidence at the time.

His Ascension:

So where is Jesus now? The Bible tells us that on the fortieth day after the resurrection, Jesus gathered his disciples with him, and then left them in such a way that they had no doubt that Jesus had taken his humanity into Heaven. The pre-existent Son of God who had become also the Son of Man, had returned to the eternal realm, but not before promising them that he would always be with them by giving them the gift of the Holy Spirit. This event occurred ten days later, on the day we now call Pentecost, or Whitsun, when the disciples were suddenly filled with the divine power of the Holy spirit. It was this that gave them the assurance of their own eternal life, enabling them to have the courage to face their own martyrdom for their Lord.

Who is Jesus? A look at the Christian faith
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