Who was Jesus Christ, and why did he have such an impact on the world? Most scholars agree that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person. This post will lay out his life as it is portrayed in the bible, and convey the meaning behind it, justifying a modern take on Jesus and who we know him to be--whether fictional or real.
Jesus is the main character of the religion Christianity. Christianity studies a book called the Bible, which is a collection of stories combined into two parts--the old testament and the new testament. Attempting to decipher the bible would take far more words than this blog post or even many books could handle. The bible is a collection of works so thick and interconnected that some people dedicate their lives to understanding the text inside. Below, there is a picture of all the existing links throughout different points in the bible.
Lucky for us, the character of Jesus Christ does not come in until the second half of the bible--the new testament. Due to the main stories that still reside in this section, there are multiple viewpoints as to how Jesus came to be birthed. However, it is unanimously agreed that Jesus was born to his mother Mary, who was a virgin.
Immediately here, we are suggested to believe in birth without any form of sex. This is an automatic trigger to the reader that Jesus is special, and not born to be normal. Even in some stories, such as the gospel of John, the life of Jesus was said to have begun during the creation of heaven and earth.
There is the constant idea here that Jesus is somehow elevated above the mortality that every human is faced with, and thus given to the world by God, and whether it was during creation or through a virgin is beside the point that Jesus is not a normal child.
The childhood of Jesus is hardly mentioned after his divine birth. The gospel of Mark mentions Jesus coming into conflict with his family as a child. It is said that Jesus' mother and brothers come to take him home because he is acting crazy. Jesus does not follow them home but instead says to them that his only true family is his followers. This is a bit harsh of Jesus, but at times like these, we must remember that Christians are not to act like they are Jesus, but are supposed to be followers of him and only him, and thus followers of God. So when we look again at this act of Jesus refusing to return to his mother and brothers, we can see that Jesus is not being rude to his family members, but inviting them to see the world as he does, regardless of what others are saying about his acts, and elevating those who do, providing them the same love as one would for a family member.
Jesus was referred to as a carpenter who could read, but it doesn't say anywhere that he received formal training.
In the book of Mark, Jesus is baptized. Traditionally, baptism is a Christian rite of admission and adoption into Christianity. Baptism is usually done by flicking water onto an individual or dunking them underwater. When Jesus arose out of the water, he saw the holy spirit descending on him like a dove and heard a voice from heaven declaring him to be God's son.
The voice then tells Jesus to venture into the wilderness and he does so. For forty days and nights, Jesus is a lost wanderer in the desert, tempted by Satan the entire way. Satan offers him three well-known temptations:
1.) He is tempted to turn stone into bread or else he will starve, but he replies by saying that man does not live by bread alone, but by the word of God.
2.) He is tempted with suicide. Satan tells Jesus that if he really is the son of God, who will be protected if any go to kill him, then surely before he jumps to his death then Jesus is to be saved. Here, Jesus replies that one should not test God.
3.) Satan then finally takes Jesus to where he can see all of the lands, and tells him that he will give him everything if he worships him, instead of his God. To which Jesus replies, it is written that you should serve only the Lord God.
This temptation of Jesus is interesting because here we are encouraged to think of ourselves akin to Jesus. It is easy to compare ourselves to Jesus here because many of us are stranded in the desert on our way to our final destination, trying to avoid the temptations of Satan.
If you haven't been living under a rock, then you know about the crucifixion of Jesus. Before this time came, Jesus preached the teachings of God in parables--which is by definition a short fictional story typically used to illustrate moral teachings. In a way, the story of Jesus itself is a parable, and it is no surprise that the motif runs throughout the entire story, coming to a climax with his death and rebirth.
The crucifixion of Christ was an ugly one. Jesus was tasked to carry his cross to the place where he was to be crucified, helped by a servant only because the servant was told to do so. On his way to death, Jesus tells his weeping followers to feel sadness not for him, but for themselves and their children.
The soldiers then strip Jesus naked and crucify him. Above his head, they inscribe, 'Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews'. Soldiers mock him, along with passerby and the two thieves that were hanging next to him.
The Roman soldiers break the legs of the thieves that hang next to Jesus, common in those days in order to speed up the process of crucifixion. A soldier then jabs a lance through Jesus, and blood and water pour out. According to multiple books in the bible, many rocks fell and the earth quaked at the time of Jesus' death, proving him to be the Son of God.
Mary Magdalene visits Jesus' tomb Sunday morning and is surprised to find it empty. Despite the teachings of Jesus, no one expected him to rise again.
Jesus' return to heaven was described as him being lifted up, and a cloud took him out of sight. This is not the end of Jesus, but rather a new form that he takes, guiding others from the heavens.
It is not a realistic story, nor is it consistent, even within itself, but perhaps it wasn't supposed to be? With the suspension of belief, Jesus' stories open up to have a deep moral profundity that is found just a layer below the surface if you chance to look.
A story that is so vague, however, can be interpreted in many different ways. This is most likely the downfall of not just Jesus' story, but all major religions. Without being able to determine who is right about these moral issues, there are bound to be disagreements that have two sides with very real and respectable interpretations.
But that's the point of Jesus' teachings. If we are able to have a strong mind against temptation, speaking and acting from a place of truth and love, one may be able to ease a bit of the suffering in our world, influences the lives of generations after us.