Historical figure Jesus

On this site we are going to look closer at the Nazarene Jew from the tribe of King David, born in Bethlehem in the family of Myriam (Mary/Maria) and Joseph. Some people say Jesus did not exist, but that would be the same to say Bonaparte or Hitler did not exist, though less is written about them, and less is known over Euripides and other Greek and Roman figures of the past.

Jesus of Nazareth

Jeshua or Jesus of Nazareth (ca. 4 B.C.E.- 29 C.E.), also known as Jesus Christ, was the central personality and by many taken as the founder of the Christian faith.

 

To know more about the Jew who made such an supernal two millennia ago we should not only look at the material we receive from the Book of books. Also the civic writings are good to take at hand.

When we see what happened around the time of birth of Jesus we can put two and two together, having the details of astrologers, scientists and ancient historians as Tacitus and Suetonius, giving us an idea that the child was born in Bethlehem 17 October 4 B.C.E., the year of King Herod‘s death. Further writings about him can be found in the Apocryphal Gospels but are of poor historical reliability; and in 1946 a Gospel of Thomas, actually a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus, was discovered in Upper Egypt. But none of these sources adds significantly to the New Testament. The letters of Paul are the earliest biblical records that tell about Jesus. But the four Gospels by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, although written later, used sources that in some cases go back very close to the time of Jesus.

He only had a very short public life which came to an end  by the impalement of Jesus in 29 or 30.

Many wrongly think Christ is his surname, but it is a tittle, coming from the term Kristos/Christos or Christ which means the anointed one; in the Bible it is the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word Messiah/Maschiah.

Beginning of Christ

For the beginning of Christ we do have to go way back to the beginning of the world. He was not yet there, but there was spoken or referred to him already in the Garden of Eden, after the first sin of man.

God provided there and then for a coming solution, which in later times would make an end to the death penalty. Throughout the years regularly God reminded man that they had to be His people and should keep to His commandments. The men of God, prophets also gave indications which should help us to recognise the Messiah, the one who would save the world and restore the relationship between God and man, which was damaged in the Garden of Eden.

This promise was made many years before Abraham and as such could Jesus also later refer to the time before Abraham he was already in God’s Head, like everybody is already notated in the Book of Life and Death, but also as his role of promised Messiah.

Early Years

The Essene young girl got to hear that she was with child in a special manner, not having had any sex with a man. Astrologers who had followed indications in the old scriptures could find the newborn and brought the first honour to him in Bethlehem, a town near Jerusalem, famous in Jewish history as the city of David.

Jesus, like every human being had to learn everything. Brought up in a strict religious family he got to know the Word of God very well. All his life he only wanted to do God His Will and not his own will. To get him spiritually cleansed he asked his cousin, John the Baptist, a stormy prophet-preacher who emerged from the wilderness and called on the people to repent and be baptised, to baptise him in the river Jordan. He was known to those around him as a carpenter of Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and as the son of Joseph (John 6:42). When he raised up from the water all people witnessed something  special, having the heaven opening and a voice resounding that this man was God’s beloved son.

After his baptism he went into the dessert to retreat and to meditate. It is clear that Jesus had some consciousness of a divine calling, and in the desert he thought through its meaning. There he was approached by an adversary of God (satan) who tempted him. Jesus did not fall in the trapping and continued his way to start his short public life.

Galilean Ministry

Returning from the desert, Jesus began preaching and teaching in Galilee. His initial proclamation was similar to John’s:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

Jesus chose 12 disciples from ordinary people, like fishermen and common workers, of the region to follow him. Of the 12 it seems that Peter, James, and John were closest to Jesus. Peter‘s home in Capernaum, a city on the Sea of Galilee, became a headquarters from which Jesus and the disciples moved out into the countryside. Sometimes he talked to large crowds. Then he might withdraw with the 12 to teach only them. Or he might go off by himself for long periods of prayer. On one occasion he sent out the disciples, two by two, to spread the message of God’s kingdom.

Miracle worker

Only when Jesus felt that the time was ripe that God called him, he also started doing actions which looked incredible. The records concerning Jesus report many miracles. People were especially sceptical in his home-town, where they had known him as a boy (Mark 6:1-6). However, usually the Gospels report the healings as signs of the power of God and His coming kingdom. Never Jesus claimed to be doing the wonders himself.  He always gave honour for it to his heavenly Father without Whom he could do nothing, he himself said. (John 5:19; 14:28)

Teachings of Jesus

Most attraction Jesus got with his teaching; he could speak in such manners that big crowds became all ear for him. He did not take a leaf in front of his mouth and dare d to say harsh things also to people who were considered of high position, Pharisees and high priests. this did not make him very popular by those in charge.

For him it was important that people searched in the Holy Scriptures for the Truth of God. He warned them that the time was at hand to come to insight and to understand what all the Biblical teaching is about.

The starting point of his message, as already noted, was the announcement of the coming of the kingdom of God. Lots of parables and stories Jesus told should be taken as warnings for the coming time and the necessity to be ready when the Last Days will come.

The rest of Jesus’ teaching followed from this message about the reign of God. At times he taught in stories or parables that described the kingdom or the behaviour of people who acknowledged God’s reign. Perhaps the most famous of his many parables are those of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. At times he pronounced ethical commandments detailing the demands upon men of a loving and righteous God. At times Jesus taught his disciples to pray: the words that he gave them in the Lord’s Prayer or “Our Father” are often used today.

Jesus’ teaching was brought calmingly and showed a thorough knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures and combined an utter trust in God with a brute realism about the world. On the one hand, he told men not to be anxious about life’s problems, because God knows their needs and will look out for them. So if men trust God and seek His kingdom, God will look out for the rest of their needs. Yet, on the other hand, Jesus knew well that life can be tough and painful. He asked men to give up families and fortunes, to accept persecution out of faithfulness to him, thus promising them a hard life. Jesus taught both ethical rigor and forgiveness. He demanded of men more than any other prophet or teacher had asked. He criticized the sentimentalists who call him “Lord, Lord” but do not obey him, and he told men that, if they are to enter God’s kingdom, their righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, who made exceedingly conscientious efforts to obey God’s laws. He told men not to be angry or contemptuous with others, not to lust after women, and not to seek revenge but to love their enemies. Yet this same Jesus understood human weakness. He was known as a friend of sinners who warned men not to make judgements of others whom they consider sinful. He forgave men their sins and told about a God who seeks to save sinners.

Jesus represented a kind of practicality that offends the overly spiritual-minded; but he also espoused an expectation of a future world (God’s reign) that will make the attractions of this world unimportant. As a worldly man, he wanted to relieve hunger and sickness. He wanted no escape from responsibility into worship. He taught that sometimes a man would better leave church and go to undo the wrongs he has done.

But with this attention to the world was coupled the recognition that men are foolish to seek security and happiness in wealth or possessions. They would do better to give away their riches and to accept persecution. Jesus promised — or warned — that God’s reign will reverse many of the values of this world.

Jesus paradoxically combined love and peace with conflict. His followers called him the Prince of Peace, because he sought to reconcile men to God and each other. He summed up all the commandments in two: love for God and love for men. He refused to retaliate against those who had harmed him but urged his followers to forgive endlessly — not simply seven times but seventy times seven. Yet he was not, as some have called him, “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” he attacked evil fearlessly, even in the highest places.

Jesus promised joy, freedom, and exuberant life; yet he expected sacrifice and self-denial. He warned men not to follow him unless they were ready to suffer. But he told people to rejoice in the wonders of God’s reign, to celebrate the abundant life that he brings.

Views of His Contemporaries

To some people Jesus was a teacher or rabbi. The healing ministry did not necessarily change that conception of him, because other rabbis were known as healers. But Jesus was a teacher of peculiar power, and he was sometimes thought to be a prophet, as is also said in the Bible that he was a sent one from God.

Jesus certainly was a herald of the kingdom of God. But then a question arises: was he simply talking about God and his reign, or did he have some special relationship to that kingdom? Those who heard Jesus were frequently perplexed. In some ways he was a modest, even humble man. Instead of making claims for himself or accepting admiration, he turned people’s thoughts from himself to God. But at other times he asked immense loyalty of his disciples. And he astonished people by challenging time-honoured authority — even the authority of the Bible — with his new teachings. He was so audacious as to forgive sins, although men said that only God could do that.

There was also the question whether it was possible that Jesus was the Messiah. For generations some of the Jewish people had hoped that God would send a king, an heir of the great King David of past history, who would undo the oppression that the Jews suffered, would re-establish the glorious old kingdom, and would bring justice. Some expected even more — that a divine saviour would come and inaugurate a radical transformation of life.
The period found Israel, which was conceived — also by Jesus — to be God’s special people, under the rule of Romans, to whom they grudgingly paid taxes and against whom there were occasional revolts. Jesus himself came to be regarded as suspicious both by Jewish authorities in religion and in their relations to the Roman rulers as well as to the Romans themselves.

Once, in the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi, a city north of the Sea of Galilee (Mark 8:27-30), Jesus asked his disciples,

“Who do men say that I am?”

They gave various answers: John the Baptist, Elijah, or another of the prophets. Then Jesus asked,

“But who do you say that I am?”

And Peter answered,

“You are the Christ [Messiah].”

The undeniable fact is that his life and character were of such a sort that they convinced his followers he was the Messiah who, through his suffering love, could bring men a new experience of forgiveness and new possibilities for human and social life.

The one to be killed

Having Jesus also giving commentary on the Pharisees and the work of the high priest he became an annoyance and they wanted to get rid of him. Before he was betrayed Jesus came together in an upper room in Jerusalem in preparation for the Passover. After having had a meal together he took bread and wine and delivered a special ritual of which he asked the disciples to repeat it as often as they could in remembrance of him.

This meal is now re-enacted by Christians in the Lord’s Supper, Last Supper, the Mass, the Holy Communion, the Evening Meal, Remembrance Meal or the Breaking of the Bread . After the meal Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where he prayed alone. His prayer shows that he expected a conflict, that he still hoped that he might avoid suffering, but that he expected to do God’s will. There into the garden one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, led the priests and the temple soldiers, who seized Jesus.

That same night Jesus’ captors took him to a trial before the temple court, the Sanhedrin. Several evidences indicate that this was an illegal trial, but the Sanhedrin declared that Jesus was a blasphemer deserving death. Since at that time only the Roman overlords could carry out a death sentence, the priests took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea.

Jesus of Nazareth (miniseries)
Jesus of Nazareth (miniseries) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pilate apparently was reluctant to condemn Jesus, since it was doubtful that Jesus had disobeyed any Roman laws. But as the ruler of a conquered province, Pilate was suspicious of any mass movements that might become rebellions. And he also preferred to keep the religious leaders of the subjugated people as friendly as possible. Jesus, as a radical intruder into the conventional system, and believing that obedience to God sometimes required defiance of human authority, represented a threat to both the Sanhedrin and the Romans. Pilate thus ordered the execution of Jesus. Roman soldiers beat him, put a crown of thorns on his head, and mocked him as a fraudulent king. Then they took him to the hill Golgotha (“the Skull”), or Calvary, and killed him as an insurrectionist.He was impaled until death overtook him.

Pilate ordered a sign placed above his head: “King of the Jews.” Among the “seven last words,” or sayings, from the wooden stake are two quotations from Jewish psalms, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Psalms 22:1) and “Into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Psalms 31:5); and the especially memorable “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

The Resurrection

After he died he was put in a cave-like tomb and stayed three days in hell (the grave) after which he was taken out of the dead by his heavenly Father. He then appeared to several showing his wounds to proof he was no spirit, like God is a Spirit. After a while having sojourned with them he remembered his followers that when he would be gone had to disperse and tell the whole world what he had done and Whose Name all people should get to know and how to worship that Only One God of gods Who is One.

The New Testament states very clearly that the risen Christ did not appear to everybody.

“God … made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead” (Acts 10:40-41).

Among those who saw Jesus were Cephas (Peter), the 12 disciples, “more than five hundred brethren at one time,” James, “all the apostles,” and finally Paul. Other records tell of appearances to Mary Magdalene and other women and of a variety of meetings with the disciples both in the Jerusalem area and in Galilee.

The evidence is very clear that the followers of Jesus were absolutely convinced of his resurrection. The experience of the risen Jesus was so overwhelming that it turned their despair into courage. Even though it might have been easier, and certainly would have been safer, to regard Jesus as dead, the disciples spread the conviction that he had risen, and they persisted in telling their story at the cost of persecution and death. Furthermore they were sure that their experiences of Jesus were not private visions; rather, as in the statement quoted above, they “ate and drank with him.”

The faith in the resurrection (and later the ascension) of Jesus, despite differences in interpretation and detail, is a major reason for the rise and propagation of the Christian faith.

Forty days later they witnessed his Ascension and adored him as one who, in the words of the best-known Christian creed, “sits at the right-hand of his Father” in heaven to be a high priest and a mediator between God and man.

Further Reading

There are thousands of books about Jesus, written for many purposes and from many points of view. Those mentioned here are only a few of the most reputable works using the methods of modern historical scholarship. Although many scholars doubt, on the basis of the sources, that an objective biography of Jesus can be written, several noteworthy attempts should be mentioned. Vincent Taylor, The Life and Ministry of Jesus (1955), is a direct, narrative account. Two longer books that give more space to the analysis of sources are Maurice Goguel, The Life of Jesus, translated by Olive Wyon (1933), and Charles Guignebert, Jesus, translated by S. H. Hooke (1935). A very readable biography by a distinguished American scholar is Edgar J. Goodspeed, A Life of Jesus (1950).

More frequent than biographies among contemporary scholars are efforts to interpret the sources in their meaning for modern man’s belief in Jesus. Probably the most notable such Protestant effort is Gunther Bornkamm, Jesus of Nazareth, translated by Irene and Fraser McLuskey with James M. Robinson (1960). A distinguished Roman Catholic work is Yves Congar, Jesus Christ, translated by Luke O’Neill (1966). Joseph Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth: His Life, Times, and Teaching, translated by Herbert Danby (1925), is a scholarly study written by a Jewish historian. Sholem Asch, an American Jew, in The Nazarene, translated by Maurice Samuel (1939), wrote a novel about Jesus that is both imaginative and scholarly.

The most important sources for all these works are the letters of Paul and the Gospels of the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as Synoptic Gospels because they parallel each other in many respects, although each has its own point of view. The fourth Gospel, John, has a different structure and a more highly articulated theological position.

In our blog posts we shall look closer and at length to those gospels and see what is really told about Jesus Christ the Messiah.

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Additional reading:

  1. A promise given in the Garden of Eden
  2. Written to recognise the Promissed One
  3. The Seed Of The Woman Bruised
  4. Which man is mentioned most often in the Bible? Jesus, Moses, Abraham or David?
  5. Jesus Messiah
  6. Jesus spitting image of his father
  7. On the Nature of Christ
  8. Jesus spoke Hebrew and Aramaic
  9. Lord or Yahuwah, Yeshua or Yahushua
  10. The Beginning of the life of Jesus Christ
  11. About a man who changed history of humankind
  12. A season of gifts
  13. A Great Gift commemorated
  14. Visit of the Magi
  15. Jesus begotten Son of God #1 Christmas and Christians
  16. Jesus begotten Son of God #2 Christmas and pagan rites
  17. Jesus begotten Son of God #3 Messiah or Anointed one
  18. Jesus begotten Son of God #4 Promised Prophet and Saviour
  19. Jesus begotten Son of God #5 Apsotle, High Priest and King
  20. Jesus begotten Son of God #6 Anointed Son of God, Adam and Abraham
  21. Jesus begotten Son of God #7 A matter of the Future
  22. Jesus begotten Son of God #8 Found Divinely Created not Incarnated
  23. Jesus begotten Son of God #9 Two millennia ago conceived or begotten
  24. Jesus begotten Son of God #10 Coming down spirit or flesh seed of Eve
  25. Jesus begotten Son of God #11 Existence and Genesis Raising up
  26. Jesus begotten Son of God #12 Son of God
  27. Jesus begotten Son of God #13 Pre-existence excluding virginal birth of the Only One Transposed
  28. Jesus begotten Son of God #14 Beloved Preminent Son and Mediator originating in Mary
  29. Jesus begotten Son of God #15 Son of God Originating in Mary
  30. Jesus begotten Son of God #16 Prophet to be heard
  31. Jesus begotten Son of God #17 Adam, Eve, Mary and Christianity’s central figure
  32. Jesus begotten Son of God #18 Believing in inhuman or human person
  33. Jesus begotten Son of God #19 Compromising fact
  34. Jesus begotten Son of God #20 Before and After
  35. With child and righteousness greater than the law
  36. The Advent of the saviour to Roman oppression
  37. Story of Jesus’ birth begins long before the New Testament
  38. Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:1-7 – A Firstborn’s Birth In Bethlehem
  39. Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:8-14 – Angels and Shepherds in the Night
  40. Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:15-20 – Shepherds Find the Infant Christ
  41. Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:21-24 – Presenting the Baby to God
  42. Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:25-35 – Simeon’s Blessing and Warning
  43. Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:36-38 – Anna’s Thanks before Those Waiting
  44. Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:39-40 – The Young Child Grows
  45. Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:41-50 – Twelve Year Old Jesus in the Temple
  46. Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:1, 2 – Factual Data
  47. Matthew 1:1-17 The Genealogy of Jesus Christ
  48. Matthew 1:18-25 – Genesis of Jesus Christ
  49. Matthew 2:1-6 – Astrologers and Priests in a Satanic Plot
  50. Matthew 2:7-12 – Pawns of Herod, the Magi Find the ‘Child
  51. Matthew 2:19-23 – Out of Egypt to Nazareth
  52. Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:1-6 – A Wilderness Baptist Prepares the Way
  53. Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:7-12 – Opposition and Two Baptisms
  54. Nazarene Commentary Mark 1:1-8 – The Beginning of the Good News
  55. Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:15-17 – The Baptisms of the One Coming
  56. Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:18-20 – John’s Teaching and Imprisonment
  57. Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:21-23 – The Baptism of Christ
  58. Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:13-17 – Jesus Declared God’s Son at His Baptism
  59. Nazarene Commentary Mark 1:9-11 – An Approved Son Baptized
  60. For the Will of Him who is greater than Jesus
  61. Servant of his Father
  62. Slave for people and God
  63. Jesus begotten Son of God #3 Messiah or Anointed one
  64. Anointing of Christ as Prophetic Rehearsal of the Burial rites
  65. The Christ, the anointed of God
  66. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #14 Prayer #12 The other name
  67. No Other Name (But Jesus)
  68. The meek one riding on an ass
  69. 14 Nisan a day to remember #1 Inception
  70. 14 Nisan a day to remember #2 Time of Jesus
  71. 14 Nisan a day to remember #3 Before the Passover-feast
  72. 14 Nisan a day to remember #4 A Lamb slain
  73. 14 Nisan a day to remember #5 The Day to celebrate
  74. The Anointed One and the first day of No Fermentation
  75. Servant for the truth of God
  76. On the first day for matzah
  77. For the Will of Him who is greater than Jesus
  78. Imprisonment and execution of Jesus Christ
  79. A Messiah to die
  80. Impaled until death overtook him
  81. Death of Christ on the day of preparation
  82. After the Sabbath after Passover, the resurrection of Jesus Christ
  83. In the death of Christ, the son of God, is glorification
  84. Hebraic Roots Bible Matthew Chapter 28
  85. Restoration Scriptures True Name Edition Matthew Chapter 28
  86. A fact of History or just a fancy Story
  87. We are redeemed; we are “bought with a price”
  88. How Many were Bought
  89. Eostre, Easter, White god, chocolate eggs, Easter bunnies and metaphorical resurrection
  90. Not bounded by labels but liberated in Christ
  91. A rebellious movement founded on a fake?
  92. Believing what Jesus says
  93. Together tasting a great promise
  94. Christ having glory
  95. The Acts Of The Sent Ones Chapter 1
  96. Hebraic Roots Bible Book of The Acts of the Apostles Chapter 1
  97. Hebraic Roots Bible Book of The Acts of the Apostles Chapter 2

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