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Jesus as Christ and Messiah
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Jesus as Christ and Messiah

"The Son of God"
Image of Jesus Christ
from Agia Sophia, Istanbul
(12th century)

Topics related to Jesus
Christology | as Christ & Messiah; | his Resurrection | Jesus in Islam | Jewish views | Other views of Jesus | Sources about Jesus | Historicity of Jesus | Fictional portrayals |edit|

Jesus as Christ and Messiah is the Christian account of Jesus's life (which is represented both in texts and in images). Jesus is the central focus of attention and worship in Christianity and is held by most Christians to be the Messiah foretold in the Hebrew Bible; they believe him to be the saviour of mankind, the son of God the Father, and God himself.

Table of contents
1 Christ and Messiah
2 Belief in the divinity
3 Biography
4 Miracles performed
6 Differences in interpretation
7 External links
8 See also

Christ and Messiah

Messiah (Hebrew משיח, Aramaic משיחא) and Christ (Greek Χριστος) have the same literal meaning of Anointed One, and are titles given to Jesus by his followers. The New Testament, originally written in Greek, therefore uses Christ frequently but Messiah only twice.

Belief in the divinity

Apart from the role of Jesus as the Messiah, the vast majority of self-described Christians also regard belief in his divinity be a significant part of Christianity. According to mainstream Christian theology after it was systematized in the early centuries A.D., Jesus is conceptualized as part of the Trinity, who along with the Father and the Holy Spirit are thought to be three "persons" with one metaphysical substance, that complete unity being God. See Trinity; Nicene creed.

Some denominations have developed other metaphysical conceptualizations of Jesus, including the idea that Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are one "person" with three or more manifestations (see Modalism) or are distinct not just in "person" but in metaphysical essence, and unified only in "will" or "mind". Many of these doctrines were rejected as heresies by the Ecumenical councils of Christianity, and some modern variants (for example, Mormonism and the Jehovah's Witnesses) are at times excluded from the umbrella of Christianity, particularly by Evangelicals. See Christology, Mormonism and Christianity.

Christians see many passages in the Gospels and other parts of the New Testament affirming the divinity of Jesus Christ.


Related: Detailed timeline for Jesus Christ.

Birth and childhood

Of the four Gospels, the Nativity (birth) is mentioned only in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. Both infancy accounts support the doctrine of the Virgin Birth, in which Jesus was miraculously conceived in his mother's womb by the Holy Spirit, when his mother was still a virgin. According to these accounts, Jesus was born as Joseph and Mary, his betrothed, were visiting Bethlehem from their native Nazareth. Mary is also commonly referred to as "the Virgin Mary" or, as Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox call her, "the Mother of God" (see Theotokos).

Details of the two accounts appear to be at variance with each other. For example, Luke reports that the parents lived at Nazareth, but, according to Matthew, they settled in Nazareth after their return from Egypt, an event that Luke does not mention. Matthew further explained that Joseph and Mary fled with the baby Jesus to Egypt after they had been warned by an angel of the Massacre of the Innocents.

A few verses in the Gospels mention Jesus' "brothers." Some Christians argue it is not necessarily the case that "brother" must mean "child of same father and same mother". Indeed, half-brothers are called "brother" in very many human cultures throughout history and to the present day. Thus, they speculate that Joseph was likely much older man than Mary, a widower with children at the time of his betrothal to Mary, with their planned marriage being primarily a social arrangement to ensure Mary was economically provided for. This is supported by the observation that Joseph is not mentioned later in the Gospels, presumably due to his death. Some biblical scholars, particulary those who are Roman Catholic, go further, saying that in both Hebrew and Aramaic, the word for "brother" is also used to refer to cousins.

The New Testament tells little more about Jesus's childhood or young adulthood. However, by the time he reached his 30s, the gospels all report that he had become known as a religious teacher.

The ministry and message of Jesus

Although the synoptic gospels focus mainly on the last year of Jesus's ministry, the Gospel of John indicates that his ministry spanned at least three Passovers from the time he was baptized by John the Baptist until his crucifixion. In his ministry, Jesus traveled as wandering rabbi and performed miracles.

Jesus advocated universal love between people, and adherence to the will of God. His message seems to have been that universal love is a more direct fulfilling of God's will, rather than observing the laws which were contained in the Hebrew Bible. Very often, Jesus conveyed his message through the use of parables.

Some of his teachings are paradoxical. He taught that the first would be last, and the last first; also that "anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matt 16:25); and that non-violence should be used to combat violence. He said that he gives peace to those who believe in him, yet he warned that he was bringing strife to the world, setting family members against one another (due to disagreement regarding belief in him). The use of paradox is a recognised form of attempting to break through established forms of thinking to allow new insight. For example, the use of koans in some branches of Buddhism, which seek to transcend harmful or false ways of thinking, is similar.

He preached an apocalyptic message, saying that the end of the current world would come unexpectedly; as such, he called on his followers to be ever alert and faithful.

The early fathers of the church further expanded on his message, and much of the rest of the New Testament is concerned with the meaning of Jesus's death and resurrection, and its implications for humanity. One idea that has remained constant throughout Christian theology is the idea that humanity was redeemed, saved, or given an opportunity to achieve salvation through Jesus's death. "Jesus died for our sins" is a common Christian aphorism.

However, the idea of "salvation" has been interpreted in many ways, and a wide spectrum of Christian viewpoints exist and have existed throughout history up to the present day.

Some especially notable events in the ministry of Jesus, recounted in the Gospels, include:

Some contemporary scholars focus on Jesus' parables, a type of teaching story found in the three synoptic gospels. Much of this work gained a foothold in America during the early 1980s by a group of biblical scholars known as the Jesus Seminar.

There is renewed interest in the teachings of Jesus, after decades of decline in Church membership in the developed world. The Alpha Course has allowed many people to study the message of Jesus in non-evangelistic settings.

Arrest, trial, and crucifixion

According to the Gospels, Jesus, riding a colt, entered Jerusalem on a Sunday—celebrated now as Palm Sunday—and was greeted by throngs of people waving palm branches, and shouting "Hosanna", or "Save, we pray".

On Thursday of that week, he shared the Last Supper, and afterward took a walk to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he felt overwhelming sadness and anguish, and said "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it." Then, a little while later, he said, "If this cup cannot pass by, but I must drink it, your will be done!"

Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus' twelve disciples, who had left in the middle of the Last Supper, had in the meantime betrayed Jesus by informing the Jewish authorities of his location. The authorities had decided to arrest Jesus, since some of them had come to consider him a threat to their power due to his growing popularity, his new interpretations of scripture, and his revelations of their hypocrisy. Judas and a group of men armed with swords and clubs then appeared, and Judas helped to identify Jesus by kissing him, a signal pre-arranged with them. Although one of the bystanders drew a sword, cutting off the ear of one of the armed men, Jesus rebuked the follower, saying, "Put your sword back, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword." Then the disciples deserted him and ran away. Jesus was brought before the Jewish authorities, and, after implying the affirmative when asked if he was the son of God, was handed over to Pontius Pilate, the local governor in the occupying Roman government.

Pilate asked Jesus whether he considered himself the "king of the Jews", which could have been considered an attempt at usurping Roman authority, and either received no answer from Jesus, or the reply, "It is you who say it". Pilate then allowed a crowd that had gathered to decide whether Jesus or another prisoner should be released. The crowd decided that Jesus should not be released, so Pilate, attempting to placate the crowd, had Jesus scourged, and some Roman soldiers fashioned a crown out of thorns and placed it on Jesus' head. But the crowd demanded that Jesus be crucified, and Pilate relented. That same day, having carried his own cross, he was crucified on Golgotha, with a sign reading (in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek) "Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews" placed on the cross upon the direction of Pilate. According to the Gospel of Luke, as he was crucified, Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; they know not what they do." As he hung on the cross, he was mocked by passersby, and, according to the Gospel of John, was visited by his mother and others, then died; his death was confirmed by a Roman soldier piercing his side with a spear.

While hanging on the cross, the Gospel of Mark has Jesus asking,"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Many readers find this theologically perplexing, believing that God left him to die on the cross. According to a common interpretation of the scriptures, God the Father was turning away from Jesus at this time because He was suffering in the place of sinners. Others recognise this as an exact quotation of the first verse of Psalm 22, a common way at the time to refer to an entire Psalm. That Psalm begins with cries of despair, but ends on a note of hope and trust in God's triumph and deliverance. It also contains several details that have been taken to apply to Jesus' crucifixion, such as the soldiers casting lots for Jesus' garments and leaving his bones unbroken. Still others consider "why hast thou forsaken me" to be a mistranslation of the original Aramaic: they argue that a better translation is "for this I was kept" or "why hast thou let me to live?".

The Gospel of John, on the other hand, has Jesus in total control from the cross, saying "It is finished" upon his death, and instead of asking the "bitter cup" to be taken away from him while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before, he actually asks for it in John's account.

Resurrection, Ascension, and Second Coming

According to the New Testament, he rose from the dead on the third day following his crucifixion and appeared to his disciples; the Acts of the Apostles reports that forty days later he ascended bodily into Heaven. Paul's letters to the Romans, Ephesians and Colossians, as well as the letter to the Hebrews (traditionally attributed to Paul) claim that Jesus presently exercises all authority in heaven and on earth for the sake of the Church, until all of the earth is made subject to his rule through the preaching of the Gospel. Based on the New Testament, Christians believe that Jesus will return from heaven at the end of the age, to judge the living and the dead.

In many sects of the Latter Day Saint movement (Mormonism), it is believed that Jesus appeared in the Western Hemisphere after his resurrection, and taught the ancestors of modern Native Americans, whom some Latter Day Saints believe to be one of the lost tribes of Israel. See Book of Mormon.

Miracles performed

Lazarus raised from the grave by Jesus
painting by the Swedish artist Karl Isaksen (c. 1920)''

Miracles performed by Jesus, according to the Gospels, include:


Well-known quotations attributed to Jesus in the Gospels include:

Differences in interpretation

Adherents of Judaism, as well as some modern Bible scholars, reject the idea that the Hebrew Bible ever prophetically referred specifically to Jesus. One reason for these differences of interpretation is the use of different versions of the Bible. Christians have historically relied on the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. In it, many prophecies have a much clearer correlation to Jesus than in the Masoretic Hebrew text we have now available. For instance, one passage says in the Septuagint that the Messiah would be born of a "virgin", while in the Hebrew it says "young woman." The Septuagint was translated by a group of about 70 Jews more than 200 years before the birth of Jesus Christ; the oldest surviving complete manuscript dates to the third or fourth century A.D. It was widely accepted among the Alexandrian Jewish community, but was not accepted by the Jewish community elsewhere. The text accepted by the rest of the Jewish world was known as the Tanakh, and had a number of differences, none of which had anything to do with the messiah. The oldest surviving Hebrew Masoretic text dates to the eighth or ninth century A.D., although parts of it have been corroborated by the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Jesus of Nazareth came to be seen as a possible Messiah (or Greek Khristos, thus the appellation "Jesus the Christ") to the Jews, some believed and followed him. This caused a division in the Jewish religion; those who followed Jesus were eventually called (at first pejoratively) Christians. Jews then and now interpreted the prophecies to mean a great political or military leader, who would liberate them from the oppressive Roman rule. The reason that Jesus was not accepted by the majority of the Jewish community was that he did not fulfill any of the conditions that moshiach is required to fulfill by Jewish law and tradition. Jesus was accepted as a messiah mainly by non-Jewish converts in the Roman Empire, though there was for a time a Jewish Christian sect, sometimes called the Ebionites.

External links

See also