In the Old Testament (the Jewish Scriptures) God promises the people that he will send a 'messiah' - which means 'anointed one' or saviour. There are over 360 prophecies about the messiah, many describing where and how he would be born. For example, it said:
Christians believe that these prophecies were all about Jesus - that he was (and is) God's promised saviour.
In the book of Isaiah, it says that the saviour would be called 'Immanuel', which means 'God with us'. Christians believe that Jesus was God's own son, choosing to humble himself and become a human being, so that he could show us the best way to live and ultimately give up his life to save us.
So Jesus' birth has enormous meaning for Christians because it:
This is a very difficult question to answer, as for Christians it goes into the deepest laws and truths of the universe - stuff we believe only God fully understands. The words you need to know are justice vs grace.
According to the Christian world view, God created the world to be good - but humans beings decided to turn their back on God and do things their own way. Because of this, the Bible says all kinds of evil were allowed to enter creation and the good world God had made was broken.
Now, across all cultures we have a belief in justice. It's something we all feel strongly about - if someone commits an evil act, it should have consequences. In the Bible, God cares deeply about justice. It's one of those deep, fundamental truths I mentioned. God hates it when his creation is damaged and people are hurt by evil acts, and as a loving God he has to do something about it.
But equally, God loves all people - the Bible says they are like his children. Justice decrees that humanity, having betrayed their Father God and damaged creation, should be punished. In fact, the Bible says "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6: 23). But God loves humanity and doesn't want this to happen. So how can he be both just and loving?
The verse from Romans finishes like this: "...but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus"
Think of Aslan and Edmund in 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe'. Edmund has committed an act of betrayal and the White Witch claims Edmund's life as punishment. Aslan accepts there must be consequences for Edmund's wrongdoing, so offers his own life in place of Edmund's. Aslan comes back to life again after this sacrifice and says this is because of the 'deep magic' - an act of great love conquers even death.
C.S. Lewis was a Christian and he wrote this story to help explain Jesus' death. Edmund represents all humanity, who have done wrong and their eternal lives are forfeit as a consequence. So Jesus (remember he is part of the Trinity, God's Son) offers up his life in humanity's place to take those consequences away. In doing so the Bible says he defeated the power of death so that all people can have eternal life if they believe that Jesus did this for them. This is called grace - receiving a gift we don't deserve. And just like any other gift, we have to choose whether we accept it.
So in short:
Jesus gave up his life to take the eternal consequences of humanity's sin, and in doing so his act of love broke the power of death. Jesus' death means anyone can have eternal life if they choose to accept this gift.
Firstly, it is worth knowing that there was never a Year 0. The calendar goes from 1BC (Before Christ) to 1AD (Anno Domini, which means 'Year of our Lord' in Latin), as there is no number 0 in Roman numerals. Although our calendar is based on when Jesus was born, we can work out from historical events (such as King Herod's reign) recorded in the Bible that Jesus was likely to have been born sometime between 6BC and 4BC and almost certainly not on 25th December - the day Christians celebrate his birth.
Logically, this sounds a good idea that Jesus is the son of Mr and Mrs God. However, there is a belief in Christianity that Jesus was 'begotten', not created. What that means is that Jesus always existed, just like God the Father always existed. God the Father is therefore not Jesus' father in the same way we think about it on Earth, but this could be a helpful way for us to understand the relationship they have. It does mean that God didn't have a wife.
As for Mary and Joseph, the Bible says that Jesus was conceived miraculously. Mary and Joseph weren't married yet and hadn't had sex, so although Joseph married Mary and raised Jesus as his son, he is not biologically Jesus' father. Mary, however, did give birth to Jesus and is Jesus' biological mother.
Yes. This is a great way of describing it. Jesus is God but chose to humble himself and live as a human so we would understand God better and he could make the ultimate sacrifice to save people, who he loves so much.
Jesus was and is God, but he always prayed to his father in Heaven.
Just before Jesus died, he went to a garden called Gethsemane and prayed to God. He was scared, just like anyone would be. The pain he was going to go through was real. He wasn't immune from it because he was God. At that moment he asked his father God if there was another way of rescuing humanity, but committed to doing the will of God.
As a Christian, I am inspired by Jesus in this situation. Sometimes we can go through scary times and we want to get out of it, but we know it's the right thing to do. Jesus asked God for strength to do it and I try and do the same when I'm faced with a difficult situation.
If you have had our 'Who is Jesus?' lesson in school, you may have heard that C. S. Lewis (the author of the Narnia books) once said that when Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, he must have either been lying, crazy, or telling the truth. These are therefore the 3 possible answers to the question of why Jesus chose to tell people he was the Son of God. He either chose to tell people because he was a liar, he chose to tell people because he was crazy, or he chose to tell people because it was the truth and he really was the Son of God.
As a Christian I believe Jesus was telling the truth, so he chose to tell people because it was the most important message they would ever hear.
There is a great verse in the New Testament in the Bible (Colossians 1:15) which says that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. Paul, who wrote this verse, was trying to say that although we can't see God and can't understand what he is like, we can see Jesus. We can look at what Jesus was like and understand that God is like that too. Jesus helped people, cared for people, loved people, forgave people and challenged people (and lots more) because that is what God is like by his nature.
Any answer to this question will be a personal interpretation - different Christians might give you a different answer. But I think there are a few things we can draw from what is written.
Firstly, Jesus doesn't go looking for opportunities to show off. If I had the ability to do miraculous things, I'd probably have my own TV show, like Dynamo or Troy. But Jesus is never recorded as seeking out fame or showing off. In this story we hear that the crowds came to him, and some friends of the paralytic man brought him to Jesus because they had heard of his reputation.
Secondly, Jesus' priorities are different to ours. The man and his friends were probably looking for physical healing. But Jesus doesn't immediately heal the man's paralysis - he offers him forgiveness first. He does this, according to the gospels, because of the faith it took to come to him. Jesus prioritises the man's spiritual healing, or inner wellness, before his physical healing. He values his faith more than his physical ability.
Thirdly, Jesus cares deeply. Interestingly this is one of the miracles Jesus performs where it's not obviously motivated by compassion - he seems to do it to prove a point to the teachers of the law. But notice that when Jesus forgives the man he calls him "son". This tells us a lot about how he views this man: not as a stranger to whom he is indifferent, but as someone he sees as dear to him.
Finally, the teachers of the law are most shocked by Jesus' forgiveness of the man as this was something they believed only God could do. In publicly forgiving the man, Jesus is claiming to be God. Whether you think this was true or not will radically change what you believe about his character based on this story!
This is definitely a personal question for Christians. Each Christian may feel that some of Jesus teachings are more significant than others. However, there are some stand-out teachings that made Jesus different from other rabbis (teachers) of his time. In fact, some of them caused so much controversy that people wanted him dead!
Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy'. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5: 43-44)
Most schools of moral thought suggest that you should pay someone back in kind, e.g. 'eye for an eye' or the law of karma. But Jesus teaches that we should love everyone, including our enemies. This doesn't mean we have to agree with what they do or say - far from it. Nor does it mean that you should be a doormat and let people walk all over you. But Jesus does teach that love should be at the root of ALL our actions, even when it's difficult. It's easy to love someone who loves you, but loving your enemies is a real challenge.
Jesus also responds to Peter when he asks how many times he should forgive someone who wrongs him - seven times? Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times but seventy times seven" (Matthew 18: 22). Forgiveness is at the heart of Jesus' teaching. Once again he challenges people to stretch their concept of mercy and grace and paints a picture of a merciful God who does the same for us.
Ultimately, all of Jesus' teachings are about God's Kingdom - a world where God is in charge and everything is how he wants it to be. Jesus wants to teach us what that would look like. His disciples ask who will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus calls over a little child and responds, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest" (Matthew 18: 2-4).
Jesus takes the world's idea of success, strength and power and turns it completely on its head. He says the greatest truth and strength lie in love, humility and mercy. The way Jesus treated those considered of low stature in his society (including women, children, foreigners and lepers) and those he chose as his disciples (fishermen, tax collectors and outcasts) speaks volumes. He said "So the last will be first and the first will be last" (Matthew 20: 16).
Jesus' actions backed up these teachings. In John 13 we see him taking the position of a servant and washing his disciples' feet. And ultimately we see Jesus voluntarily giving up his life as a hugely spiritually significant act to save all of creation.
Jesus' teachings suggest that there is no greater value in the Kingdom of God than sacrificial love.
Most Christians try to live out these teachings as best they can because they really believe that Jesus taught the best possible way to live. Jesus actually said that when we do this, we are bringing a little bit of heaven to earth! It isn't so that God will think we're really good and let us into heaven when we die - Jesus never taught that. One of the most famous things Jesus ever taught is in John 3: 16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life". Jesus is explaining to a man named Nicodemus that he is going to give up his life (remember Jesus is God's son) so that anyone who puts their faith in him can be fully alive with God, forever. So Christians follow Jesus' teachings not to score points with God, but because they're really grateful to Jesus for saving them and have put their trust in him.
Unfortunately we don't have photos of Jesus. It would be nice if we could look at his profile pictures on social media and know exactly what he did look like. The reality is that he was a Middle Eastern man so would probably look like anyone born there today.
There are lots of images of Jesus around the world and artists have tended to portray him as similar to people of their own culture or nationality. For example, in the UK, Jesus has historically been depicted as a white man with blonde or brown hair. In Africa, images are often of Jesus with black skin.
My own opinion as to why this is the case is the belief in Christianity that Jesus is God in human form. We want to understand God through our own culture and therefore maybe find it more helpful to see Jesus looking like people from our own culture.
The Christian belief is that Jesus did die on the cross but when he came back to life again, it was a resurrection and not a resuscitation. What I mean by that is it wasn't like being on an operating theatre and being clinically dead and being brought back to life by the skilled medical team, because eventually that person would die… again. Jesus was dead and his resurrection was into a new heavenly body that was never going to die. It's why we would say that Jesus is still alive.
It is commonly accepted that Jesus was 33 years old when he died, 3 years after he became a prominent public figure. Some churches will ring their bells 33 times in honour of this.
I wish I knew how but I don't think we will ever know other than that God is able to do anything. For Christians, the important part is that Jesus' resurrection shows that death has been beaten and it gives us hope for the future that death will not be the end for us, just like death wasn't the end for Jesus.
Jesus didn't have a surname like we do today, as they didn't really exist in the time and place he lived. People were often known by their parents so he may have been referred to as Jesus, son of Joseph (even though Joseph wasn't his biological father) or Jesus, son of Mary. He was also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth, which is where he grew up, and Jesus Christ, with Christ referring to him being the Messiah/Saviour.
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