Who is Jesus? In this short video, we just go over the basics to give us an overview of the life of the man whom billions have worshiped as God Himself.
Jesus has a life unlike any other, in that his life is lived backwards. I don’t mean that he literally lived backwards, but that his life only truly makes sense when you see who he really is, a reality that only really can be known when you see his death and resurrection. When we see Jesus as God made flesh, his entire life takes on a meaning that might not have been as apparent while he was living it.
My goal here is just to give you an overview of Jesus’ life, I cannot be thorough in these few minutes, but I hope that after this, you will be able to have enough knowledge to get the basic events of Jesus’ life.
Jesus was born in a small town outside Jerusalem called Bethlehem. The narrative of his birth is told through countless stories shared around the holiday of Christmas. It is a story of humility and miracle all bound up together, miraculously born of a virgin named Mary, but born in poverty. Born to homeless refuges, and visited by both humble shepherds and mighty kings. The very stars move at his birth, but at the same time he is in flight as an infant for fear of the power he may wield.
Of his early years, very little is known. He spent his childhood in Egypt, but his more formative years in a small, unimportant town called Nazareth in northern Israel. His stepfather, Joseph, was a carpenter, and his family was very religious. This is about all we know of his early life.
He comes on the world stage out of nowhere when he goes to meet a relative named John the Baptist. John was an enigmatic figure, a bold prophet and teacher in the ancient Jewish tradition, and he immediately recognized something in Jesus that set him back. John knew that he would be the one to point to the Messiah, or in greek, the Christ, the one foretold by God that would be the Son of David, an important prophesied figure for the Jewish people. John pointed to Jesus in a dramatic moment, baptizing him, and sending some of John’s followers to follow Jesus. From this point, Jesus began a life as an itinerate preacher, going from town to town to share his teaching. Along the way, he chose 12 men to follow him closely as an inner circle, most of them fishermen.
Many people chose to follow him, numbering sometimes into the thousands. His words of peace, of God’s love for them, and of the coming “Kingdom of God” were words that inspired and uplifted many. His ability to heal people too drew people from surround areas in hope for the healing of themselves or their loved ones. In his three year ministry, he carefully trained his apostles, taught of living one’s life entirely for God, and performed countless miracles for the people who came to him.
Jesus preached with authority, as if he really knew what was right and true, almost as if he himself had written the religious books that the Jewish people lived by. This authoritative way of teaching made many people very uncomfortable, especially those who had spent their lives discussing and dissecting the scriptures, and those in religious authority. Along the way, he would constantly be challenged by these “scribes” and the political factions they belonged to, especially two called the Sadducees and Pharisees. They would try constantly to trip him up, to find him in error, only to be outwitted by Jesus’ teaching.
This became more and more confrontational as he began to teach not just with the authority of an author, but as if he had the ability to speak for God Himself. For example, Jesus would forgive people of mistakes and morally evil actions they would commit. This was quite radical and hard for people to accept. Imagine for a moment that you stole someone’s money, and Jesus walks up and forgives you, though you stole nothing from him. He acts as if everything wrong you ever did to anyone wasn’t really against those other people, but against him personally! If you hit me, I can forgive you, but Jesus walks in as if he was the person you “really” hit!
The miracles Jesus performed in his ministry continued to escalate into larger and larger events; what started as individual healings and forgiveness grows into feeding thousands of people. Then, to show he has power even over death, he raises someone from the grave who has been dead for days.
Eventually, this came to a head when he went to Jerusalem, the nations capital and religious center. Jesus clearly knew that the end of His ministry had come, and so he gathered his 12 apostles together to confer His authority upon them. He had them all sit for a “Last Supper”, one that brought in all the symbolism and meaning of the Jewish people, especially of their flight from Egypt, and centered these actions in himself in a special religious ritual later called the “breaking of the bread”. It is here that he is betrayed by one of his followers, who sells him out to the religious authorities.
They had him captured in the middle of that night, and put on trial in a quick and underhanded way to prevent the crowds who followed Jesus from intervening. His apostles all abandoned him and he is left to defend himself alone. It is here, when finally put to the point that he declares out loud and boldly, that he is indeed the Son of God, and is convicted of blasphemy.
After some political maneuvering, they arrange to have him excessively tortured, and then executed by the Roman authorities by having him crucified, that is, having him nailed to a cross in public until he died. He stabbed through the heart to make sure he is dead, and is then taken down from the cross, and buried in a tomb.
Three days later, as some of his disciples go to the tomb to care for His body, they find the guards that were meant to watch over his grave asleep, and the stone covering his grave rolled away. Soon he will appear to his disciples, and the birth of Christianity is now well under way.
Jesus’ teaching and life cannot really be separated, His walking life and His words were one and the same. In our next video we will take a closer look at some of the core of his message.