The influence of Jesus of Nazareth, the man, was enormous in his lifetime two millenniums ago, but even more incredible is how his influence has increased today as a member of Christianity's Holy Trinity. Nearly two billion of the world's people worship Jesus as the Son of God today, and even more participate in the mission he began of giving oneself through service to others. Jesus was born between B. C. 8 and B. C.
4. It was originally believed that he was born in the year 1 A. D. , but that later changed when it was discovered that King Herod the Great, who died in B. C. 4, was ruler at the time of Jesus' birth; therefore, Jesus had to have been born before then (Bowmen).
It is believed by Christians that Jesus is the incarnate of God and was divinely conceived by Mary, the husband of Joseph, a carpenter in Nazareth (Matthew 1: 18-25). Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in a remote manger just outside of town. After his birth, word traveled to Herod that Jesus was believed to be the Messiah, King of the Jews. This did not please Herod, who believed himself to be King of the Jews, and he was unwilling to let an infant take his place. So he ordered that all of the male babies in Bethlehem to be killed (Matthew 2: 16). Mary and Joseph were not going to allow their son to be killed, ruining the chances of salvation for the Jews (Thomas).
To get Jesus out of the reach of Herod and his troops, Mary and Joseph went on a flight to Egypt, where they could live without fear of someone coming to murder their son. After some time had passed, the family moved back to their hometown in Galilee. While there Jesus received an education, learning the Greek and Aramaic languages. Most people think that Jesus was the first Christian, however, he was actually born and raised as a Jew, and known as the King of the Jews.
(Zan zig 151) Like all young Jews Jesus was also taught from the Torah, through which he learned history and the Jewish law His father Joseph was a carpenter, so it was expected that Jesus would also become a carpenter, which in fact he did for several years. When Jesus grew older he followed a prophet named John. When John was arrested, Jesus followed in his footsteps and went on preaching the Word of God (Whitney). It is unknown whether or not Jesus thought of himself as the Messiah. His message always pointed away from himself and towards God. Jesus was an eloquent speaker - he could debate and engage listeners as well as anyone.
Jesus was not always liked, as he was often presented with questions that were asked simply to confuse him or put him under pressure. It is often said that when faced with that type of uncomfortable and difficult situation, Jesus could always respond with a focused and thoughtful answer, never losing his patience or succumbing to the pressure (Whitney). Jesus made many of his statements by performing extraordinary actions, such as eating with the lepers and the other social rejects. He also amazed people by performing miracles of healing.
One of Jesus' most amazing feats was when he raised Lazarus of Bethany, a close friend of Jesus, from the dead (John 11: 1-44). Jesus had many successful teaching styles. One technique was when he was in contact with the people, he would tell a story and then allow for questions to be asked so that he could explain the lessons and morals held within. Another technique was one in which he used the symbolism in parables to reveal morals and lessons to the people. Jesus often made the hero in the story someone who was not well liked by most people, such as a leper or a tax collector. This is one way that he taught the "Golden Rule": "love our neighbors as we love ourselves." Another important teaching of Jesus was the perfect love that God gives everyone, and he emphasizes the gift of forgiveness that God gives to anyone seeking it.
Jesus' teachings were seen by some as revolutions against Rome, some scholars even believe that Jesus was a military rebel rather than a peacemaker (Elson 70). The priests and scribes were the ones that were concerned that Jesus' actions would turn the Romans against them, and against the Jews. The priests and scribes conspired with Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus' Apostles, to kill Jesus "for the people" (Luke 22: 2). At the Passover dinner Jesus revealed that he was aware of his betrayal, he told them all that his death will be the sacrifice for all of the sins of humanity, and after his death the gates of Heaven will be opened.
At that dinner the disciples took part in the first Eucharist, symbolizing the sacrifice of Jesus for God to forgive all of the sins of humanity. After the Passover dinner Jesus and his disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane. While in the garden praying, Jesus was arrested by a mob led by Judas Iscariot. After Jesus was arrested he was presented in front of a group of Jewish Officials, and was asked to declare if he was the Christ, the Son of God. After he responded affirmatively, he was sentenced to death for blasphemy and was crucified along with two other criminals. He was dead for three days and then he resurrected himself.
When he was back from the dead he told his Apostles about the gift of the Holy Spirit that they would receive, and then Ascended back into Heaven. It must take an incredibly powerful person to die for everyone else's sins and rise from the dead so that humans could have the hope of eternity in the presence of God forever (Delaney). Jesus affected the lives of many people while he was living, and even more after his death. In his time he offered people with hard lives something else to believe in, and a reason to be good on Earth so that you can live with God for eternity. The idea he offered brought him many followers, who eventually settled down form the first Christian Church. In the world today there are 1, 974, 181, 000 Christians, including 258, 770, 000 in North America.
Christianity has approximately twice as many adherents as the next largest religion, Islam. Jesus' time on Earth will be remembered forever, to this day he has almost 2 billion followers, and there are sure to be many more that will follow his message.