Jesus (c. 4 BC – AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity, the world's largest religion. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited messiah (the Christ), prophesied in the Hebrew Bible.
Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed historically. The quest for the historical Jesus has yielded some uncertainty on the historical reliability of the Gospels and on how closely the Jesus portrayed in the New Testament reflects the historical Jesus, as the only records of Jesus' life are contained in the Gospels. Jesus was a Galilean Jew, who was baptized by John the Baptist and began his own ministry. His teachings were initially conserved by oral transmission and he himself was often referred to as "rabbi". Jesus debated with fellow Jews on how to best follow God, engaged in healings, taught in parables and gathered followers. He was arrested and tried by the Jewish authorities, turned over to the Roman government, and crucified on the order of Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect of Jerusalem. After his death, his followers believed he rose from the dead, and the community they formed eventually became the early Church.
Christian doctrines include the beliefs that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of a virgin named Mary, performed miracles, founded the Christian Church, died by crucifixion as a sacrifice to achieve atonement for sin, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven, from where he will return. Commonly, Christians believe Jesus enables people to be reconciled to God. The Nicene Creed asserts that Jesus will judge the living and the dead either before or after their bodily resurrection, an event tied to the Second Coming of Jesus in Christian eschatology. The great majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of God the Son, the second of three persons of the Trinity. A small minority of Christian denominations reject Trinitarianism, wholly or partly, as non-scriptural. The birth of Jesus is celebrated annually on December 25 as Christmas. His crucifixion is honored on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. The world's most widely used calendar era—in which the current year is 2022 AD/CE—is based on the approximate birthdate of Jesus.
Jesus is also revered in other religions. In Islam, Jesus (often referred to by his Quranic name ʿĪsā) is considered the penultimate prophet of God and the messiah. Muslims believe Jesus was born of a virgin, but was neither God nor a son of God. The Quran states that Jesus never claimed to be divine. Most Muslims do not believe that he was killed or crucified, but that God raised him into Heaven while he was still alive. In contrast, Judaism rejects the belief that Jesus was the awaited messiah, arguing that he did not fulfill messianic prophecies, and was neither divine nor resurrected.
The name Jesus came from the Aramaic name "Yeshua", from Hebrew Yah-shua, meaning "God is salvation (or deliverance)" in English, and was a popular name of the time. Jesus is often called "Jesus Christ" or "Christ". The word Christ comes from the Greek word christos and means "the one marked on the head with oil" or "the anointed one". In Jesus' country, anointing was done to show that a person was chosen to be a king or a leader. Jesus is also called Messiah, which comes from the Hebrew term Mashiakh, and also means "the anointed one".
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke say that before the birth of Jesus, both Mary, His mother, and the man that she was promised to, Joseph, knew that Jesus was going to be the Messiah or King that had been promised to the Jewish people, in the ancient Jewish books.
Luke's Gospel tells most of the story. When Jesus was born, the Roman Empire ruled most of the Middle East. The Government wanted every single family to have their name taken down to be taxed, so everyone had to go back to the place where they came from. Joseph came from the small town of Bethlehem, near Jerusalem, so even though Mary was close to giving birth to her baby, they had to travel, with thousands of other people.
When they got to Bethlehem, every room was full. Jesus was placed in a manger as there was no room for them at the inn. Shepherds who were minding their sheep on the hillside came in to see the baby, and went away singing thanks to God for the newborn king.
In the Gospel of Matthew, it says that wise men from a far country saw a new star in the sky and travelled to find the young Jesus because they knew that the Messiah was going to be born under a star, and that the star was a sign that Jesus was born to be a king.
Most Christians celebrate the day that Jesus was born as the holiday of Christmas. Although the Gospels do not say what day Jesus was born, the date chosen was of December 25, because there was already a Roman holiday on that day.
The arrival of Jesus was known by John the Baptist. He baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. During the baptism, the Spirit of God, like a dove, came down upon Jesus, and the voice of God was heard. According to the Bible, the Spirit led Jesus into the desert where he fasted for 40 days. There, he resisted the Devil's temptations. Then Jesus went into Galilee, settled in Capernaum, and began to preach about the Kingdom of God. He was about 30 years old.
Jesus taught mainly by telling stories. He taught that God alone was the true king, and that people should love God and love each other as the scriptures told them to do. And he taught his followers how to pray. Jesus performed miracles that were signs of God's power, such as giving hungry people food and wine, healing sick people, and making dead people alive again. He also set people free from evil spirits.
Jesus gathered together twelve men, known as the Twelve Apostles, whom he chose and trained to spread his message. He had many other disciples, including many women, but because of Jewish customs, the women disciples could not travel to distant places on their own as teachers.
The Bible says Jesus became famous. He went to Jerusalem, where many were visiting the city for Passover. When they heard that he was coming, they greeted him as if he was a king. They thought he would free them from the Roman rule, but Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, as a sign that he came in peace.
Jesus did certain things which upset the Jewish religious leaders. They thought he showed disrespect for customs that the Jews had kept for many centuries. For example, Jews did no work at all on the 7th day of the week, the Sabbath, because it was a holy day. In John's Gospel, chapter 5, there is the story of Jesus healing a crippled man. Jesus saw a man lying on a mattress. He healed the man, and told him to pick up the mattress and go home. Carrying the mattress on the Sabbath was against religious custom, so the religious leaders argued with Jesus about it. They then watched everything he did, and remembered all the things that were against the religious customs.
In Mark's Gospel, chapter 11, it says that when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, he went to the Jewish Temple. He became angry at what he saw. There were people selling things there, and money lenders who were cheating poor people. Jesus chased away all the people who were selling things. He said the chief priests and scribes had turned the temple into a den of thieves because they were making money from the poor and taking away homes from poor women who had no other way to pay for the temple worship.
The Gospels say that the temple leaders were angry and wanted to kill him. They told the Roman government that Jesus' followers wanted him to become the king of the country and take it over. The gospels say the Roman governor thought that Jesus should be set free, but that the Jewish leaders said, "If you do that, then you are not the friend of Caesar!" (Caesar was the Roman ruler.)
The Governor sentenced him to death because his followers had claimed he was king. The Roman soldiers killed Jesus by crucifixion. He was nailed up to a high cross by his hands and feet. This was a common way for the Romans to kill rebels and criminals.
Jesus' body was buried in a tomb which belonged to one of his followers. On the day after the Sabbath, early in the morning, women went to treat the body with spice and perfumed oil. But the Gospels say that the body of Jesus was gone, and that he was seen alive afterwards. This is called the Resurrection.
Some people, like the disciple Thomas, said, "I'm not going to believe this, until I have seen it with my own eyes!" But the Bible says that more than 500 people, including Thomas, saw Jesus alive again. There are many stories in the Gospels about what Jesus did after he was resurrected. Finally, the Gospel of Luke says that Jesus took his disciples to a hill, where he blessed them and told them to spread his teaching through all the world, and that then clouds came down, and he was lifted up to Heaven.
Most Christians celebrate the time that the Gospels say he died and was raised from the dead as the holiday of Easter.