He is the second person in the trinity of Jehovah, and the source of Christian belief.
But the strange thing about Jesus is that he didn’t exist. If you had seen him in Nazareth and shouted ‘Hey Jesus!’, he would have taken no notice — because he was actually named Joshua. Blame this misunderstanding on the translation from Hebrew to Greek several years after the main event.
The earthly life of Jesus was full of controversy — even before he was born. An Angel of the Lord visited St. Mary, the fiancé of a builder named Joseph, and told her to expect a happy event. Sure enough, she conceived a miraculous baby — with no human intervention. Fortunately the Angel also visited St. Joseph, or this would have taken some explaining:
Mary: “Er, Joe... I’m sorry love but I’m pregnant. Yes I know we haven’t done anything, but God came to me while you were at the Carpenters Convention.” Joseph: “Are you sure it was God?” Mary: “Sure I am. I recognized his Holy Light. And he said not to worry; I’m still a virgin.” Joseph: “Okay. But if it happens again, tell him you’ve got a headache.”
Joseph stood by her, but in that place and time, an unmarried pregnant virgin was a scandal waiting to happen. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that mere months later Mary and Joseph left town. They went to Bethlehem, apparently to register for a census. (Which may or may not have happened, depending which scholar you believe. The matter is complicated by uncertainty over exact dates and the fact there were two Herods ruling in quick succession.)
But scholarly opinion veers off in all directions, so we’re inclined to take the Gospel accounts at face value and see where that takes us. In this case, the tiny town of Bethlehem, birthplace of Yahweh’s favorite King David in ancient times — and, according to popular belief, birthplace of his successor the Messiah. The inn was full, so Jesus was born in the vicinity of a stable. Presumably this was part of the divine plan and not due to having forgotten to book a room in advance.
Christmas came early that year — possibly some time in October. The Bible doesn’t bother to mention the date, so it could just as easily be the Fourth of July or Groundhog Day. There was a shiny star (or comet, or planetary conjunction), astrologers with Christmas presents, a flock of shepherds, and all sorts of commotion. But no early night for Mary; no midwife, hot water or towels. Just a mangy old manger. Still, the pressies were okay. The fragrant perfume covered up the barnyard smells, and gold is gold.
It must have been a terrible shock for Jesus when he found out God was his real father. How can one live up to such expectations? Goodness knows he tried, even though Daddy never came near enough to give him a hug or take him out to the park. It must have put the family under a lot of strain when old ladies tickled his chin and said: “Oooh, he looks just like his dad.”
By all accounts (most of them apocryphal), Jesus was a precocious lad, turning water into milk and explaining Scripture to bemused Rabbis. But almost nothing is known of his early years, and Jesus the acne-ridden confused teenager is lost to history. Instead we next catch up with him as he starts his ministry, aged thirty-something.
Following a short prelude in which Jesus and popular preacher John the Baptist exchanged the spiritual equivalent of a Masonic handshake, he received a holy epiphany — and vanished into the desert for forty days to take stock. A self-imposed starvation diet must have put him in a very reflective frame of mind. At the end of his fasting, Satan took him for a test drive which he passed with flying colors.
On his return, Jesus began to preach in synagogues and public places. His message: the Kingdom of Heaven was near at hand and woe betide anyone who did not repent of their sin. His words were invariably contentious, cutting through religious waffle and striking to the heart of the matter. (People who imagine Jesus to be a wimpy long-haired peacenik should go read his words again; he was deliberately provocative.) He soon became infamous for his outspoken attacks on the status quo. And, like a Judaic combination of Gandhi, Lennon and MLK, he was cheered by the people while the establishment seethed.
By offering a sympathetic non-judgmental counseling service, free medical treatment, miraculous entertainment, and a highly popular course in moral philosophy, Jesus managed to upset almost everyone who wasn’t poor or needy. But the Jewish authorities couldn’t touch him. Whenever they tried to trap him in a violation of Scripture, Jesus ran verbal rings around them. Could this really be the Messiah? The Jewish leaders were starting to look very foolish indeed.
To make matters worse, Jesus had a terrible habit of performing miracles. Walking on water was one thing, but changing water into wine could not have increased his popularity with vineyard owners. And there was that incident when the demons he’d exorcised from afflicted humans entered into in a herd of swine — which hurled themselves over a cliff squealing in terror. This was a blow from which the Gadarene pork industry never recovered. No-one has dared to touch a sausage since.
Finally the Powers That Be could stand it no longer and plots were hatched. Jesus is credited with predicting his betrayal, but it must have been pretty obvious that something was in the air. He was not stupid, and his finger was on the pulse of the nation. But instead of fighting his fate, he accepted it.
Would Christianity be around today if Jesus had resisted arrest and done a runner? Would the Bible have survived to become the world’s most popular book (non-fiction category) if Jesus had begged for mercy and promised to keep his beatitudes to himself in future? Of course not.
And so he was crucified — a very nasty death indeed. His last agonized words were: “Father, why have you forsaken me?” Which we can’t help feeling is a very good question. For God to devise the nastiest and cruelest death for his only son and just let it happen seems beyond belief. But that takes us into the realm of Theology, and you’ll need to consult our entry on Jehovah for something approaching an explanation.
Meanwhile, the disciples he’d chosen turned out to be a motley crew of misfits and cowards. Judas Iscariot betrayed him, St. Peter denied he had ever seen him, and the rest — apart from St. John — stayed well out of the way during his crucifixion. They’d never really understood half of what their master said, and now they were stunned, shocked and terrified. It was left to a group of women to go near the tomb afterwards to pay respects and perform their funeral duties. But the tomb was empty...
We’ve encountered many explanations for the empty tomb, up to and including abduction by space aliens. We’ve examined every possible theory — scientific, religious, historical, archeological, supernatural — and we’ve decided to believe that all of them are true. After all, with Jehovah all things are possible. You are at liberty to form your own opinion. So we humbly suggest you read the New Testament for yourself — and then get Googling for God.
Jesus Facts and Figures
Pronunciation: Coming soon
Alternative names: CHRIST, JESUS-CHRIST, JOSHUA, MESSIAH, SON-OF-MAN, YESHUA, YAHSHUA, Y'SHUA
Area or people: Worldwide Christian
Celebration or Feast Day: Unknown at present
In charge of: Love
Area of expertise: Love
Good/Evil Rating: Unknown at present
Popularity index: 397
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Article last updated on April 30, 2019 by Rowan Allen.
Editors: Peter J. Allen, Chas Saunders
References: Coming soon.