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  Wikipedia: Jesus Christ as the Messiah

Wikipedia: Jesus Christ as the Messiah
Jesus Christ as the Messiah
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Jesus Christ as the Messiah is the Christian account of Jesus' life (which is represented both in texts and in images). Jesus is the central focus of attention and worship in Christianity and is held by most Christians to be the Messiah foretold in the Hebrew Bible who believe him to be the saviour of mankind, the son of God the Father, and God himself.

Belief in the divinity

Apart from the role of Jesus as the Messiah, the vast majority of self-described Christians also regard belief in his divinity be a significant part of Christianity. According to mainstream Christian theology after it was systematized in the early centuries A.D., Jesus is conceptualized as part of the Trinity, who along with the Father and the Holy Spirit are thought to be three "persons" with one metaphysical substance, that complete unity being God. See Trinity; Nicene creed.

Some denominations have developed other metaphysical conceptualizations of Jesus, including the idea that Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are one "person" with three or more manifestations (see Modalism) or are distinct not just in "person" but in metaphysical essence, and unified only in "will" or "mind". Many of these doctrines were rejected as heresies by the Ecumenical councils of Christianity, and some modern variants (for example, Mormonism and the Jehovah's Witnesses) are at times excluded from the umbrella of Christianity, particularly by Evangelicals. See Christology, Mormonism and Christianity.

Christians see many passages in the Gospels and other parts of the New Testament affirming the divinity of Jesus Christ.


Related: Detailed timeline for Jesus Christ.

Birth and childhood

Of the four Gospels, the Nativity (birth) is mentioned only in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. Both infancy accounts support the doctrine of the Virgin Birth, in which Jesus was miraculously conceived in his mother's womb by the Holy Spirit, when his mother was still a virgin. According to these accounts, Jesus was born as Joseph and Mary, his betrothed, were visiting Bethlehem from their native Nazareth. Mary is also commonly referred as "the Virgin Mary" or, as the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox call her, "Mother of God" (see Theotokos).

Details of the two accounts appear to be at variance with each other. For example, Luke reports that the parents lived at Nazareth, but, according to Matthew, they settled in Nazareth after their return from Egypt, an event that Luke does not mention. Matthew further explained that Joseph and Mary fled with the baby Jesus to Egypt after they had been warned by an angel of the Massacre of the Innocents.

While Mark reports that Jesus had brothers, that he was "Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon," and also suggests that Jesus had sisters, it is not necessarily the case that "brother" must mean "child of same father and same mother". Indeed, half-brothers are called "brother" in very many human cultures throughout history and to the present day. This latter tradition sees Joseph as a much older man than Mary, a widower at the time of his betrothal to Mary, with their planned marriage being primarily a social arrangement to ensure Mary was economically provided for.

The New Testament tells little more about Jesus's childhood or young adulthood. However, by the time he reached his 30s, the gospels all report that he had become known as a religious teacher.

The ministry and message of Jesus

Although the synoptic gospels focus mainly on the last year of Jesus's ministry, the Gospel of John indicates that his ministry spanned at least three Passovers from the time he was baptized by John the Baptist until his crucifixion. In his ministry, Jesus traveled as wandering rabbi and performed miracles.

Jesus advocated universal love between people, and adherence to the will of God. His message seems to have been that universal love is a more direct fulfilling of God's will, rather than observing the laws which were contained in the Hebrew Bible.

Jesus' message was sometimes taught by him through the use of paradox. He taught that the first would be last, and that non-violence was the best way to combat violence. He said that he gives peace to those who believe in him, yet he warned that he was bringing strife to the world, setting family members against one another (due to disagreement regarding belief in him). The use of paradox is a recognised form of attempting to break through established forms of thinking to allow new insight. For example, the use of koans in some branches of Buddhism, which seek to transcend harmful or false ways of thinking, is similar.

Jesus preached an apocalyptic message, saying that the end of the current world would come unexpectedly; as such, he called on his followers to abandon their worldly concerns, make disciples, and to wait for the immanent coming of the kingdom of God on Earth.

The early fathers of the church further expanded on his message, and much of the rest of the New Testament is concerned with the meaning of Jesus's death and resurrection, and its implications for humanity. One idea that has remained constant through Christian theology is the idea that humanity was redeemed, saved, or given an opportunity to achieve salvation through Jesus's death. "Jesus died for our sins" is a common Christian aphorism.

However, the idea of "salvation" has been interpreted in many ways, and a wide spectrum of Christian viewpoints exist and have existed throughout history up to the present day.

Some especially notable events in the ministry of Jesus, recounted in the Gospels, include:

  • When Jesus was asked what is the most important commandment in the law of Moses, Jesus answered (Mark 12:29-30) that the greatest commandment is "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind" (echoing Deut. 6:5), and at the same time he said that the commandment "You must love your neighbor as yourself" (found in Lev. 19:18) is as important.
  • Jesus asked his disciples "Who do you say [I] am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "You are a blessed man!... So now I say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my community. And the gates of hell can never overpower it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of Heaven: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
  • Seeing merchants doing money-changing at the Temple in Jerusalem, he used a whip to drive out the animals being bought and sold by the merchants, released the doves, and overturned the tables to scatter the money-changers' coins.
  • On the Thursday evening before Good Friday, Jesus shared a Passover meal with his disciples—the Last Supper. During the meal, he gave bread to his disciples, saying, "Take it and eat. This is my body", and then gave them a cup of wine, saying, "Drink from this, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Many Christian denominations take this as the institution of the sacrament of Communion, or the Eucharist.

Some contemporary scholars are focusing on Jesus' parables, a type of teaching story found in the three synoptic gospels. Much of this work gained a foothold in America during the early 1980s by a group of biblical scholars known as the Jesus Seminar.

There is renewed interest in the teachings of Jesus, after decades of decline in Church membership in the developed world.The Alpha Course has allowed many people to study the message of Jesus in non-evangelistic settings.

Arrest, sentencing, and crucifixion

According to the Gospels, Jesus, riding a colt, entered Jerusalem on a Sunday—celebrated now as Palm Sunday—and was greeted by throngs of people waving palm branches, and shouting "Hosanna".

On Thursday of that week, he shared the Last Supper, and afterward took a walk to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he felt overwhelming sadness and anguish, and said "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it." Then, a little while later, he said, "If this cup cannot pass by, but I must drink it, your will be done!"

Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus' twelve disciples, who had left in the middle of the Last Supper, had in the meantime betrayed Jesus by informing the Jewish authorities of his location. The authorities had decided to arrest Jesus, since some of them had come to consider him a threat to their power due to his growing popularity, his new interpretations of scripture, and his revelations of their hypocrisy. Judas and a group of men armed with swords and clubs then appeared, and Judas helped to identify Jesus by kissing him, a pre-arranged signal. Although one of the bystanders drew a sword, cutting off the ear of one of the armed men, Jesus rebuked the follower, saying, "Put your sword back, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword." Then the disciples deserted him and ran away. Jesus was brought before the Jewish authorities, and, after implying the affirmative when asked if he was the son of God, was handed over to Pontius Pilate, the local governor in the occupying Roman government.

Pilate asked Jesus whether he considered himself the "king of the Jews", which would have been considered an attempt at usurping Roman authority, and either received no answer from Jesus, or the reply, "It is you who say it". Pilate then allowed a crowd that had gathered to decide whether Jesus or another prisoner should be released. The crowd decided that Jesus should not be released, so Pilate, attempting to placate the crowd, had Jesus scourged, and some Roman soldiers fashioned a crown out of thorns and placed it on Jesus' head. But the crowd demanded that Jesus be crucified, and Pilate relented. That same day, having carried his own cross, he was crucified on Golgotha, with a sign reading (in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek) "Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews" placed on the cross upon the direction of Pilate. According to the Gospel of Luke, as he was crucified, Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; they know not what they do." As he hung on the cross, he was mocked by passerbys, and, according to the Gospel of John, was visited by his mother and others, then died; his death was confirmed by a Roman soldier piercing his side with a spear.

While hanging on the cross, the Gospel of Mark has Jesus asking,"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Many readers find this theologically perplexing, believing that God left him to die on the cross. According to a common interpretation of the scriptures, God the Father was turning away from Jesus at this time because He was suffering in the place of sinners. Others recognise this as an exact quotation of the first verse of Psalm 22, a common way at the time to refer to an entire Psalm. That Psalm begins with cries of despair, but ends on a note of hope and trust in God's triumph and deliverance. It also contains several details that have been taken to apply to Jesus' crucifixion, such as the soldiers casting lots for Jesus' garments and leaving his bones unbroken.

The Gospel of John, on the other hand, has Jesus in total control from the cross, saying "It is finished" upon his death, and instead of asking the "bitter cup" to be taken away from him while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before, he actually asks for it in John's account.

Resurrection, Ascension, and Second Coming

According to the New Testament, he rose from the dead on the third day following his crucifixion and appeared to his disciples; the Acts of the Apostles reports that forty days later he ascended bodily into Heaven. Paul's letters to the Romans, Ephesians and Colossians, as well as the letter to the Hebrews (traditionally attributed to Paul) claim that Jesus presently exercises all authority in heaven and on earth for the sake of the Church, until all of the earth is made subject to his rule through the preaching of the Gospel. Based on the New Testament, Christians believe that Jesus will return bodily from heaven at the end of the age, to judge the living and the dead.

In many sects of the Latter Day Saint movement (Mormonism), it is believed that Jesus appeared in the Western Hemisphere after his resurrection, and taught the ancestors of modern Native Americans, whom some Latter Day Saints believe to be one of the lost tribes of Israel. See Book of Mormon.

Miracles performed

Lazarus raised from the grave by Jesus
painting by the Swedish artist Karl Isakson (c. 1920)''

Miracles performed by Jesus according to the Gospels, include:

  • Turning water into wine for a wedding feast.
  • Curing a sick child who was near death.
  • Curing a lame man, a man with a virulent skin disease, a paralyzed man.
  • Feeding a crowd of five thousand using only fives loaves of bread and two fish.
  • Walking on water to reach his disciples who were in a boat, (and enabling Peter to walk on water, also).
  • Giving sight to a man born blind.
  • Bringing a man (Lazarus) who had been dead for four days back to life.
  • Appearing to Peter, James, and John in a transfigured state, with unearthly, brilliant white clothes, and with Elijah and Moses.


Well-known quotations about Jesus include:

  • The Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12)
  • The Lord's Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13)
  • No one can be the slave of two masters... You cannot be the slave of both God and money. (Matt. 6:24)
  • Do not judge, and you will not be judged. (Matt. 7:1)
  • Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls in front of pigs... (Matt. 7:6)
  • ''Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find." (Matt. 7:7)
  • ''Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to destruction is wide and spacious, and many take it." (Matt. 7:13)
  • Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword... A person's enemies will be the members of his own household. (Matt. 10:34)
  • It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven. (Matt. 19:24)
  • Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God. (Matt. 22:21)
  • The spirit is willing enough, but human nature is weak. (Matt. 26:41)
  • Love your enemies, do good to those who treat you badly. To anyone who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek as well. (Luke 6:27)
  • Why do you observe the splinter in your brother's eye and never notice the great log in your own? (Luke 6:41)
  • I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)
  • I am the Way; I am Truth and Life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
  • Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give to you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. (John 14:27)

Differences in interpretation

Adherents of Judaism, as well as some modern Bible scholars, reject the idea that the Hebrew Bible ever prophetically referred specifically to Jesus. One reason for these differences of interpretation is the use of different versions of the Bible. Christians have historically relied on the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. In it, many prophecies have a much clearer correlation to Jesus than in the Masoretic Hebrew text we have now available. For instance, one passage says in the Septuagint that the Messiah would be born of a "virgin", while in the Hebrew it says "young woman." The Septuagint was translated by a group of about 70 Jews more than 200 years before the birth of Jesus Christ; the oldest surviving complete manuscript dates to the third or fourth century A.D. It was widely accepted among the Alexandrian Jewish community, but was not accepted by the Jewish community elsewhere. The text accepted by the rest of the Jewish world was known as the Tanakh, and had a number of differences, none of which had anything to do with the messiah. The oldest surviving Hebrew Masoretic text dates to the eighth or ninth century A.D., although parts of it have been corroborated by the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Jesus of Nazareth came to be seen as a possible Messiah (or Greek Khristos, thus the appellation "Jesus the Christ") to the Jews, some believed and followed him. This caused a division in the Jewish religion; those who followed Jesus were eventually called (at first pejoratively) Christians. Jews then and now interpreted the prophecies to mean a great political or military leader, who would liberate them from the oppressive Roman rule. The reason that Jesus was not accepted by the majority of the Jewish community was that he did not fulfill any of the conditions that moshiach is required to fulfill by Jewish law and tradition. Jesus was accepted as a messiah mainly by non-Jewish converts in the Roman Empire, though there was for a time a Jewish Christian sect, sometimes called the Ebionites.

See also

Allah | AD | Advocate | Anno Domini | Anoint | Antichrist | Apostle | Ascension | Baptism | BC | Blessed Sacrament | Blood Atonement | Blood | Christus Dominus | Crucifixion | Deicide | God | God and gender | Immanuel | INRI | Isa | Lamb of God | Logos | Nativity | Nativity scene | Nazarene | Passion | Sacred Heart | Sermon on the Mount | Son of God | Stations of the Cross | The Last Supper | The Passion

Images of Jesus | Jesus Christ Superstar | Jesus Movement | Jesus Only doctrine | Jesus and John the Baptist | Jesus of Nazareth

Christian Identity | Christian cross | Christian theosophy | Christian view of marriage | Christian | Christianity and Jewish prophecy | Christianity | Christianity | Christianity | Christo-Islamic tradition | Christological argument | Comparing and contrasting Judaism and Christianity | Judeo-Christian tradition | History of Christianity | Persecution of Christians

Aramaic language | Near sacrifice of Isaac | Jewish Messiah | Jews for Jesus | Jews in the New Testament | Torah

Billy Graham | Bishop Henry | Emich of Leiningen | Hippolytus | John the Baptist | Jude | Laurentius Valla | Leviticus | Madonna | Mary Magdalene | Mary, sister of Lazarus | Peter the Hermit | Pharisee | Philipp Melanchthon | Pontius Pilate | Pope | Priest | Simeon | Three Wise Men | Zacheus the Tax Collector

Aloes | Altar | Cross | Crucifix | Decalogue | Good Friday | Halo | Holy Grail | Holy Prepuce | Holy Spirit | Hot cross bun | Icon | Julian calendar | Lord's Prayer | Massacre of the Innocents | Medieval art | Medieval poetry | Morning Star | Paschal candle | Passe-dix | Passion flower | Passion play | Pietà | Prayer | Q document | Relic | Religious festival | Religious law | Sacrament | Sacred language | Silent Night | Spear of Destiny | Ten Commandments | The Golden Bough | The Robe | Tomb | True Cross | Twelve | Veil

Basilica of the Sacré Coeur | Capernaum | Church of the Nativity | Corcovado | Nazareth | Mount of Olives | Notre-Dame de Reims | Rio de Janeiro | Sea of Galilee | Turin

Adoptionism | Apocrypha | Arguments for the existence of God | Born again | Children of Israel | Chosen people | Clerical celibacy | Covenant | Creed | Doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses | Eucharist | Evangelicalism | Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus | Damnation | Dispensationalism | End times | Enlightenment | First Vision | Fundamentalism | Gnosticism | Grace | Heresy | Iconoclasm | Idolatry | Impeccability | Incarnation | Kingdom of Heaven | Laying on of hands | Life-death-rebirth deity | Lord | Mannerism | Marcionism | Messiah | Millennialism | Monoenergism | Names given to the divine | Nestorianism | Original sin | Parable | Peace symbol | Pentecostalism | Perseverance of the saints | Predestination | Prophet | Religious conversion | Rapture | Reconcilation | Religion | Religious pluralism | Repentance | Revelation | Resurrection of the dead | Resurrection | Righteousness | Sabbath | Salvation | Season of advent | Second Coming | Semiotic literary interpretation | Sin-offering | Sin | Slogan 'Jesus is Lord' | Solemnity | Soul | Spiritual warfare | Supernatural | Theology | The Antichrist and the last days | The Four Spiritual Laws | The nature of God in Western theology | The nature of God | The supernatural in monotheistic religions | Thirteen | Throne | Transfiguration | Transubstantiation | Trinity | WWJD (What would Jesus Do)

Acts of Pilate | Bible | Bible story | Book of Mormon | Dating the Bible | Epistle of Jude | Epistle to the Colossians | Epistle to the Ephesians | Epistle to the Romans | Gospel of John | Gospel of Mark | Gospel of Matthew | Gospel of Peter | Gospel | Names for books of Judeo-Christian scripture | Old Testament | Revised Standard Version | The Bible and history

Religious orders
Abrahamic religion | Adventist | Anabaptist | Baptist General Convention of Texas | Baptist | Confessing Church | Council of Chalcedon | First Council of Nicaea | Fundamentalist Christianity | Holy Orders | Holiness movement | Knights Hospitaller | Jehovah's Witnesses | Midwest Christian Outreach | National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc | Native American Church | Presbyterian Church in America | Promise Keepers | Rastafarianism | Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America | Religious Society of Friends | Seventh-day Adventist Church | Samaritan's Purse

A Plea for Captain John Brown | Abhidhamma | And did those feet in ancient time | Behistun Inscription | Government Warehouse | Superman | The Chronicles of Narnia | The Last Supper (Leonardo) | The Lesser Key of Solomon | The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe | The Magician (Tarot card)

List of Bible stories | List of Biblical figures | List of Biblical names | List of Latin phrases | List of famous suicides | List of people by name: J | List of political entities named after people | List of religious topics


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