It all began with one man: Jesus, who was the Christ.
Christ is Not a Name
A lot of people believe that Christ is a name, but it isn’t. It is a title, like King. It is a Greek word meaning the same as messiah, or savior.
The story goes that Jesus of Nazareth grew up and, at the age of about 30, began His ministry. During His ministry, He eventually let his disciples, or students, know that he was Israel’s long awaited Messiah.
Jesus is God in The Flesh
He was God in the flesh. Then, after he’d taught for about 3 years, he was captured by the Israeli hierarchy and tried and crucified on a cross, the most agonizing death the Romans had come up with. His teaching lives on in Christianity.
Many books have been written to tell of Jesus, His teachings, His life, His Death, and His ministry. He is a larger-than life character in our world. But who is He and what makes Him so special? We will explore that in some depth.
Who Was Jesus?
The Gospel of Luke tells us He was a person born of humble circumstances, not as a normal king. He was the son of a virgin, Mary, who was promised (we’d call it engaged) to a man named Joseph. Joseph and Mary had not had any sort of sexual relationship and so it was surprising that she came up pregnant. The angel Gabriel had appeared to her, though, to tell her that she should not be afraid, because she would be pregnant by the Holy Spirit and have a son and call him Jesus. You can imagine how scared she was, just a girl of about 14-16, pregnant with a strange story to tell. Girls had little value in the near east, as well, so it was particularly scary for her.
Jesus Stays Behind
We read little of Jesus from the time He was born, until He is about 12. At this time, He makes a pilgrimage, with His parents to Jerusalem to give a sacrifice at the temple. Jesus stayed behind and was missed after three days. Now, we think about three days without our son and say, “What were those people doing?” But you have to remember, times were much different then, the culture was much different, and I am sure there is a good explanation. I just don’t know one.
Jesus is Found In The Temple
Anyway, his parents went back to Jerusalem to look for Him and found Him talking with the men at the temple, listening and answering questions! The parents were astounded that He would have ‘disobeyed’ them and wound up here, but the only explanation He gave them was “Did you not know I had to be about my Father’s business?” Not a typical explanation of why He had done what He’d done.
We Know Little About Jesus
Again, we don’t read from the gospels what happens in Jesus’ life from the time He is 12 until He is 30. We don’t know what kind of training He’d had as a teacher. We assume, like the rest of the world, that He had taken up the occupation of His earthly father, a carpenter, or builder. But we don’t see anything of Jesus until one day on the seashore when He begins picking his disciples. You can read about that in the Gospels, but He begins picking His disciples right where they are: at work, doing what they love to do.
Fast forward about three years. Jesus has had all the excitement a person can handle. He is betrayed by Judas Iscariot and is crucified on a cross, a curse for Jews to be hanging on a tree. It was also the most cruel execution the Romans could come up with, although we need to be aware that it was Jesus’ own people who sent Him to the cross.
Jesus Seen By His Disciples
After Jesus death (and resurrection) He was seen for forty days by His disciples. Then He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father (God).
Judas Iscariot killed himself. He was replaced with a man named Stephen, who was the first Christian martyr. He was stoned to death by the same pharisees, a political party so to speak, who had Jesus killed. This time their presence included a young pharisee named Saul. Saul was instrumental in the death of many Jews, and was persecuting them at a high rate.
Saul Blinded by a Bright Light
One day, however, he was on his way to Damascus to persecute Jews when a bright light shone about him. Many of my peers say it was lightening. Anyway, when it happened, he heard a voice, saying “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” It was the Lord Jesus whose voice he heard! Those around Him claimed to have heard the voice, but that it just sounded like thunder to them.
Saul Becomes Paul
From then on, he was called Paul, and he did just as he was told to do by Jesus and began a campaign to bring Jews and Gentiles alike to Jesus. He wrote most of our New Testament, as a matter of fact, until he was killed, traditionally, by beheading, at the hand of the Roman authorities. It is interesting to note that Paul was killed by the very same authorities that endorsed his persecution of Jews.
Christianity Becomes a Go-to Religion
At any rate, between the efforts of Paul and the other Disciples, Christianity became a religion known to most people of this world. And yet it isn’t a religion. It is really only a belief and faith in Jesus and His Works. The Old Testament is generally the scriptures that the Jews use in their religion, Judaism, that tell the law and history of the Jews, the religion that Christ adhered to and Christianity sprang from.
There are many other tales of faith in Jesus from many in the Christian Faith, but that is the main story of how the Faith arose. For many of the facts regarding Christianity, I encourage you to read the New Testament first, then eventually read the history of the Jews in the Old Testament. It can change your life, if you’ll let it.