Who is Jesus?
Jesus is Lord of lords, King of kings, the Messiah, Savior, the Holy One of God, Son of the Father, Son of God, God from God, true God from true God, one with the Father, King of peace, who was sent by God to save us from our sins, who died, three days later rose from the grave, and ascended to heaven where he sits enthroned at the right hand of God the Father interceeding for us, saving us by his sacrifice of himself on the cross, whereby if we put our faith in him we too will rise from the dead and be with him in glory.
The Story of Jesus in Brief
The religion of “Christianity” is established on the life, work, death, and resurrection of a man named “Jesus of Nazareth,” as the story is told in four books of the Christian Bible, known as the “Gospels” (which means “Good News”).
According to the Bible, Jesus was a Jew who lived about two thousand years ago in the region of Israel, and who spent some three years of his adult life traveling around, teaching, preaching, and performing miracles of healing and feeding with his twelve disciples.
Although he became popular with multitudes of people around him, he also made the Jewish leaders of his day angry by the things he was preaching and doing. Jesus became so popular, in fact, and the leaders were so upset by his activities, that finally, he was betrayed by one of his own disciples to the authorities, and the Roman government put him to death by nailing him to a wooden cross outside of Jerusalem.
The story might have ended there, except that three days after he had died and been buried, he came back to his disciples, resurrected—fully and physically alive. For another forty days, Scripture says, he spent time with his disciples and commissioned them to continue in his teaching and miracles, and spreading the good news of his life, work, and resurrection to others. Finally, according to the Bible, he returned to Heaven—body and all—to be with God, where, Christians believe, he lives on and continues to be present with us forever.
What is the great importance of Jesus' suffering and death?
By his obedience, even to suffering and death, Jesus made the offering which we could not make; in him we are freed from the power of sin and reconciled to God.
From "An Outline of the Faith," Book of Common Prayer, 1979.
What did Jesus...
...do to make so many people love him, and so many leaders hate and fear him?
Jesus amassed a great following through his work and teaching, yet the leaders of his society were angry and afraid of what he said. His teachings have continued to be "counter-cultural" through two thousand years, and still are today.
He chose weakness.
Jesus, though he could do miraculous and powerful things, never used his power to harm others, to gain glory for himself, or even to defend himself when he was in danger. He taught his followers that they should also choose weakness, so that we could instead lift up the poor and weak around us.
He chose poverty.
Jesus repeatedly tells people through the Bible that if they want to “enter into the Kingdom of God,” they should sell all they have and give the proceeds to the poor. In sending his disciples out, he told them to take nothing with them and to depend upon the hospitality of those to whom they ministered.
He put himself last.
Jesus served those whom he taught and commanded them to serve others. When they argued about which of them was the greatest or asked for special recognition, he told them to humble themselves, so that they might be the servants of all.
He ate with people his society regarded as “unclean.”
The Jewish society in which Jesus lived followed a strict set of rules about “purity,” which identified things, situations, and people as “clean” or “unclean” depending on factors such as health or even occupations. Jesus chose to live and eat with people such as tax collectors and prostitutes because they were outcasts of their society. He regarded them as precious to God, in spite of the purity codes of his day.
He fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and healed the sick, whether they deserved it or not.
Through his parables and commandments, Jesus made it clear that God wants all people to be fed, clothed, visited, and in all other ways cared for, regardless of who they are or what they’ve done. He emphasized this commandment to go out actively to feed and care for others perhaps more than any other.
He called God “Father.”
Jesus referred to God as his “Father,” which in his day was unheard of. In so doing, he taught people to think of themselves as individually loved and precious to God.
He forgave people’s sins.
In story after story of his ministry, Jesus pronounced forgiveness of people’s sins, even sins which according to the laws of his time, could not be forgiven. In so doing, he commanded us also not to judge one another and to forgive one another, over and over again, as God forgives us.
He told us to love one another, including our enemies.
Perhaps most controversial of all, Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, to do good for others who hurt us, and to pray for those who wish us harm, and to love every human being as we love ourselves. More than any other aspect, the love that Christians are to show others distinguishes Christianity from other religions.
In every aspect of his life and ministry, Jesus Christ showed us how much God loves us—every person, regardless of any human consideration or circumstance—and how we should therefore love one another.
Learn more at http://www.episcopalchurch.org.