Jesus Christ: biography
The life of Jesus Christ continues to be the subject of deep thinking and speculations. While atheists consider his existence to be a myth, Christians are convinced he did live. In the 20th century, scientists started learning Christ’s biography; they presented compelling arguments in favor of the New Testament.
Birth and childhood
Mary, the future mother of the holy infant, was the daughter of Anne and Joachim who brought the three-year-old girl to the Jerusalem Monastery as a bride of God. Such girls were supposed to pray for their parents’ sins. Although Mary promised loyalty to God, she had the right to live in the monastery only until 14; later, she was to marry. When the time came, the priest Zechariah married the young woman to the 80-year-old man Joseph so that Mary would not break her oath with the vanities of flesh.
Joseph was upset with this turn of events, yet he did not dare to disobey the priest. The new family started living in Nazareth. One night, the spouses saw a dream: the archangel Gabriel came to them and told them that Mary would get pregnant soon. He informed the young woman that Holy Spirit would descend to conceive the Child. The same night, Joseph learned the Holy Infant’s birth would save the humanity from Hell.
When Mary was pregnant, the King of Judea Herod organized the population census, so all people were to present themselves at the place of their birth. Since Joseph had been born in Bethlehem, the family went there. The travel was difficult for his young wife: she was in her eighth month. At that time, the city was full of crowds; Joseph and Mary found no shelter and had to go outside the city walls. There was only a stable built by shepherds there.
At night, Mary gave birth to the son Jesus. Bethlehem, which is not far from Jerusalem, is believed to be Jesus’s birthplace. As for the date, different sources provide different and sometimes controversial information. Taking into account the time of Herod’s and Roman Caesar Augustus’s reign, it happened in 5-6 BC.
According to the Bible, when the Child was born, the brightest star appeared in the sky. Scientists believe it was the comet flying over the Earth in the 12 BC-4 AD. Although it is a large period, it is still some kind of hitting the target, considering the Gospel’s anciency and overall contradictory.
The Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7; Catholics do it on December 26. However, according to the religious Apocrypha, both dates are wrong: Jesus was born on the 25th-27th of March. Besides, on December 26, people used to celebrate the pagan holiday of Sun; the Orthodox Church moved the event on January 7 in order to wean off people from the “bad” holiday and establish the new, “right” one. The modern church continues to follow this tradition.
Eastern wise men knew that a new spiritual leader would be born on the Earth soon. As long as they saw the Star, they followed its light and reached the cave where the Holy Infant was resting. The Magi entered the cave, bowed down, and presented him gifts as if the baby was a king: myrrh, gold, and frankincense.
The rumors about the new King reached Herod soon. In wrath, he ordered to murder all infant boys in Bethlehem. According to the ancient historian Flavio Giuseppe, 2000 babies were murdered at the bloody night. It is not a myth. The tyrant was so afraid of losing the throne that he killed his own sons, let alone other children.
The family escaped the king’s anger and went to Egypt; they spent three years there. After the tyrant died, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus returned to Bethlehem.
When the child grew up, he started helping his called father in carpentry. Later, he earned his living by carpeting.
At 12, Jesus came to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter. For three or four days, he was talking to scholars who interpreted The Holy Scriptures. Teachers were amazed at the boy’s knowledge of the law of Moses and puzzled by his questions. Later, according to the Arabic Gospel, the boy locked inside himself and hid his feelings. Evangelists did not write about the child’s further life: earthly matters were not supposed to make the influence on spiritual life.
From the Middle Ages, the arguments about Jesus’s private life have been developing. Many people are interested in whether Jesus was married and had successors. However, clerics tried to minimize these talks: the son of God could not be related to the earthly matters. Many gospels interpreted this issue, but clerics did everything to get rid of the “wrong” books. There is a theory that the notes about Christ’s personal life were not included in the New Testament on purpose.
Other gospels mentioned Christ’s wife. Historians agree that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’s wife. The Gospel of Philip contains the episode where Christ’s disciples felt jealous that their teacher kissed Mary in her lips. In comparison, The New Testament presents Mary as a prostitute who stepped on the path of correction and followed Christ from Galilee to Judea.
At that time, a single woman had no right to accompany a group of pilgrims while a pilgrim’s wife did. Moreover, when Christ rose from the dead, it was Magdalene to whom he came first, not his disciples. If Mary was his wife, everything becomes clear. The Apocrypha also have the reference to Jesus’s marriage: the first miracle, or turning water into wine – there was no other reason Jesus and his Mother worried about food and drink except for the wedding feast in Cana.
In those times, single men were considered weird and even ungodly. Thus, a single messiah would never become the Teacher. If Mary Magdalene were Jesus’s wife, the question why he had chosen her arises. It was probably the political reason: as a stranger, Jesus could not be a candidate for the throne in Jerusalem. If he married a local woman belonging to the Tribe of Benjamin, he would become a home figure. A child born in this marriage could become a powerful politician and undoubtful pretender to the throne. Perhaps, this possibility caused persecution and following murder of Jesus Christ. However, clerics represent the Son of God in a different way.
Historians believe it was the reason for the 18-year gap in Jesus’s life. Church tried to root out this heresy. Still, some indirect evidence remained. The papyrus presented by the Harvard Professor Karen King proves this version: the phrase “Jesus said to them, 'my wife…” is written explicitly.
God showed Himself to John the Baptist who lived in a desert and ordered him to teach sinners; those who wished to clear themselves from their sins were to be baptized in the Jordan.
Until 30, Christ lived with his parents and assisted them. Later, he had an epiphany: he wanted to become a preacher and tell people about God’s phenomena and the meaning of the religion. In this respect, he went to the Jordan where he met John the Baptist. John realized at once that it was the Son of God and asked him, perplexed, why He came to him: he believed it was more appropriate for him to be baptized by Christ.
Later on, Jesus went to a desert and spent there 40 days. By this act, he was preparing himself for the mission: to atone for the sins of the humanity through self-sacrifice.
At that time, Satan tried to interfere with Jesus’s plans by means of temptations; each time, they were more and more sophisticated.
1. Hunger. When Jesus felt hungry, the seducer said:
“If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
2. Pride. The Devil moved the man to the top of a temple and said:
“If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. He shall give His angels charge over you, in their hands, they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Christ rejected this idea and replied he was not going to test God on his whim.
3. Faith and wealth.
“The kingdoms of the world I will give You if You will fall down and worship me,” promised Satan. Jesus told him: “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.”
Thus, the Son of God did not give in to the Devil. The Baptism gave him the strength to struggle against the seducer’s offers.
Having wandered around the desert and fought against Satan, Jesus found 12 disciples and gave him a part of his gift. They traveled together, spread the Word of God, and performed miracles so that people would have faith.
- Turning water into excellent wine
- Treating a paralyzed man
- Raising of the daughter of Jairus
- Raising of the son of the widow of Nain
- Pacifying the storm on the Sea of Galilee
- Healing the Demoniac at Gadara
- The miracle of the five loaves and two fish
- Walking on water
- Cleansing ten lepers
- Miraculous catch of fish at near the Lake of Genesareth
The Son of God was teaching people and explaining each of the commandments so that people would join God.
Jesus’s popularity was growing day by day; masses of people were eager to see the miraculous teacher. Jesus left several commandments which later became the basis of Christianity.
- I am the Lord thy God.
- No graven images or likenesses.
- Not take the Lord’s name in vain.
- Remember the sabbath day.
- Honor thy father and thy mother.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
The more ordinary people loved Jesus, the more Jerusalem nobility hated Him: they were afraid their power would weaken, so they decided to murder the God’s messenger. Christ entered Jerusalem with triumph riding a donkey; the Jewish legend about the Messiah came true. People met the new King enthusiastically and threw palm branches and their clothes under his feet. People expected the epoch of tyranny and humiliation to end soon. Under those conditions, the Pharisees did not dare to arrest Christ and started waiting for the right moment.
The Jewish wanted him to make an end to evil; they longed for calm, wealthy, and steady life. However, Jesus encouraged them to reject the earthly things and become homeless hermits and preachers. As soon as people realized that nothing was going to change in terms of the authorities, they hated God and called him the liar who destroyed their dreams and hopes. The role of the Pharisees was also significant: they promoted the riot against the “false prophet.” The situation was getting tense, and Jesus was close to the Gethsemane night loneliness.
The Passion of the Christ
According to the gospels, the Passion of the Christ means the torment that Jesus suffered in the last days of his life on earth. The list of the passions has been created:
- Entering the Jerusalem gates;
- The last supper in Bethany when a sinner washed Christ’s feet with myrrh and her own tears and dried them with her own hair;
- Feet-washing by the Son of God: when Christ and his apostles came to the house where they should have eaten the Passover, there were no servants who would wash the guests’ feet. In this context, Jesus washed his apostles’ feet himself and taught them the humility lesson;
- The Last Supper. Christ predicted his disciple would betray Him; soon, Judas left the supper;
- The road to Gethsemane Garden and praying to the Father. At the Mount of Olives, Christ called to God and asked to relieve him of His fate but received no answer. Deeply sad, Jesus came to say goodbye to his disciples, waiting for the earthly torment.
Trial and crucifixion
As soon as Jesus came down the mountain late at night, he told the apostles the traitor was close and asked them not to leave. When Judas arrived, accompanied by Roman soldiers, the disciples were asleep. The traitor kissed Jesus as if he were greeting Him; in fact, it was the sign for the guardians to identify the prophet. Jesus was put into irons and brought to Sanhedrin to be judged.
According to the gospels, it happened in the night between Thursday and Friday, the week before Easter. Annas, the Caiaphas’s father-in-law, expected to hear about the magic that made people follow Jesus and worship him as God. However, Annas achieved nothing and sent the prisoner to Caiaphas where religious fanatics and elders had gathered together.
Caiaphas accused Jesus of blasphemy for calling Himself the Son of God and sent him to the prefect Pontius Pilate. He was a man of justice. Pilate tried to convince people not to murder a virtuous person, yet judges and clerics demanded Jesus be crucified. Pontius suggested that people who came to the square decide the man’s fate. He emphasized that Jesus was innocent in his opinion and asked them to choose. At that moment, the prophet’s enemies were close to the court; they screamed about His crucifixion.
Before the execution, two torturers had been lashing Jesus for a long time; they tormented His body and broke His nose bridge. After the public punishment, they dressed the man in a white shirt that reddened immediately because of blood. They also put a crown of thorns on His head and a plate where the words “I am God” were written in four languages. In the New Testament, it said “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Judeans,” but it was hardly possible for such a long text to be written in a small plate, let alone four languages. Later, Roman priests were rewriting the Bible and tried to conceal the infamous fact.
The man accepted the execution without making a noise. Later on, He was to carry a heavy cross on the Golgotha. There, the martyr’s hand and feet were nailed to the cross, and the cross itself was put in the ground. Soldiers ripped off Jesus’s clothes and left only the loincloth. Simultaneously, two other criminals were being executed; they were left on the sides of the crossbar. In the morning, they were put down, and only Jesus remained on the cross.
The moment Christ died, the earth shrugged as if nature itself revolted against the brutal execution. The dead was buried in the tomb thanks to Pontius Pilate who felt sympathy for the innocent person.
On the third day after His death, the Son of God rose from the dead and came to his disciples in the flesh. He gave them the last instructions before ascending to the Heaven. When guards came to see whether the deceased was there, they found only an open cave and blood-stained shroud.
Believers were said Jesus’s disciples had stolen His body. Pagans were rushing to cover up the Golgotha and the Holy Tomb with soil.
Arguments for the existence of Jesus Christ
Learning the Bible, primary sources, and archeological finds give ground to identify some arguments for the existence of the Messiah.
- In the 20th century, an ancient papyrus with Gospel texts was found in Egypt. Scientists determined the manuscript was dated back to 125-130 AD.
- In 1947, the ancient scrolls with Biblical texts were found near the Dead Sea coast. This discovery proved the part of the first Bible was close to its modern version.
- In 1968, during the archeological excavations, scientists found the body of a crucified man, John, the son of Caggol. Thus, it was evident that criminals were normally executed that way in those times.
- In 1990, a jar with some remains was found; the Aramaic words written on it meant: “Joseph, the son of Caiaphas.” It was probably the son of the priest who exposed Jesus to persecution.
- In 1961, the writings on a stone were found in Caesarea. They were associated with the name of Pontius Pilate, the prefect of Judea. He was called a prefect, not a procurator, like all his successors. The same information is provided in the gospels.
Even some famous scientists believed in God. For instance, Charles Darwin was persuaded one could hardly imagine the endless universe, as well as a human being, that came into existence by chance.
Nostradamus predicted that the New Religion would appear at the turn of the centuries; it would bring light and positive. The prophecy seems to be coming true. The new spiritual group has recently appeared; it has not been recognized by the modern society yet.
Scientists introduced the term new religious movements (NRM) to contrast them to cults characterized negatively.
The psychologist Margaret Thaler created the NRM classification including several sub-groups (religious, eastern, interest-based, psychological, and even political). New religious movements may be dangerous because the aims of their leaders remain unclear. Besides, the majority of such groups stand against the Russian Orthodox Church which implies the hidden threat to the whole Christian civilization.