Who is Jesus?
Everyone knows something about Jesus! Scholars debate him, athletes point to him, atheists downplay him, others use his name to express disgust or anger, television shows poke fun at him, and millions love and follow him. Every Sunday across the globe his followers gather to sing songs to him, pray to him, and listen to a message from the Bible, which is usually about him. Who is this polarizing person?
Jesus was a Jewish man from the Middle East during the 1st century C.E. He never married, never wrote a book, never traveled outside of a small area in his adult life, and was relatively unknown until age 30. He gained an amazing following due to his extraordinary teaching and healing abilities. He did this publicly for 3 years before he was executed on a wooden cross by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate at the demand of religious leaders.
Why did religious leaders demand Jesus' execution?
Religious leaders demanded his execution because Jesus claimed that he was God's one and only Son, making himself equal with God. During his three years of public life, he received worship as though he were God, he forgave sins as though he were God, and he worked miracles as though he were God. It was because of his claims to be God that the Jewish religious leaders had him crucified.
Jesus died on the cross and was placed in a borrowed tomb on a Friday. Pontius Pilate (the Roman governor) ordered the tomb to be guarded throughout the weekend. On Sunday his followers returned to the tomb and were shocked to find it open and empty. Jesus had come back to life. Over the next 40 days hundreds of people spent time with Jesus, eating with him, touching, seeing, and listening to him. Many of these who spent time with him during that 40 day period would spend the rest of their lives following him and testifying that he was still alive. Many of those would also go on to become martyrs for their testimony that Jesus was alive and that he is God.
For the past 2000 years millions of people around the world have had personal encounters with Jesus that leave them changed and cause them to live their lives in complete devotion to him; many of whom would rather die than to renounce their faith in him. Jesus promised that he would come back one day to take all of his followers to be with him in a place called heaven. His followers were organized into churches and tasked with completing Jesus' mission to develop new followers from all nations before his return (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18-20).
To learn more, find the book of John in the bible and read a chapter each day. (I also suggest that you underline the word "believe" in the book of John, as this is a key theme). When you've finished with the book of John, go to the book of Luke. Email if you need any help or for other recommendations!