The point of origin and central figure of the Christian faith is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Son of God.
Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah prophesied in Hebrew Scripture, our Old Testament of the Bible. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem (Luke 2). St. Joseph took his wife Mary and the infant Jesus on the Flight to Egypt to avoid Herod (Matthew 2). Upon their return, the Holy Family settled in Nazareth where Jesus grew and spent his childhood and early years as an adult. Hardly anything is known of his life at that time except that he was called a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23) and that at age 12 he was found in the midst of the teachers in the Temple of Jerusalem (Luke 2:46). All four Gospels record Jesus the Christ calling himself the Son of Man, reminding us that he fulfills the destiny of the Messianic figure in Chapter Seven of the Book of the Prophet Daniel.
Early Jewish and pagan historians, such as Flavius Josephus, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger, provided independent witness to Christ’s existence.
Christianity is the Resurrection Faith. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Word made flesh. Following his death on the Cross, God raised him from the dead on the third day (Acts 10:40, Romans 1:4, First Corinthians 15:4); he ascended into Heaven (Luke 24:51) and sat at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2). He is the Authority on Scripture (Luke 24:25-27, Galatians 1:11-12, 2 Timothy 3:15-17).
The New Testament writers each offer a unique picture of Jesus. All convey his great love for mankind. The life of Christ is best described in the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, while his teachings are presented by all the New Testament writers.
The Apostle Matthew stresses that Jesus is the Messiah foretold in Hebrew Scripture. He is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, for example, the Messiah will be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), and that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). There are elements to Matthew’s Gospel that are unique to it alone, such as the appearance of an angel to Joseph in a dream, the Star of Bethlehem, the visit of the Magi, the Slaughter of the Innocents, and the Flight to Egypt in the Infancy Narrative; the complete Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Golden Rule (Matthew 5-7); and the Final Judgement (25:31-46). The Gospel ends with a reference to the mystery of the Trinity, when Jesus called for the Great Commission of his Apostles to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit. And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
The Gospel writer Mark, called by St. Peter “his son,” opens with a declaration that Jesus is the Son of God, and God the Father and the Holy Spirit appear during his Baptism in the River Jordan, an early reference to the Trinity. Fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel 2:44-45, Jesus announces the Kingdom of God in Mark 1:15: “the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the Gospel.” Mark 6:3 indicates that Jesus was the only child of Mary and followed in Joseph’s footsteps and became a carpenter. Nearly half of Mark’s account of the public ministry of Jesus (Chapters 1-10) describes Miracles, such as the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish. Discipleship in Mark is described as self-denial (8:34-35) and service (10:43-44). When asked which is the greatest commandment, Jesus cites the Shema prayer of Deuteronomy 6:4-5 – “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one” (12:29-30). The human emotional side of Jesus is perhaps best portrayed in the Gospel of Mark.
The physician Luke was the only Gentile of the New Testament writers. Luke, one of Paul’s companions on his journeys, began his Gospel with the Infancy Narrative of Jesus, often through the eyes of his mother Mary. Luke sees the life and mission of Jesus Christ as a visitation from God. Parables unique to Luke reveal the mercy of God through the Parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, his justice through the Parable of Lazarus and the rich man, and his praise of humility in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Gospel of Luke is the only Gospel with a sequel, The Acts of the Apostles. Acts details the fulfilling of Christ’s mission through the Apostles, who are to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (Luke 24:45-48, Acts 1:8) following their reception of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Followers of Christ were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26) and were also known as Nazarenes (Acts 24:5).
The Apostle and Evangelist John concerned himself with the mystery of the Incarnation, who Christ was. Jesus, a human being whom the Apostles had followed for three years, was at the same time the Son of God and the Word made Flesh. This principle of the Incarnation introduced in the Prologue became the guiding theme for John’s entire Gospel and his three Letters. John was the only Apostle to record Mary at the foot of the Cross. Jesus, when dying on the Cross, gave his Mother Mary to John (19:25-27). The Revelation to John focuses on the prophecy of the risen Christ. One must distinguish throughout the life of Jesus his human aspect and the mystery of “the Son who comes from the Father,” a mystery that reveals itself in the man Jesus. John particularly expresses the love God has for mankind – “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him” (First John 4:16) .
Paul knew only the risen Christ. Saul of Tarsus in Cilicia of Asia Minor was a Pharisee who traced his lineage to the tribe of Benjamin. Fervent in his persecution of Christians, he was struck down on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-7). Paul was saved by Christ himself! He then became just as passionate in spreading Christianity with his missionary journeys from Antioch to Asia and the European world of the time. The first recorded introduction of Christianity into Europe was Paul’s voyage to Philippi in Macedonia (Acts 16:11-12). The Pauline Letters express his faith in Christ as Lord, Redeemer and Savior, to see the Cross and Resurrection as salvation for mankind. First Corinthians 15:3-9 is the earliest written evidence of the Resurrection of Christ.
Peter and his brother Andrew were the first two Apostles to follow Jesus. Peter recognized Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. Peter was made the “rock” upon which Jesus built his Church (Matthew 16:18-19). Peter also denied Jesus three times, then broke down and wept; but he later reaffirmed his loyalty three times following the Resurrection of Christ (John 21:15-19). Inspired by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, he became a dynamic Evangelist, as described in the Acts of the Apostles. After preaching in Jerusalem, he established the Church in Antioch before he became the first Bishop of Rome. Peter sees Jesus as the model for all Christians in his two Letters.
James contributed one letter to the catholic (universal) letters. His letter emphasized the importance of being impartial, of having faith with good works, controlling the tongue, and avoiding the pitfalls of worldliness and wealth.
The Letter of Jude Thaddeus is pastoral in nature, calling upon early Christians to be faithful followers of Christ through their conduct and living the Word. He urges us to maintain our life with God and show mercy to others.
It is important for you, the reader, to see for yourself. This page includes spoken words of Jesus in Scripture.
Author: Jesus Christ Savior
Our anonymous author is a physician and a Masters graduate in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio. He teaches Sunday Bible Class at St. James Catholic Church and serves both Pastoral Care and the Medical Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital.