RE:QUESTA space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith
Lat Blaylock, Editor, RE Today
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Jesus: Key Questions Answered
What do we know about Jesus?
Did Jesus really exist?
The New Testament part of the Bible tells us about who Jesus was, what he did, and why. But other writings by people who weren’t Christians also talk about a man named Jesus. Jewish and Roman historians, such as Josephus and Tacitus, refer to Jesus in their writings, proving that he was a real person.
In fact, there is more historical evidence for Jesus' existence on earth than there is for the existence of Julius Caesar.
Where is Jesus found in the Bible?
There are four books in the Bible that talk in detail about Jesus – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are found at the beginning of the New Testament and are known as the Gospels. They describe what Jesus said, what he did, and also tell the stories of his birth (the Christmas story) and his death and resurrection when he came back to life (the Easter story).
Other books in the New Testament also talk about Jesus. For example, the book of Romans, written by St Paul, explains why Jesus’ death was so important for people on earth. Other books (for example, Philippians) help Christians to understand how they can start to live and act like Jesus.
Christians believe that there are also passages in the Old Testament that talk about Jesus, even though it was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born! These are called prophecies, which are sayings that describe events that will happen in the future.
What did Jesus say and do?
According to the Gospels, Jesus lived most of his life in Nazareth, a small town in northern Israel, where he worked as a carpenter. When he was 30, he was baptised and started his ministry. He spent much time teaching people about God and performing miracles. He did this for three years. As a Jewish rabbi (religious teacher), Jesus had disciples. The most famous were the 12 young men who followed Jesus and shared every part of his life.
The Bible also talks about a larger group of followers who he trained to do God’s work. They were not the only people interested in Jesus. Crowds of people would follow him to hear what he had to say and watch the miracles he performed. Jesus told people about his special connection to God.
Was Jesus just a man or was he the Son of God?
This is the biggest question about Jesus. It's the question that the Christian faith is built on. Was he a remarkable man with some great ideas who was tragically killed for his beliefs? Was he a prophet sent by God? Or was he more than these?
Christians believe Jesus was God incarnate, God in human form. They believe that even though he was the God of the universe, he chose to come to earth as a poor carpenter, to spend three years of his life showing people how to live God's way. And he chose to die on the cross in order that people who believe in him can be forgiven by God.
His disciples were convinced that he was the Son of God. They believed it so much that they spent the rest of their lives telling others and were willing to die doing so. And millions of Christians over the world today believe the same thing.