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A space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith

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Jesus: Key Questions Answered

What do we know about Jesus?

Did Jesus really exist? Yes. 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. Roman and Jewish historians such as Josephus and Tacitus refer to Jesus in their writings, proving that he was a real person.

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 places in the Old Testament too that talk about Jesus – even though it was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born! These are called prophecies – 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 – 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, and even mentions some women disciples. 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. But not everyone liked Jesus. Some members of the local religious communities were angry that Jesus criticised them for being hypocrites: people who tell people what to do but don’t do it themselves.

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 himself living as a person. 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 telling and showing people how to live God's way. And he chose to die on a cross in order that people who believe in him could be forgiven by God. Does anybody know for sure who Jesus was? Really it is a matter of faith.

Jesus told people about his special connection to God. His disciples – the men who spent three years following Jesus, listening to him, and watching the things he did – 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.