Who Is Jesus?

Icon: Our Lady of the Sign by Daniel Bissler (may not be reproduced in any form)

Who is that Jewish peasant man standing in a little river? Keep your eyes on him. Listen to what he says, watch how he deals with people around him and the creation within which he moves. See how he addresses the sick, the crippled, the blind and the deaf. See how he relates to outcasts and sinners. Listen to what he has to say to his enemies, to his persecutors, to the religious and secular authorities. See how he uses his time; what is important to him and unimportant to him. Watch him at weddings and funerals. See how he loves and cares for children. Pay attention to how he treats women and how quickly they understand who he is. Consider his attitude toward the use of force and violence. Notice his courage when he is afraid. Notice that there are things that make him angry, and what they are. Notice how at home he is in the world, how he acts as if he has a right to be here, how he enjoys being here. Appreciate his generosity of spirit, his hospitality, how he likes to feed and to welcome others, and how he receives with grace, all that is offered to him. And pay attention to how he dies, how his pain and death do not stop his expression of love and concern, even for those who kill him. Watch how he meets even death as a completion and perfection of life, and not as a dirty trick. Notice how much he is like you, and ponder in your heart how much God has given you the ability to be like him.

John Snow, Vocation to Risk


Jesus (/ˈdʒiːzəs/ JEE-zuss Greek: Ἰησοῦς, translit. Iesous; Hebrew: ישוע‎, translit. Yēšū́aʿ, lit. ‘Yeshua; “He saves”‘‎; c. 4 BC – c. AD 30), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a Jewish man and religious leader who has become the central figure of Christianity. Christians believe him to be the Son of God and the awaited Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.

Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed historically, although the quest for the historical Jesus has produced little agreement on the historical reliability of the Gospels and on how closely the biblical Jesus reflects the historical Jesus. Often referred to as “rabbi”, Jesus preached his message orally, was baptized by John the Baptist, was arrested and tried by the Jewish authorities and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate. Jesus debated with fellow Jews on how to best follow God’s will, performed healings, taught in parables and gathered followers. After Jesus’ death, his followers believed he was resurrected, and the community they formed eventually became the Christian Church.

His birth is celebrated annually on December 25 (or various dates in January for some eastern churches) as a holiday known as Christmas, his crucifixion is honored on Good Friday, and his resurrection is celebrated on Easter. The calendar era “AD”, from the Latin anno Domini (“in the year of our Lord”), and the alternative “CE”, are based on the approximate birth date of Jesus.

Christians believe that Jesus has a unique significance in the world. Christian doctrines include the beliefs that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of a virgin named Mary, performed miracles, founded the Church, died by crucifixion as a sacrifice to achieve atonement, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven, from whence he will return. Most Christians believe Jesus enables humans to be reconciled to God. The Nicene Creed asserts that Jesus will judge the dead either before or after their bodily resurrection, an event tied to the Second Coming of Jesus in Christian eschatology; though some believe Jesus’s role as savior has more existential or societal concerns than the afterlife, and a few notable theologians have suggested that Jesus will bring about a universal reconciliation. The great majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of God the Son, the second of three persons of a Divine Trinity. A minority of Christian denominations reject Trinitarianism, wholly or partly, as non-scriptural.


And from the catechism of The Book of Common Prayer (p. 850), here Episcopal Church teachings about Jesus:

Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus is the only Son of God?
A. We mean that Jesus is the only perfect image of the Father, and shows us the nature of God.

Q. What is the nature of God revealed in Jesus?
A. God is love.

Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and became incarnate from the Virgin Mary?
A. We mean that by God’s own act, his divine Son received our human nature from the Virgin Mary, his mother. The divine Son became human, so that in him human beings might be adopted as children of God, and be made heirs of God’s kingdom.

Q. What is the great importance of Jesus’ suffering and death?
A. By his obedience, even to suffering and death, Jesus made the offering which we could not make; in him we are freed from the power of sin and reconciled to God.

Q. What is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection?
A. By his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and opened for us the way of eternal life.

Q. What do we mean when we say that he descended to the dead?
A. We mean that he went to the departed and offered them also the benefits of redemption.

Q. What do we mean when we say that he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
A. We mean that Jesus took our human nature into heaven where he now reigns with the Father and intercedes for us.

Q. How can we share in his victory over sin, suffering, and death?
A. We share in his victory when we are baptized into the New Covenant and become living members of Christ.