Throughout history, humans have had many great leaders and many heroes who have inspired us. Some have been brilliant military leaders. Others have made wise laws or scientific discoveries. Some of these heroes have been forgotten while others, Julius Caesar for example, are still well-known today. However, there is one hero who stands out from the rest, both because of what he did and because of who he was and is. Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the Christian tradition. His teachings, his miracles, and his death and resurrection make him the world’s greatest hero.
We do not know a lot about Jesus’ life, not even his exact birth date. Some scholars believe he was born in September, while others believe it was in late December or early January (“Jesus’ Birth,” n.d.). Today, of course, it is celebrated on December 25th.
In the Bible, Jesus grew up in the village of Nazareth with his mother, Mary, and his foster father, Joseph. One of the important beliefs in Christianity is that Jesus is the Son of God. In the Book of Luke, an angel appeared before Mary and told her that even though she is a virgin, she would conceive a son who will be called the Son of God and will save his people (Luke 1: 28-35, King James Version). That child was Jesus.
Scholars know little about Jesus’ childhood, except that when he was only twelve years old, he amazed the learned men at the Temple with his wisdom (Luke 2: 41-47, King James Version). After that, Jesus disappeared until he was around 30 years old. At that time, he began his ministry. He went to a town in Galilee called Capernaum and began to preach and teach. He healed many people, including the mother of Peter, and Jesus cast out demons as well (Luke 3: 31-41, King James Version). This made him famous, and as he moved around Galilee, people started following him.
Jesus taught ordinary people, not the rich and powerful. He often used parables. These were stories that explained what he was teaching in the way that a farmer or fisherman would understand. One of his famous parables is the story of the lost or prodigal son (Luke 15: 11-32, King James Version). Jesus told this story to explain how much God loved even sinners and was happy when they returned to him.
People loved Jesus’ teachings, but they also were thrilled when he healed blind people, people who could not walk, lepers, and he even raised the dead (Matthew 8: 2-17, King James Version). He healed so many people that stories about him began to be spread throughout Galilee, and hundreds of sick and wounded people tried to get to Jesus so he could cure them. But he did more than heal people. When he and his disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, there was a huge storm. The disciples were afraid the boat would sink, but Jesus stood up and made the winds and waves go away (Mark 4: 36-40, King James Version).
The disciples were almost afraid after they saw what Jesus could do. “And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, what manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him (Mark 4: 41, King James Version)?”
After three years of travelling, preaching, and helping people, Jesus was arrested. He was accused of several crimes, and Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, sentenced him to death. Pilate didn’t really want to do it, but the mob insisted (John 19: 4-16, King James Version). Jesus was taken away and crucified. After he was dead, some of his followers wrapped him in a shroud and put him in a stone tomb (John 19: 30-42, King James Version).
Not all theologians agree about why Jesus died. Some have said that he overcame death and evil. Some believed he died for all the sins humans have committed. Others thought he was a role model, and his death showed Christians how to accept God’s Will. Finally, some experts believe that his death happened so he could be one with humanity, sharing their pain (Posten, 2014).
Whatever the reason, Jesus’ story did not end with his death. According to the Bible, when Mary Magdalene came to put spices and perfume on his body, the tomb was empty. Two angels in the tomb asked Mary why she was crying, and then Jesus appeared and spoke to her (John 20: 11-16, King James Version). Jesus had risen from the dead.
Jesus’ disciples found out he was alive, and after he went up to Heaven, they started preaching about him (Acts 3: 1-21, King James Version). Like Jesus, they healed the sick and helped the poor. Many of them were killed by the Romans, along with other people who believed in Jesus (“The first Martyrs,” n.d.). But slowly the teaching of Jesus spread to other lands, and Christianity became an important religion. Today there are more than two billion Christians in the world (Banks, 2011).
No one knows everything about Jesus. However, this is plenty of evidence that he was a great teacher and someone who loved the sick and the poor. He died on a cross, but today, he is worshipped all over the world. He is still a great hero to those who follow him.
- Banks, M. (2011, June 2). “How many Christians are there in the world today?” Urban Faith. http://www.urbanfaith.com/2011/06/how-many-christians-are-in-the-world-today.html/
- Catholic Online. “First martyrs of the See of Rome.” http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=3385
- Grace Communion International. “The date of Jesus’ birth.” http://www.gci.org/jesus/date
- Posten, B. (2014, April 19). A question for the ages. Reading Eagle (PA).