The Influence of Jesus of Nazareth
The influence of Jesus of Nazareth, the man, was enormous in his lifetime two millenniums ago, but even more incredible is how his influence has increased today as a member of Christianity's Holy Trinity. Nearly two billion of the world's people worship Jesus as the Son of God today, and even more participate in the mission he began of giving oneself through service to others.
Jesus was born between B.C. 8 and B.C. 4. It was originally believed that he was born in the year 1 A.D., but that later changed when it was discovered that King Herod the Great, who died in B.C. 4, was ruler at the time of Jesus' birth; therefore, Jesus had to have been born before then (Bowmen). It is believed by Christians that Jesus is the incarnate of God and was divinely conceived by Mary, the husband of Joseph, a carpenter in Nazareth (Matthew 1:18-25). Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in a remote manger just outside of town. After his birth, word traveled to Herod that Jesus was believed to be the Messiah, King of the Jews. This did not please Herod, who believed himself to be King of the Jews, and he was unwilling to let an infant take his place. So he ordered that all of the male babies in Bethlehem to be killed (Matthew 2:16). Mary and Joseph were not going to allow their son to be killed, ruining the chances of salvation for the Jews (Thomas). To get Jesus out of the reach of Herod and his troops, Mary and Joseph went on a flight to Egypt, where they could live without fear of someone coming to murder their son. After some time had passed, the family moved back to their hometown in Galilee. While there Jesus received an education, learning the Greek and Aramaic languages. Most people think that Jesus was the first Christian, however, he was actually born and raised as a Jew, and known as the King of the Jews. (Zanzig 151) Like all young Jews Jesus was also taught from the Torah, through which he learned history and the Jewish law. His father Joseph was a carpenter, so it was expected that Jesus would also become a carpenter, which in fact he did for several years.
When Jesus grew older he followed a prophet named John. When John was arrested, Jesus followed in his footsteps and went on preaching the Word of God (Whitney). It is unknown whether or not Jesus thought of himself as the Messiah. His message always pointed away from himself and towards God. Jesus was an eloquent speaker - he could debate and engage listeners as well as anyone. Jesus was not always liked, as he was often presented with questions that were asked simply to confuse him or put him under pressure. It is often said that when faced with that type of uncomfortable and difficult situation, Jesus could always respond with a focused and thoughtful answer, never losing his patience or succumbing to the pressure (Whitney). Jesus made many of his statements by performing extraordinary actions, such as eating with the lepers and the other...