Jesus’ radical messages

The teachings, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the central elements of Christianity.

Jesus was born in ca. 4 BC in Bethlehem. His parents, Joseph and Mary, took him down to Egypt soon after he was born, in order to escape the murderous rage of King Herod the Great. After Herod died, the family returned to Israel from Egypt, and while they contemplated living in Bethlehem, Joseph considered this to be too dangerous, so they returned to Mary’s former home city of Nazareth. From Nazareth, they all visited the Jerusalem temple when Jesus was twelve years old. He was trained as a carpenter; he worked with his hands, as did all Jewish young men.

Jesus began his teaching ministry when he was about 30 years old. Some who knew him were surprised by his wisdom and eloquence, and had difficulty accepting his message.

Jesus teaching was truly counter-cultural, and indeed it still is, despite the fact that Jesus’ teachings have transformed the world’s way of living in ways that no one would have expected 2000 years ago. Yet Jesus expected that his teaching would transform the world if his followers remained true to his message.

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?”

Jesus also said, “You are the light of the world. … Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Rather than money and acquisition of property being the foundations for a successful life, Jesus taught that there were other values that were more important.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.”

Indeed, Jesus taught that following him was not the easy way of life, but one that offered challenges to all his followers.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.”

While his teachings were discomforting for the leaders of the Jewish people, and for many others as well, it was his claim to be the Jewish Messiah (the Christ) that cause the most consternation. It was on account of this claim that he was given up by the Jewish leaders to be crucified by the Romans.

Yet it was his resurrection from the dead that Christians believe vindicates his claim to be the promised one, who comes from God, and it is this message that has been a central part of Christian beliefs since the very earliest times.