Jesus was a Middle Eastern man born around 4 BC in the Roman province of Judea, in a town called Bethlehem. But He wasn't just a man; Jesus is completely, fully human and completely, fully God. His mother Mary said yes to God's plan, and she conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit alone. God humbled Himself to enter the womb of a young Jewish girl so He could enter the world as a baby and experience everything that all other humans experience. (That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.) But the story doesn't stop there. Jesus grew up, worked the family trade as a carpenter or stonemason, and then began a second career around age 30 as an itinerant Jewish rabbi, traveling and teaching about the Kingdom of God.
Jesus challenged everyone's assumptions. He hung out with the poor and marginalized, the outcasts of society, but He elevated them with attention and dignity, authorizing them do God's work just as He did it. He told the wealthy to give back what they had taken, and He told all kinds of people to leave their lives and follow Him. He healed the sick and cast out demons and raised the dead. He loved a good party, so much so His enemies accused Him of being a drunk and a glutton.
Children loved His playfulness and kindness, and the wisest teachers in the land sought His counsel and wisdom. He was able to explain the mystery of God in ways that simultaneously made more more sense than anything else ever spoken and flipped one's whole world upside-down. He told stories that made people laugh and cry and stand still in amazement. But He also told truth to power, and power got jealous. He came to surrender His life, and the power-hungry were eager to take it. But they did not know that He came so that death itself might be destroyed.
Sidebar: death was never intended to be a part of this world. God created the world and everything in it - and it was all good! God created humans to be in relationship with Him - to know Him and love Him. But this meant humans had a choice - they could choose to love God, or they could choose something other than God. When humans chose to reject God, they rejected the innate goodness they had always known and ushered in brokenness instead. Suffering, pain, and death are the natural consequences of this evil they introduced. The world and everything in it became broken and separated from God. It was never meant to be like this, but this was the cost of choice. But God had a choice of His own. From before the beginning of time, God determined that He would do whatever was necessary to rescue His children and bring them back into the freedom and love they were always intended to experience...even if it meant absorbing the weight of all the evil and sin and death in the world upon Himself, dying that creation itself might have new life. So God the Father sent God the Son to earth, to become human through the Holy Spirit, that He might experience and redeem every aspect of humanity, even death itself.
On a Friday afternoon, Jesus was executed by Roman crucifixion and His body was placed in a tomb of a rich friend. Friday night. Saturday. Sunday morning. For those three days, it could be truly said that God was dead. But He didn't stay dead. On that first Easter Sunday, Jesus came back to life. His body was completely renewed and restored, still human but with a new kind of physicality the world had never seen before. His scars from the cross were visible; He ate and drank with His friends. But He could also walk through locked doors and disappear on command.
He is the first of a totally New Creation, and His resurrection means that someday, not only will all of his followers be raised to life after death just as He was, but also the whole world will be restored and made new. Everything sad will come untrue. All wrongs will be righted, and everything will again be the way it should be, in perfect harmony with the goodness of God.
This is Jesus. This is the God we worship, the God who created everything good, who loved us enough to let us wreck His whole world, and who stopped at nothing to rescue us from our own destruction. This is the God who will restore all things and make us new.
And this Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He knows everything about you and still loves you more than you can ever comprehend. He's ready to forgive everything you've ever done wrong; He isn't angry or distant or cold. He wants to bring healing to your heart and mind, redeem the things that cause you pain, and set you free from the addictions you can't shake loose inside no matter how hard you try. He wants more for you than you can ever want for yourself. He wants you to be whole and healed and set free to be the person He created you to be.
Maybe all this is new to you, or you heard some of these stories years ago as a kid. This information isn't just facts on a page; it's truth that can change your life, if you want to be changed. We believe in a thing called prayer - it's really just talking to God. If you want to know Jesus, if you want God to fix and restore your life, just ask Him. Ask God to show Himself to you. Ask Him to give you new life. Talk to Him like you'd talk to anybody else.
To learn more about Jesus, find a Bible and start reading the book of John or read online. Then tell someone else you want to follow Jesus. You can tell us - we'd love to talk to you more about what it means! Starting to follow Jesus is easy - but it's a lifelong journey that requires giving up your rights to do what you want in life so you can become like Jesus and love people just like He does. Find a group of people who can show you what it looks like to follow Jesus - together. Life isn't meant to be lived alone, and that's definitely true for followers of Jesus - that's why church is important to us. Following Jesus isn't always easy, but there's no better way to live your life.