THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST
Jesus Christ is the human-divine Son of God born of the Virgin Mary; the great High Priest who intercedes for His people at the right hand of God as founder of the Christian church and central figure of the human race.
To understand who Jesus was and what He accomplished, students of the New Testament must study: (1) His life, (2) His teachings, (3) His person, and (4) His work.
The Life of Jesus. The twofold designation Jesus Christ combines the personal name Jesus and the title Christ, meaning “anointed” or “Messiah.” The significance of this title became clear during the scope of His life and ministry.
I. NAME. — The name Jesus signifies saviour. It is the Greek form of JEHOSHUA (Joshua). The name Christ signifies anointed. Jesus was both priest and king. Among the Jews priests were anointed, as their inauguration to their office. 1 Chron 16:22. In the New Testament the name Christ is used as equivalent to the Hebrew Messiah (anointed), John 1:41, the name given to the long-promised Prophet and King whom the Jews had been taught by their prophets to expect. Matt 11:3; Acts 19:4. The use of this name, as applied to the Lord, has always a reference to the promises of the prophets. The name of Jesus is the proper name of our Lord, and that of Christ is added to identify him with the promised Messiah. Other names are sometimes added to the names Jesus Christ, thus, “Lord,” “a king,” “King of Israel,” “Emmanuel,” “Son of David,” “chosen of God.”
(from Smith’s Bible Dictionary, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
Birth and upbringing – Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a town about ten kilometers (six miles) south of Jerusalem, toward the end of Herod the Great’s reign as king of the Jews (37 B.C. – 4 B.C.). Early in His life He was taken to Nazareth, a town of Galilee. There He was brought up by His mother, Mary, and her husband, Joseph, a carpenter by trade. Hence He was known as “Jesus of Nazareth” or, more fully, “Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45).
Jesus was His mother’s firstborn child; he had four brothers (James, Joses, Judas, and Simon) and an unspecified number of sisters (Mark 6:3). Joseph apparently died before Jesus began His public ministry. Mary, with the rest of the family, lived on and became a member of the church of Jerusalem after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The only incident preserved from Jesus’ first 30 years (after his infancy) was His trip to Jerusalem with Joseph and Mary when He was 12 years old (Luke 2:41-52). Since He was known in Nazareth as “the carpenter” (Mark 6:3), He may have taken Joseph’s place as the family breadwinner at an early age.
The little village of Nazareth overlooked the main highway linking Damascus to the Mediterranean coast and Egypt. News of the world outside Galilee probably reached Nazareth quickly. During His boyhood Jesus probably heard of the revolt led by Judas the Galilean against the Roman authorities. This happened when Judea, to the south, became a Roman province in A.D. 6 and its inhabitants had to pay tribute to Caesar. Jews probably heard also of the severity with which the revolt was crushed.
Galilee, the province in which Jesus lived, was ruled by Herod Antipas, youngest son of Herod the Great. So the area where He lived was not directly involved in this revolt. But the sympathies of many Galileans were probably stirred. No doubt the boys of Nazareth discussed this issue, which they heard their elders debating. There is no indication of what Jesus thought about this event at the time. But we do know what he said about it in Jerusalem 24 years later (Mark 12:13-17).
(from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)