James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.
Jesus: The Son of God
The most dignified, the strongest, and the most courageous of all men who ever lived was Jesus. He also had a great sense of humor, a sharp eye for the ridiculous, and the soul of a poet.
As a man, the Lord wept, got hungry, and felt fatigued, but he also radiated confidence and health. He seems to have always been at ease and never in a hurry. He loved women and children; he loved innocence and modesty.
With his preternatural powers of observation, the Lord clearly saw the beauty and the pain of this world. He relished revealing the invisible reality behind the visible reality.
The gentle Jesus enjoyed socializing and friendship. He was forthright, but for someone so brilliantly perceptive, he also showed astonishing patience with people.
By the Spirit, the Lord could read the minds of men and see right into their hearts. The indecisive, those who drifted along in life aimlessly, without purpose, dismayed him. He disdained insincerity or putting on airs; cruelty and callousness made him angry; above all, he condemned pride.
Wherever he would go, all eyes would lock on him. Incredibly charismatic, he was quickly established as someone unforgettable. His penetrating gaze mesmerized people. His words and his nature are quite extraordinary. Dismissed by his critics as uneducated; he possessed vast knowledge and displayed astonishing insight.
He stood out remarkably from all other men, not because of his marvelous teachings as much as because of who he is. No human being ever had the kind of relationship with God that Jesus had, which is why he spoke with such authority. In his Father, he had utter faith, and he was utterly obedient to Him. His ethical convictions and teachings came directly from God. Who Jesus is cannot be separated from his message.
Lord of the Sabbath
Jesus believed in what is still today the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament). He would refer to those Holy Scriptures 180 times and mention by name Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Elijah, Jonah, and others as real people who are esteemed. Jesus taught his disciples that the Old Testament proclaimed His coming. Four hundred fifty-six passages refer to the entrance of the Messiah in the Hebrew Bible. Jesus Christ openly identified himself as the Messiah of Jewish prophecy.
All prophets before Jesus were mouthpieces for God, who would pronounce, “Thus saith the Lord.” Jesus instead used the words "I say unto you," which is precisely why the religious leaders of the Jews hated him so much. They considered it blasphemy—claiming for oneself the attributes of and the right to speak for God. Jesus insisted he knew the Father as no man can and said that only the Father truly knows him. Jesus calls himself the ‘Son of Man’ 80 times in the New Testament and declared himself Lord of the Sabbath.
Do You Believe in Miracles?
A miracle is something sensational that no one could not do without God's help. God gave Jesus the power to perform miracles so people would believe God sent him; and thus believe what he taught. People were just as astonished by miracles in those days as you would be if you saw one today. During his ministry, the miracles he did were spectacular and gave witness to the starling command he possessed over creation. His source of power was prayer.
In the New Testament, we see 23 miracles of healing by Jesus; nine other supernatural events showing dominion over the natural world, and three times he resuscitated dead persons. He loved people and wanted to make them whole, bodily and spiritually. He commanded the elements to demonstrate the power of God.
Never before had any man walked on water. So when Jesus did it, his disciples shrieked with fear—thinking he was a phantasm. Their boat was halfway across the lake, four miles from shore. Jesus was walking faster across the water than the ship was sailing! The 12 were stupefied.
When he miraculously fed 5,000 men—plus thousands of women and children—on a grassy hillside in Galilee, where there was hardly any food around, Jesus was at the peak of his popularity. It is interesting that, on this occasion, he fed a multitude of Jews; on another, he provided food for a group of Gentiles (the 4,000 men).
News got around fast of the miracle worker who cured the blind, the lame, and lepers with the power of his voice and the touch of his hands. Leprosy is a bacterial infection that attacks the skin and nerves. The disease defiled, disfigured, and killed its victims. It was called the Living Death because it rots your flesh while your muscles deteriorate to the point of paralysis. Leprosy was greatly feared and highly contagious, which is why lepers were quarantined in colonies—the only known defense for the community of the healthy.
Don’t we all wish we had good friends like the paralyzed man whose pals cut a hole in another man’s roof so their helpless friend could be lowered down on a mat where Jesus healed him? This act of faith proves Jesus had become quite famous as a healer. It no time flat, large crowds began to gather to hear him speak.
Jesus performed each of his healings differently to show that it is not about a particular set of rituals, like magic, but about God's supernatural power. The Jewish religious leaders, who later had him killed, never expressed any doubt that Jesus was a miracle worker. He healed all manner of sickness and disease, cast out evil spirits, and always told the truth. What was the response of the Jews—God’s Chosen People? “Stone him to death!”
Unlike His later Resurrection, the three persons he brought back from the dead would have to die again. They came back to life in the same mortal body; He would arise in an immortal body.
The Greatest Exorcist of All Time
The spirit world exists, and spirit beings are real. Christ came to lead a counterrevolution against the enemy of both God and Man: Satan (and his demon henchmen). There is no doubt that Jesus knew the spiritual forces of evil are real and personal. He knew Satan to be a living individual. When he cast demons out from people, he addressed them as actual beings—not as delusions. Keenly aware of the presence of evil, Jesus cured many persons of demonic possession. He was, in fact, the world's greatest exorcist, and exorcism was unquestionably a priority of his ministry.
Demons knew who Jesus was and recognized his authority over them. It is particularly noteworthy that the enemies of Jesus did not deny He cast demons out of the possessed.
The Last Supper
At the conclusion of his public career, the Master pulled the 12 close for a final private teaching session. Known as the Last Supper, this was when Jesus inaugurated the New Covenant between God and Man. A Covenant is a contract issued by God, which declares the terms of the relationship between Himself and Man. It promises blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience.
If you were to walk for miles on dry dirt roads in simple sandals, your feet would get exceedingly filthy. A good host made sure his guest's feet were washed for them before dinner. The lowest servant of the household always accomplished this task. At the Last Supper, Jesus personally washed the feet of his Apostles.
There, with his most intimate friends, Jesus prayed and sang songs with them one last time before one of them betrayed him. He told his disciples he would be killed soon but rise from the dead on the third day. It was at this Last Supper that Jesus originated Eucharist—a fancy word for Communion—a ceremony where the faithful eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of Him and what He did for us.
Hosanna means 'Save us!' And that is what the multitude shouted when Jesus made his final entrance into Jerusalem. It was the day on which the Passover lambs were selected to be sacrificed for the Jewish people's sins. The vast crowds that welcomed Jesus thought he had come to overthrow their Roman overlords by supernatural means. He entered God's Holy City on a donkey—an animal of peace—not on a horse, as a man of war. Some wanted to make Jesus king by force, to lead them in a political insurrection—but that was not his mission. They were disappointed that this was not why he came, and disappointment quickly turned into a murderous rage—against the best man who ever lived.
As Jesus had grown in popularity, the religious leaders of the Jews had grown more and more indignant and jealous. His message of grace and repentance was proving more popular than their self-righteousness. They held the ordinary person in contempt, as beneath them, but at the same time demanded their respect and gave to charity to win their admiration. The Jews in charge of Jerusalem burned with hatred towards Christ because of his purity. His holiness revealed their iniquity. Jesus chastised the Jewish leaders for having bad attitudes and leading people astray who had looked to them for guidance. The Jews wrongly believed they could accumulate merit with God by good deeds while nourishing the deadliest of all sins: Pride.
Jesus clearly claims he was sent from heaven by God to save people from every tribe and nation on earth. The Jews bristled with resentment at this part of his message, too, believing they are God’s only people.
Jesus claimed equality with God, his father. All Jews considered God to be their father, but they hated Jesus because he said God was his personal father.
As he entered Jerusalem, with its teeming, narrow streets, Jesus caused quite a stir as word got around that the Messiah had arrived. This kind of talk alarmed the Temple authorities—but even worse, they had been outraged by the many occasions on which Jesus forgave the sins of individuals. To forgive sin, you must be the one sinned against. When Jesus forgave sins against God, he was making it apparent that He is God.
The Jews knew if they arrested Jesus in broad daylight, it would cause a riot that would be viciously put down by the Romans with massive bloodshed. But he must be silenced. With the aid of one of his own disciples, they would secretly arrest Jesus under cover of darkness. Most sin is committed at night—always has been.
Jesus was taken from one of his favorite spots in which to pray, the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, which is across a gorge from the Holy City and has always offered the most spectacular view of Jerusalem. A military cohort came for him with torches and weapons. Thirty pieces of silver—the value of a dead slave—was paid to lead them to him.
The Jews did not want the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, to try the case—but to carry out the death sentence upon which they had already decided. Pontius Pilate called Jesus ‘the Christ’ to the Jewish mob, which proves that this was a widely known title for him. But the Jewish leaders incited the crowd, and the same people that hailed Jesus as their Messiah a few days earlier now preferred the murderer Barabbas to the only man who never committed one single sin.
Pilate declared Jesus innocent of any crime three times. He knew that Jesus was no political revolutionary; he only led a revolution of the soul. The governor washed his hands of it—a custom that says, “I am innocent of this travesty of justice.” The Jews did not make any charge recognized by Roman Court, especially not to warrant the death penalty.
An Innocent Man
A scourge was an instrument of severe torture. Some people died while being scourged; it was common to pass out from the pain. Cords of leather embedded with meat hooks applied to a naked body will rip out chunks of flesh. Jesus was the worst beaten man of all time. No one ever endured as much pain as he did. By the time they finished brutalizing him, he was hardly recognizable as a human being.
They mocked him by putting a royal robe on his torn-up back, flesh hanging off in strips. A scepter was placed in his hands, and a crown of thorns pressed down hard into his scalp. Spitting in the face was the greatest insult in those days. Perhaps 600 men spit on Jesus, covering him with their nasty saliva.
The governor did not want to order the execution of an innocent man over a petty religious dispute. He brought the scourged Jesus out to the Jews one last time, covered with stripes, cuts, and gashes. Surely the sight of him would melt the hearts of the Jews, and they would want him to be released. Then the Jews gave their real reason for killing him: "He said he was the Son of God!"
The Jews threatened to name the governor a “traitor to Caesar” if he didn’t crucify Christ! The Jews hated Caesar, but they hated Jesus more. And in their hatred of Jesus, the Chief Priests of the highest religion on earth turned out to be the leaders of a murderous mob. If you ever want evidence of Satan operating in this world, there it is.
The fact that the Jews used Roman power for religious reasons—only in this one case against Jesus—is stunning because they despised the Roman Empire, which had conquered them and taken away their freedom. The Jews particularly hated Pontius Pilate because he routinely sent soldiers to their religious festivals (which his predecessors did not do, out of respect). They were also enraged that he did not cover up images of Roman idols on their equipment and standards as those who came before him had done.
The numerous deviations from proper procedure make Jesus’ trial a travesty of justice. The law of the Jews did not permit night trials, and they broke all kinds of other laws, for example, striking him in the face during his testimony.
They executed Jesus next to the busiest street around, the Road to Damascus. The hill on which he was crucified was known as Golgotha in the local language, which means 'the place of the skull.' Skull in Latin is calvaria, hence our word ‘Calvary.’ This could mean that the hill was shaped like a skull, but some believe it was the place where Adam’s skull had been found centuries earlier.
A Libyan named Simon helped Jesus carry the crossbeam, which might have weighed 150 pounds, to his place of execution. In doing so, Simon the Cyrene became the visual image of the devotion Jesus would expect of His followers.
A Nasty Business
Crucifixion was the most shameful and cruel method of execution. It was a public display of horror, designed to terrify all who witnessed its victims' harrowing suffering. Metal spikes were driven through the wrists and feet with a sledgehammer to nail you to a wooden cross. The agonizing pain was not only from the spikes. The tension in your muscles and tendons throughout the whole body would create unbelievable cramps; accompanied by great difficulty in breathing, horrible headaches, burning fever, and fierce thirst. Death mercifully came from suffocation unless you slowly bled to death first. The Roman soldiers who crucified the Lord were proud sadists.
As the hot sun beat down and insects swarmed on him, Jesus suffered on the cross for six excruciating hours—without salve or solace. The religious leaders of the Jews came by to mock a dying man—imagine!
From noon till three in the afternoon, the sky turned pitch black. Jesus died at 3 pm—the exact time the Passover lambs were killed. It was the violent and undeserved death of the innocent; of the one who did the greatest good for the human race of any who ever lived.
It took two or three days to die most of the time, long after the loss of consciousness. But Jesus's death was unique; he was conscious to the last breath. As he hung on the cross, he prayed for those who had tortured, mocked, and murdered him. Finally, his heart ruptured, as can happen in extreme agony. Jesus died of a broken heart.
There is no more extraordinary demonstration of love than to give up your life for your friends. But the light of Christ's divine presence had brought out the worst in men. The cross stands in judgment of the human race. Both the High Priest, who worked so hard to get him killed, and the Roman Governor, who pronounced sentence upon him, would commit suicide within a few years.
The Lord’s body was laid in a tomb, and a massive stone was placed in front of its entrance. A cord was stretched across the stone, with an official clay seal fastened on each end. Armed guards were posted to satisfy the Jewish leaders, who feared that the body of Jesus would be stolen by his followers, who would then declare he had risen from the dead.
It was a shock to the disciples of Jesus that he did not save himself from the cross. They were entirely unprepared for his brutal death; and appear not to have expected His Resurrection. The disciples went into hiding after the crucifixion, wretched and in despair. But the tomb of Jesus was found to be empty! He has been raised from the dead!
The Roman Guards were given huge bribes to say Jesus’s followers had stolen his body whilst they were asleep. Preposterous! They would have been executed for sleeping on duty. Did the disciples roll away the stone, remove the seals, and take the body without waking up even one of the soldiers? And if they were asleep, how do they know his followers took him? The Christian Faith comes from the power of that empty tomb in Jerusalem.
The Resurrected Jesus would walk for miles with his Apostles, eating with them and asking them questions. He spent forty days on earth in his resurrected body, giving final instructions for his disciples. The Risen Christ was seen by hundreds of people, and word spread that he was back from the dead. This made him an object of worship, and thus he has remained ever since.
He appointed Apostles to evangelize with His authority; promised them the power to fulfill their mission; and pledged his continued presence to all people who come to love him. They were commanded to proclaim the Good News around the globe and to baptize new believers in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Then, as many eyewitnesses watched in amazement, Jesus floated up off the ground on the Mount of Olives, ascended through the clouds, and disappeared, gone to be with the Father in Heaven, where He is now. At this, the Apostles were filled with great joy, and they worshiped Christ Jesus as God. So it was that Christ founded the Christian Church.
This article is an excerpt from the book by James A. Watkins, Jesus in the World: The First 600 Years, pictured below.
James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 07, 2021:
Pamela Oglesby ~ It is always a distinct pleasure to hear from you. I too believe in miracles. As you said so well: "The main thing I need to know is that he is risen."
Thank you very much for coming over to read my piece. I surely do appreciate your lovely laudations on it.
James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 06, 2021:
KC McGee ~ Thank you for taking the time to read my article. And you are welcome. I must say, your comments made my day. Thank you brother. God bless you.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 04, 2021:
Your description of Jesus in this article is beautiful, James. I do believe in miracles. The main thing I need to know is that he i risen. I love the pictures that you included as well. this is a beautifully written article, James.
KC McGee from Where I belong on April 04, 2021:
Your written description of Jesus makes me feel like I'm standing there looking at Him in awe.