Here is some historical information on the life of Muhammad and the life of Jesus. You will see that both leaders were inspired to teach the Word of God. And yet, some of what they taught and how they lived their lives was quite different.
The more we study the similarities and contrasts found in the Qur’an and the Gospel the more
we begin to understand how Christians and Muslims form a similar, yet different relationship with God.
We encourage you to learn as much as you can about the lives and teachings of Muhammad and Jesus. Both leaders describe a very different path to eternal life. The best we can do is learn what Muhammad and Jesus taught and then decide for ourselves which relationship with God we feel is right for us.
History of Muhammad
The Birth of Muhammad (570-632 AD)
Most historians agree that Muhammad was born in Mecca either on July 6th, or August 20th of 570 AD. During his life he was a shepherd, merchant, military strategist and politician. He was also a religious leader who restored the religion of Islam which was believed to always exist as brought by the prophets before him. These prophets include Adam, Abraham, Moses, Noah, Jesus (Isa) and other prophets of Jewish and Christian origin.
One major source of information about Muhammad's life is the Qur'an. Historians have different opinions on the actual events that led to the formation of the Qur’an. Using the Quran as a reference, along with the biographies or "traditions and deeds" of Muhammad like the Sunnah and Hadith, most Muslims believe the following: (Please note: It is important to remember that some Muslims do not recognize the Sunnah or Hadith as reliable sources on the history of Islam, or how to live a Muslim life.)
While living in Mecca, Muhammad withdrew each year to a cave on Mount Hira. In the year 609, at the age of 40, during the month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Islamic calendar) Muhammad was meditating in the cave when he heard a voice call out, "Recite!" At first he was frightened. He did not understand what he was to recite. Then the voice spoke again and said, "In the name of thy Lord the Creator, who created mankind from a clot of blood, recite!"
Muhammad became convinced the voice he heard was the Angel Jibril (Gabriel). He believed the angel had given him revelations from Allah (God) that he was to recite to his people. The Qur'an literally means "to recite". It is not clear if Muhammad received all of the revelations found in the Qur’an when the Angel Gabriel first spoke to him, or if the angel spoke to him each time he had a revelation. Muhammad recited the revelations he received for the next twenty-three years until his death in 632.
Muhammad would often have mysterious seizures just before, or during, a revelation. These seizures were viewed by some as convincing evidence of the Divine origin of the revelations. These revelations could happen anywhere, and at any time. Muhammad instructed his followers to memorize the revelations and pass them on in the oral tradition. Muhammad would often ask his companions to repeat the revelations back to him to confirm they were correct. In some cases, his followers wrote down the revelations on various materials including palm leaves, stones, tanned hides, and dried bones. When available, Muhammad would also call upon his secretaries to write down the revelations immediately after he recited them. It is estimated there were at least twenty different scribes during the 23 years that Muhammad recited the revelations.
Many Muslims believe that Muhammad could neither read no write at the time he received the revelations from the Angel Gabriel and so he could not have written down the revelations himself. This is to dispell the belief that Muhammad had any influence either writing, or reciting any revelations that were similar to teachings found in the Torah or the Bible, or from his own conscience.
Despite parts of the Qur’an being written down and stored in various places, no single volume of the Qur’an existed while Muhammad was alive. Within two years after his death in 632, the caliph, Abu Bakr, a former secretary of Muhammad and the first Islamic leader to succeed Muhammad, ordered a fellow companion, Zaid ibn Thabit to begin collecting all the written revelations. He also ordered all those who had memorized the Qur’an to repeat what they had memorized so it could be written down:
Sahih Bukhari: "... by Allah, if he (Abu Bakr) had ordered me to shift one of the mountains it would not have been harder for me than what he had ordered me concerning the collection of the Quran. I said to both of them, 'How dare you do what the prophet has not done?' Abu Bakr said, 'By Allah, it's a good thing'... So I started locating the Quranic material and collecting it from parchments, scapula, leafstalks of date palms and from the memories of men. I found with Khuzaima two verses of Surah Tauba which I had not found with anybody else (and they were):-- "Verily there has come to you an Apostle (Muhammad) from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty He (Muhammad) is ardently anxious over you (to be rightly guided)" 9:128 " (Bukhari 6:60:201)
Before a revelation was allowed to be added into the Qur’an, at least two of Muhammad’s companions had to agree to the accuracy of what had been memorized, or previously written down. However, despite all the efforts of Abu Bakr and Zaid ibn Thabit, it was not until the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, that the Qur’an was assembled as it is known today.
Uthman had appointed a commission to organize and finalize the work that Bakr and Thabit had begun. The commission succeeded in establishing a complete, single volume of text written in Arabic some 20 years after Muhammad’s death. This volume was copied and distributed with orders from Uthman to destroy all other versions of the Qur’an.
Muslims believe every revelation in the Qur'an is the literal word of God. The revelations encompass political, social as well as religious principles. There is to be no “interpretation” or “simplifying” of its contents. It is in its original context and meaning since the time of Muhammad and represents the last revelations given to mankind from God.
The Qur'an holds many truths which coincide with the Gospel. About seventy-five percent of what the Qur'an teaches mirrors what the Gospel teaches(1) about sacrifice, humility, doing good deeds and loving God with all our heart, all of our mind, all our soul and all of our strength.
However, the Qur'an does not teach that we are able to feel God’s Love in us through the Holy Spirit. And despite the Holy Spirit being mentioned in the Qur’an in several places (see, Holy Spirit, also see, The Holy Trinity) there is no widely agreed upon explanation from Muslim scholars as to what, or who, is the Holy Spirit(2). The most common explanation is that the Holy Spirit is the Angel Jibril (Gabriel). However, the Gospel refers to the angel Gabriel and the Holy Spirit, as two separate entities.
The Qur’an also does not teach we are the children of God, nor that Jesus (Isa) was the Son of God. The concept of the Trinity (The Holy Spirit of God, the Son of God, and God Himself influencing our lives as One) is blasphemy to a devout Muslim.
The Qur’an also does not teach Jesus and the Holy Spirit helps us to purify our hearts and souls so we may be worthy to stand in the presence of God on Judgment Day (see, "Teachings of Jesus").
Muslims do not believe Jesus was crucified on the cross and died as atonement for the sins of mankind. Because what is written in the Qur’an, Muslims are taught to believe Jesus ascended into heaven while he was still alive, thus never proving that the teachings of the Gospel contain the path to eternal life:
The Qur'an: That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:- 158. Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise. (Surah 4:157-158, Women).
Salvation in Islam is based on how many good deeds Muslims have committed during their lives and if the good deeds outweigh the bad deeds. Muslims can confess their sins to God, but because they do not believe in direct intercession with God while on earth; they are never sure if their sins are forgiven until Judgment Day:
The Qur’an: And obey Allah and the Messenger that ye may obtain mercy. 133. Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous,- 134. Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men;- for Allah loves those who do good;- 135. And those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls, earnestly bring Allah to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins,- and who can forgive sins except Allah.- and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in (the wrong) they have done. (Surah 3:132-135, The Family Of 'Imran, The House Of 'Imran)
The Qur’an: Nay. Those that keep their plighted faith and act aright, verily Allah loves those who act aright. 77. As for those who sell the faith they owe to Allah and their own plighted word for a small price, they shall have no portion in the Hereafter: Nor will Allah (Deign to) speak to them or look at them on the Day of Judgment, nor will He cleans them (of sin): They shall have a grievous penalty. (Surah 3:77, The Family Of 'Imran, The House Of 'Imran)
Christians believe Jesus was sent into the world by God to take away our sins and to teach us how to cleanse our hearts and souls with the Love of God (the Holy Spirit) before entering the Realm of God (Heaven) where no sin is allowed.
Muhammad's Deeds and Sayings -- the Sunnah and the Hadith
Information in the Qur'an, along with sayings and descriptions of Muhammad’s deeds found in narrations like the Sunnah and Hadith form the basis of Islamic doctrine.
Islamic scholars (Ulema) have varying degrees of skepticism to the collection of narrations found in the Sunnah and Hadith. These narrations talk about deeds and actions by Muhammad that some Muslims view as virtuous, while other Muslims view to be a misrepresentation of Islam. This includes narrations that speak about Muhammad's treatment of women, prisoners and his enemies. For example:
Abu Sai'd al-Khudri said, "The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain. They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers. So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Qur'anic verse: (Sura 4:24) "And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess." That is to say, they are lawful for them when they complete their waiting period. (1479)" Abu Dawud vol.2 no. 2150
As you can read, depending on your level of understanding of Islam, the narration above can be seen as very negative. There are other narrations in the Sunnah and Hadith that some may find objectionable. This may help to explain the varying degrees of acceptance of the narrations among different Muslims.
The Childhood of Muhammad
Muhammad's father was Abdallah, of the family of Hashim, who either died before, or soon after his son's birth. Muhammad’s mother died when he was six years old. He was brought up by his grandfather Abd al-Muttalib, and after his grandfather's death, by his uncle Abu Talib.
In his youth, Muhammad was considered pensive and withdrawn in temperament. He displayed an acute moral sensitivity at an early age, and he was known as al-Amin (“the trusted one”). Muhammad spent his early life as a shepherd and an attendant of caravans. He eventually became a merchant trader and would have been exposed to the religious beliefs of Jews and Christians on his journeys to Syria and Palestine, and in Mecca.
At one point, Muhammad began to manage the business of a rich widow, Khadijah. She was greatly impressed with his abilities and offered him marriage which he accepted. Muhammad was 25 years old and Khadija around 40 at the time. Muhammad was deeply devoted to her. He would later have at least nine wives in all. However, as long as Khadijah lived, he took no other wife.
Muhammad and Khadijah had six children—four daughters and two sons. It is believed only his daughter, Fatima survived childhood. Fatima, would later married Abu Talib’s son, Ali. This couple would figure prominently in later Islamic endeavors to trace the line of authority from Muhammad.
Growing in wealth and political position, Muhammad became a champion of social causes. Insisting on the necessity of social reform, Muhammad advocated improving the lives of slaves, orphans, women and the poor.
Muhammad the Prophet
When Muhammad was 40 years old he claimed to receive revelations about Allah from the Angel Gabriel. This began his active career as the prophet of Allah and the “Apostle of Arabia.”
Muhammad’s first converts were mostly from his family. There were about forty in all including his wife, his daughter, his father-in-law, his adopted son Ali Omar, and his slave Zayd.
Many in Mecca resented Muhammad’s preaching and persecuted him and his followers. In 615 he ordered 83 families to take refuge in Ethiopia. In 619 both his beloved wife Khadija and his uncle and guardian, Abu Talib died. Pressure began to mount from fellow merchants and angry townspeople for Muhammad to stop his preaching of reform. By 622, life in the small Muslim community of Mecca was becoming not only difficult, but dangerous. Several attempts had been made to assassinate Muhammad.
Soon afterward, Muhammad was approached by a delegation from Yathrib (later Medina), a city about 300 km (about 186 miles) to the north that was divided by tribal feuds. They asked Muhammad to arbitrate the feuds offering him considerable authority. After careful negotiations Muhammad accepted their offer and convinced his followers to emigrate from Mecca to Medina. His journey to Medina with his followers became know as the Hijrah (the Flight or Migration). This event marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. After Muhammad and his followers settled in Medina he became leader of the first sizeable Muslim community.
Muhammad expanded his mission as a prophet in Medina publicly preaching strict monotheism and warning of a Day of Judgment when all humans shall be held responsible for their deeds. He did not wholly reject Judaism and Christianity but said that he had been sent by God in order to "complete" and "perfect" those religions. Muhammad was recognized as a great prophet in Medina and his popularity grew.
Muhammad the Politician
Muhammad was soon given supreme authority in Medina and began to establish, by law, the ritual practices of Islam. He also promoted social reforms by creating a charter that specified the rights and relationships of the Muslims, Jews and Christians.
The Meccans, meanwhile, persisted in their hostility toward Muhammad and his followers. Meccans confiscated all the property that the Muslims had left in Mecca. They also demanded the extradition of Muhammad and his former Meccan followers from Medina. They were supported by a group referred to in the Qur'an as the Hypocrites who had submitted to Islam but were secretly working against it. This group in turn was aided by the three Jewish tribes that were residing in Medina.
Muhammad the General
Tensions between the city of Mecca and Medina grew. Muhammad's strategy to undermine the developing conflict with Mecca was to attack Meccan trade caravans returning from Syria and thus economically weaken the city.
In March of 624, Muhammad led some three hundred warriors in a raid on a Meccan merchant caravan. The Meccans successfully defended the caravan and then decided to teach the Medinans a lesson. They sent a small army against Medina. On March 15, 624 near a place called Badr, the Meccans and the Muslims clashed. Though outnumbered more than three times (one thousand to three hundred) in the battle, the Muslims defeated the army killing at least forty-five Meccans and taking seventy prisoners for ransom. Only fourteen Muslims died. This marked the beginning of Muslim military achievement.
The following year, in the next major battle, the Meccans had superior numbers but were unable to bring about decisive victory. A Meccan army of 10,000 besieged Medina in 627 but failed to take the city. Muhammad meanwhile eliminated his enemies within Medina. After each of the first two battles he expelled a Jewish tribe and after the third major battle he had the males of the remaining tribe massacred for collaborating with his opponents.
In 630, the Meccans, unable to conquer Medina and crippled by the severing of their trade routes, finally submitted peacefully to Muhammad who treated the city generously declaring a general amnesty. Tribal delegations arrived from throughout Arabia, and their tribes were soon converted to Islam. Muhammad, now the most powerful leader in Arabia, enforced the principles of Islam and established the foundation of the Islamic empire. He ordered the destruction of the idols in the Kaaba, the traditional place of pilgrimage in Mecca, which then became the holiest shrine of Islam. Muhammad granted Jews and Christians religious autonomy as “Peoples of the Book,” whose revelations anticipated his own.
In 632, Muhammad made his last pilgrimage (the eleventh of the Hejira) to Mecca leading forty thousand followers. He gave a sermon in which he summarized his reforms, declared the brotherhood of Muslims, and repudiated all distinctions of class, color, and race. Soon after his return to Medina he died suddenly (believed by a violent fever) at the age of 62.
After a period of peace and prosperity in Mecca and Medina civil war broke out in the Muslim community (Ummah) in 656. This war was called the Fitna by Muslim historians. After the fourth caliph, Ali ibn Abi Talib, was assassinated control of the Islamic empire was seized by the Umayyad dynasty in 661. Ummayad rule was interrupted by a second civil war (the Second Fitna) re-established, then ended in 758 when the Abbasid dynasty seized the caliphate, to hold it, at least in name, until 1258.
By 750, under the caliphs who assumed authority after his death the Islamic empire expanded into Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, North Africa, much of the Iberian Peninsula, and Anatolia. Later conquests, commercial contacts between Muslims and non-Muslims, and missionary activity spread Islam over much of the Eastern Hemisphere, including China and Southeast Asia.
History of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus (3 BC-33 AD)
Historians have yet to pinpoint the exact date Jesus was born. December 25th has traditionally been celebrated by Christians as the birthday of Jesus. The reason for this is that December 25th marked the winter solstice on the Roman calendar and coincided with the widely celebrated solar feast known as, Natalis Invicti. December 25th was believed to be the day when the “sun was born” because it is the first day of the year when sunlight begins to grow longer instead of shorter marking the coming of Spring.
St. John Chrysostom, the Bishop of Constantinople (347-407) was a very charismatic Catholic church leader who suggested this traditional feast day should represent the day the “Son” of God was born. His suggestion grew in popularity as the years went by.
In Christian tradition the “Feast of the Annunciation” is the revelation to Mary (the mother of Jesus) by the Angel Gabriel that she would conceive a child through the Holy Spirit to be born the “Son of God.” This holy day (holiday) occurs on March 25th. Counting forward nine months you arrive at the date December 25th which is Christmas.
The event of the “Annunciation” is mentioned in the Qur’an (632 AD). Both the Gospel and the Qur’an refer to a virgin birth:
The Gospel: Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.  But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (The Gospel, Matthew 1:18-21)
The Qur’an: Behold! the angels said: "O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah. 46. "He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be (of the company) of the righteous." 47. She said:
"O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?" He said: "Even so: Allah createth what He willeth: When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, 'Be,' and it is! 48. “And Allah will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel.” (Surah 3:45-48, The Family Of 'Imran, The House Of 'Imran)
The main sources of information regarding Jesus' life and teachings are the canonical Gospels of the New Testament found in the Christian Bible. The Gospels are the written records of Jesus’ oral teachings as recorded by the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Christian historians place the first published record of the Gospel around 50 AD.
Matthew was one of the original twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was a publican (tax-collector) who Jesus passed by one day and said, “Follow me.” (The Gospel, Matthew 9:9)
Matthew stopped what he was doing and followed Jesus. For three years Jesus taught his Apostles about the Word of God (the Gospel). Matthew was an eyewitness to Jesus’ teachings, miracles, passion and resurrection. Details of his later life are vague. The latest theory is he died on his way to Greece after founding several Christian communities along the way. Historians believe his record of the Gospel was finished between the years 50 AD and 70 AD.
Mark and his mother, were early devout followers of Jesus’ teachings. Christian historians tell of Mark being requested by the Romans to write down Peter’s preaching of the Gospel in the Greek language for the Gentile converts to Christianity. Peter (aka. Simon Peter) was a fisherman who Jesus chose to be one of his original twelve Apostles. Peter was with Jesus during his entire ministry. Jesus knew that Peter had a deep faith in God. Before being crucified, Jesus said to Peter, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (The Gospel, Matthew 16:18)
It is historically certain the Gospel, as it was taught to Peter and the Apostles by Jesus, was recorded by Mark in Rome sometime between the years 50 AD and 60 AD.
Luke was Gentile who accepted Christianity when he became a disciple of Jesus’ original twelve Apostles. Luke would later record the “Acts of the Apostles” which tells about the Apostle’s experiences while teaching the Gospel. Luke was a physician who left his profession to accompany Paul on his missionary work throughout Asia Minor. Paul (originally named, “Saul”) was not one of the original twelve Apostles.Saul was a Jewish man who persecuted his fellow countrymen for believing Jesus was the Messiah.One day, while on the Road to Damascus, Saul had a blinding revelation from Jesus (around 35 AD, Acts 9:1-31). This convinced Saul to convert to Christianity and change his name to “Paul”.Paul learned about the Gospel from the original Apostles of Jesus and then went on to spread the Gospel to Gentiles and Jews alike until he was martyred in Rome around the year 67 AD.
Historians do not know the exact place or time when Luke made his record of the Gospel. It is believed Luke's inspiration for recording the Gospel and Acts of the Apostles came from his close association with Paul and his companions as he explains in his introduction to the Gospel:
"Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the Word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus." (Luke 1:1-3).
It is surmised Luke’s record of the Gospel, and the Acts of the Apostles were written while in the company of Paul prior to the year 63 AD.
John was one of the first of the original twelve Apostles. He was a fisherman who was invited by Jesus to follow him. John was with Jesus throughout his entire ministry. He was an eyewitness to Jesus’ teachings, miracles, crucifixion, death and resurrection. John was very dear to Jesus. While Jesus hung dying on the cross he asked John to care for his mother, Mary. After Jesus’ death and resurrection John worked closely with Peter to establish the Christian church. Historians place John’s record of the Gospel between the years 60 AD and
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
From a Christian historical view the Gospel, as recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, combine to make “The Gospel of Jesus Christ”. All four records reflect the same essence of Jesus’ teachings and parallel the events of his life. There is no dispute among Christians that these records contain the authentic teachings of Jesus Christ as revealed to him by God through the Holy Spirit. The Qur’an supports this belief with many verses referencing the life of Jesus:
The Qur’an: It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong). (Surah 3:3, The Family Of 'Imran, The House
The Qur’an: We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of apostles; We gave Jesus the son of Mary Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit. Is it that whenever there comes to you an apostle with what ye yourselves desire not, ye are puffed up with pride?- Some ye called impostors, and others ye slay!” (Surah 2:87, The Cow)
There is no record of Jesus ever being married or having children. He led a simple, humble life with his family working as a carpenter until he began his ministry.
Aside from his birth, not much is know about the childhood of Jesus. Luke mentions an incident that happened with Jesus when he was 12 yrs. old:
The Gospel: Now his parents went to
Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover.  And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.  And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.  But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.  And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.  And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.  And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.  And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.  And he said unto them, "How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"  And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.  And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.  And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. (The Gospel, Luke 2:41-52)
Jesus began his ministry after he was baptized by John the Baptist, an event which Luke places in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius, or 29 AD (The Gospel, Luke 3:1-17). Matthew recorded the event as follows:
The Gospel: I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:  Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.  Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.  But John forbad him, saying, “I have need to be baptized of thee,
and comest thou to me?”  And Jesus answering said unto him, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then he suffered him.  And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:  And lo a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (The Gospel, Matthew 3:11-17)
[Editor’s note: The act of Baptizing is the outward expression by someone that they have inwardly begun a change in their lives. They are repenting from their sins so they can begin a new relationship with God. They are signifying through the act of Baptism they have been reborn as a child of God. So why did Jesus, who was without sin, want John to Baptize him? As Jesus explained, “To fulfill all righteousness”. Jesus realized his purpose was to show God’s People the path to eternal life. This path begins when we ask God for his forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ who was given the authority by God to take away our sins. Baptism signifies an inward commitment to living our lives according to the Will of God. Jesus led by example. By being baptized, Jesus showed his reverence and obedience to God the Father. Just as Jesus accepted the Will of his Father, so must we accept the teachings of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. End note.]
Jesus' Followers Grow
In John’s record of the Gospel he describes three different Passover feasts over the course
of Jesus' ministry. This implies that Jesus preached for a period of three years. The focus of his ministry was directed at his Twelve Apostles who he was preparing to send out into the world to teach the “Good News” of God. The Good News was that the Son of God had come to show us the path to eternal life and that our sins would be forgiven if we repented and sinned no more; “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (The Gospel, Matthew 5:48).
Jesus led what has been defined as "an apocalyptic" following. He preached the "end of the world" could come unexpectedly and called on his followers to be ever alert and faithful to the Gospel. Some people interpreted this to literally mean the world could come to an end any day. Others interpreted his teachings to mean our lives could suddenly come to an end and we needed to have our souls prepared to enter the next life.
Over the course of his ministry, Jesus is said to have performed various miracles, including helping cripples to walk, curing lepers, giving sight to the blind, expelling demons, walking on water, turning water into wine, and raising several people, such as Lazarus, from the dead (The Gospel, John 11:21-43)
At the height of his ministry, Jesus attracted huge crowds numbering in the thousands, primarily in the areas of Galilee and Perea (in modern-day Israel and Jordan respectively). Some of Jesus' most famous teachings come from the Sermon on the Mount, which contained The Beatitudes and The Lord's Prayer.
Jesus some times spoke to people using parables (stories), such as the "Prodigal Son" or the "Parable of the Sower" so people could better understand and remember what he was teaching. His teachings centered around unconditional, self-sacrificing love for God and all people. During his sermons, he preached about service and humility to God, the forgiveness of sins, growing our fellowship and devotion to God by loving Him with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength.
Jesus taught that everyone was equal in the eyes of God and revealed how God had immense love for those who previously had been regarded as inferior in society. This included women, the poor, ethnic outsiders, children, sinners, prostitutes, the sick, prisoners, etc. Jesus often met with society's outcasts, such as tax collectors, lawyers and politicians. When questioned by the Pharisees why he associated with sinners like these, Jesus replied, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” (The Gospel, Matthew 9:12-13).
The Arrest and Crucifixion of Jesus
Jesus’ crucifixion and death are mentioned several times in the Gospel:
And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,  “Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.” (The Gospel, Matthew 26:1-2)
And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.  He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.  If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.  Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.  Father, glorify thy name.” Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.  The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.  Jesus answered and said, “This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.  Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (The Gospel, John 12:23-32)
According to the Gospel, Jesus came with
his followers to Jerusalem during the Passover festival where a large crowd came to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” (The Gospel, John 12:13).
Following his well-publicized entry into Jerusalem, Jesus created a disturbance at Herod's Temple when he overturned the tables of the money changers operating there claiming they had made God's House a "den of thieves."
Later that week, Jesus and his disciples gathered for what is known as the Last Supper, in which he prophesied his betrayal, death and resurrection. Following the supper, Jesus and his disciples went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. While in the garden, Jesus was arrested by Roman soldiers on the orders of the Sanhedrin and the high priest, Caiaphas. The arrest took place clandestinely at night to avoid a riot as Jesus' popularity had grown throughout the region.
According to the Gospel, Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus' apostles betrayed Jesus by identifying him to the soldiers when he kissed Jesus on the cheek. Another apostle, Peter, used a sword to attack one of the soldiers cutting off his ear, which Jesus immediately healed. Jesus rebuked the apostle saying, "all they that take the sword shall perish by the sword." (The Gospel, Matthew 26:52).
During the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus, the high priests and elders asked Jesus, "Are you the Son of God?" Jesus replied, "You say that I am.” The high priests and elders then condemned Jesus for blasphemy (The Gospel, Luke 22:66–71). The high priests then turned Jesus over to the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate on the accusation of creating an insurrection (public disturbance). Pilate posed the same question to Jesus asking him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" to which Jesus replied,"Thou sayest it.” (The Gospel, Luke 23:1-3).
Pilate personally felt that Jesus was not guilty of any crime against the Romans. Since there was a custom at Passover for the Roman governor to free a prisoner (a custom not recorded outside the Gospels), Pilate offered the crowd a choice between Jesus of Nazareth and a murderer named Barabbas. The crowd chose to have Barabbas freed, and Jesus crucified. Pilate washed his hands to display that he was innocent of the injustice of the decision (The Gospel, Matthew 27:11-26).
According to the Gospel, Jesus died before late afternoon. The wealthy Judean, Joseph of Arimathea, received Pilate's permission to take possession of Jesus' body, placing it in a tomb. According to John, Joseph was joined in burying Jesus by Nicodemus, who appears in other parts of John's gospel (The Gospel, John 19:38-42). The three Synoptic Gospels tell of an earthquake and of the darkening of the sky from twelve-noon until three in the afternoon.
Jesus Rises from the Dead
It is written in the Gospel that Jesus rose from
the dead on the third day after he was crucified. Mark writes that on the morning of Jesus' resurrection he first appeared to Mary Magdalene (The Gospel, Mark 16:9). The apostle John (The Gospel, John 20:11-18) recorded the same event.
Hours after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to two travelers on the road to Emmaus (The Gospel, Luke 24:13-34). Jesus also appeared to eleven of disciples on the evening of his resurrection (The Gospel, John 20:19-23, Luke 24:36-48) and many days afterwards (The Gospel, John 20:26-29).
The Acts of the Apostles record that Jesus appeared to various people in various places over the next forty days. According to Acts 9:1-18, Saul of Tarsus (who later became Paul) also saw Jesus while on the road to Damascus. His experience with Jesus converted him from being a persecutor of Christians to being an evangelist of the Gospel.
Paul would later teach the Gospel throughout Jerusalem, Asia Minor and Greece; and other parts of Europe before being imprisoned as a "revolutionary" in Rome. He was beheaded while in person around 67 AD. The followers of Jesus believed so deeply in what they saw and heard that most went to their deaths for refusing to deny what they knew to be the truth.
During his ministry, Jesus said to his one apostle, "That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (The Gospel, Matthew 16:18)
According to the Acts of the Apostles, after Jesus' resurrection, the Apostle Peter, along with the Apostle John, preached to the crowds in Jerusalem and performed many miracles in the name of Jesus such as healing lepers, curing the crippled, casting out of evil spirits, and even raising people from the dead. As a result, thousands converted to Christianity and were baptized (Acts 2:14-47, 3:1-18).
As their numbers increased, Christians began to be persecuted by the Romans and local Jewish Authorities. Some of the Apostles were arrested and flogged. Stephen, one of the first converts to Christianity, was arrested for blasphemy for proclaiming Jesus was the Son of God and for performing miracles in his name. After being put on trial Stephen was found guilty of blasphemy and was stoned to death, therefore becoming the first Christian martyr.
Peter and the Apostles continued to preach the Gospel throughout Lydda, Joppa, Caesarea and Antioch. Christianity grew rapidly as the Gospel was embraced by Jews and Gentiles alike. Peter would later be imprisoned in Rome and then crucified for being the leader of the new Christian church (approx. 64 AD or 67 AD). It is recorded in the Apocryphal Acts of Peter that he told the Roman authorities to crucify him upside down because he was, “Unworthy to die in the same manner as my Lord.”
Most of the Apostles who had witnessed the death and resurrection of Jesus met similar fates while preaching the Gospel. They believed so deeply in what Jesus taught them they went to their deaths for refusing to deny what they had seen and heard.