Christianity What do Christians believe?
Christians, Jews and Muslims believe that a loving God created everything. Christians believe that the son of God Jesus Christ, came to earth to guide his people back to God. This is also why they are called Christians.
Christians believe that God is important to guide them and to help them to live their lives in a Christian way with good values and morals. They also believe that there is life after death because of their faith in Jesus. They say that God combines three persons in one. This is called the Trinity.
Christians believe that god wants them to follow Jesus' example, with the help of the Holy Spirit. They have to do good deeds by helping people and improving society, or by working for peace and justice in the world.
Who was Jesus?
Jesus Christ was born more than 2 000 years ago in a stable in a small town called Bethlehem. His mother and father were a Jewish couple called Mary and Joseph. The Bible says that an angel Gabriel visited Mary before she married Joseph and told her that she would become pregnant through the power of God. This is why Mary is also called the Mother of God and the Virgin Mary.
Joseph was a carpenter in Nazareth, but very little is known or written down about Jesus' life as a young boy. When he was about 30 years old he began telling people about God. He travelled all over the country, healed sick people and performed other good deeds and miracles. He was especially concerned and caring towards the poor and other outcasts like lepers. Jesus' life as a preacher in the public eye began when he read some of the words of the prophet Isaiah aloud.
“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."
Jesus told people that these words were the reason for his birth. People came to listen to him speak and to ask him for help wherever he went. He chose 12 men to be his travelling companions to help him in his mission. They were called disciples.
His lessons and preaching upset many people, especially political and religious leaders. They felt that he was a troublemaker and were threatened by his teachings. One day Jesus visited Jerusalem and he was welcomed like a king by the people. This made the authorities very nervous and they decided to get rid of him by getting him arrested, tried and executed.
One of Jesus' disciples called Judas Iscariot betrayed him to Roman authorities. Roman soldiers arrested him after Judas told them who Jesus was and where he could be found.
The Roman ruler at the time, Pontius Pilate, didn't believe that Jesus had committed any serious crimes, but a large crowd of people demanded that he be crucified. Jesus was crucified on a hill called Golgotha on a Friday around the year 29 AD. Christians believe that he died for their sins.
After his death Jesus was buried in a tomb cut out of rock and closed over with a heavy stone. On the day after his death, a Saturday and the Jewish Sabbath, a group of his women followers came to his grave and discovered his body was no longer in his tomb. They saw that the heavy stone had been rolled away. In the next few weeks Jesus appeared to his disciples and friends. They believed that he had been made alive again through God's power. This is called the Resurrection because Jesus was raised from the dead.
What is in the Bible?
The Christian Bible is made up of two parts and the word "bible" comes from the Greek word for book, "biblos". The first part is the Old Testament and the second part is called the New Testament. The Old Testament is made up of the same books as the Jewish Bible, but Christians have a different understanding of these writings.
There is an audio bible online, listen to some of it in class, click here
The New Testament talks about Jesus and his life and has four Gospels, or books, that describe his life. After the Gospels there is a book called the Acts of the Apostles that tells us about the time after the Resurrection and the spread of Christianity. There are letters to different groups of Christians teaching them about Christianity. The last book of the New Testament is called Revelations and describes the end of the world.
How did Christianity spread?
When Jesus left his disciples he told them to spread the word of God's love. He also told them to baptise people in the name of the Trinity. Christianity spread from Israel, around the Mediterranean Sea, to Egypt, Syria and the rest of the world. By 180 AD the new religion had spread throughout the whole Roman Empire, into Persia (Iran), North Africa and India. By 1300 it had spread to Iceland, China and Russia, and from there to southern Africa, Asia and the Americas through European colonisers.
In the early days there was a lot of opposition to Christianity, especially from the Roman emperors. By 100 AD 25 000 Christians had been killed for their beliefs, but their numbers kept on growing. Today Christianity is one of the biggest religions in the world.
Christian Festivals Christmas
Christians commemorate Christmas on 25 December every year. They celebrate Jesus' birth by giving each other gifts.
This is the biggest Christian festival and celebrates Christ's Resurrection, or return, from death.
At Easter Christians eat hot cross buns to remind them of Jesus' crucifixion and Easter Eggs to celebrate new life. The date for Easter changes every year because it is normally held on the first Friday in April. On the day of Easter, brightly coloured Easter eggs are hidden in a garden. Children then go an Easter egg hunt to find them.
Christians commemorate Lent to remember how Jesus once spent 40 days fasting in the wilds. On Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins, they use all the rich foods like butter, eggs and oil in their houses, and during Lent they give up certain foods.
During special church services called the Holy Communion Christians eat bread and drink wine that has been blessed by a priest or minister. They do this to remember Christ's last meal before he was arrested with his disciples.
|Crosses and crucifixes of all kinds are Christian symbols.|
|A simple line-drawn fish is also a symbol of Christianity and can sometimes be seen on the back of people's cars.|
|Angels are also Christian symbols because, like Christians, they serve God. Angels do God's bidding in heaven.|
|A white dove symbolizes peace and love, both Christian principles.|