Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Dominic. Dominic Wonders, “Is Jesus Christ real?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Dominic!

Teacher. Prophet. Philosopher. Healer. Preacher. Miracle worker. These are just a few of the words and phrases often used to describe a man who was born over 2,000 years ago. Who was this man who was one of the most influential people ever to live?

Historians call him Jesus of Nazareth. His followers, known as Christians, call him Jesus Christ. Jesus' life and teachings form a compelling story. In fact, his life had such an impact that it changed many parts of the world forever. The way many measure time itself is defined by his birth.

You're probably already familiar with the "B.C." and "A.D." system of dates. This way of designating years is based upon Jesus' birth. "B.C." stands for "before Christ." "A.D." stands for anno Domini, which is Latin for "in the year of the Lord." 

Historians and scholars have studied the life of Jesus in great detail over the last two centuries. Many of them now believe he was born between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C. in the town of Bethlehem.

Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a small village in Galilee. Today, Galilee is the capital of the Northern District of Israel. There,he learned the trade of carpentry from his father. Not much else is known about Jesus' early years, other than that he was raised in the Jewish faith and had an extensive knowledge of Jewish Scripture.

As an adult, Jesus left Nazareth and was baptized by a prophet known as John the Baptist. He then began a public ministry that consisted of public teaching and preaching about the coming Kingdom of God.

Jesus quickly became a notable teacher, prophet, and healer. Most of what we know about Jesus' ministry comes from the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) in the New Testament of the Bible.

These Gospels contain many accounts of Jesus' teaching. The religious leaders of his day strenuously opposed him, because he repeatedly pointed out their hypocrisy.

Jesus' teachings on morality, forgiveness, and love remain powerful and influential in some circles today. The Gospels also describe many miracles Jesus is said to have performed. These include healing the blind, walking on water, and raising a dead man named Lazarus from the grave.

Eventually, Jewish religious leaders accused Jesus of blasphemy, or claiming to be God. At their urging, Jesus was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death by Roman governor Pontius Pilate.

Jesus was crucified (hung on a wooden cross until his death) by Roman soldiers in Jerusalem sometime between A.D. 30 and A.D. 33.

For Christians, Jesus' story doesn't end there, though. In fact, Christians would say that this Wonder of the Day should instead be titled "Who IS Jesus?"

Why? According to the Gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after he died on the cross. He spent time with his followers (called disciples) before ascending to Heaven, where he lives today.

Christians believe that Jesus came to Earth to show people how to live as God intended. They think he died as a sacrifice for their sins and rose again to defeat death, so that all who believe and have faith in Jesus would be saved by God's grace and one day enjoy eternal life in Heaven.

Today, it's estimated that about a third of the world's population—more than two billion people—profess faith in Jesus Christ, making Christianity the world's most widely-practiced religion. His birth is celebrated each year on Christmas Day and his resurrection from the dead is celebrated on Easter.

Jesus was a prophet whose teachings still have a lot of influence in the world today. What other religious figures have you learned about? Muhammad? Maybe the Buddha? Despite their religious differences, all of these leaders encouraged morality and love for others. That’s a message most people could get behind!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.4

Wonder What's Next?

Ready to think outside the box? Come celebrate Boxing Day…Wonderopolis-style!