Jesus of Bethlehem

Seven Interesting Facts About Jesus

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John [1:14]

Much of what we know about Jesus comes from the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the Synoptic Gospels. The reason is that 97 percent of what is contained in these three Gospels is repeated in at least one other Gospel. Mark was written first, and most of Mark is included in either Matthew or Luke. Matthew and Luke contain most of what is Mark, but likely also used a document called Q (for the German word Quelle). It is believed that a separate document existed with Jesus’s sayings and life history that helped fill in more of the story in Matthew and Luke. This document has never been discovered. This is not that unusual, as most documents from the first century were plant or animal-based and would have disintegrated over time. Scholars believe it did exist because of the literary consistency of Matthew and Luke.

The Gospel of John was written much later than the first three. Scholars put it at late in the first century. The book of John has in it some of the same material, like the feeding of the 5000 and the turning of the tables in the Temple. It is a more philosophical Gospel and contains more spiritual information.

So much of what we know about Jesus comes from these four sources. Together they are considered the complete history. Individually, they were written for separate audiences. Matthew for the Jewish community; Mark for the Gentiles. Luke is called the Gospel of the poor and is connected to the book of Acts. John was more spiritual in content.

However, by piecing together some clues, there are many more aspects to Jesus’s life. Here are seven other interesting facts about Jesus:

Jesus’s name was quite common.

In the first century, the name Jesus was as common as John Smith in America today. Mary was given Jesus’s name by an angel who said, ”You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.” Jesus’s name, while common, means “Yahweh saves.”

Jesus had at least six siblings.

In Matthew [12:46] it mentions Jesus’s four brothers by name: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. But it also mentions sisters. While their names aren’t mentioned, there were at least two.

Bethlehem means house of bread.

The town Jesus was born in had a deeper meaning. Bethlehem in Hebrew is actually two words: Beth means house, and Lehem means bread. It is easy to see the significance in this name and its connection to Jesus’s ministry.

Jesus’s first miracle was making wine.

Early in the Gospel of John, Jesus is asked by Mary to help out at a wedding that was running out of wine. Jesus made great wine out of water.

Jesus spoke and read at least three languages.

The language spoken in Jesus’s community was Aramaic, which he would certainly know. But we also knew he read Hebrew—as a young boy his parents discovered him reading Hebrew scrolls and discussing them with teachers(Luke [2:46]-49). He also had conversations with native Romans—the Centurion and Pontius Pilate. Romans of that day spoke Greek, and it is likely this was the language spoken during these conversations.

Jesus existed before time.

In John 1:1 it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus is the “Word.” This verse at the start of John is remarkably similar to Genesis 1:1.

Additionally, Jesus says in John [8:58], “Before Abraham was born, I am.”

Jesus appeared twelve times after the resurrection:

  • Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9–11)
  • The women at the tomb (Matthew 28:8–10)
  • Peter (Luke [24:34])
  • The travelers on the road (Mark [16:12]–13)
  • The disciples without Thomas (Mark [16:14])
  • The disciples including Thomas (John [20:26]–31)
  • The disciples while they fished (John 21:1–14)
  • The disciples on the mountain (Matthew [28:16]–20)
  • The crowd of 500 (1 Corinthians 15:6)
  • James (1 Corinthians 15:7)
  • Those who were at His ascension (Acts 1:6–9)
  • Paul (Acts 9:1–6)

The number twelve is very significant in the Bible. It appears 187 times. It represents the perfect number and symbolizes God’s power and authority. Jesus’s twelve appearances after his resurrection is probably not a coincidence.

There is a lot to the Jesus story—much more than just what we read or heard in Sunday school. He is, undoubtedly, the most important figure in history. Below the surface of what we read about Jesus—which is a mighty story in itself—are facts that further round out who Jesus was.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Dr. Bruce L. Hartman is the author of Jesus & Co. and Your Faith Has Made You Well.

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