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Man of SorrowsMan of Sorrows
Luis de Morales
(called El Divino)
c. 1560
Oil on panel

The Life of Christ
The life of Jesus Christ is central to the beliefs of all practicing Christians. Nearly every Christian holiday commemorates an event from his life, and the majority of Christian art also focuses on the stories of his life. Stories about Jesus Christ’s life can be found in the gospels (books written by followers of Jesus) in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The story begins with a young virgin named Mary who was visited by the angel Gabriel. She was given a message from God that she would conceive and bear the Son of God, and she soon gave birth to a son whom she named Jesus. From an early age, Jesus presented a challenge to the priests of his temple with his precocious understanding of the scriptures. As he grew older, he spread his ministry to the cities around him. He gained recognition for working miracles: he healed the sick, multiplied food, walked on water, and even raised the dead. However, while these miracles helped build the faith of his followers, Jesus was not the first miracle worker to be mentioned in the Bible (the Old Testament combined with the Christian books of the New Testament). What set Jesus apart from the other miracle workers who lived during his time was his ministry. Jesus was described as unfailingly good, he behaved as perfection would behave, and he taught as much by examples of compassion as by words or parables (short stories with moral implications). He earned the devotion of his disciples (another word for followers) by his embracing outlook on humanity. He sought to teach and heal not just specific groups, but all humankind.

Despite the wisdom of his words and the miraculous nature of his actions, Jesus was not fully recognized by his followers as being the divine Son of God until after his death and resurrection—the defining events of Easter. Because the ruling Roman government and many of his religious contemporaries were suspicious of his teachings, Jesus knew that he would not be very welcome when he entered Jerusalem. Nonetheless, he gathered with his disciples to celebrate a Passover meal. That night, as he was praying in the garden of Gethsemane, he was betrayed by his disciple Judas and turned over to soldiers of the Roman authority. He was mocked, beaten, and then crucified (a method of execution in which the prisoner is nailed to a cross and left to die) before a jeering mob.

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