Was Jesus Christ the founder of Christianity? He came into the world to proclaim a faith in Love, the “Rule” or “ Kingdom of God” which, he said, was “among” and “within” us; but in turn himself became the object of faith and worship. His religion is a way of Life; he who was to declare: “I am the Way, the Truth’ the Life” (Jn, 14, 6).
The Guru of this Jeevan-Marga which Christians try to follow is Isa, Jesus of Nazareth (a village in Northern Israel) who lived among Jews of the early first century AD, proclaimed the universal rule of God’s love, until he was nailed on the Cross by the authorities. But his disciples experienced his continuing presence as the living Lord, the full manifestation of divine Mercy and Truth. They believed he was the Anointed One (Messiah in Hebrew, Christ in Greek), that is, one appointed by God for a mission of universal reconciliation. They recognized him to be the dear “Son of God” (fully united with the Father) and yet always truly “Son of Man” (brother of all). Those who gather in his name and follow his teaching of universal love, have been called Christians” (or Nazarenes or Isai, Masihi). They are members of a fellowship of faith or believers (called “Church”) belonging to any race, nation, language or culture.
The so-called Christian era has been calculated from the birth of the Lord Jesus, supposed to have taken place in A.D. 1, though this was probably a wrong calculation. Hence the meaning of A.D. – Anno Domini- the year of the Lord, has in fact nothing to do with Christ who belongs to all times. It is just a practical, secular way of starting a common era from some point in history! However most scholars today think Jesus was born about 4 A.D.
Jesus spent most of his life in Galilee, the northern part of Israel ( Palestine) and died in Jerusalem. His first disciples were mostly from Galilee and from Judea ( Southern Palestine). The religion of Jesus therefore started in Western Asia where Africa and Europe meet. The land known as Israel today was then part of the Roman Empire with a Roman Governor to whom Jews were subject. What were the prevailing circumstances? There was much moral decadence in the Roman Empire and a great deal of hypocrisy and sham among the Jews, even among the teachers of the Jewish Law, as Jesus was later to point out fearlessly. There was much oppression of people by their religious leaders (Cf. Matthew, 23)