What symbols did you notice that were Christian symbols? What other symbols do you know?
While Augustus Caesar was emperor, Jesus of Nazareth was born. His home was in Palestine, a far eastern section of the Roman Empire. Jesus preached a new message to the poor. Out of his preaching grew a new religion---Christianity.
Rome allowed the people in its empire to believe in their own gods. The Jews in Palestine had religious freedom and did not have to offer religious sacrifice to the Roman emperor. Jews did not have political freedom. Jewish prophets predicted that the Jews would one day rule their own homeland, Palestine. They felt Palestine belonged to them and not Rome. The Jews believed that their god would send a messiah, or king, to lead them to political freedom. Some people thought Jesus of Nazareth was this messiah.
Four books called the Gospels tell about Jesus. Gospel means “good news”. The Gospels are the first four books of the New Testament of the Bible. Jesus’ followers wrote these books after his death. Jesus was around 30 when he started to preach a new message---God loved all people equally. Jesus wanted his followers to love all people and to show their love through service. He also asked them to love even their enemies. Jesus said that God had sent him to preach this good news to the poor and the poor people in Palestine liked his message.
Large crowds gathered to hear him speak. The Gospels report that he healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and performed other miracles (an amazing or wonderful event that no one can explain). Many people began to follow him. For three years, Jesus preached. Then some Jewish leaders turned against him because they feared that his followers would rebel against Rome.
Roman soldiers arrested Jesus after he was betrayed by one of his followers, Judas Iscariot. Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, charged him with being a rebel. Then the soldiers crucified Jesus, or hung him on a cross to die. Jesus’ followers believed that God raised him from the dead and they believed that he was the son of God. His followers carried on his teachings. They began to call him Christ. Christians are followers of Christ.