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What Religion Was Jesus?

What religion was Jesus? To answer that question, we must first ask, what is religion? The Oxford Dictionary says religion is “the belief in and worship of a superhuman power or powers, especially a God or gods.”

So, did Jesus believe in and worship a superhuman power? Did He pray to God?

Yes! On the one hand, Jesus transcends religion because He is God. And yet, when Jesus walked the earth as a human, He believed in God. He prayed to God. He worshiped God.

How could that happen? How could Jesus be God and worship God at the same time? Let’s find out!

Who is Jesus?

The Bible tells us everything we need to know about Jesus. First and foremost, Jesus is God. He is the Son in the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

  • “I and the Father are One.” (John 10:30)
  • “The one who has seen Me has seen the Father . . . I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me.” (John 14:9-11)
  • “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:3)
  • “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19)

Jesus (the “Word”) always existed with God from before time began. He created everything!

  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:1-3)

Although Jesus is God, He was born as a man. He lived for about 33 years on earth, and then He died on the cross to save all the people in the world from their sins.

  • “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
  • “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)

Jesus is God, but He is also the “go-between” or the mediator between humans and God.

  • “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5).

What was the main religion in Jesus’ time?

Most people in the world in Jesus’ day were polytheistic. They worshiped many gods. The most important god to the Romans was Jupiter, and for the Greeks, it was Zeus. The Phoenicians worshiped Ba’al, and the Syrians worshiped Hadad. But they all worshiped many other gods in addition to their primary god.

Jesus lived in Judaea for most of His life. The main religion in Judaea was Judaism, or the Jewish faith. The Jews worshiped only one God. His temple was in Jerusalem. Their scripture was the Old Testament section of the Bible. At one time, the Jews had strayed into the polytheism of the nations around them. But after they were exiled to Babylon and allowed to return, they only worshiped the God of the Bible.

Some of the wealthy and influential Jews were the Sadducees. They didn’t believe in life after death nor in the resurrection. They didn’t believe in heaven, hell, angels, or demons. Since they believed that life on earth was all there was, they lived luxuriously. The other main group, the Pharisees, believed in heaven, hell, angels, and demons. They were very strict about following the laws given in the Old Testament, but sometimes they were hypocrites.

Was Jesus a Jew?

Yes, as a man, Jesus was a Jew. He was born to Mary, a devout Jewish woman. She was married to Joseph, a godly Jew. Joseph wasn’t Jesus’ biological father, but he raised Jesus in the Jewish faith.

Mary and Joseph followed the Law of Moses regarding newborn sons (see Leviticus 12):

  • “When the eight days until His circumcision had passed, He was named Jesus, the name the angel had given Him before He had been conceived.” (Luke 2:21)
  • “And when the time of purification according to the Law of Moses was complete, His parents brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord: “Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer the sacrifice specified in the Law of the Lord: ‘A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.’” (Luke 2:22-24).

The Jewish fathers were responsible for teaching their children the Torah or the Law of Moses, and Joseph would have done that.

  • “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as reminders on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 1Teach them to your children, speaking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19)

Jesus’ parents traveled to Jerusalem every year to observe the Passover. Jesus went with them when He was twelve, and most likely for the other trips when He was younger. (Luke 2:41-49)

As an adult, Jesus traveled to Jerusalem for Passover and other festivals. He also regularly attended synagogue (a local place of Jewish worship), where He was asked to read from the Tanakh (Old Testament). (Luke 4:16-21).

Was Jesus a Christian?

No. Christianity hadn’t yet been established. Christians are Jesus’ disciples. They have placed their faith in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection for salvation. Jesus’ disciples were first called “Christians” in Antioch, Syria, when Barnabas and Saul were discipling the new Christians there (Acts 11:26).

Jesus wasn’t a disciple of Himself, so He wasn’t a Christian. He is the One that Christians believe in and pray to.

But that brings us to the question: how could Jesus be God and worship God simultaneously? Was He praying to Himself? How did that work? When Jesus was in His incarnate state – in His human body – He was still God. When He was conceived in Mary’s womb, He was fully God, but He added a human nature. He was fully human, yet without sin.

As a human, Jesus voluntarily placed Himself under God the Father so He could carry out God’s promises and the New Covenant of redemption. In this position, He prayed to God the Father and worshiped Him.

The New Covenant

What is the New Covenant? It is a new and better covenant. It replaces the old covenant God established with the Jews when He gave the Law and established the priesthood of Aaron and his descendants. The New Covenant is based on the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Jesus became our Great High Priest forever “by the power of an indestructible life” (Hebrews 7:16). The law made nothing perfect, but Jesus brings us a better hope, enabling us to draw near to God (Hebrews 7:19).

  • “Because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:24-25)
  • “Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer daily sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people; He sacrificed for sin once for all when He offered up Himself.” (Hebrews 7:27)
  • “Jesus has received a much more excellent ministry, just as the covenant He mediates is better and is founded on better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6)

Jesus and Islam

The religion of Islam was not established until 600 years after Jesus lived on the earth. A man named Muhammed started the religion of Islam after he encountered a spirit in a cave. He thought it was an evil spirit. The spirit told Muhammed to write some things down, but he was illiterate and couldn’t write them. Instead, Muhammed memorized what the spirit told him and then taught them to his followers. Later, his followers wrote down what Muhammed taught, and that is the Quran (Koran).

The teachings in the Quran say that Jesus was born to the virgin Mary. It says Jesus was a prophet who performed miracles. He healed the sick and raised people from the dead.

However, Islam teaches that Jesus wasn’t really crucified, but someone who looked like Him was. Islam doesn’t believe Jesus raised from the dead, but it does teach that Jesus rose up to heaven and will come back on the Day of Judgement to destroy the antichrist. Because Muslims don’t think Jesus died for their sins, they don’t accept Him as their Savior. They hope God will forgive them.


Because Jesus is our Great High Priest, we have a genuine hope, not a “maybe.” We can be cleansed from all our sins and have a relationship with God. We can enjoy all the blessings and better promises of the New Covenant. We can live eternally with God.

How? In the words of the apostle Paul, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31) Believe what? Believe that He is the spotless Lamb of God who loved the world so much that He willingly gave His life on the cross for the sins of the world. Believe that He died and rose on the third day, so that we can all have hope of resurrection. Repent of your sins, accept His forgiveness and salvation, and follow Him in new life!

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