Jesus of Nazareth, first-century spiritual teacher. The central, foundational figure of the Christian religion, worshipped by most Christians as the Son of God and the Messiah, Jesus spent his brief public career in Palestine, preaching to his fellow Jews a message of repentance, conversion, and loving-kindness. Jesus' life and teachings are known principally through the four canonical gospels of the New Testament, written and assembled by his followers in the decades after his execution in Jerusalem by the Roman authorities. One of his favorite teaching devices was the parable, a literary form with a long history, used extensively in the rabbinical tradition. The parables of Jesus, despite their seeming simplicity and grounding in the world of everyday experience, often convey subtle, highly nuanced moral and spiritual teachings that have intrigued scholars and lay believers alike for two millennia. See also rc.net/wcc/parables.htm.