Jesus of Nazareth is the central figure of Christianity. Christian views of Jesus center on the belief that Jesus is the Messiah as promised in the Old Testament and that he was resurrected after he died on a cross. Christians predominantly believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who became incarnate to provide salvation and to reconcile humanity with God by atoning for the sins of humanity by his death. Other common Christian beliefs include his Virgin Birth, miracles, fulfillment of biblical prophecy, ascension into Heaven, and future Second Coming.
The birth of Jesus is celebrated on Christmas. According to the Bible, Jesus' mother, Mary, and adoptive father, Joseph, were unable to find lodging in Bethlehem when she was pregnant with him and were forced to bring the child into the world in a lowly manger, where he was visited by some local shepherds. Later on, he was visited at his home in Nazareth by some magi (or wise men), who brought him gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense. These two events have sometimes been combined into what is traditionally referred to as the Nativity story, and it has been portrayed by the Muppets on several occasions.
A Christmas Together
John Denver narrates the Nativity story in the 1979 special John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together, complete with Muppets representing Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus. Jim Henson discussed the puppets in detail:
“They were fashioned especially for the Nativity scene. They move but don't have voices. The scene in which they appear will be traditionally done with John Denver doing the narrating. The figures of Joseph, Mary, the infant Jesus and the Three Wise Men have a totally different style, based on diligent research. They look like medieval figurines you see in creche sets or religious paintings. They were carved from urethane foam, like most of the Muppets, and painted in New York. We had to be careful not to offend anyone by giving the figures comic characteristics. These are the first serious puppets we've made.”
The "Nativity Muppets" were on display in 1980 as part of the Art of the Muppets exhibit.
A pageant of the Nativity story is presented by Prairie Dawn and the Sesame Street cast in the 2002 special Elmo's World: Happy Holidays! In the pageant, Natasha plays baby Jesus, with Bert as Joseph, Rosita as Mary, Zoe as an angel, and Herry, Grover and Cookie Monster as the Three Kings.
When Sesame Street vists the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, two artworks of Jesus and Mary appears during the montage of art for "Mothers and Children" in the 1983 special Don't Eat the Pictures. The first piece is Claus de Werve's Virgin and Child, which serves as the impetus for the song. The other piece is Andrea della Robbia's Madonna and Child with God the Father and Cherubim (ca. 1470-75) which also features, as the name implies, a depiction of God, albeit trimmed in the footage shot on location.
- To celebrate the many holidays surrounding the Winter Solstice, Doc represents Christmas in his workshop with a nativity scene display in "The Bells of Fraggle Rock".
- In the first Dinosaurs episode, "The Mighty Megalosaurus", Robbie asked Earl why they count the years backwards instead of forwards -- a joke referring to the fact that the dinosaurs live in the "B.C." (or "Before Christ") era.
- Speaking about her involvement in The Muppets, Sarah Silverman was quoted in a November 2011 issue of Entertainment Weekly saying, "Kermit is my personal Jesus."
- Among the religious items decorating Mama Fiama's living room in episode 212 of Muppets Tonight are a crucifix and Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper.
- Lent is the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which believers mark by abstaining from self-selected material pleasures. In Muppets Tonight episode 211, after Beaker leaves Muppet Labs for a Star Trek celebrity cruise, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew asks the remaining Muppets if they would like to join him in synthesizing alloys and testing them for super conductive properties. Clifford says he'd love to, but he gave it up for Lent. Rizzo the Rat claims to also be a big fan of Lent and uses it as an excuse to leave as well.
- In the extended home video version of The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow asks an attacking crow if he's seen The Passion, suggesting that his predicament resembles Christ hung on the cross. The crow warns him not to ruin the ending.
- An animated Sesame Street segment featuring music all over the world ends in Rio de Janeiro, where the statue Christ the Redeemer can be seen in the background. (First: Episode 4014)
- In The Muppet Show Comic Book: Meet the Muppets #2, Kermit gives Piggy's spot to Fozzie to help boost his confidence. Once he's on stage, Piggy throws a tin can at his head and calls him Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus to the Romans.
- Gonzo appeared as Jesus in a parody of Christ the Redeemer in "The Muppets: The Great Search!" game on muppets.com.
- "New Muppets Debut on Denver Special." The Chronicle Telegram. (Elyria, OH) November 30, 1979.