Undoubtedly the most controversial character in history is Jesus Christ. But why? Let’s see if we can see what sets this “man” apart from all others. An unknown author wrote a piece called, “One Solitary Life” which I share here:
“Nearly two thousand years ago in an obscure village, a child was born of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village where He worked as a carpenter until He was thirty. Then for three years He became an itinerant preacher.
This man never went to college or seminary. He never wrote a book. He never held a public office. He never had a family nor owned a home. He never put His foot inside a big city nor traveled even 200 miles from His birthplace. And though He never did any of the things that usually accompany greatness, throngs of people followed Him. He had no credentials but Himself.
While He was still young, the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His followers ran away. He was turned over to His enemies and sentenced to death on a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth—the simple coat He had worn. His body was laid in a borrowed grave provided by a compassionate friend.
But three days later this Man arose from the dead—living proof that He was, as He had claimed, the Savior whom God had sent, the incarnate Son of God.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone and today the risen Lord Jesus Christ is the central figure of the human race. On our calendars His birth divides history into two eras. One day of every week is set aside in remembrance of Him. And our two most important holidays celebrate His birth and resurrection. On church steeples around the world, His cross has become the symbol of victory over sin and death.
This one Man’s life has furnished the theme for more songs, books, poems and paintings than any other person or event in history. Thousands of colleges, hospitals, orphanages and other institutions have been founded in honor of this One who gave His life for us.
All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the governments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned have not changed the course of history as much as this One Solitary Life.”
There have been a plethora of great people through the ages, some good and many that were evil. How is it that this one man has had an effect on mankind like none other? There have also been great spiritual leaders that have come and gone. Some of them have even been the source of some of the world’s great religions, yet Jesus Christ carried the power to cause history itself to turn on the short 3 ½ years of His public ministry. How is this possible? Amazing! Absolutely amazing!! Let’s look a little more at what some throughout history have said about this man.
- Pontius Pilate, the man who condemned him to death wrote to the Roman Emperor, Tiberius Caesar: “And him, Herod, and Archelaus and Philip, Annas, and Caiaphas, with all the people, delivered to me, making a great uproar against me that I should try Him (Christ). I, therefore, ordered Him to be crucified, having first scourged Him, and having found against Him no cause of evil accusations or deeds. At the time He was crucified, there was darkness over all the world, the sun being darkened at midday, and the stars appearing, but in them there appeared no luster, and the moon, as if turned into blood, failed in her light.”
- Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor, is quoted to have said: “You speak of Caesar, Alexander, of their conquests and of the enthusiasm which they enkindled in the hearts of their soldiers; but can you conceive of a dead man making conquests, with a army faithful and entirely devoted to his memory? My armies have forgotten me eve while living, as the Carthaginian army forgot Hannibal. Such is our power… I know men and I tell you, Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love; and at this hour, millions would die for him… I search history in vain to find similar to Jesus Christ, or anything which can approach the gospel. Neither history nor humanity, nor ages, nor nature, offer me anything with which I am able to compare it or to explain it. Here everything is extraordinary.”
- H.G. Wells, a British writer, when he was asked which person left the most permanent impression on history, replied that judging a person’s greatness needs to be judged by historical standards. He said this: “By this test, Jesus stands first… I am a historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history… Christ is the most unique person of history. No man can write a history of the human race without giving first and foremost place to the penniless teacher of Nazareth.”
- The former President of American Historic Society, Kenneth Scott Latourette, in “A History of Christianity,” wrote: “It is evidence of His importance, of the effect that He has had upon history and presumably, of the baffling mystery of His being that no other life ever lived on this planet has evoked so huge a volume of literature among so many people and languages, and that, far from ebbing, the flood continues to mount… As the centuries pass by, the evidence is accumulating that measured by its effect on history, Jesus is the most influential life ever lived on this planet. The influence appears to be mounting… No other life lived on this planet has so widely and deeply affected mankind.”
Many more authors and important historical figures could be quoted, but just these few give us a pretty good idea of how much effect the life of Jesus Christ has had on the human race. So, what specifically sets Jesus apart from others? Of all the brilliant, powerful, or even charismatic leaders that we read about in history, what makes Jesus distinct from all others? I believe it has to do with the fact that true Christianity is not like any other religion in the world. But then, what sets Christianity apart from all other religions, is the personage of Jesus Christ. Without Jesus being the central figure, Christianity would be nothing other than another religion. Saying that, let’s take a look into “who” this man really was.
Jesus made a statement in John 14:6 that many in our world take great offense at. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (emphasis mine). No one in the world has ever been able to say this. Some may have said, “I have a way, and I’ve written it out for you to follow.” There are even those who have written “a way” that they say they have received supernaturally.” Others even dare to teach their followers that they must follow “his way” and enforce it by killing anyone who rejects “his way”. But, no one has been able to say, “I AM the way.”
Our world that purports “tolerance” for all belief systems, ways of life and lifestyles, etc, sees Jesus’ statement, and Christianity’s dogmatic insistence of the unalterable truth of His statement, as an affront. The belief in “absolutes” is now considered antiquated and obsolete. How can there only be one way? And, how can one person claim to be the only answer to the billions of people who have lived on this planet? How can anyone make such a claim? Who does this Jesus think He is? I believe this is the most important question for every human being on Earth today because if Jesus is Who He says he is, then the eternal destiny of every man, woman, and child’s eternity is at stake! What are His credentials? Let’s take a look at what the great Old Testament prophet Isaiah foretold in Isaiah 9:6:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah wrote this prophecy about 800 years or so before Jesus was born. If you read this passage for what it is saying, you come to realize that Isaiah is not describing a normal human being. He is emphatically writing about God Himself. Many people become confused with the “Trinity” of the Godhead. It is not possible for me to unpack that whole teaching of the Trinity in this article. It is one of the attributes of God that has brought confusion because we think we must understand everything, and if we can’t, we will create a doctrine of our own that does make sense to our small minds. We as human beings need to realize that it is way beyond our ability to fully understand, explain, or comprehend everything about GOD. He is our Creator, and no matter how intelligent any of us may think we are, we do not have the capacity to define Him. This Scripture in Isaiah, in short, is describing a Person, who is fully God, yet coming to this world in the humble body of a human being, and so is called the “Son of God.” This is because God brought this about through a humble virgin maiden named Mary, supernaturally planting the seed in her womb that would bring forth the birth of Jesus. Isaiah, here in the passage, is describing Someone who will take the government of the world upon His shoulders. The Bible shows us that this is speaking of a period of time lasting 1,000 years, called the Millennium, in which Jesus Christ, as GOD, will rule the Earth as the Almighty KING. That very time is quickly approaching this generation of people on earth. This explanation of events is of course extremely abbreviated for the sake of this article.
The thought of Jesus Christ ruling this planet as GOD also offends many. Mankind, since his fall in the Garden of Eden does not like to be ruled. He would rather find his own answers and be his own god. This is why secular humanism has made such inroads. With its hope in mankind and his abilities, the rule of an Almighty Monarch is not popular. After the fall of the first couple in the Garden, the serpent was told by the Creator,
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
The reason her “Seed” is capitalized is because God was referring to the coming of the supernatural Seed through the cooperation of a young Jewish maiden sometime in the future. The Messiah would have His heel bruised, but He would crush the head of the serpent. This is exactly how history has been unfolding. The devil has attacked the human race ever since, hoping to destroy God’s prize creation, mankind. The fallen Lucifer has a jealousy of the human race because of God’s mercy, offer of forgiveness, and an eternity living in His glorious never-ending heavenly Kingdom. There is no forgiveness available for Lucifer’s colossal rebellion, nor for those who followed him in his foolishness.
The fallen Lucifer, now called Satan, knew the Messiah would eventually make His appearance upon the earth, but he did not know when and he did not know how. Every prophet that came along was ruthlessly attacked and many of them were killed. When King Herod heard that a new king may have just been born, possibly fulfilling Old Testament prophecies and threatening his own position as king, he had every boy child under the age of two murdered in the area where Jesus was said to have been born. As Jesus grew up and started His ministry, Satan, the devil, knew this must be Him. He then decided if he could kill Him, he would win his battle with the Almighty; he would have his revenge against Jehovah GOD, and the human race would be eternally lost. The problem was, he miscalculated! The Apostle Paul put it well when he described wisdom in 1 Corinthians 2:6-8:
…we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew, for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Throughout the Old Testament, God provided a way for man to have a relationship with Him while time passed before the arrival of the Messiah. When God approached the patriarch Abram, he made a covenant with him, providing a covenant relationship not only with him, but also all of his descendants. In time, God sent Moses to grow up under the Pharaoh in Egypt, eighty years later becoming God’s prophet to Israel. God used Moses to lead the Israelite people out of Egypt, which had now become cruel taskmasters to the nation. While on the long walk across the Arabian desert to the land of milk and honey which God had promised to Israel, God taught Moses a system of laws, as well as a sacrificial system which would provide a “covering” for sins which separated man from his God. A perfect innocent lamb, or other flawless animal was used to pay the price for the sins of men when it was sacrificed according to God’s specifications. This however was only a temporary measure. The problem was that the blood of innocent bulls or lambs could not remove sin. It only covered it. When Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God was sacrificed on the Cross, the provision was made for man’s sins to be completely eradicated, not just covered.
Unfortunately, in our sophisticated world, this all sounds like an elaborate legendary fable. But, all of human history revolves around God’s creation of man, man’s fall from the perfection in which he had been created, and God’s plan for his redemption and total restoration. This redemption could only happen one way, and that was through a perfect Sacrifice that would completely reverse what had happened in Adam and Eve’s paradise. What was needed was another “Adam.” There is an interesting passage of Scripture in 1 Corinthians that speaks of this:
And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the LORD from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit corruption. (1 Corinthians 15:45-50 NKJV)
This is telling us that every single human being is a descendant of the son of dust, the first Adam. It also tells us that through the life-giving spirit through the sacrifice of the “Last Adam”, the heavenly Man, the first Adam’s descendants would be able to take on the same heavenly image of the heavenly Man, if they would humble themselves to accept the free gift of forgiveness provided by the “Last Adam.” Any attempt by man to save himself will be corrupt, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption, neither can it inherit the Kingdom of God.
The Bible makes it clear that there is no other way. None! There is only one Creator, only one Almighty God, and only one true Messiah! Man is created with a need to worship his Creator. If he does not worship the true Creator, he will inevitably worship a substitute of some kind. Throughout history we read of all types of despicable pagan ritualistic practices which were designed by the fallen one to counterfeit God’s path to relationship between Himself and mankind. They have all been laced with sadistic cruelty, a complete disregard for human life and anything having to do with normal human existence. How else can one explain the torture children have been put through when put into the heated metal arms of the god Moloch? Is there any other explanation of the practice of human sacrifices in different locations around the globe? How else can one explain the ritual of temple prostitutes and sexual orgies as a means of gaining favor with the gods? This has been brought to mankind by the devil himself millennia ago as an evil substitute for what God once created as perfect and blessed by all heaven. Only God could provide redemption and restoration, and that could only come through the Messiah coming in the flesh of a man. There could be only One!
Continued in Part 2