The majority of us may well be forgotten. Proof of our existence may be so scarce that no one could flesh out our real personality, our impact on society, our loves, our deeds, our real life and times on this planet. We may have appeared and disappeared like a ripple in the stream of time.
Even well-known figures like Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great have limited information trickling into our 21st Century. Yet Julius Caesar left his mark. The month of July was named after him. Alexander the Great made a noticeable splash with his Hellenistic influence on society.
Still, none of these past or present figures ever left such a sweeping and indelible mark on human history as one Jewish man whose words still influence nations and whose actions still inspire millions to follow in his footsteps.
Historian H. G. Wells wrote, “It is interesting and significant that a historian, without any theological bias whatever, should find that he cannot portray the progress of humanity honestly without giving a foremost place to a penniless teacher from Nazareth. A historian like myself, who does not even call himself a Christian, finds the picture centering irresistibly around the life and character of this most significant man.”
The four Gospel accounts in the Bible provide the most information about Jesus. Anyone who has read all four accounts know they have the ring of truth in them.
A picture of a real personality emerges. You sense a real person who cared for the poor, for neglected women, for the blind, the lame, the helpless and those who went against the social norms of his time. He stood up against a powerful religious and political system and they killed him.
There are no fairy tale names or make believe places in these accounts. They reference people whose names are recorded in history and real places that still exist.
First Century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus acknowledged the existence of Jesus Christ in his well documented book, “Jewish Antiquities.” In it, Josephus confirmes how Ananus, a high priest in the first century “convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ.”
Other ancient writers, who were hostile to Christianity, also made mention of Christ and his impact on those who were willing to die for exercising faith in him. In his historical biography, “The Twelve Caesars,” Roman historian Suetonius wrote regarding Roman Emperor Claudius:
“Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ), he expelled them from the city.”
The Encyclopedia Britannica concluded, “These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus.”
As Historian Will Durant said, in the first century, to deny that Christ had ever existed “seems never to have occurred even to the bitterest Gentile or Jewish opponents of nascent Christianity.”
“The Historians’ History of the World” noted, “The historical result of his (Jesus’) activities was more momentous even from a strictly secular standpoint, than the deeds of any other character of history. An new era, recognized by the chief civilizations of the world dates from his birth.”
The World Book Encyclopedia confirms this, stating, “Dates before that year are listed as B.C. or before Christ. Dates after that year are listed as A.D. or Anno Domini (in the year of our Lord).”
To think ordinary folk who were perceived as “unlearned and ignorant men” at Acts 4:13 could concoct such a fully developed person with global appeal and wisdom far beyond his or our time, is to suspend the facts. This man from Nazareth was real. No one could have dreamed him up.
The behavior of this well-known carpenter in his early 30s was out of the ordinary in first century Rome and in Jerusalem as well as in many Middle Eastern civilizations even today.
He saw people as people. They were all precious to him. He stood up for the little people who were like defenseless sheep in need of spiritual guidance and protection.
He took time to listen to children, to help widows and orphans, to lay his hands on those in physical, emotional and spiritual pain. Could you forget such a man? He defied his generation of leaders and stood next to lowly people who could barely read or write.
He got up in the morning, went out to see the people and didn’t rest until late at night, sometimes not at all. He prayed for them, cried over them and encouraged them. He overturned tables and drove the greedy away from them. Could you forget such a man?
When the powers that be decided to orchestrate his death, he did not fight back. He took the spit in his face, the beatings from their fists, the slashes stripping his flesh to a bloody mess, the lies and laughing and mocking of tormentors and yet he managed to ask his Father, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Could you ever forget such a man? Nearly 2,000 years later and more people believe in the reality of Jesus than what they can see with their literal eyes.
Their faith in his existence, in his integrity and sacrificial death for all humanity is so powerful, they are willing to sacrifice all they have to preach his message, follow in his example and die for what he stood for.
Did a man named Jesus, called the Christ, walk the earth in the first Century in the Middle East? Was he executed? Millions say yes.
Many Bible scholars view the more than 500 eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, recorded in Acts 1:9-11 and 1Corinthians 15:3-6, as a major turning point in the phenomenal growth of Christianity.
The fact that Jesus was real means it doesn’t matter if people remember us 100 years or even 1,000 years from now. As long as Jesus remembers us, our future can flow into the infinite streams of time.
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