Summary: What makes Jesus stand out from other great religious leaders?
Swanton Novers 31-03-02
He is risen. He is risen indeed. (Acts 10:34-43)
One of the things that has really struck me is the number of churches here in the countryside - especially in Norfolk (England), where there are over 600 churches. And very old ones at that.
Most of the 15 parishes that I serve in have church buildings - the walls of which were built in the 13th or 14th Century.
They are churches directly or indirectly dedicated to one man. And he wasn’t an Englishman!!!
What do we know about this one man?
“He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenter’s shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house.
He did not go to college. He never visited a big city. He never travelled two hundred miles from the place where he was born.
He did none of the things associated with greatness. He had no credentials but himself.
He was only thirty-three years of age when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Today he remains the central figure of the human race, and the leader of mankind’s progress.
All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man on this planet so much as that one solitary life.” (adapted from “One Solitary Life” – Anon)
Why do you think this one man has had such an effect on our society?
Well I would like to suggest that the answer to this question lies in the events that we celebrate at Easter.
Jesus, the Scriptures tell us, “they murdered nailing him to a Cross. But God raised him on the third day” (Acts 10:39-40).
One English House of Lord Judge Lord Darling had this to say about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ:
” In its favour as living truth, there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true “
How was Jesus different to other world religious leaders?
Mohammed died, the Buddha died and Confucius died. Their followers never claimed that any of these leaders rose from the dead.
Jesus died and rose again. His followers testified to the event.
Paul puts it like this, when talking of the Christian message:
For what I received / I passed on to you as of first importance:
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures and
that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve.
After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles and last of all he appeared to me also...
(1 Cor 15:3-8)
By my reckoning, at least 514 men had seen Him after the Resurrection, and that does not take into account the women!
No wonder Lord Darling said the Resurrection was the best attested fact in history.
But the Resurrection is not just a historical fact, it is more.
Why is it important that he really did rise from the dead.
Story: A Muslim in Africa became a Christian and some of his friends asked him why.
He answered: Well, it is like this: suppose you were going down a road and suddenly the road forked in two directions. And you didn’t know which way to go.
If you met two men at the fork – one dead and one alive – which one would you ask to show you the way?”
Because Jesus is risen, He is able to communicate with us – to speak to us and to touch our lives.
In forensic science, there is a rule, known as the Lockyear principle, that simply stated, says that "every touch leaves an impression."
Many a criminal has rued the day that that principle was discovered.
Some of us can vouch for the fact that when our lives have been touched by the Risen Lord, it has left an IMPRESSION.