Summary: How is life different for us because Jesus lived 2000 years ago
What difference did He make? (Influence)
This morning we are looking at the final question about classic Jesus. In a way, I believe that this is the most fascinating question of all. It is a question that we will make automatic answers about.
We quickly talk about the act of salvation and how we and all who believe can go to heaven. That is a huge difference that we gentiles were given. We did not have the law at all and were without hope or direction. Our earliest ancestors had some kind of desire for connection with a higher power and created all kinds of false Gods.
But God from the very creation of all we know had a plan…. No plan is not a firm enough word.
God had designed everything completely. The only variable in the design was the inclusion of free will as the single most important power allowed to mankind.
This morning, I am not focusing on the basics of Jesus mission on earth; I am not specifically interested in his mission to the Jews or Christians.
I have been studying more the differences that we find in our culture because of our Christian heritage….I suppose I am even more focused on what I know the most about which is our American culture.
I know I can’t be sure that even in this church setting that everyone here will agree with me. But I am going to lay out a few givens that Christians share.
First Jesus then man existed -- 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 and power, crowds of people followed Him.
While He was still young and after only 3 years of preaching and teaching, 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. 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 somehow in this modern age of science and education this man Jesus Christ is still a central figure in the human race.
The French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte said, "You speak of Caesar, of 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 an army faithful and entirely devoted to his memory? My armies have forgotten me even 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.”
-- Napoleon witnessed the power of Jesus Christ centuries after his earthly life ended. A power which he the great emperor could not maintain with military might even when alive.
-- The British writer and historian H. G Wells (1866-1946) was asked which person left the most permanent impression on history.
He answered, “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.”
Another Non-Christian opinion comes from Will Durant, a modern historian and philosopher
He was asked what he felt the apex of history was, his answer: “the three years that Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth.”
I found historians in ancient through modern times that acknowledged the importance of Jesus as a significant figure.
His influence was and is so great that our calendars are divided into two different eras, tied to his existence on the earth. BC – Before Christ and AD stands for the Latin phrase "anno domini" which means "in the year of our Lord." In more recent times for sake of political correctness, CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before common era) are being used as an indication of sensitivity to other religions that have adopted the same calendar.