Summary: History records that he was a great man. Yet he had humble beginnings. He grew up in a small village, an ordinary boy who did nothing to draw attention to himself. Like most boys his age, he attended school. He also worked in the family business and did
A Great Man
History records that he was a great man. Yet he had humble beginnings. He grew up in a small village, an ordinary boy who did nothing to draw attention to himself.
Like most boys his age, he attended school.
He also worked in the family business and did his best to grow up strong and health. Deep inside, however, he knew he had a special purpose, a destiny to fulfill.
As he grew older people began to notice that there was something special about this young man. He had talent and charisma.
He was gifted like no other. It wasn’t long before he started attracting crowds. Thousands came to see and listen to him.
He chose a small band of loyal companions who traveled with him everywhere he went. Many of them had given up their jobs just to be with their idol and take care of his needs.
As his fame spread, some grew jealous of him. Others thought he was leading people astray, and they plotted against him. But his popularity only increased.
He touched the lives of young and old alike and brought joy and laughter to the weak and downhearted. Many hailed him as king.
Toward the end of his short life, he suffered quite a bit. Some who had followed him fell away and turned to worshiping others.
He died alone. Those closest to him were left discouraged and confused. They never expected his life to end that way.
Soon after his death, there were rumors that he didn’t really die. His followers spread the news all around. “He lives!” they said. “He is not dead!” Some claimed they actually saw him. Even today, many believe he is still alive.
By now you’ve probably figured out who this great man was. His name was Elvis Presley.
If you word things generally enough, you can find a lot of similarities between Jesus and Elvis.
In fact, you can find a lot of similarities between Jesus and you. That’s because Jesus was a human being, just like you. He was fully God, but he was also fully human.
That’s were the similarities end, however. Elvis came to sing, Jesus came to save.
Who is this Jesus?
A recent edition of Newsweek had a portrait of Jesus on its cover. Printed across the artist’s depiction were the words, “Visions of Jesus.” The featured article explained how various religions of the world perceive Jesus.
For most of the last two thousand years of Judaism, Jesus has been considered a heretic, one whose name a pious Jew would not utter.
In recent years a growing number view Jesus as an admirable Jew, and a good teacher, but one whose followers misrepresented and corrupted His teaching.
Certainly, though, He was not the Son of God. Not the Messiah.
Islam’s Qur’an speaks highly of Jesus, explaining He was born of the virgin Mary, and from infancy announced that He was a prophet of God (though not the Son of God). Jesus lived and taught and performed miracles.
The Islamic Qur’an goes on to say that He was crucified, but never actually died—God snatched Jesus from the cross and lifted Him into Heaven (God would never allow one of His prophets die in such grotesque manner).
Essentially, to Muslims Jesus was a prophet similar to Moses or Isaiah. The last and greatest prophet, superseding all others, is Muhammad. Muhammad was sent by God to set straight all the misunderstandings that had arisen about Jesus and the New Testament.
Hindus teach that a teen-age Jesus visited southeast Asia and there learned yoga-like meditation techniques. Once enlightened, He returned to Palestine to serve as a guru among the Jews.
Hindus are attracted to the compassion and benevolence of Jesus, but find the notion of only one God incomprehensible. They believe all people have the ability to become divine. Hence in Hinduism Jesus is a good man and a good teacher, but is not unique.
Buddhists believe the purpose of life is to become like Buddha. Jesus was nothing more than a person who achieved this objective.
The life story of Buddha, interestingly, is quite similar to that of Jesus.
Buddhists believe Buddha was conceived without sexual intercourse. As a young man he left home for the wilderness where he was tempted by a Satan-like figure, then he returned from this experience performing miracles and challenging the religious establishment.
Buddha attracted disciples, and was betrayed by one of them. Sound familiar?
And then there’s Christianity.
Christ is absolutely original and absolutely unique. If He were only a wise man like Socrates, if He were a prophet like Muhammad, if He were enlightened like the Buddha, without a doubt He would not be what He is.
With other Christians, we believe Jesus is the unique Son of God. He became a man, lived sinless, then surrendered His life to the cross.