One Solitary Life
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. . .
While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.
by James Allan Francis, The Real Jesus and other Sermons
This is one of my favourite pieces about Jesus and it is quite well known but I can’t help but notice something that is glaringly missing in it: the resurrection. Without Jesus’ resurrection he would have been another failed Messianic claimant in Roman Palestine of which there were many. The resurrection on its own would not have been significant except what it meant in the light of Jesus’ life and death. The resurrection was a real world event in the course of human and cosmic history. It literally changed everything. Death is no longer the end but out of it comes a new sort of life, in the world, which is more real, more vivacious and more itself than ever before as evidenced in Jesus himself. What happened to him on Easter morning meant something had changed in creation. It was the firstfruit of a new creation found with in and emerging out of the decaying chrysalis of the old.
For me one of the most profound ways Jesus has influenced our world is the way we view it. How we understand reality has been significantly altered because of him.
He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. – 1 Peter 1:20-21 ESV
I have explored this further in another post but for most of human history people did not conceive of the world the way ancient Jewish people did as something made by one omnipotent God. Only the Jewish people believed in the possibility of a post mortem corporeal resurrection. It stemmed from their unique conception of an uncreated god who created the cosmos. The resurrection was the grand vindication of this singular belief and it is through Jesus of Nazareth that this belief has spread to the world and influenced it. In fact the Isianic prophecy that all the nations will hear that the God of Israel is the one true king is fulfilled in the Messiah Jesus. The Gospel is actually the proclamation of this amazing news through which the ancient scriptures are fulfilled. Now the metaphyiscal implications of this change in worldview is monumental in human civilization. Science, mathematics, history, law, ethics, philosophy, literature, art, politics, religion, culture have all been affected. The world has truly never been the same since Jesus.
(Go here for more information on the unprecedented impact of Jesus on humanity.)