I’d really like you to consider the character of Jesus tonight. I was recently in a dialogue with a friend of mine. He used to be a committed Christian, but now he’s kind of sitting on the fence. I think he’s leaning towards theism and especially Christian theism, so I just keep doing what I can and praying for him. You all pray for him also. God knows who he is.
One compelling reason I hope that I gave is the person of Christ. It seems a lot of people deeply respect the person of Christ. Now I know there are exceptions out there. There are Jewish anti-missionaries who have some strong feelings about Jesus and there are some writings that don’t speak too highly of him. Most people though, do highly esteem the person of Christ.
Who can blame them? How many people have been converted by reading the gospels and seeing the person of Christ and just being stunned by him? I think it’s a tragedy for us in our day and age that we read them and we’re often not. I fear we have grown so familiar with the story that we don’t realize how shocking it is.
Our world has been turned upside-down. The things that we think all civilized people believe today were not believed before Christ. We hold them to be self-evident and we are just shocked if we bother to read history and find out that they’re really not. Before Christ came, the world was very different morally.
Go read the Republic. I love Plato, but look at what that guy wanted to do to the idea of the family. Aristotle wasn’t too keen on it either and spoke of how some people were meant to be slaves naturally. Fathers could often sentence newborn baby girls to a death of being left out in the wild to be eaten by animals just because they didn’t want a daughter.
We hold the truth to be self-evident that all men are created equal. However, not everyone believed that in the past. It is because of Christ and such ideas as Paul said in Galatians 3 that we are all one in Christ Jesus. This was ultimately what brought about an end to slavery even before it came to the New World. Go look at why Bathilda was made a saint by the church.
What is it about Christ?
Do we really believe that simple people came up with the greatest figure that the world has ever known as a giant lie and foisted it on the world? That a lie is at the heart of that which has most transformed the world as we know it? Do we really believe they’re capable of that? Could the person of Jesus really be created?
In all honesty, I don’t see how. The world has been changed entirely because of the record of three short years of life. Napoleon once said that while he may have controlled an empire, there were millions of people around the world at that moment who would willingly die for Christ.
When we want to see an example of love, we look to Christ. There is something about the cross that reminds us all of his great love for us. The way he interacted with the people of the day was unnatural, but at the same time, we all sense that that is the way that we ought to react.
Did he have enemies? Yes. Was he tough on them? Yes. Do we have any doubt that he loved them though? No. I picture Jesus saying with sorrow how he longed to gather Jerusalem, but they were not willing. I can see him entering Jerusalem with a tear in his eye because he knows what is to come since they will reject him.
We know Jesus was tough on sin also. No one ever preached harder about the nature of sin. However, prostitutes and tax collectors flocked to him. Sinners loved to be around him. I have no doubt they knew he condemned what they did, but they also knew that he accepted them. (Which, if sinners aren’t coming to us, we might want to look to see if we’re doing right.)
I also don’t think it was the miracles. Sure. Some people came for miracles and always will. I don’t think most people would look back on him and think “He did miracles.” They would look back and think of the love that he showed them. Of course, the resurrection would be there, but the resurrection of him was glorious already for they knew him to be glorious.
I suggest we all look closely at Christ. Really think about who he is and what he did. Remember that this is God with skin on. This is God breaking into our world and showing us how he is. That is, it is either that, or somehow, men have come up with the greatest hoax of all time and perpetrated it on the world as the greatest moral example of all.
Which one do you think is more likely? You decide.