“On the day after Jesus’ death, it looked as if whatever small mark he left on the world would rapidly disappear. Instead, his impact on human history has been unparalleled.”
These are the opening words by John Ortberg in his book “Who is this Man?” This was a father’s day present from my daughter and son-in-law. It’s going to be a good one!
Ortberg asserts that most people’s impact and influence on the world begin to decline as soon as they die. If they do leave a great legacy, they already had developed an enormous reputation. Jesus life and death was different.
On the Friday Jesus died his movement appeared to have failed. His followers were scattered. Scared. And shrouded in secret hiding places. As Ortberg put it, “If there were a kind of “Most Likely to Posthumously Succeed” award given on the day of death to history’s most influential people, Jesus would have come in dead last.”
Consider Friday’s list of failures.
Jesus died broke. Homeless. And all alone.
He never married and had no children. He never attended college. He never wrote a book.
He never commanded an army. He never succeed in business. And he never was elected to public office.
Jesus never did anything like political leaders do ensure his legacy. There are no original paintings of Jesus. Or statues. Or busts. He personally never had anything named after himself.
In short, the day Jesus died he had never achieved any of the things that people associate with success. Greatness. And lasting fame.
Yet, three days later things began to change. Quickly. Uniquely. And dramatically.
Jesus arose from the grave! He overcame death. Defeated the devil. And resurrected hope in His dispirited disciples. There’s no denying it! Witnesses confirm it. History records it. And changed lives demonstrate it.
His name and message began to be preached 50 days later. First at Jerusalem. The in Judea. Samaria. And throughout the Roman empire. All kinds of People were converted. Men and women founded equality in Christ. Jews and Gentiles were joined together as one. Masters and slaves became spiritual peers. Even Jesus’ most ardent enemy, Saul of Tarsus, turned from being a persecutor to a proclaimer of Jesus!
Today every facet of our lives is impacted by Jesus. Art. Literature. History. Poetry. Sculpture. Theater. And even movies!
His name has influenced the names of our hospitals. Towns. And missions. Libraries are filled with books about Him. Museums display artifacts relating to His era. The influence of the Son of Man is Everywhere!
“The name of Jesus was “not so much written as ploughed into the history of this world,” once wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson.
In his sermon “The Real Jesus,” James Allen Francis said:
“Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life.”
Still today through His Word and the preaching of His Gospel He is ever-present. Probing our souls. Touching our hearts. Calling to our consciences.
And He is coming back again to receive the redeemed and take them back to His home in heaven.
Indeed, He is the Man who won’t go away!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman