HERE IS A MAN who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. At His birth, those trying to protect Him had to flee with Him, lest He be slain. He worked in a small village carpenter shop until He was thirty, and 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 where 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 an illegal trial. He was nailed to a cross of rough wood, between two thieves. While He was dying His executors gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth—his coat. When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of someone who barely knew Him.
Twenty long centuries have come and gone, and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the inspiration of human progress in all things worthwhile. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, 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.
Who was this Man? His birth terrorized the reigning monarch. In childhood His questions baffled the most highly educated men of the nation. In manhood He ruled the course of nature, walked upon billows of water as if on pavement, and hushed the sea to sleep. He healed multitudes with a kindly look and touch, and never charged for what He did. He condemned sin, but freely forgave and accepted every sinner who came to Him for the healing of his soul.
He never wrote a book, and yet all the libraries of the country could not hold the books that have been written about Him. He never wrote a song, and yet His life has furnished the theme for more songs than have all the songwriters combined. He never founded a college, but all the schools put together cannot boast of having as many devoted students.
The names of the proud emperors of Greece and Rome have crumbled into dust. The names of the great generals and philosophers of all ages have vanished into nothingness. But the name of this Man abounds more and more. Though twenty centuries have passed since the scenes of His crucifixion, yet He still lives. The people of His time could not destroy Him, and the grave could not hold Him.
He stands forth upon the highest pinnacle of human greatness and heavenly glory, proclaimed of God, acknowledged by angels, adored by His closest followers, and feared by devils,—as the living, personal Christ, our Lord and Saviour. – (Adapted from Phillips Brooks)
“I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that have ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and 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 so powerfully as has that one solitary life.”—Quoted in Albert Henry Newman, A Manual of Church History, Vol. 1, p. 80.