What Jesus Achieved
It’s hard to imagine the world before Christ came. Generally speaking, dictatorship, lawlessness, slavery, child sacrifice, ignorance, oppression and inequality were found in almost every nation. But Jesus Christ and teachings introduced positive changes to every area of life, contributing enormously to the overall well-being of mankind.
Genuine democracy at all levels of society, equality, human rights and various freedoms, the sanctity of life, the dignity of labour and the value of hard work. All these stem from the Christian faith that Jesus began.
Women were emancipated, slavery was banned, health care was introduced, governments were transformed, education for all was made available – all through Jesus Christ and His followers.
Let’s consider two examples:
Prior to Christianity, the Greeks and Romans had little or no interest in the poor, the sick and the dying. But the early Christians, following the example of their Master, ministered to the needs of the whole person. During the first three centuries of the church they could only care for the sick where they found them, as believers were then a persecuted people. Once the persecutions subsided, however, the institutionalisation of health care began in earnest. For example, the first ecumenical council at Nicea in 325 directed bishops to establish hospices in every city that had a cathedral.
The first hospital was built by St Basil in Caesarea in 369 AD. By the Middle Ages, hospitals covered all of Europe and even beyond. In fact, Christian hospitals were the world’s first voluntary charitable institutions. Many bear the name of the famous Christian ‘saint’ who inspired them. Florence Nightingale, a Christian, reformed the care of the sick in her day and the Red Cross was formed by Christians.
Whilst it was important in Greek and Roman culture, education, really took off institutionally under the influence of Christianity. The early Greeks and Romans had no public libraries or educational institutions – it was Christianity that established these. Early formal education arose from Christian catechetical schools. Unique to Christian education was the teaching of both sexes.
Sunday schools were begun by Robert Raikes in 1780 to provide boys and girls from the poorest homes with the gift of literacy and the riches of the Scriptures. The first universities grew out of the monastic missionary centres, which had discipled Europe. The first university lecturers were the missionary monks who had collected books, accumulated libraries, copied manuscripts and were uniquely equipped for advanced academic study. Most universities began as Christian schools, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge, Heidelberg and Basel.
Christian teaching has advanced science, inspired political, social and economic freedom, promoted justice and provided the greatest inspiration for the most magnificent achievements in art, architecture, music and literature.
The greatest invention in the field of learning, the printing press, by Johannes Gutenberg, was also a fruit of the Christian faith. The first book to be printed was the Bible.
Without doubt, Christianity has been the most powerful agent in transforming society for the better for almost 2000 years. But there’s more……
Jesus is Special
A brief read in the Gospels will disclose the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. Who else claimed to have been alive before him was born and would be alive after His death? What other man experienced a virgin birth? (The five known cases were all girls because when the female egg divides spontaneously it does not have the male Y chromosome) Who did so many miracles of healing and deliverance? Who else lived such an upright and moral life? Whose life was predicted, sometimes in fine detail, before they were born?
And then there’s His influence throughout the ages. The historian Philip Schaff wrote “This Jesus of Nazareth without money and arms conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Muhammad and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on matters human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens in motion and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.”
Who Jesus Is
Was He just a man? Was He a special and unique man, or perhaps a prophet from God? Or was He God in the flesh? At King’s Church we worship Jesus because Heis God Himself. Why do we believe this? There are many reasons but all of them can only ever be secondary to this main reason. Jesus Christ has personally transformed our lives. We are radically different people than we were before we encountered Him. We now love God. We respect others. Our morals have vastly improved. We have self-worth and a healthy self-esteem. We feel secure and focused. We have a destiny. We love life! Our grey lives have been filled with colour! The Bible calls it being ‘born again.’
There are logical as well as experiential reasons. Some of these are recorded in these pages, like the transformation that He has brought to our world. Then there are Biblical issues that we already mentioned like His miraculous birth, His astonishing life and His inexplicable resurrection.
But one area that needs to be considered is Who He claimed to be. The claims of Christ are so out-of-this-world, so preposterous and outrageous, that they create a huge dilemma for anyone who is serious about His life and teachings.
He claimed to be The Son of God. He claimed that He would one day judge everyone in the world. He claimed that He lived with God before He was born and would return to God after he died. He claimed to be the only way to God. He said He was ‘the way, the truth and the life.’ He said He was ‘the bread of life,’ ‘the resurrection and the life’ and ‘the light of the world.’ He claimed to be exactly like God. He said he could forgive sins.
Then there were his requests for people to come to Him, to follow Him and to love him more than any they loved anyone else in the world.
How do we handle these statements and claims? Here’s the most reliable, honest and truthful individual in the entire history of humanity, yet making the most outrageous claims!
C. S. Lewis thought this issue through. He said, “Christ is either all He claimed to be or He is a liar, an impostor, and in a moral universe, a lie then has done more good than truth. “On the one side, there was His clear, definite, moral teaching. On the other, His claims, which if not true, are those of a megalomaniac, compared with whom Hitler was the most sane and humble of men…………. The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question. In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of thing is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusion which undermines the whole mind of man …”
What do you think? Mad, bad or God? Lunatic, liar or Lord?
Why not come along and find out more? You are most welcome!
Jesus the Saviour
There are many reasons Jesus came from heaven to earth. One was to show us what God was like. He told His disciples that if they had seen Him they had seen the Father. He is described as ‘an exact representation of God.’
He also came to show that the Kingdom of God was available and accessible to everyone. God’s powerful intervention into people’s lives became a reality when Jesus was around. Jesus made God’s promises of help a reality to ordinary people.
Of course Jesus came to train the disciples so they could model His life and preach His message to the world when He went back to heaven.
But the most important reason for Him coming to earth was to become our Saviour. He lived a perfect life, completely without sin and then offered Himself as our substitute when He died on the Cross. This was prophesied in the Old Testament, realised in the Gospels and clarified in the rest of the New Testament. We are all sinners and our sins keep us separated from God. But Jesus came to pay sins penalty and declare an amnesty on all sinners. We can now go free and become reconciled to God! This is the main message of Christianity. We can be saved, not by anything we can do, but by what He has done for us
Jesus is Lord
We realise that Jesus is far more than our Saviour and our Friend. He really is God and, because of His death on the Cross, He has been awarded the highest place in heaven and earth. He has been installed as God’s King and the Bible says that right now He is at the right hand of God until all His enemies are subdued (whether in this life or in the next!)
Jesus said that all authority had been given to Him and that one day will everyone who has ever lived will be judged by Him.
Because of His great love for us we gladly submit to Him now and do our best to be obedient to all His commands. We are not perfect, nor will we ever be in this life. But we know that He is ‘full of grace’ and does not reward us according to our failings. He sees our hearts and delights in the efforts that we make to live by His word.
Jesus Is Our Friend
We all what bad friends are and all of us want to be a good friend! But Jesus is the best friend you could ever imagine. He has declared His love to us repeatedly. He has told us He loves us and demonstrated it by coming to this world to rescue us. He proved His love by dying on the Cross. The Bible says that there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, and Jesus is that friend!
Jesus is always only a prayer away and is available to help us, guide us, care for us, protect us and see us safely into the eternal world.
What a friend we have in Jesus!