"He was born in an obscure village, the child of a
peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village
where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty.
Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher."
"He never had a family or owned a home. He never set
foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred
miles from the place He was born. He never wrote a book,
or held an office. He did none of the things that
usually accompany greatness."
"While He was still a young man, the tide of popular
opinion turned against Him. His friends deserted Him. He
was turned over to His enemies, and went through the
mockery of a trial."
"He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He
was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece
of property He had,- His coat. When He died, He was
taken down and laid in a borrowed grave."
"Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is
the central figure for much of the human race. All
the armies that have ever marched, and all the navies
that have ever sailed, and all the Parliaments that ever
sat, and all the kings who ever reigned,- put together,
. . .have not affected the life of man upon this earth
as powerfully as this ONE SOLITARY LIFE!" (Author
The life of Jesus has
affected the world in ways that are far too numerous to
even fully comprehend.
HIS LIFE CHANGED
"Regardless of what anyone may personally think or
believe about Him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the
dominate figure in the history of Western Culture for
almost twenty centuries."
"If it were possible, with some sort of super-magnet, to
pull up out of that history every scrap of metal bearing
at least a trace of His name, how much would be left?"
"It is from His birth that most of the human race dates
its calendars, it is by His Name that millions curse and
in His Name that millions (billions now) pray." (Jesus,
Through the Centuries, by
"Into this world of craving for salvation the preaching
of Christianity made its way. Long before it had
achieved its final triumph by dint of an impressive
philosophy of religion, its success was already assured
by the fact that it promised and offered SALVATION,- a
feature in which it surpassed all other religions." (Mission
and Expansion, Harnack)
The development of character in the individual person
was a major theme of the Renaissance period and came to
Europe through the teachings of Jesus Christ.
"The very concept and name Renaissance (rinascimento)
whatever the ultimate origins of the idea may have been,
had come into the vocabulary of European civilization
principally through the teachings of Jesus."(Jaroslav
Pelikan, Sterling Professor of History at Yale)
THE WORLD BEFORE
The World's religions
consisted of Judaism and Paganism. The
Concept of Judaism was that Israel alone was God's
chosen people. Although there was proselyting by Jewish
Rabbis to gain a following for themselves, they
generally did not recruit non-Israelites. God never told
the Israelites to "go forth and make disciples of all
nations" as Jesus told His Apostles to do. (Matt.
Paganism was polytheistic
in nature with its devotees worshiping a wide variety of
gods, and for varying reasons. Some
gods were worshiped in a spirit of appeasement because
of fear. Countless millions of children have been
sacrificed to appease the anger of ancient pagan gods.
At times, in the Greek
world, up to 75% of the people were slaves to the 25%,
and were treated as such,- nothing more than property.
Notice how the Apostle Paul taught the principles of
Christianity to a slave-owner named Philemon,- "For
perhaps he (slave) was for this reason parted from you
for a while, that you should have him back forever, no
longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved
Even during the debate over the slavery issue in the
United States prior to the Civil War, the measuring rod
used was whether the teachings
of Jesus permitted
slavery or not.
"It is for FREEDOM that
Christ has SET US FREE. Stand firm, then, and do not let
yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."
By His loving sacrifice Jesus has indeed
set us free from slavery to sin and death, which is the
greatest yoke one could ever bear, or be freed from.
women had virtually no rights.
His disciples were amazed when they found Jesus talking
to a woman at a well in Samaria. Not only was she a
hated Samaritan, but also a lowly
Men had long put away their wives as they lost their
beauty. When asked by Jews whether it was lawful to put
away a wife by giving a writ of divorce, Jesus answered
that Moses had permitted divorce only because of the
hardness of their hearts, but that in the beginning God
had made BOTH man AND female to become ONE FLESH. Jesus
then said,- "Let
not man tear apart what God has joined together."
Christianity is often
ridiculed by Feminists, but the driving force behind the
very concept of being
from the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
"Husbands, love your
wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave His
life up for her". . ."So husbands ought also to love
their own wives as their own bodies." (Ephesians 5)
This was a radically
different teaching which the world as a whole had never
have often searched for mercy and kindness in
pre-Christian cultures but have found very little.
Before the teachings of Jesus influenced the cultures of
the world, it was believed RIGHT that the strong should
dominate the weak, the young dominate the old, the rich
have favor over the poor and men treat women and
children as property.
I once heard a story from a Christian missionary in a
non-Christian culture, who said that he witnessed men
comfortably sitting on the porch playing checkers as he
could see one of their wives yoked next to an ox pulling
a plow in the field.
Such has been the plight of women for much of history.
WHAT CHANGED, you might ask? Was it that women finally
just got "fed-up" with their situation and brought about
the changes themselves? I think not. Because the very
reason men gave ear and took notice of the unfair
treatment of women. . .the reason it even mattered
enough to men to desire to help bring about change, . .
.was the influential, humane teachings of Jesus. HOW CAN
WE BE SURE? . . .It is only in cultures that have been
touched by Christianity that these changes have come
likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way,
as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant
her HONOR as a FELLOW-HEIR of the grace of life, so that
your prayers may not be hindered." (1
The teachings of Jesus
brought about a different type of relationship between
husband and wife in the Church of God. Husband
and wife were to be a team composed of "one flesh", held
together in the bond of love and commitment toward one
another. Christian husbands are to love their wives,
Christian wives are to submit to the authority of their
Rome was considered the most civilized culture
at the time of Jesus' walk upon the earth, yet in the
Roman world, women had few rights and children none.
A Roman citizen could divorce, sell into
slavery or even kill his children as he wished. Babies
of unwanted births were regularly taken into the forest
and left to die or be eaten by predatory animals. This
all gradually changed under pressure from the benign
teachings of Jesus. (This is not to suggest that Rome truly
Christianity from the heart, but the empire's way of
life was influenced dramatically over a period of time)
missionaries came to India, widows of deceased husbands
were sometimes expected to throw themselves onto the
burning bodies of their husbands in self-sacrifice.
Sometimes a living husband
who was displeased with his wife would douse her with
oil and set her aflame. A practice that still occurs
occasionally, though it is now illegal.
Some years back, Readers
the following story,- "Asraf's
body was brought to his father. There was to be a
traditional burial, which meant that Asraf's body would
be placed in a wooden cart and taken to a certain spot,
where it would be burned."
"Here was a frightened
girl, (wife of deceased) "I
am so sorry", "How sad to lose your husband", said
Roshanara. The girl was suddenly on her knees saying,- Help
me, Roshanara, do not let me burn!"
"But she was told,- "There
will be the funeral, the funeral pyre. And you must
throw yourself into the flames."She
screamed "No!" But
was told that the Great Khansmah says you must do it
because your husband's father wishes it done as a symbol
of respect for his son."
suddenly the girl said, "No,
no, that is suttee,- it is forbidden under British
once a British colony had the humane treatment of women
forced upon it by parliamentary law. Where did the
British learn this concept? From the humane teachings of
Brought Christian Principles
At the peak of British expansion it was commonly said,- "The
sun never sets on the empire of Jesus the King."As
in past centuries of Christian conversion, the
missionary and the military sometimes went hand in hand,
each serving the purposes of the other, and not always
in a manner or a spirit in harmony with the spirit and
teachings of Jesus Christ. The medieval method toward
missionary endeavors was to conquer a people in warfare
and then baptize the survivors in the nearest river.
It is evident that Christian principles were enforced
using non-Christian methods. It is also true that those
doing the enforcing were not themselves practicing the
true teachings of Jesus. The hypocrisy is without
escaping notice, and in fact, even glaring. Still,
marvelous changes took place wherever Jesus' basic
teachings regarding man's responsibility toward each
to many through these expansions? I
think not, because real Christianity does not need
to be enforced by parliamentary law. True conversion is
of the heart of man, creating a change from within that
manifests itself in outward practices.
But having said that, the fact still
remains that countless millions have been blessed and
have been spared much suffering by the simple teachings
of Jesus though they may have been introduced in
Before Christian missionaries came to Africa,
the wives and concubines of some tribal Chiefs were
killed after his death.One such custom
called for a river to be damned in order that a hole
could be dug in its bottom. Upon completion, the
deceased Chief was placed onto his throne and then into
the hole, then anchored down. His wives and concubines
were then tied to his throne. Afterwards, the river was
released and they all drowned as the water swept over
Before missionaries reached the Aztec
civilization, mass sacrificial murder was common. In
religious rituals thousands were slashed open from
bottom to top and dropped over the edge of the high
place of worship.
The pagan god, Molech was worshiped with human
sacrifices. Sometimes he was represented as a horrible
idol filled with fire within. Babies were offered and
placed into his red-hot out-stretched arms.
In case the parents should relent after handing their
child to the priest, loud noise was made on drums to
hide the screams. The word for drums is "tophim" from
which comes the word, "tophet" meaning "fireplace" which
is mentioned in Jeremiah
7:31. While drums sounded, bands played,
and the priests chanted, crying babies were devoured in
the flames of Molech.
"And they have built the
high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the
son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in
the fire, which I did not command, and it did not come
into My mind."
pre-Christian Ireland, the Druid priests demanded that
the early Irish offer one third of their children to the
pagan deity, Cromm Cruac. This
practice was abolished by the missionary work of
Many of the native
Americans had terrifying religious practices prior to
the arrival of Christian missionaries. Slavery among
tribes was common.
The Mandans were a North American Indian people who
lived in the upper Missouri River area. Known to traders
as "the polite and friendly Mandans."
But in a four-day annual religious ceremony, young men
underwent torturous initiation rites in order to appease
good and evil spirits. The initiates entered the lodge
following the "first and only man", who arrived in the
village the day before. He made sure the boys did not
eat, drink or sleep for four days and nights. On the
last day, the young men were cut on the chest,
shoulders, arms and legs. Splints were then put through
the wounds. They were hung up, with weights on their
arms and legs.
They were spun around with a pole until they lost
consciousness, then each were cut down and left alone as
"entirely dead", and in the keeping of the "Great
Spirit." Each boy had to recover by himself if he was to
Temple prostitutes, both male and female,
inhabited the temples of the pagan deities of fertility. The
pre-Christian Greek and Roman world worshiped their
fertility gods and goddesses with sexual orgies also in
wooded areas the Bible calls "groves." God only knows
how many thousands suffered or even died as a result of
sexually transmitted diseases due to these acts of pagan
worship. WHY ARE THESE NO LONGER TAKING PLACE? Because
of the influential teachings of a carpenter from
Before Jesus, everyone
under Roman rule was to believe that Roman emperors were
gods and were required to worship them.
The original Apostles traveled widely, teaching and
making converts. These converts then set up local
Churches. Soon, there were many Christian Churches all
around the Mediterranean.
This new faith was attacked by the Roman authorities
because it refused to recognize the Roman emperors as
gods, nor would the early Christians worship the Roman
idols. Many were martyred because of this. During a
time, Christians were burned to illuminate the emperor's
Nero's gardens. Others were fed to hungry lions as sport
in the arenas. Sometimes children were clothed in sheep
skins, put in the arenas with ferocious dogs with only
their helpless parents there to try in vain to defend
WHY DID THEY SUFFER SO? WHY DIDN'T THE EARLY CHRISTIAN
CONVERTS RECANT AND WORSHIP THE EMPEROR? Because of
their conviction of the true teachings of Jesus Christ,
which gave them the ability to stand where others would
fall and to endure things not thought endurable.
Although the Roman empire never truly turned to the
teachings of Jesus, overtime, because of the influence
of Christian principles, Roman emperors were no longer
thought of as gods, and temple prostitutes lost their
place of prominence.
learning during the Dark Ages through its monasteries.
Monks were often the only educated people. They wrote
chronicles and kept libraries of handwritten
Christianity strongly affected political and
intellectual life during Medieval times.
JESUS IN GENTILE
There were prophecies concerning the birth of a child
from God, born of a virgin in the Gentile world. Perhaps
the most dramatic was the prophecy of the Roman
poet, Vergil, in the fourth of his Eclogues, saying- "Under
YOUR GUIDANCE, whatever vestiges remain of our ancient
WICKEDNESS, once DONE AWAY with, shall free the earth
from it incessant fear."
"For YOUR SAKE, O
CHILD, the earth without being tilled, will freely pour
forth for you caressing flowers. The serpent too shall
"Assume Your great
honors, for the time will soon be at hand, dear child of
the gods, great offspring of Jove! See how it totters,-
the world's vaulted might, earth, and wide ocean, and
the depths of heaven, all of them, look, caught up in
joy at the age to come."
This example in Gentile prophecy shows that there was a
"Messianic hope" among the Gentiles. Vergil's fourth
Eclogue anticipated a "new heaven and a new earth",
looked forward to a time when one's citizenship could
be, not in Rome, but Heaven
It predicted the "abolition of the ancient religious
wickedness and their practices" which had clung to human
nature for thousands of years. It described Satan's
defeat, the crushing of the serpent which God had
promised Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. And it
predicted a "Divine Child would be born to a virgin."
Notice what the Apostle Peter told the
Gentile converts to Christianity,- "For
the time already past is sufficient for you to have
carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a
course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals,
drinking parties and abominable idolatries." (1 Peter
Does it seem difficult to believe that a pagan Roman
poet could possibly know anything pertaining to the
coming of Jesus of Nazareth? Notice that the "wise men
from the East" who followed the star seeking to pay
honor to the newborn "King of the Jews,- were "Magi",
who are pagan priests of Mithra; yet they knew things
concerning the birth of Jesus.
MUCH OF THE
WORLD HAS CHANGED SIGNIFICANTLY UNDER THE WEIGHT OF THE RADICAL
JESUS DIDN'T RAISE AN ARMY
TO ENFORCE HIS VIEWS, . . .HE JUST SPOKE. . .AND SAID
THESE WORDS. . .
God is your FATHER and He
wants you to pray to Him with that in mind. God
as a tender, loving "Father?" Unheard of in the
pre-Christian world as Jesus taught it!
You are God's CHILDREN and
are HEIRS of HIS KINGDOM. Man's
destiny is to actually be born into the very family of
God, possessing His Nature and Glory. The Apostle John
how great a love the Father has bestowed
on us that we should be called the CHILDREN OF GOD." (1
God the Father so loved you that He gave His only Son.
And Jesus willingly laid down His sinless life for you
and me, even while we were committed to sin.
neighbor as you love yourself.
pray even for your enemies.
Bless those who curse you.
The meek shall be the
greatest in the Kingdom.
Have mercy even on your slave.
To be forgiven, you must first forgive.
Give to him who asks. Turn
the other cheek.
Greatest must serve rather than be served.
Men and women are equal heirs of God's Kingdom
Fathers, don't discourage your children.
Husbands, love your wives. Wives submit to your
husbands. Children, honor and obey your parents.
Blessed are those who make
Remember, and care for the poor and needy.
"By this shall all men know that you are indeed My
disciples, . . .that you love one another." (John 13:35)
While on earth Jesus declared that heaven
and earth would ultimately pass away, but His WORDS
would endure forever.
Not only have they endured, they have
literally changed the very complexion of the world.
Have there been terrible atrocities
committed in the name of Jesus?
The answer is Yes.
Have corrupt governments and corrupt
religious figures done much evil in the name of Christ?
But Jesus warned that many would
come in His name and mislead multitudes. (Matt.
24)And He told us not to
But putting aside what corrupt men
have done in His name, let us never forget what He
actually taught and how
He lived His life while
He never conquered a people by military
He was never convicted of corruption of
Jesus' life has
affected the world in countless physical ways, but His
life has affected the Christian in spiritual ways
How about you?
Have you allowed Him to
personally transform You?