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Thursday, November 4

Jesus: The Most Influential Person in History?

Is Jesus the most influential person in history? For Christians, Jesus is the Savior. For some Buddhists, he was a Buddha (enlightened one). For some Hindus, Jesus is another incarnation of Krishna. For Muslims, Jesus was a prophet. Jesus of Nazareth began a movement that has changed the course of Western civilization, and influenced Eastern cultures. Jesus also appears to be the most well-known figure in history, as well. The encyclopedia, Britannica, for example, devoted 21,000 words to Jesus Christ, holding as the largest of the biographies, surpassing that of former US President Bill Clinton - a mere 2,511 words. The story of a young man from a small village who would later go on to become the single most influential person in all of human history, even to this day, nearly 2,000 years after his death.

In what ways has he influenced our world? Millions of churches across the world have been built in his name, thousands of charities and foundations, hospitals, colleges and universities, and many lives have been changed by the teachings of Jesus. The calendar we typically use is based around his birth - BC means Before Christ, AD means Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord; some mistakenly believe that AD means After Death, however, but Christ was born around 3/4 BC and died between AD 39-33). Many works of art, literature, music, films, plays, and other such things have been influenced by Jesus. The holidays of Christmas and Easter are based on the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Further, we may say that St. Patrick's Day and St. Valentine's Day, two holidays which are originally rooted in the lives of two Christian saints, are indirectly caused by Jesus and the movement he began. Most of the world in the last 2,000 years has at least once heard of Jesus. A number of religious orders - such as the Franciscan Order - have been founded within the religious tradition that Jesus began, and these orders have themselves made and continue to make large impacts upon the world.

Scholars have often found the teachings of Jesus to be most wise and astute. At the very least, they hold Jesus in regard as a great teacher. Jesus was only in the public eye for an estimated three and a half years, and is more well-known and influential than even the big three philosophers: Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato. Those three philosophers had around a total of 150 years in the public eye. Across the globe, for centuries, people have been deeply influenced by Jesus. Authors over the past 2000 years have felt compelled to write about Jesus. Writers of the second century for example, Tertullian or even St. Irenaeus, supported the accounts written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Many more joined in - take H.G. Wells for example. Known for such works as The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, War of the Worlds, and many others, he had written a 1200 page volume titled "The Outline of History." Wells not a Christian. He was startled when he had completed to manuscript, to find that two pages had been devoted to his hero, Plato, and that there was a total of forty-one pages devoted to Jesus Christ - larger than any other historical figure in the work.

The three leading magazines in the United States - Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News World Report, tend to dedicate their covers to top news from that week, be it economic, social, scientific, political, entertainment, or have what you. In the last decade alone, Jesus Christ has been featured on the covers of these magazines more than 21 times. He has appeared on the cover of Time magazine more than any other person, excluding the last several U.S. presidents. If these magazines cover hot topics and current events, why dredge up events that are 2000 years old? In the last seventy years, Christianity itself has been featured on the cover of Time magazine more than sixty-five times. So why is this simple Jewish man from a small village is so popular and influential?

Matthew 8, Mark 8, and Luke 9 records and exchange between Jesus Christ and his disciples. "When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, 'Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?' So they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ [which means Messiah], the Son of the Living God.' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 16:13-17) The question can be asked of us is then, "Who do we say that Jesus is?" This question, and how we answer that question, can and have wide ranging consequences.

Jesus will continue to fascinate and intrigue the world until the end. If we were to take a look at each and every way that Jesus Christ has influenced history, has influenced culture, religion, society, life in general, politics, economics, and what have you, I suppose we would be sitting here for quite a while indeed, for no one man can determine what a major impact Jesus has had upon the lives of billions of people in history - and the effect that he continues to have on us today.

Troy Hillman

13 comments:

  1. Thank you. God bless.

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    1. when jesus pbuh aproach to his own peoples they rejucted, 2nd peoples killed him by putting him on the cross thats what bible said, at that time the follower of jesus is only 12 disciples, how can he become most succesfull person of history? also he said i have many things to say unto you but u cant bear them now when the truth of sprite come he will guide,, why he make such statement?

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    2. Rafique,
      I do indeed apologize for such a long delay in my reply! Jesus was rejected by His own people not because He wasn't the savior, but because He did not meet their expectation for the Messiah. Historically, the Jews of the 1st century Palestine expected the Messiah to be a militaristic leader, a prophet or one who would overthrow the Empire. When Jesus came to teach and save, this did not meet their expectation.

      And actually, at the time that Jesus was nailed to the cross He had much more than twelve followers. This was part of the reason the Jews and the Romans wanted Him out of the way, was because He was having such a large influence. The twelve disciples were simply the twelve closest followers whom Jesus had hand-picked himself. But there are examples in the gospels of seventy disciples being sent out, of crowds of 4000 and 5000 listening to Jesus - so clearly, the influence was larger than just 12. Otherwise, why did they crucify Him? Following His resurrection and then ascension into heaven, the followers of The Way (and early name for Christianity) went out and taught people about Jesus and the kingdom of heaven. Writers such as Paul, Peter, John, Dr. Luke and others contributed to this. Also, since Israel was in a strategic place geographically and trade-wise, it was easy to spread the information around at the time, and Paul's expeditions around the Mediterranean also heavily contributed to this.

      Finally, Jesus' statement about the things hidden until He would send the Holy Spirit includes a multitude of things. But essentially, these were things that the disciples would not have understood at the time but understood following the resurrection of Jesus. Hope this has helped!

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    3. Troy, you've confused the influence of Christianity -- an organized religion, initially backed by the Roman Empire under penalty of death, with the influences of Jesus, the alleged person. Yes, Christianity has been influential, but that's not Jesus. Moreover, several aspects of your article are erroneous, as is your comment above about the number of his followers. Acts clearly states that Jesus only had 120 followers as of the time of his death.

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    4. Anonymous,
      Thank you for taking the time to comment. However, I strongly disagree. While it is true that it is the influence of Christianity that has caused a lot of this, logically, there would be not Christianity without Christ. While a large portion of Christianity theology in the New Testament is derived from Paul, Peter, John or others, where does Christianity come from? Jesus.

      Following this, if you care to point out which "aspects of [my] article are erroneous," I'd be glad to look into it. However, your comment regarding the number of followers is incorrect. What Acts 1:15 says, "In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)".

      Biblically, your statement is incorrect. Why do I say this? Because within a week after, "about three thousand were added to their number that day." While Peter and the others may be those who added that amount of people, it is with Jesus' message. However, if you'd rather be technical, consider the fact that Jesus spoke to 5000 people at one time (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15), and 4000 at another (Matthew 15:29-39; Mark 8:1-13). While they may not all be followers, he certainly had an audience large enough to influence.

      Also, if you'd like to be technical about the number of his followers, according to 1st Corinthians 15:6, "he appeared to more than five-hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time". The event where Peter speaks in Acts 1 happens after the event mentioned in 1st Corinthians 15, chronologically. Also, it may simply be that the number of believers at the time that Peter was addressing in Acts 1 was 120 people. Regardless, there are other considerations - thank you for your input, take care, and God bless you!

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  2. You're welcome, and thank you! May God bless you.

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  3. I appreciate the secularist point of view. Being an atheist myself I find most editorials about Jesus and well, anything to do with religion seems like its trying to convert you. Overall a great perspective on the influences of Jesus Christ.

    No offense but I laughed a little at the second paragraph. I most certainly agree that a few people may not want to change their lifestyle but to assume a majority, or just the numbers you seem to suggest, is painting all of the non-Christians or whomever your referring to the wrong way. Many atheists (or at least the ones I've talked to, which is a large number) do not follow Christianity simply because the concept of a deity is absurd to them as well as all the contradictions and hypocrisies in the Bible.

    Good job though! :)

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  4. Thanks for the article! God bless.

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  5. You are most welcome. God bless you.

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  6. Totally rad bro. Thanks. Cha

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  7. Be careful not to read the bible as a scientific journal. It was written in the form of poetry in it's original language. The Old Testament will contradict the New Testament, because things changed when Christ came. (Personally I think a secondary reason for His coming was because we just didn't get it)

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    1. The Bible was never written as a Scientific Journal, no. But this is also a good thing, because Scientific Journals often change and are changeable, whereas Scripture is not. The Bible does indeed contain a multitude of Scientific, Historical and Archaeological facts, and while some of it was written in the poetic form, that was simply a major style of writing at the time.

      Also, can you provide an example of where the Old and New Testaments contradict? Things changed when Christ came, yes, but they changed because He fulfilled the Old Covenant (which is what upheld the Old Testament) and began the New Covenant. These changes do not make a contradiction, but a fulfillment. For example, Jews are now able to eat pork not because the Old and New Testaments contradicted themselves but because the food laws were to prepare the way for the Messiah and preserve the bloodline. If King David ate pork one evening and contracted trichinosis and died, then Jesus may never have been born, events would not have played out the way God intended and we would have no hope. So the Old Covenant was set up to be fulfilled by Jesus and lived out by Jews from before the birth of Jesus in order to protect His bloodline.

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  8. Jesus is God and He is going to come soon...prepare to meet the King of Kings and the Lord of Lord....amen

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