The Real Jesus of Nazareth: Jesus of Nazareth Has Had a More Profound Influence on Human History Than Any Person Who Ever Lived

By Drummey, James J. | The New American, December 15, 2003 | Go to article overview

The Real Jesus of Nazareth: Jesus of Nazareth Has Had a More Profound Influence on Human History Than Any Person Who Ever Lived


Drummey, James J., The New American


His birthday is celebrated through out the world this mouth. Though he lived on earth only 33 years, today's date is measured from when he was born. Though he lived in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago, more than one billion people today call themselves his followers. Though he never wrote a book, tens of thousands of books have been written about his life and his teachings. His name is Jesus, and he has had a more salutary influence on human history than any person who ever lived.

It was an unknown author who offered this striking summary of Jesus' impact on the history of the past 20 centuries: "I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever sailed, 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 as powerfully as this one solitary life."

According to the four Gospels, which scholars have shown to be reliable historical works, Jesus Christ was horn in a stable in Bethlehem, a town in Roman-occupied Palestine, around 4 B.C. His birth was attended by shepherds and heralded by angels singing, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of good will." After a flight into Egypt to escape the murderous wrath of King Herod, the infant Jesus returned to Palestine with his parents, Mary and Joseph, and grew up in the village of Nazareth, where he worked in Joseph's carpenter shop.

Preaching Through Parables

At the age of 30 Jesus left Nazareth, gathered around him 12 men who became known as his apostles, and traveled throughout Palestine preaching love of God and love of neighbor and attracting followers by the thousands because he spoke with authority. He was a marvelous storyteller, illustrating his teachings with examples about persons, places, and things that were familiar to his listeners. Jesus spoke of fishermen casting their nets, farmers harvesting their fields, laborers working in the vineyards, shepherds chasing alter their lost sheep, and a pompous religious leader lording it over a humble and repentant sinner.

The parables of Christ are often cited even by non-Christians as literary and moral masterpieces for the simple yet profound messages they convey. To answer the question, "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, a bitter enemy of the Jews who nevertheless assisted a Jewish man left for dead by robbers after two of the victim's countrymen had ignored his plight.

To illustrate the forgiveness of God, Jesus related the tale of the Prodigal Son, the younger of two boys who took his share of the family's wealth, spent it all on loose living, and returned home shame-faced and repentant. His father, representing God, not only forgave his son but threw a party for him because the young man "was lost, and is found."

The Way of the Cross

The core of Jesus' moral code was love, not only of God and neighbor but even of enemies. He adhered to this difficult standard himself on the cross by asking forgiveness for those who had crucified him. "This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you," Jesus told the apostles at the Last Supper. "There is no greater love than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." He exemplified this love himself by dying on the cross for the sins of the world.

Jesus urged his followers personally to help those in need--the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the imprisoned, saying that whatever they did "for one of my least brothers, you did it for me." He asked them to forgive the faults of others and laid down the Golden Rule: "Treat others the way you would have them treat you.'" He forbade murder and adultery, anger and hatred, and encouraged prayer, fasting, and sacrifice, saying that "if a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and follow in my steps. …

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