By Cecil Willis
No being who has ever existed upon this earth has so influenced every facet of life, and every culture, as has the meek and lowly Jesus of Nazareth. Even the most blatant infidel has to recognize His coming. Every time he dates a letter or a legal document, he tacitly admits to the existence and magnitude of Christ. More books have been written about Him than about any other being who lived upon this earth. Five thousand new books were written regarding Him last year. The berating infidel has some concept of morality. Yet there is no way whatsoever for him to say that one “ought” to do this or that, or that one “ought not” to do this or that, except as this “oughtness” relates to the will of Jesus and His Father, God Almighty. Had Jesus never lived, nor the will of God never been revealed, rationalistically speaking, there could be no standard of morality.
Jesus made exalted claims for Himself. He said that “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (Jno. 14:9). He claimed equality with God (Jno. 5:17,18). He claimed to be the promised Messiah, “the Son of the Blessed” (Mk. 14:61-64). The worst charges that could be brought against Him were that He loved sinners, and ate with them (Matt. 9:10-13). But this charge He readily admitted, for His purpose in coming to earth was to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10). Jesus challenged his enemies to convict Him of any sin (Jno. 8:46). He accepted worship from a leper (Matt. 8:2); from a ruler of the synagogue (Matt. 9:18); and from a blind man (Jno. 9:35-38). Yet this same Jesus taught that only Deity was to be worshipped (Jno. 4:23,24). He claimed that the shedding of His blood would bring remission of sins (Matt. 26:28; Matt. 20:28). It was said of him that “Never man so spake” (Jno. 7:46). Many were astonished at His teachings (Mk. 7:37; Lk. 2:47). His works were equally as astonishing (Lk. 5:26).
Is it any wonder that this Divine Being in the flesh, who brought salvation within the grasp of all, who lived sinlessly, who was the world’s greatest teacher both in manner and message, and who wrought such wonders, signs, and mighty works should so influence men and their lives and literature? This author could never put into more eloquent language the influence of Christ than has already been done by far superior writers. Hence, this article will be closed by three classic quotations about the influence of Christ.
Under the heading, “Jesus, the Perfect Man,” C. P. J. Mooney on December 22, 1911, wrote in the Commercial Appeal of Memphis the following impressive lives. A line or two of this piece might be objectionable to you, just as I would have written a few of the statements differently. Though written in 1911, the content of this article is as fresh as the contents of tomorrow’s newspaper.
Jesus, The Perfect Man
“There is no other character in history like that of Jesus.
“As a preacher, as a doer of things, and as a philosopher, no man ever,had the sweep and the vision of Jesus.
“A human analysis of the human actions of life that is amazing in its perfect detail.
“The system of ethics Jesus taught during His earthly sojourn 2000 years ago was true then, has been true in every century since and will be true forever.
“Plato was a great thinker and learned in his age, but his teachings did not stand the test of time. In big things and in little things time and human experience have shown that he erred.
“Marcus Aurelius touched the reflective mind of the world, but he was as cold and austere as brown marble.
“The doctrine of Confucius gave a great nation moral and mental dry rot.
“The teachings of Buddha resulted in mental and moral chaos that makes India derelict.
“Mohammed offered a system of ethics which was adopted by millions of people. Now their children live in deserts where once there were cities, along dry rivers where once there was moisture, and in the shadows of gray, barren hills where once there was greenness.
“Thomas Aquinas was a profound philosopher, but parts of his system have been abandoned.
“Francis of Assissi was Christlike in his saintliness, but in some things he was childish.
“Thomas A. Kempis’ IMITATION OF CHRIST is a thing of rare beauty and sympathy, but it is, as its name indicates, only an imitation.
“Sir Thomas More’s UTOPIA is yet a dream that cannot be realized.
“Lord Bacon writing on chemistry and medicine under the glasses of the man working in a twentieth century laboratory is puerile.
“The world’s most learned doctors until a hundred and fifty years ago gave dragon’s blood and the ground dried tails of lizards and shells of eggs for certain ailments. The great surgeons a hundred years ago bled a man if he were wounded.
“Napoleon had the world at his feet for four years, and when he died the world was going on its way as if he had never lived.
“Jesus taught little as to property because He knew there were things of more importance than property. He measured property and life, the body and soul, at their exact relative value. He taught much as to character, because character is of more importance than dollars.
“Other men taught us to develop systems of government; Jesus taught so as to perfect the minds of men. Jesus looked to the soul while other men dwelled on material things.
“After the experience of 2000 years no man can find a flaw in the government systems outlined by Jesus. Czar and Kaiser, President and Socialist, gave to its complete merit their admiration.
“No man today, no matter whether he follows the doctrine of Mills, Marx or George as to property, can find a false principle in Jesus’ theory of property.
“In the duty of a man to his fellow no sociologist has ever approximated the perfection of the doctrine laid down by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount.
“Not all the investigation of chemists, not all the discoveries of explorers, not all the experience of rule, not all the historical facts that go to make up the sum of human knowledge on this day in 1912 are in contradiction to one word uttered or one principle laid by Jesus.
“The human experience of 2000 years shows that Jesus never made a mistake. Jesus never uttered a doctrine that was true at that time and then became obsolete.
“Jesus spoke the truth; He lived the truth, and truth is eternal.
“History has no record of any other man leading a perfect life or doing everything in logical order.
“Jesus is the only person whose every action and whose every utterance strike a true note in the heart and mind of every man born of woman. He never said a foolish thing, never did a foolish act and never dissembled.
“No poet, no dreamer, no philosopher loved humanity with the love that Jesus bore toward all men.
“Who, then, was Jesus?
“He could not have been merely a man, for there never was a man who had two consecutive thoughts absolute in truthful perfection.
“Jesus must have been what Christendom proclaims Him to be-a divine being-or He could not have been what He was. No mind but an infinite mind could have left behind those things which Jesus gave to the world as a heritage.”
The Incomparable Christ
Another great piece of literature regarding the influence of Christ has been passed down through the ages. I wish I knew the author’s name so that I might give him credit for a wonderful composition. But unfortunately, I have only seen it attributed to the prolific writer, Mr. “Selected.”
“He came from the bosom of the Father to the bosom of a woman. He became the Son of man that we might become sons of God. He put on humanity that we might put on divinity. He left the region where the rivers never freeze, winds never blow, frost never bites, flowers never fade; where there are no undertakers, no doctors needed, because no one is ever sick; where graveyards never haunt, death never comes, and where no funerals are never conducted.
“He was born contrary to the laws of nature, was reared in obscurity, and lived in poverty; only once did he ever cross the boundaries of his own small country; he had no wealth or influence, training or education, and his parents knew nothing of the niceties of social traditions.
“In infancy, he startled a king; in boyhood, puzzled the wise; in manhood, ruled the course of nature.
“He healed the multitudes without medicine, and made no charge for his services. He never wrote a book, yet all the libraries of the world could not contain all the books that could be written about him.
“He never wrote a song, and yet he has provided the themes for more songs than all earthly writers combined.
“He never founded a college, yet all the schools of earth have not had the students that sat at his feet.
“He never practiced medicine, yet has healed more broken hearts than the world has ever taken note of.
“He never marshaled an army, never drafted a soldier, or fired a gun, yet no leader has ever had the volunteers, who, under his orders, made rebels stack arms and surrender to his command, never firing a shot.
“He is the Star of astronomy, the Rock of geology, the Lamb and Lion of zoology, the Harmonizer of all discords, and the Healer of all diseases.
“Great men have come and gone; He lives on. Herod could not kill him; Satan could not seduce him; death could not destroy him; and the grave could not hold him.
“He laid aside his purple robe for a peasant’s gown. He was rich but for our sakes became poor, that we might be rich. How poor? Ask Mary? Ask the wise men? He slept in another’s manger; rode another’s ass; he was buried in another’s tomb. All others have failed; he never. The ever perfect one, the chief among ten thousand; altogether lovely.”
One Solitary Life
Yet the most beautiful piece, though much briefer, is attributed by some to Phillips Brooks. It was a favorite piece to Brother Luther Blackmon, and I often have heard him recite it, with great emotion upon himself and upon his hearers. Others have attributed this literary gem to James A. Francis. Perhaps some literary specialist will inform us as to its genuine authorship. But it is a beautiful description of the influence of Jesus, regardless of who wrote it.
“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He worked in a carpenter shop until he was 30, and then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put his foot inside a big city. He never traveled 200 miles from the place where he was born. He never did one of the things which usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but himself.
“While he was a young man, the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies. He 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 on earth, and that was his coat. When he was dead, he was laid in a private grave through the pity of a friend.
“Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race and the leader of the column of progress.
“I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that 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, as that One Solitary Life.”
Truth Magazine, XX:20, pp. 2-3
May 13, 1976