Devout Christian, Islamic extremist, Atheist, or Scientologist–whatever your creed or religious affiliation may be, one cannot ignore the impact that religion has left on history. Wars have been waged, nations conquered, and millions killed for religion. One of the deepest connection between religion and history is Christmas.
Around this time each year, I reflect on an essay entitled “Arise Sir Knight!,” published in Dr. James Allan Francis’ The Real Jesus and Other Sermons. The following tells a very condensed story of the life of Jesus Christ. However, the part that most intrigues me is the conclusion. Take a moment to read this short essay and pay very close attention to the last paragraph.
Let us turn now to the story. A child is born in an obscure village. He is brought up in another obscure village. He works in a carpenter shop until he is thirty, and then for three brief years is an itinerant preacher, proclaiming a message and living a life. He never writes a book. He never holds an office. He never raises an army. He never has a family of his own. He never owns a home. He never goes to college. He never travels two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He gathers a little group of friends about him and teaches them his way of life. While still a young man, the tide of popular feeling turns against him. One denies him; another betrays him. He is turned over to his enemies. He goes through the mockery of a trial; he is nailed to a cross between two thieves, and when dead is laid in a borrowed grave by the kindness of a friend.
Those are the facts of his human life. He rises from the dead. Today we look back across nineteen hundred years and ask, What kind of trail has he left across the centuries? When we try to sum up his influence, all the armies that ever marched, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned are absolutely picayune in their influence on mankind compared with that of this one solitary life…
It is amazing to think about the amount of influence that one man has had on the world. Son of God or a false prophet, a character of fiction or not, there is no arguing that Jesus Christ, as portrayed in the New Testament of the Bible, has and still is influencing the world.
There is a more modern publication of this essay, which is commonly referred to as “One Solitary Life.” Below is its conclusion:
Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life
When historians think about individuals that shaped the future, men such as Napoleon Bonaparte rank high as powerful and influential leaders of the world. The following are quotes from Napoleon Bonaparte regarding Jesus and history.
“I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I founded empires but on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of people would die for Him.”
“Everything in Christ astonishes me. His spirit overawes me, and His will confounds me … I search in vain in history to find the similar to Jesus Christ, or anything that can approach the gospel.”
If a man as paramount as Napoleon finds Jesus impressive, he is certainly worth mentioning in the history books.