Another Christmas has come and gone, and for many people, at least in the West, there was not even the slightest connection made between the recent holiday and the birth of Jesus Christ. Food, family and festivities, along with a large dose of materialism and consumerism, were the order of the day for most people I suspect.
There are various reasons for the omission of the reason for the season. In a secular society, many perhaps no longer even know of the basis for it. Others may well know about the connection, but do not want to acknowledge it. Indeed, there is a wilful move by many to keep Christ excluded, not just from Christmas, but from all of life.
I was struck by this recently when I came across a book in another person’s home. It was a sort of coffee-table gift book – a large book with numerous pictures and illustrations. The title was, History’s Greatest Hits. It was subtitled, Famous Events We Should All Know More About.
As one with some interest in history, I picked up the volume and flicked through it. There were in total 37 different historical events described. It began with Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps in 218 BC, and finished with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
There were a number of events listed which one would expect in such a volume. There was the fall of the Roman Empire, the Crusades, the Magna Carta, the Battle of Waterloo, Custer’s last stand, the attack on Pearl Harbour and the assassination of President Kennedy.
All worthy inclusions one would agree. Indeed, it would be an interesting exercise to ask various experts what they would include in such a list. But given the blurb on the back cover – “Events of everlasting impact” – there was one event which was far too conspicuous by its absence.
I refer to perhaps the most momentous and historic event of all times: the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Surely this event we should not only know more about, but it must of necessity qualify as an event which has had an everlasting impact.
Yet for some reason this momentous event was not even given a mention. A 328-page book describing the great events of history, and not one word about a man who even changed the way we date our calendars. The author gives no explanation for this glaring omission. Given that the book does feature other religious events, one is left baffled by this exclusion.
But it may not be hard to guess why this omission has occurred. It may well be for the same reason that Christ does not get mentioned at Christmas by so many people. It is not so much a case of ignorance as of wilful neglect. People do not want to talk about such a man who makes such great demands on every one of us.
But whether we love him, hate him or ignore him, there is no question that human history is totally different because of his appearance. And given that his detractors seem as concerned about him as his followers – consider for example the new atheists and their attacks on Christ – it is both puzzling and worrying that this book simply sidesteps the most important event in human history.
Indeed, such an impact did this one man have, that a number of books have chronicled what life is like with him, or would be like without him. For example, D. James Kennedy wrote a volume in 1994 entitled, What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? A good question indeed.
Western civilisation would more than likely not exist, and if it did, it would be radically different from what we find today, if Jesus had not existed. Yet the West wants to disown and ignore its founder. As but one example, the 70,000-word Constitution of the European Union, which was penned in 2004, does not even make mention of Christianity.
How one can ignore something like Christianity in the context of European civilisation is incomprehensible. Yet it must ever be so. The world of course hated Jesus. Instead of embracing the man and his message, they hung him on a cross as a common criminal. And Jesus said that the world would hate us just as it hated him.
Yet for all the hatred and enmity, human history will continue to be impacted by this one solitary figure. Whether a historian takes note of him or not, the truth remains: history is really His Story. And what a story it has been. An incisive piece about Jesus penned by James A. Francis in 1926 nicely summarises the contributions of this unique figure. The author rightly captures the essence of this remarkable man:
One Solitary Life
Here is a Man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put his foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that contemporary society would consider a sign of greatness.
He had no credentials but Himself. He had nothing of this world, only the power of His divine manhood. While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him, another betrayed Him. 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—His coat. When He was dead He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the centerpiece of the human race, the greatest source of guidance and divine inspiration. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were 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 powerfully as that one solitary life!—Jesus!