If Christ Could Not Be Found
Henry Rogers, a brilliant lawyer of a few years ago, wrote a book entitled The Eclipse of Faith, in which he imagined that some powerful hand had wiped the influence of Christ out of our civilization, as a hand might wipe the writing from a chalkboard in a classroom. He imagined himself going into his library to discover that every vestige of Christ’s life and influence had wholly disappeared. He opened his law books which had contained the legal standards protecting children, the poor, and the innocent only to find that these laws had disappeared.
He turned to his histories of art and there found that some of the world’s greatest masterpieces, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” Raphael’s “The Sistine Madonna,” Van Dyck’s “Christ and Tribute Money,” Rembrandt’s “The Prodigal Son” and hundreds of others had vanished. Only the frames remained for the canvasses had ceased to exist. In like manner he turned to his books of literature. There he found blank pages where formerly there had been the great writings of Dante, Milton, Goethe, Browning, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Longfellow, Whittier, and many others. Stories like Charles Dicken’s “Christmas Carol” were lost completely.
Next, he turned to the world of music, and there found that the great hymns of the church had vanished. Among these were stirring hymns such as the 17th century German hymn, “Fairest Lord Jesus”.. Isaac Watt’s “Joy To The World”.. Charles Wesley’s “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”.. Katherine Hanky’s “Tell Me The Old Old Story”.. George Mattheson’s “Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go”.
Then it was, that Rogers realized that if Christ were not, then the schools, the hospitals, the orphanages, the missions, and probably all other benevolent institutions, whose purpose lies in the teachings of Christ, would all perish; And this lawyer cried out that he would not want to live at all, in a world where Christ, cold not be found!
(It seems unimaginable, to wake up, and find that all evidence that Christ even existed, was gone! You go to where your bible sits.. On the table, or on the desk, or the shelf, or on the stand next to your bed, and it’s gone. Books that are an inspiration for faith, gone.
Not a word on the television, or on the radio, or even among friends, of bible topics, or teachings of Christ. Not a word is spoken. You google the word “Christ” on the internet, and it says.. No results found! God forbid there could ever be a world like that)
But here’s the reality.. Of The Influence Of Jesus
In her anthology, Christ And The Fine Arts, Cynthia Pearl Maus, includes the following beautiful tribute to the Lord:
“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village, and that a despised one. He worked in a carpenter’s shop for thirty years, 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 a college. He never put His foot inside a really big city. He never travelled, except in His infancy, more than two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He had no credentials but himself.
“While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him, His friends ran away. One of them betrayed Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed on a cross between two thieves. His executors gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth, His seamless robe. When He was dead, He was taken down from the cross and laid in a borrowed grave through the courtesy of a friend. Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone, and today Jesus is the centerpiece of the human race, and the leader of all progress.
“I am well within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that have ever ruled together have never affected the life of man upon this earth like this one solitary personality.
“All time dates from His birth and it is impossible to understand or interpret the progress of human civilization in any nation on earth apart from His influence. Slowly through the ages man is coming to realize that the greatest necessity in the world is not water, iron, gold, food or clothing . . . but rather Christ enshrined in human hearts, thoughts and motives.”
Most Important Of All
While it is true that Christ has had a tremendous impact upon our civilization in its laws, in its arts, in its literature, and in its general pattern of life, it is far more important that Christ has brought to the world a conception of eternal truth, which will save men’s souls. Here are a few of the things which Jesus has taught us:
1. The sacredness of human life. Jesus respected the poor and healed the sick in an age when the poor and the sick were despised and neglected. It was the teaching of Jesus that eventually led to the overthrow of slavery, and put an end to such practices as the exposure of unwanted infants.
(When I read that, about the “exposure of unwanted infants”, I didn’t know what it meant. So I looked it up on-line. Do you know what it refers to? Evidently it was a practice of people in ancient times, that the human race hasn’t really outgrown even to this day. But then we “as a human race”, haven’t outgrown slavery either, have we? But anyhow, the exposure of unwanted infants, isn’t a whole lot different than what we hear about today, when a parent, will simply throw their newborn baby into a dumpster, (or anywhere for that matter) and “expose it” to death.
Let me read to you this description of the exposure of unwanted infants, from Wikipedia..
“In ancient times, a method of infanticide or at least child abandonment, was to leave infants in a wild place, (a place where there would be no people) either to die due to hypothermia, hunger, thirst, or animal attack, or perhaps to be ‘collected’ and brought up by those unable to produce their own children.
Modern scholars tend to see this infant exposure as a ‘semi-official’ exchange mechanism, where one set of parents abandoned unwanted children, which were often picked up by other people wanting children, who lurked at the recognized spots for leaving children. Many ancient cities actually had recognized locations for this, outside the city, which gave the opportunity of anonymity, to those involved.”
But Jesus knew, and taught, the sacredness of human life. He began in Mathew 10; 29 thru 31, with these words; “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore you should not fear; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
And then the Spirit of Christ teaches in 1 Corinthians 3:16 & 17; “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”
And listen to these verses from the Psalms, given by the very same spirit of God. First, Psalm 49, verses 7 & 8; “No man can by any means redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him; For the redemption of his soul is costly, and never can payment suffice.”
And next, Psalm 127, verses 3 & 4; “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior; So are the children of one’s youth.” Makes you think about Doug’s lesson last week on the attributes of little children. Well, this passage tells us that OUR children are “a heritage from the Lord”, and a “reward”. As children of God, are we not the very same thing to the Lord? A heritage, and a reward, for God Himself.
2. The value of soul. Jesus said; “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). He pointed out that spiritual matters are more important than physical concerns, when He said; “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal . . .” (Matthew 6:19, 20).
3. The nobility of womanhood. Until Jesus came woman had been mere chattel, to be used and abused but never exalted as a creature equal with man in the sight of God.
4. The brotherhood of man. When Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan He was saying, in effect, that the lowly Samaritans were sometimes more noble than the exalted Jews. The same message is found in the opening words of Peter’s discourse to the household of Cornelius: “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34, 35).
5. The Fatherhood of God. In the story of the prodigal son Christ clearly pictures Jehovah as a loving Father yearning for the return of wayward mankind (Luke 15).
6. The perfect standard to live by. The pattern of Christian living as set forth in the Sermon on the Mount and in many another passage is the finest standard the world has ever known or is likely to know. Jesus said; “Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
7. A perfect example to follow. The Hebrew writer said; “For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Without Christ men would be like sheep without a shepherd, but with Christ we have only to follow in His steps if we would reach perfection itself.
8. The forgiveness of sins. The prophet Isaiah said; “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him: and with his stripes we are healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquities of us all” (Isaiah 53:5, 6).
9. Freedom from the fear of death. In the words of the apostle Paul; “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54, 55).
10. The promise of eternal life. There is no more beautiful passage of hope in the entire Bible, than the words of Jesus; “Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).
The Greatest Tragedy of All
The Holy Spirit guided the apostle Paul to write; “None is righteous, no, not one. . . . All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). This applies to all of the people who have lived, since the beginning of time. Jesus Himself being the only sinless exception. Sin came into the world through Adam and Eve, and its influence has contaminated one after another all of those who have lived. While not born depraved or lost, as some have erroneously believed, all people who live on the Earth long enough to reach a level of maturity, sufficient for the making of moral decisions, are contaminated by sin.
The only escape is to come to Jesus Christ, the Messiah who gave His life on the cross that His blood might cleanse us from our sins. Of the four billion people who now live upon the Earth, all of us are lost until we come to Christ for cleansing.
The greatest tragedy known to man is too have the opportunity of redemption in Christ and then fail to accept the gift of salvation. Until we come to Christ in penitent, obedient faith, Christ, for us, “has not come”. To spurn the greatest gift ever given, is the greatest of all tragedies. But happily, each of us has the opportunity to accept the gift. There is no power on Earth that can prevent us from coming to Christ and salvation, if we wish to come.
Without Christ we could not be saved. But with Christ, the doors of Heaven swing wide. We don’t even like to think about a world without Christ. And thanks be to God, that we don’t have to, because He’s right here, for any and all to come to.