Subject: The Character of Jesus Christ: His willingness to die for our sins gives hope to mankind
Philippians 2:7-8 “He made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Malcolm Muggeridge, the British journalist who lived through some of the most tumultuous times in world history, became a Christian after living most of his life as a self-proclaimed agnostic. In summarizing the history of man-made kingdoms, he gives us his answer to the only Person in history who still gives us hope: “We look back upon history and what do we see? Empires rising and falling, revolutions and counter-revolutions, wealth accumulating and wealth dispersed, one nation dominant and then another. Shakespeare speaks of ‘the rise and fall of great ones that ebb and flow with the moon.’ “I look back on my own fellow countrymen ruling over a quarter of the world, the great majority of them convinced, in the words of what is still a favorite song, that, ‘God who’s made the mighty would make them mightier yet.’
I’ve heard a crazed, cracked Austrian announce to the world the establishment of a German Reich that would last a thousand years; an Italian clown announce that he would restart the calendar to begin his own ascension to power. I’ve heard a murderous Georgian brigand in the Kremlin acclaimed by the intellectual elite of the world as a wiser than Solomon, more humane than Marcus Aurelius, more enlightened than Ashoka. I’ve seen America wealthier and in terms of weaponry, more powerful than the rest of the world put together, so that had the American people desired, could have outdone an Alexander or a Julius Caesar in the range and scale of their conquests.
All in one lifetime. All in one lifetime. All gone with the wind. England part of a tiny island off the coast of Europe, threatened with dismemberment and even bankruptcy. Hitler and Mussolini dead, remembered only in infamy. Stalin a forbidden name in the regime he helped found and dominate for some three decades. America haunted by fears of running out of those precious fluids that keep her motorways roaring, and the smog settling, with troubled memories of a disastrous campaign in Vietnam, and the victories of the Don Quixotes of the media as they charged the windmills of Watergate. All in one lifetime, all gone. Gone with the wind. Behind the debris of these self-styled, sullen supermen and imperial diplomatists, there stands the gigantic figure of one person, because of whom, by whom, in whom, and through whom alone mankind might still have hope. The person of Jesus Christ.”
What is so gigantic about the person of Christ? Is it His claims to be God who reveals Himself to mankind in the flesh? Is it His miracles He performed that drew so many to Him? Is it His words we have preserved in the Gospels, that are some of the most penetrating essays ever written? Maybe it’s His resurrection from the dead, which was the event that changed the course of history forever, giving birth to this new religion called by His name?
There is one thing about Jesus Christ that separates Him from all other noted figures in history. In theory, you could have another person besides Mohammed invent Islam, because Mohammed never claimed to be God. In theory, you could have another person besides Guatama invent Buddhism, because Guatama never claimed to be God. In theory, all the other world religions could have come to man through anybody, because their founders were just men giving us their version of the answers to life’s questions (who am I? why am I here? How do I find meaning in life?).
But Christ stands apart from all others. You cannot get Christianity from any other Person but Jesus Christ. He claimed to be God whose main purpose wasn’t to teach us about who God is and how to have a relationship with God and live in harmony with one another (although He did do that). He came personally in real history, for the purpose of willingly die for every one of us, as the sinless payment for the sins every one of us knows we are guilty of committing. That’s what Philippians 2:7-8 is all about. His achievement on the cross for you and me now opens the way for every one of us to be forgiven for the things we have done, and be reunited in a right relationship with the true God. Only Jesus Christ could do this for you and me, not Mohammed or Guatama or anyone else, because only Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. That is the hope of all mankind.