The ages of man wander like autumn leaves over late-October fields. Timeless, Jesus passes through them. He passes through the centuries, often unnoticed, bringing comfort to souls in seasons of night and transforming the destinies of men and nations. Men are clouds that appear and drift beyond the horizon. He is eternal.
Who is Jesus?
Two thousand years after He came, His likeness shines like a star among the mountaintops in Rio’s night sky. Silent, with arms outstretched, the eyes look down on the city and the perpetual waves washing her shores.
An ocean away His motionless form, in a flowing robe of stone, stands in the central doorway of Notre Dame Cathedral. Day after day the heavenly countenance awakes with dawn and passes with dusk into glorious light, while Paris spins and hums, and lives and dies. The nearby Seine rolls wave upon wave. Within the celestial sanctuary candles flicker and elderly women kneel at benches worn with prayers.
Along a highway in Mexico a colorful figure with nail-scarred hands abides quietly near the back of a tiny shrine. Children look inside at the gentle bearded face. Other images of the gentle Savior cast a watchful eye in graveyards and churches and cathedrals throughout much of the world.
His likeness appears in early portrayals on catacomb walls. Artistic renditions of Him reflect immortality. Leonardo da Vinci’s fading painting of the Last Supper whispers mystically of the timelessness and eternal nature of the central figure at the table. Rembrandt’s Christ At Emmaus represents an ageless fascination with the risen Savior.
Evidences of His unique and enduring life are found in widely-varied places. Stone walls in the ancient temple at Luxor harbor crosses engraved by early Christians. Across the Mediterranean the Parthenon in Athens bears witness to an early Christian presence within her massive pillars. In a broken-down shack in eastern Kentucky a simple unframed picture of Him hangs on a wall covered with pages from magazines and newspapers. Sleepy backwoods hollows whisper softly that His presence was once known and felt there.
The kingdom of this man from Nazareth reaches into all the earth. Within the vast domains of the Great Wall and beyond to Bhutan’s Shangri-la; beneath the gaze of Red Square; in lands of great pyramids and minaret towers where wings of wind carry abroad calls to prayer; in lands of rocky mesas where hogans sail the desert sands; in Africa and Asia and Central and South America; along shady palm beaches, and within the coasts of a thousand shores with waves clapping, the people of Jesus live and breathe. Millions of martyrs have fallen with His name on their lips. On this bank in time untold numbers of human beings are still killed, sold as slaves, forced to flee as refugees from their homelands, held in storage containers, or languish in prisons and labor camps (30,000 in North Korea alone are in prison or labor camps) because they belong to Him.
Neither Nazareth nor Jerusalem can forget Him. A world some twenty-one centuries later cannot forget Him. Many have tried to debase Him or disprove claims made about His unique life and personality. That they feel compelled to do this is itself an affirmation of His distinctive character. If they are convinced that He was only a man who lies in a grave in Jerusalem, wouldn’t they have more important things to do? Why their preoccupation with a dead man?
Even those who use His name to curse with, though they may be unaware of it, give proof for His existence and enduring significance. What gives cursing its power is its inherent nature. It is to defy and blaspheme a God who is, not someone who does not exist. Therefore, while other names of great religious leaders from the past are not used to curse with, the name of Jesus Christ is. Men seem to be threatened by this name and want to drive it into the ground. It is a name widely spoken in back alleys and pubs, oftentimes by those who do not even know who He is. To this day no other name is thought of more highly and is more abhorred, vilified and despised than His. This is evidence for the uniqueness and enduring nature of the one who bears it.
This immortal life defies human efforts to discredit, shame, or destroy it. While the greatest of men, and all gainsayers, are passing and often forgotten, it is evident that Jesus is not.
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©James Unruh 2014 and beyond