There have been just a few people whose memory has survived that long. They clearly all had a profound influence on history. However, we rarely relate back to them and what they’ve taught us on a regular basis. Yet, I think of the influence of this baby every day, as do many others across the world. He only survived 33 years and really only became influential in a small geographical sphere for 3.5 years. He didn’t have any biological children, he didn’t even marry. How extraordinary that his influence lives on!
This baby was named Jesus. As he grew, he proclaimed a message of love, hope, peace, acceptance and reconciliation. Here are a few Jesus’ quotes taken from the Bible (NRSV):
- ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ Matthew 22: 37-39
- ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ Matthew 11:28-30
In the end, Jesus’ followers claimed He was God, and when pressed, Jesus didn’t deny it. In fact, that’s what led to his early, excruciating death. It made sense of statements like:
- ‘I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’ John 16:33
- ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’. John 10:10
I find such teachings still hold relevance for us right now, here in Australia in 2018. We continue to desire to be at peace with ourselves, our families and friends and with other nations. Learning to love God still leads to learning to love and forgive those around us and also ourselves. And this tends to lead to an abundant life, not without its problems, but with a resilient hope to help us through.
Wishing you all the blessings associated with that obscure, middle-eastern baby this Christmas!