4 Jesus: Keep the Christ in Christianity

The Testimony of Jesus

An explosion!

There’s no other way to describe it. From a dusty, half-forgotten corner of the Roman world, a message detonated. By the word of their mouth, the blood of the Lamb, and their refusal to love their own lives, simple men and women propagated this message. Their testimony lit fires throughout the empire, despite its determined efforts to douse the flames. The word proved more powerful than the sword, and the world has never been the same.

What was this message?

History Gets Strange

Wherever this testimony has ignited a fire, unexplainable things have happened.

One spring morning in Palestine, crowds of religious pilgrims clogging Jerusalem begin to gather around a small cluster of excited, almost giddy men and women. A spokesmen for the little group—an uneducated man with a country accent—steps forward and tries to explain: “Really, folks, we only look drunk...”

Within hours, three thousand of the pilgrims have given up everything to join this little group of religious outcasts who claim to be following an executed criminal.

Just what had that spokesman said to the crowd?

Years later, a different young man from this renegade group accepts the challenge to debate some local defenders of the status quo. Unable to refute his wisdom, his opponents drag him before the national governing body to attack his views. He delivers a calm lecture on the nation’s history—hardly the stuff that riots are made of—but his concluding paragraph is a bombshell. The conservative, dignified rulers of Israel begin grinding their teeth. The young man seals his own doom with one sentence more. Still not satisfied after seeing stones crush the life from the speaker, one member of the audience pledges his life to stamping out this message by whatever means necessary.

What in the world made those people so upset?

Still later, this dedicated antagonist of the new sect becomes one of its most powerful propagators! Now it is his turn to suffer. He begins traveling throughout the empire, spreading the message he once tried to drown in blood. He and a friend arrive in one town and perform an undeniable miracle. The citizens want to sacrifice to him as a god. Yet within days, they are dragging him out of the city and trying to crush his life with stones. This reaction is hardly an exception. The troublesome young man starts riots nearly everywhere he goes!

What message could provoke such passions?

They called it the Good News, the gospel. It’s a word we’re all familiar with. But have we really stopped to consider the gospel our first century friends proclaimed?

Next Page
Back to Contents