by Mark Driscoll
No one is more loved or hated than Jesus Christ.
Jesus was born in a small town to a poor, unmarried teen mother roughly 2,000 years ago. He was adopted by Joseph, a simple carpenter, and spent the first thirty years of His life in obscurity, swinging a hammer with His dad.
Around the age of thirty, Jesus began a public ministry that included preaching, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and befriending people who were marginalized because they were perverts, drunks, thieves, and such. Jesus’ ministry spanned only three short years before He was put to death for declaring Himself to be God. He died by shameful crucifixion like tens of thousands of people had before Him.
Curiously, His résumé is rather simple. He never traveled more than a few hundred miles from His home. He never held a political office, never wrote a book, never married, never attended college, and never visited a big city. He died homeless and poor.
Yet He is the most famous person in all of human history. More songs have been sung about Him, artwork painted of Him, and books written about Him than anyone who has ever lived. Furthermore, billions of people from the nations of the earth worship Him as God. Even unbelievers are constantly reminded of His influence since we measure time around His life. Our calendar is divided into the years before and after His birth, which are noted as BC (“before Christ”) and AD (anno Domini, meaning “in the year of the Lord”).
No army, nation, or person has changed human history to the degree that Jesus the homeless man has. The symbol for Jesus, the cross, has become the most famous symbol in all of history. Even rapper 50 Cent and old-school rocker Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses recently wore one around their necks at the MTV Video Music Awards. Jesus has become a part of American fashion.
Every year, the media is filled with discussions about Jesus. Musicians like Kanye West cannot help but sing about Jesus even if they do not worship Him as God. Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ set a single-day box office record. No one is hotter than Jesus – even 2,000 years after He walked the earth. Even the mundane magazine Popular Mechanics had a cover story titled “The Real Face of Jesus” a few years back in which they attempted to determine what Jesus really looked like (complete with short hair, unlike the myth that he had long hair).
It seems that everyone has an opinion of Jesus. The following quotes are a smattering of what great figures in human history have said about Jesus:
- Mahatma Gandhi: "I cannot say that Jesus was uniquely divine. He was as much God as Krishna, or Rama, or Mohammed, or Zoroaster."
- Adolf Hitler: "In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison."
- Larry King "was once asked who he would most want to interview if he could choose anyone from all of history. He said, ‘Jesus Christ.’ The questioner said, ‘And what would you like to ask Him?’ King replied, I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.’"
- John Lennon: "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first—rock and roll or Christianity."
- Carlos Mencia: "You know what, I became more Christian after I saw the movie [The Da Vinci Code] because, I, you know, as a Christian, I was like, you know, Jesus died for our sins he suffered. But now that I know that he’s married, I’m like, wow, did he really suffer. Poor guy."
- Friedrich Nietzsche: "Jesus died too soon. If he had lived to my age he would have repudiated his doctrine."
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau: "Socrates died like a philosopher; Jesus Christ died like a God."
- Joseph Smith: "Mormonism is the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ; of which I myself am not ashamed."
- Mark Twain: "If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be—a Christian."
- H. G. Wells: "I am a historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history."
- Oprah Winfrey: "There couldn’t possibly be just one way . . ." [Lady in the audience: "What about Jesus?"] "What about Jesus? . . . Does God care about your heart or does God care about if you call his son Jesus?"
- Malcolm X: "All white people who have studied history and geography know that Christ was a black man. Only the poor, brainwashed American Negro has been made to believe that Christ was white, to maneuver him into worshiping the white man."
People tell us all sorts of things about Jesus. He was rich. He was poor. He was black. He was white. He was God and not God. He was a liar who told the truth, born of a virgin who was a tramp. He rose from the dead or else escaped death to shack up with His girlfriend. Even within Christianity, a goofy trend recasts Jesus and the faith; apparently, a new kind of Christian has emerged.
Therefore, it only seems right that we spend some time at Mars Hill hammering out some rigorous answers to the twelve most common questions about Jesus. The Sunday sermons will include video interviews about Jesus with everyone from a Jewish Rabbi to Christian worship leader David Crowder to Thrice band frontman Dustin Kensrue to potheads at Hempfest (who I interviewed while wearing my "Jesus is watching you smoke that weed!" t-shirt). In conjunction with each sermon, I will be modeling a goofy Jesus t-shirt to provide a few additional laughs.
Of course, the entire series will be available free of charge as both high-def vodcast and audio podcast at www.marshillchurch.org and iTunes. When it is all done, the series will also be published as a book titled Vintage Jesus.
(C) 2006 Mark Driscoll | Mars Hill Church | The Resurgence. Republished at worship.com by permission of TheResurgence.com.