What must you do to become famous, properly famous that is, not a flash in the pan 15-minute wonder? Emma Raducanu has found a way. Go through three qualifying rounds of the US Open Tennis Championships, join the main draw, reach the final and win it without dropping a single set in any match. At 18 years of age, Raducanu has eclipsed Andy Murray, Virginia Wade, Sue Barker, even the great Fred Perry. No qualifier has ever won a Grand Slam tournament, and she’s British. Well, she is if you ignore the fact that she was born in Canada to a Romanian father and Chinese mother. That’s British enough I’d say. She’s young, she’s pretty, she’s personable and now she’s wealthy. The media love her and it’s estimated that sponsorship deals could earn her $100 million.
I’m casting my mind over other famous people and wondering what they did to earn their fame. Winston Churchill led the country through World War II. A contemporary of his, Stalin, who led Russia, became one of the world’s greatest mass murderers. Leonardo da Vinci painted masterpieces as did Michael Angelo. Orville and Wilbur Wright took us into the world of aviation. Florence Nightingale organised nurses to care for soldiers during the Crimea War. Margaret Thatcher became the UK’s first female Prime Minister, George Washington the USA’s first President. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
What did Jesus do? He has got to be the most famous person who’s ever lived, but what did he do to gain such fame? In his lifetime he was unknown outside Israel. He was born into poverty and lived what appears to have been a quite normal life until he reached the age of 30. Then he began preaching and teaching, accompanying his words by miraculous events. People flocked to him, more to see his miracles than to hear him speak, and yet the words he spoke have become the foundation on which civilised societies are built. He taught loving your neighbour, kindness to one another, forgiveness, just punishment, respect for women, care for the poor and needy, the list goes on. However, if it was just the words of Jesus that were important I don’t think he would be so famous today. With his death, he stopped performing miracles and speaking grandiose words. Those who flocked to him would have quietly gone back to their normal lives. Someone may have bothered to write his words down but they would have been lost amongst other great thinkers.
Jesus is famous today because the church he established, which began in Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost, has gone on to spread across the world transforming societies as it transforms lives. Changing society first doesn’t work as many great thinkers suggest. Jesus changed lives first and improvements to society followed. I am confident in asserting that it’s because of Jesus that lives of women, children and the elderly have been improved, proper healthcare facilities exist, the poor are helped (not enough but that’s not the fault of Jesus), and just laws help us to maintain law and order.
How did Jesus change lives? Was it through his words? Are we to just practice what he taught? Not at all. Jesus did something far more radical than just speak. He died, and then he rose from the dead, what we call the resurrection. The whole of the Christian faith is based on belief in the resurrection. The Bible says, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. … If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1) Although it seems hard to grasp, the resurrection is the most easily provable of all the miraculous events in the Bible. Applying the same standards of proof used in law courts, opponents of Christianity have come to faith. What they discovered from a forensic analysis of the facts was that there is no other reasonable explanation for the absence of Jesus from the tomb where he was buried beyond the resurrection. It’s the only explanation that fits the facts. If you want to check the facts for yourself I’d suggest reading a book called ‘The Case Against Christ’ by Lee Strobel who was desperate to disprove Christianity but he now lives for Christ.
Death and resurrection made Jesus famous while at the same time bringing hope and assurance of eternal life to countless billions. Why don’t you join us?
- 1 Corinthians 15:17-19