Two days ago on Christmas Day, Chad and I came down to spend a couple of days at my mom’s house for the holiday. She lives in a little town called Dupont, just shy of 140 miles south of where we live in Bellingham.
It’s so interesting, this day called Christmas, when the whole Western World celebrates the birth of Jesus. Well, I suppose there are some in Christendom who do actually celebrate Jesus’ birth on this day, despite how highly unlikely — actually a near impossibility — that he actually was born on December 25.
For the majority of us, the secular Christmas affords the opportunity to rest from our labors, eat decadent foods, and exchange gifts and spend time with loved ones (and lie to the kids that there really is a Santa Claus who, at the North Pole, spends the year tallying up whether we’ve been good or bad…..but I digress!).
Still, I cannot help but remark at what an enormous impact this Jesus has had on the world — regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof — past and present.
Not only is a holiday been named for him since the mid-4th century CE that is celebrated in some form the world over, we mark time based on his birth. The year Jesus was believed to be conceived (and born), an entire epoch ended and the so-called Christian Era began.
For example, we would refer to today’s date at the 25th of December 2007 A.D., which stands for Anno Domini, or "in the year of our Lord." When we reference time before Jesus, B.C. (Before Christ) is used.
There are other designations, like C.E. (Common Era) and B.C.E. (Before our Common Era), but they take their point of reference from the same year of Jesus Christ’s birth (which is year 1 A.D., or 1 C.E.).
This is amazing. Who else has an entire era named for them?
More than his birth, I think of particular interest is all the things Jesus accomplished during his brief 33 years. The last chapter of the book of John (John 21:35) in the Christian Bible indicates that all the books in the world could not contain all the remarkable, miraculous things that Jesus did in his life.
Clearly, non-Christians and Christians alike acknowledge the wisdom and great influence of the historical Jesus who walked the Earth over 2,000 years ago. He has been called the Prince of Peace, such was his commitment at all times to nonviolence.
You may recall when one of his disciples cut of the ear of a guard in defense of Jesus — who was about to be arrested and eventually delivered into the hands of the Romans to be put to death — this Jesus rebuked him, saying "Put up again thy sword into its place: for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot ask my Father, and he will give me presently more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:52-53)
In all this, it was Jesus himself who said, as reported by the apostle John in his account of Jesus life (John 14:12), "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father."
There are probably as many interpretations of what was meant here as there are people on Earth, but I like to think of those — Christians and non-Christians alike — who have done "greater works than these" by following in the tradition that Jesus set of love, nonviolence and peace. Mother Teresa, Mahatma Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. come to mind — preeiminent peacemakers who accomplished great things for far longer than Jesus’ 3 years of ministry, or longer than even the 33 years of Jesus’ entire life.
Jesus words inspired them and they inspire me.
Aren’t you inspired, too?
What "greater works than these" are you accomplishing as you fulfill your joyful, inspirational purpose here on Earth?