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Bishop Ralph Vendegna S.O.S.M.A.

The Most Interesting Man in History

  • February 11, 2019

    The Most Interesting Man in History

    Stephen Beale
    The Most Interesting Man in History

    Outside of strictly orthodox circles, Christ is often thought of as a moral teacher, a healer and a miracle-worker, a misunderstood preacher, and a crucified prophet.

    But there is one more way the world should look anew at Christ — and that is as the most interesting person to have ever walked this earth.

    He gave us peace but also said He came to bring the sword (Matthew 10:34). He was conceived through the spirit of God and proclaimed that He “came to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Luke 12:49).

    He healed the sick and cured the demon-possessed but urged those he helped to keep it a secret.

     

    He told us we must be born again — born from above, in the heavens — and told us we must eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to be saved. He meant this literally but also instituted a new way of eating that allowed us to fulfill His command in a bloodless way.

    He wandered in the dessert dueling with the devil. He started His ministry by turning water into wine at a wedding. He once asked a foreigner for a drink at a well only to promise her a special kind of water that would bring eternal life. He was a great story telling but some of his stories were utterly bewildering.

    One reason this Jesus is so interesting is that He is so ancient. Indeed He is the one of whom Proverbs 8 prophesied:

    “The LORD begot me, the beginning of his works,
    the forerunner of his deeds of long ago;
    From of old I was formed,
    at the first, before the earth.

    When he established the heavens, there was I,
    when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
    When he made firm the skies above,
    when he fixed fast the springs of the deep;
    When he set for the sea its limit,
    so that the waters should not transgress his command;
    When he fixed the foundations of earth,
    then was I beside him as artisan (8:22, 27-30).

    Now someone who is not a Christian may not believe much in prophecy, much less in a creation account. But Jesus was a historical figure — this, at least, seems to be an accepted view among historians. And those of His followers saw this prophecy as applying to Him because in Him they saw the Incarnation of the logos — God’s own thought, the rational principle that ordered the whole universe (see John 1).

    Who else in history can compare with his? What about Him made His followers draw such conclusions? Even if you don’t accept their conclusions aren’t you curious to know what inspired them?

    It wasn’t just Proverbs 8, of course. The whole Old Testament—the entire literature of an ancient Near Eastern nation—prophesied His coming. In fact, in some instances we are even granted early pre-Incarnate appearances of Christ in the Old Testament—in the burning bush, for example, and as the Son of Man ascending to heaven in the vision of Daniel (see Exodus 3 and Daniel 7).

    The story of Scripture is the story of this Jesus. He has no single biographer. Even the account of His earthly ministry is presented from four different perspectives in the gospels. And yet they are in remarkable harmony.

    According to these gospels, Jesus died, was buried, and laid in a tomb for three days. And then He rose from the dead. And, what’s more, during the three days He was dead, Christian tradition holds that he sojourned in the land of the dead, freeing the righteous dead and defeating the devil on His own turf.

    Maybe you don’t believe in any of that—descents into hell, resurrections, and anything else that smacks of the supernatural. After all, you’ve heard of other stories in ancient mythology about descents to hell and divine deaths and rebirths—right? But remember, this Jesus actually lived in historical times. We can date His birth. We know who the emperor of Rome was during His life. We know where Jesus lived and where He was crucified.

    Aren’t you in the least bit curious as to what happened? Don’t you want to get to know more?

    The story of Jesus has a weird ending in Scripture. We last see Him in Revelation where He is depicted as a slain lamb and a figure with a double-edged sword coming out of his mouth (Revelation 5:6, 1:16). He is called the Alpha and Omega, the morning star, and the rider of the white horse (Revelation 1:8, 22:16, 19:11).

    Maybe you do not believe all that is said about Jesus, but surely He is too interesting to ignore? There is something about Him that compels our curiosity. And, in seeking out the truth about Him, you might just find a truth greater than anything you could have ever expected.

    image: monkographic / Shutterstock.com

     
     
    Stephen Beale

    By Stephen Beale

    Stephen Beale is a freelance writer based in Providence, Rhode Island. Raised as an evangelical Protestant, he is a convert to Catholicism. He is a former news editor at GoLocalProv.com and was a correspondent for the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he covered the 2008 presidential primary. He has appeared on Fox News, C-SPAN and the Today Show and his writing has been published in the Washington Times, Providence Journal, the National Catholic Register and on MSNBC.com and ABCNews.com. A native of Topsfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from Brown University in 2004 with a degree in classics and history. His areas of interest include Eastern Christianity, Marian and Eucharistic theology, medieval history, and the saints. He welcomes tips, suggestions, and any other feedback at bealenews at gmail dot com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/StephenBeale1

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