AN ALTERNATE REALITY: WHAT IF JESUS’ FIRST COMING WAS TODAY?

Ecce homo! Antonio Ciseri's 1871 depiction of Pontius Pilate presenting Jesus to the public (from here)
Ecce homo! Antonio Ciseri‘s 1871 depiction of Pontius Pilate presenting Jesus to the public (from here)

When BJ commented my last post, JESUS NEVER SAID ANYTHING ABOUT GOVERNMENT?, he asked a question I don’t know how to answer.

Jesus lived in a despotic client state of Rome where the religious leaders had a lot of civic authority and even more cultural influence. While He lived as a good citizen of that system (ie: he paid His taxes), He also was not hesitant to be critical of both the secular (Herod = “that fox”) and religious (see the seven woes) authorities.

How do you think He would have acted or spoken differently if He were living in a republic today? (from here)

How would Jesus act or spoken differently? mastersamwise  suggested a reasonable answer.

I can think of one line only: Repent and believe in the Gospel. (from here)

Yet I think any answer, even one that seems quite reasonable, is only speculative.

Consider.

Romans 8:28-30 New King James Version (NKJV)

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

When Jesus walked among us, He picked a certain place and time to do a certain set of word and deeds. Would another time, another place, and another set of words and deeds have accomplished the same thing? God knows.

As it is, if Jesus’ First Coming were today, the world as we know it would not exist. When we think of the cross, we think of the price Jesus paid for our sins. We forget how the cross once symbolized the unyielding strength and power of the Roman Empire. We don’t stop to think of how Jesus changed our world. We take our freedom for granted. We fail to consider the possibility that if Jesus had not lived most of us would be slaves.

We like to compare of the effect of a human life to the ripples that emanate from a pebble cast into a pond, but what are we to make of the ripples from Jesus’ life.  He died an obscure man in an obscure place. Nevertheless, even in our increasingly secularized society, we each feel to some degree the strong, gentle ripples coming from Jesus.

To understand the dramatic effect of what Jesus taught, the power He has to change lives, we must read the Bible. We must consider the difference between what He taught and how people once lived — how too many of us still live.

Consider some of the teachings in the Sermon On The Mount.

  • In an era that glorified pride, Jesus taught the virtue of humility.
  • When the heroes of the age were conquerors, Jesus called peacemakers the Sons of God.
  • At a time when men reveled in vengeance, Jesus told us to love and forgive those who persecute us.

With His teachings, the example of His life, and His death and resurrection, Jesus gave us a new paradigm. Instead of using might and threats of brutality to get our way and make others serve us, He told us we must love God and each other.  Jesus taught us that the greatest among us are those who give all that they have to serve others.

So what would Jesus have said and done differently? What if His First Coming was today? I don’t have the answer. I just believe that without His birth, life, death and resurrection two thousand years ago our world would have changed far less that we would like to believe.

13 thoughts on “AN ALTERNATE REALITY: WHAT IF JESUS’ FIRST COMING WAS TODAY?

  1. Well that’s a fascinating discussion, Tom! The world has definitely changed because Christ came, not just spiritually, because salvation certainly changed everything, but the spread of Christianity and Christ’s teachings have had a powerful impact on the world.

    Kind of interesting, but Christianity has grown exponentially, so between that and the population spike at the turn of the last century, we are fast approaching a time where there are going to be more Christians living on earth all at the same time, then the sum total of all Christians who ever lived. If you look at the math it’s a tantalizing idea, kind of like a tipping point.

    I once heard a pastor speak about the symbolism of the cross and how today we see beauty in it, we perceive the cross as a symbol of our own salvation, we fashion them into beautiful jewelry. He reminded everyone that the cross was actually an instrument of torture and execution, as if we were all wearing little bejeweled electric chairs around our necks or something. That modern comparison really made an impact on me. Where we now see the beauty in it, a symbol of salvation, we have to remember it was also once a rather barbaric tool of torture and execution.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @insanitybytes22

      Thank you.

      Christianity is has grown, but many who call themselves Christians have never studied the Bible. Can we know the meaning of Christianity if we have not read the Bible? I think we can, but if we know the meaning of Christianity, and if we have had the opportunity to read and study the Bible, then we will do so.

      Many of us in the West call ourselves Christians. If we cannot even bother ourselves to read the Bible, how seriously should anyone take our claim on that label?

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  2. Think how many people would have lived long and productive lives in this alternate reality.

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      1. Sorry Tom but I missed that while part about there being no Crusades and no Inquisition. No Witch Hunts. Even no Catholic Church-protected pedophilia. Glad you considered them.

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        1. You missed the Crusades and the Inquisition? What do you know? So did I. I am getting old, but I am not quite that old.

          Frankly, I don’t see much reason to take your comments seriously. Shrug! I have a moment, and you have provided a straw man I can easily knock down.

          What being born again in Christ does is begin a process. The Bible does not say that when someone becomes a Christian that person suddenly becomes perfect. That is why the Crusades, the Inquisition, and Catholic Church-protected pedophilia actually doesn’t help your case. Christians don’t claim to be perfect. We are just works in progress. We fall down, and with the help of the Holy Spirit we get back up.

          The Crusades were in fact a relatively weak response to Muslim invaders. Don’t think so? That’s probably because you have overlooked the fact that most of the Middle East and North Africa were once Christian. Muslim invaders almost conquered Europe. Arguably, Muslim invaders caused the Dark Ages.

          The Inquisition? Thanks to some hyperbolic propaganda and poetry, the Inquisition has gotten a lot of hype. Nevertheless, the Inquisition doesn’t even come close to being one of the world’s great atrocities.

          How much is Catholic Church-protected pedophilia overblown? Have you ever compared Catholic schools with private schools? People pull money out of their own pockets to send their children to Catholic Schools, not someone else’s pocket. You don’t suppose those folks know something you don’t? How could anyone know more than the tripe the news media has fed you?

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        2. Well that was breath-taking, Tom. Without Jesus there is no Catholic Church. Now I will grant that the CC atrocities were not THE WORST in history (quite a low bar you set there) but it is clear that the CC owns them and were directly responsible for them and many innocent people would have lived longer and better lives had there been no CC to begin with.

          Whether the net impact would have been positive or negative is not possible to determine but it is distinctly possible that we humans would have been better off without a history that included Jesus and the Church. Jesus without the Church would clearly be a positive. But can the two really be separated at this point? I am not so sure, certainly not as long as biblical literalists exist which serve nothing more than protection and propagation of a corrupt Church.

          To answer your question I am quite informed on the Catholic school system. I am also very aware that almost all Catholic schools operate on a deficit and are heavily subsidized by the church. I also know that a large number of Catholic students enter public high schools. Why would this be? I will tell you this, it is not because of their heavily subsidized tuition that is for sure.

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        3. @Eric the Half a Troll

          Keith’s reply is better than I would have written, but I do have a few thoughts.

          When someone does not believe in Jesus Christ, that the Bible is the Word of God, then there is no way that person can be convinced the extent of Jesus’ positive influence upon our history. Yet Jesus left a remarkable imprint upon our history. Because there is no one whose influence comes close to being greater, that’s indisputable. But people try. They wave away the example of Christ and the Bible. They even become absurd. They act as though what we believe does not make any difference.

          When you consider only one side of the scale, that is unjust. The Catholic Church has done good things and bad things. On the whole, the Catholic Church has done far more good than bad.

          Your observation that the Catholic Church heavily subsidizes tuition doesn’t serve your argument. That is one of those good things Catholics have done. Moreover, the donors are still people who choose voluntarily to spend their own money in what they see as a good cause.

          Why do Catholics enter public high schools? The evaluation criteria for college probably has more to do with it as anything else. Most private schools find it difficult to split their students into multiple tracks. Because most children attend “free” public schools, there simply are not students to separate gifted students into a different tract from the not so gifted. Therefore, if a student’s ambitions include advanced placement courses, that student must attend a public school.

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        4. In your imagination, does Islam still exist? It is responsible for tens of millions more deaths than the Catholic Church. Perhaps some non-Catholic response to Islam’s attacks on Europe might have kept that benighted political/religious system from taking over the world, and creating a caliphate that has no West to belatedly adopt technology from. If not, billions would be now living in a primitive, miserable hell on Earth. Look at book publishing in Islam and everywhere else for a clue.

          How about communism? Does Marx live in your imagination? He is directly responsible for perhaps 200 million deaths in the 20th century, and subjecting more than a billion people to misery and poverty.

          As an aside, while the Catholic Church is trendy as a target of talk and legal action on pedophilia, it is evidently much more prevalent in the public school system. But the Catholic Church does not have teacher’s unions, so they are much more exposed.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 1 person

        5. Again, I never said the CC was the most murderous organization in history. But it does rank pretty high.

          It is estimated that some 2 million people were killed in the Crusades. This is at a time in which the world population was approximately 300 million — less than 5 percent its current total. Muslim extremists would have to kill 34 million people (Muslim and non-Muslim alike) to equal that death toll today.

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        6. It is estimated that some 2 million people were killed in the Crusades.

          By whom? If these are from an Islam-instigated war, that adds a wrinkle to things.

          Leftists like to tout the discredited Lancet study for the figure and assertion that 600,000 people were killed in the Iraq War II. But even ignoring how bad that study was, it downplays the fact that almost all of the deaths in that conflict were killed by jihadists. To a large extent, the jihadists went after civilians because the Coalition military were hard targets, too hard for them to do much damage to, and in other cases jihadists felt the need to “punish” the population to try to reduce cooperation and any tendency toward a limited republic. These techniques did not ultimately work (at least, up to 2008), but the dead are still dead. And despite the realities, all those deaths are blamed upon the US, just as you now seem to be doing to Jesus.

          Similarly, Saddam’s decision to route billions of dollars of aid money away from the population and into his palaces and WMD programs and bribes, resulting in a large death toll in the population, is also blamed on the US. That number is usually given as “half a million children” — but they were killed by the government of the National Socialist Republic of Iraq, as it was called up until 2003.

          And how about the rest of Islam’s 1,400-year history of conquests. Many more millions dead and a hugely higher number subjugated, not counting the population-to-today multiplier.

          You have not addressed the communism bit, the greatest killer of humans ever unleashed by humans.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 1 person

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