“Christ Never Cared to Win Popularity Contests"
Award of Outstanding Merit - $1,000
Robert Michaels is a regular contributor to the Benicia Herald and the Vallejo Times Herald in the San Francisco Bay Area. He works for the federal government while serving as a Bible teacher at Windsor, a local nursing home. Michaels has two non-fiction works planned for the near future.
“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I’m right and I'll be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first—rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.”
- John Lennon
Lennon’s proclamation was a bold one to say the least. Ironically enough, his statement may have ultimately led to his assassination by a disgruntled “professing” Christian. It reminds me of another bold assumption made by an employee of the White Star Line at the Launching of the Titanic in May of 1911, “Not even God himself could sink this ship.”
Unlike the Beatles and the Titanic, Christ was never in a race to be bigger and better. In fact, Jesus was probably the most unpopular person that ever existed. Jesus was never a hip radical that sought social reformation. He was not a guru that tried to implement a new concept of love to be emulated by the world. Nor was Jesus just a poor fellow that was misunderstood by his countrymen and martyred for taking a stand on some Biblical principles.
The Old Testament prophets proclaimed His coming, yet there was no room for Him in the inn. The King was born in a humble and obscure setting. He only had a few visitors that came to bring Him gifts, as well as some excited shepherds that were told of His birth in Bethlehem. The Creator came to His own creation and was unrecognized by the very people that were waiting for His arrival. Who would have expected the promised Messiah to come as a babe in a manger? Surely the One that sustains the entire universe would come into the world surrounded by royalty, robes and respect.
Jesus came into the world as a baby by way of a virgin birth. Approximately six hundred years before Christ, Isaiah spoke of Him saying, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). As the infant grew into a man it was apparent that He was different. As incarnate God, He kept the commandments perfectly, something that no human, including his mother, could ever do. His miracles preceded Him and He gained an enormous following. This upset the religious leaders of the day and they tried everything to stop Him from becoming prominent in Israel.
An interesting thing happened to Jesus. Other than His disciples and a few women that were devoted to Him, all the masses that had earlier followed Him with much enthusiasm, hailing Him as the Messiah King, were the very ones that shouted, “Crucify Him. This seemingly popular preacher and healer was betrayed not only by Judas, but also by the very people that He had ministered to over the last three years.
It does not matter that He exposed false religion, miraculously fed thousands, went from town to town healing all the sick, lame, demon possessed and raised the dead. Neither does it matter that the Son of God was often exhausted, hungry and had little time to Himself. He gave His life for humanity, and though He was well known throughout all the regions, the reason He never became popular is because of who He claimed to be and His radical message.
Though Jesus was fully man, He also claimed to be fully God at the same time. The teachings, miracles and life of Christ were constantly fulfilling Messianic Old Testament prophecies. Nevertheless, the religious leaders considered Christ’s assertion blasphemous and they often sought to destroy Him.
Christ message brought much contention. He preached that mankind’s lawlessness and stubborn refusal to honor their Creator has condemned them to future judgment, and that those who place their faith in Him alone for forgiveness would be saved. Jesus also excluded every other form of worship and religion that did not focus on Jehovah God when he said things like, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:16).
Jesus was never concerned about whether his gospel was popular or mainstream. He knew that His message was offensive and this is why they placed Him on the cross. But it was all part of God’s plan to redeem people enslaved to sin. In light of this the Beatles were right; they were more popular than Jesus. Then again, the Lord has never been anxious about earthly popularity from a fickle humanity.
Printed December 24, 2010; The Benicia Herald; Benicia, CA
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