By Russell DeLong
Text -- And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10, 11).
For more than four centuries the human race had been estranged from God. No word had
come from Jehovah. Man was searching for satisfaction and peace -- all to no avail. Philosophers advanced theories, politicians presented proposed Utopias and religionists offered rituals. Man was groveling in intellectual darkness, moral night, and spiritual despair. The lights were all out -- life seemed hopeless. The human race needed something or somebody to lead it to the light and to liberty.
One night as shepherds were guarding their flocks, a lurid light flashed in the sky. These
shepherds fell down affrighted. While in this prostrate condition, a voice broke the silence of the night and said in the words of my text, "Fear not." Now is not the time to be afraid -- now is the time to rejoice -- the great moment has arrived for which you have been praying, anticipating, and hoping. "For, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." What a message! What a pronouncement! What news! The greatest news story of the ages.
Why is Jesus the most outstanding personality the world has ever known? why does He
stand at the head of every list of great men? why is He superior? To use a modern expression, why is He "tops"? In other words, why is He unique? why is He different? The answer to these questions is my message today.
I. The Uniqueness Of His Personality
Jesus is like unto no other man. He is God-man. Because He is God, He can reach up with one arm and grasp hold of God and reach down with the other arm and grasp hold of poor, lost man and thus make a bridge of reconciliation bringing God and man together. A man couldn't do this and neither could God alone. It took just such an one as Jesus -- both God and man.
II. The Uniqueness Of Christ Among Founders Of Religion
There are in the world several outstanding religions such as Confucianism, Buddhism,
Mohammedanism, and Christianity. But notice this point of uniqueness regarding Christ. If you subtracted Confucius, the founder from Confucianism you have not changed Confucianism one iota. If you subtracted Buddha from Buddhism you have not altered Buddhism in any way. If you subtracted Mohammed from Mohammedanism you have not changed Mohammedanism at all. But -- when you subtract Christ from Christianity you have nothing left. What He is, Christianity is. What Christianity is, He is.
III. The Uniqueness Of His Resurrection
It is reported that every year tens of thousands of Mohammedans make pilgrimages to
Mecca, the Holy City of the Mohammedans, to lay floral tributes upon the grave of their founder. Mohammed is dead. Buddha is dead. Confucius is dead. But -- the founder of Christianity went one step beyond the founder of every religion and conquered death, coming out of the tomb crying, "I am he that was dead but am alive for evermore and have the keys of death and of hell." He lives and reigns in the hearts of His followers. The greatest proof of the Resurrection is the fact that you -- and you -- and you -- can meet Him for yourselves and hear Him say, "Peace be unto you," and have the fetters of sin broken by the living Saviour.
IV. The Uniqueness Of His Character
I might ask you, "what do you think of Winston Churchill? or what do you think of the late Franklin D. Roosevelt? of Joseph Stalin? or Harry S. Truman?" Your answer would in no sense portray your character. But when I ask, "What do you think of Christ?" your answer will reveal the type of person you are. This is true of no other man that ever lived. why? Well, let us look at it for a moment. Suppose you are facing a moral situation. You are trying to decide a course of action. You are saying, "Which shall I do?" "What course shall I take?" Let me suggest that you do the right thing. Do you agree? Yes. But -- notice this: the right thing is always the Christian thing. Look at it again. You are facing another dilemma. Again you are asking yourself, "What course of action shall I take?" "What shall I do?" let me suggest again, "Do the Christian thing." Do you agree? Yes. But notice that the Christian thing is always the right thing. What is right is Christian and what is
Christian is always right. Why is this? Because Jesus is the fountainhead of righteousness, goodness and justice. Therefore, when I ask, "What do you think of Christ?" I am really asking, "What do you think of right?" and when you answer that, you reveal your character.
V. The Uniqueness Of His Life
It is trite to say, "He is the Ideal of ideals." This statement is true, but sometimes rather
empty and quite meaningless. Let us look at it for a moment from a different angle.
Let us make a list of the twelve greatest men of history. You make your list and I will make mine. The lists will not include the same men -- although the number of duplications will be surprising. After you tabulate this list -- by the side of each name in a second column write down what you think is the outstanding characteristic of each man chosen. Twelve great men and twelve great attributes. Here would be my list:
Aristotle -- Intellectual power
Abraham -- Faithfulness
Moses -- Meekness
Socrates -- Kindness
St. Paul -- Sacrifice
William Shakespeare -- Literary excellence
Martin Luther -- Sincerity
Woodrow Wilson -- Brotherhood
Theodore Roosevelt -- Courage
William E. Borah -- Honesty
Oliver Wendell Holmes -- Justice
Suppose you take these twelve outstanding characteristics of these twelve outstanding men of all history and wrap them up -- tie them up into one great synthetic personality possessing all of them. The thing that blesses and inspires my soul is this: Jesus is all of that -- and more. He is the Ideal of ideals.
Try it from another angle. Scan your life and select the twelve people that have done the
most to influence your character. We owe a lot to others. There are really no self-made men. We are a part of all that we have met and all those we have met have influenced us for good or for ill. But -- select the twelve most beloved persons in your life and then list their outstanding characteristics. Tie these up into one great, beloved, imaginative personality and Jesus is all that and more.
Every man we have ever met, no matter how ideal, can be improved upon. He has some
point of weakness. But -- and now I challenge you -- you cannot add one thing to Jesus to make Him better -- you cannot improve Him. He is the perfect Ideal of our innermost nature.
VI. The Uniqueness Of His Being
God created man in His own image, intellectually, morally, and spiritually. Because of sin and time that image is marred and effaced. The original outline is pretty dim and hardly recognizable. God created us with categories of the mind norms. To illustrate: I am not proficient at making harmony, but I can detect discord. why? Did I learn this somewhere? No. I was born that way. I never had to teach my daughters to like ice cream or candy. They came that way. They were created with taste buds that respond favorably to ice cream and repel castor oil. why? God constituted them that way. why is it that symmetry, order, and beauty are pleasing, while unbalance, disorder, and chaos are repulsive? God made us that way. when I see a good man, my norm of goodness is stimulated. when I see a just man, my norm of justice is stirred. Within my constituent nature God has given me norms such as, goodness, honesty, fairness, righteousness,
truth, sympathy, compassion, harmony, and justice.
If I should be able to draw out of my innermost soul my norm of justice and my norm of
goodness and my norm of sympathy and my norm of honesty and all other norms, and tie them up in one great synthetic personality -- Jesus is all of that and more. He is the Ideal of ideals. He is the perfect objectification of every subjective norm implanted in my soul by God. This is one of the strongest arguments for His deity. He is the personification of every internal norm God created within me. If He had never lived in the flesh, someone just like Him ought to have lived. He is the Ideal Personality.
VII. The Uniqueness Of His Power To Help Each Of Us In Our Daily Struggle
Here is the place that Jesus becomes unique in a personal way. Other religions have set up beautiful standards, high ideals, and worthy rules of conduct. Their adherents strive vainly to attain. They do all kinds of penance. They inch along the highways in the dust, covered with blood and mud, trying to reach the ideals of their religion and atone for their shortcomings. They are powerless. But -- Jesus is unique in that He offers the highest standards for life -- the Sermon on the Mount, the Ten Commandments, etc., but in addition He also provides a dynamic power to make us victors.
Are you struggling? Are, you defeated? Are you a victim of your environment? Are you a
victim of your habits? Are you a victim of sin? Jesus can give you victory. He can make you a conqueror over your environment. He can break the power of sinful habits. He can liberate your soul.
Every person to whom I am now speaking belongs in one of two classes. Either you are a
victor or a victim. To which class do you belong? If a victim, the glorious news is that Jesus can give you power to make you a victor. Will you trust Him now? If you will, you will be able to say with Lowell Mason:
He breaks the power of canceled sin
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood avails for me.
Let us pray. O Thou marvelous Christ, incomparable personality, matchless leader, ideal
character, perfect being, living Saviour; speak to troubled hearts this moment and liberate their souls from the bondage of sin. Make them victors and no longer victims. Amen.