The question of where the world would be without Jesus Christ could be answered on so many different levels and from such a wide variety of angles. But no matter how we slice it, dice, it, or otherwise julienne-fry it, the world would be infinitely worse off if Jesus Christ had never entered human history.
Teaching What Humans Don’t Typically Teach
What Jesus taught runs so contrary to natural human inclinations, and yet it proves immeasurably better for the well-being of mankind. Take the instruction of Jesus in Luke 6:27-28 for example.
But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Every human being in this present world is going to have enemies, regardless of how hard we try to get along with everyone else. Some people just will not agree with us. And some people will harbor ill will toward us simply because we don’t agree with them on any or every issue, opinion, and conviction. Not everybody, but certainly some people–and we’ve all met people like this–will make it their business to “ugly up” our day or even our life simply because we don’t stand squarely in their corner along with them.
Common wisdom would tell us just to give people like that a wide berth, to simply exercise discretion and minimize our contact with those who would like to make our lives miserable since we dare to not support them. But sometimes people come after us for being their perceived opponents. Generally speaking, the best that common human teaching offers us on dealing with enemies is usually passive–stay out of your enemy’s way, and don’t provoke them.
Here’s where the teaching of Jesus is so different. Here’s where we clearly see the goodness and love of Jesus Christ. In His instruction on how to deal with such people, He told us, “Love your enemies.” Love is not passive. Love seeks the higher good of the one who is loved. What if the world were more heavily populated by people who actually contemplated and then carried out ways to do good to those who were hostile to them? That’s the kind of thing Jesus taught.
Practicing What He Preached
Where would the world be without Jesus Christ? It would be a world devoid of the greatest example of love, especially of love toward the unlovable. When Jesus was arrested, the abuse heaped upon Him included
- spitting in His face (Matthew 26:67; 27:30; Mark 14:65)
- hitting Him in the face (Matthew 26:67; Mark 14:65; John 18:22; John 19:3)
- guards beating Him (Mark 14:65; Luke 22:63)
- mocking Him (Matthew 26:68; 27:29; 27:39-43; Mark 15:18-20; 15:27-32; Luke 22:63; 23:35-39; John 19:3)
- flogging Him with a Roman flagellum (Matthew 27:26; John 19:1)
- fitting Him with a crown made from thorns (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:16; Mark 15:17; John 19:2)
- striking Him on the head with a staff while He was wearing the crown of thorns (Matthew 27:30; Mark 15:19)
- insulting Him (Matthew 27:44)
- nailing Him to a Roman cross of execution (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:33; John 19:23; 20:25)
And what did Jesus do when subjected to this excess of abuse and extreme mistreatment? From the cross, He said,
Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34)
There was no, “You’ll burn in hell for this!” (I almost feel disrespectful for even suggesting that such words might have crossed Jesus’ lips.) There was no appeal to God for His wrath to be poured out on those who arrested Him, beat Him bloody, mocked Him, or nailed Him to the cross.
Jesus Christ lived what He preached. And He commanded those who follow Him to imitate Him in the kind of love He demonstrated. He said
I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (John 13:34)
Where Would the World Be Without Jesus Christ?
Without Jesus, the world would be lacking the greatest example ever of what it means to love. But Jesus did not live and die as an example alone. His death by crucifixion was substitutionary. He did not deserve death. He committed no crime. (Isaiah 53:9; Luke 23:22) He died in your place and mine, paying the penalty for your sins and mine. (Isaiah 53:5-6; 1 John 2:2)
And today, Jesus lives, inviting you to come to Him to receive forgiveness and life. (Matthew 11:28; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21) How could anyone be against that?