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From our modern perspective, it can be hard to imagine that Jesus did not possess wealth, power or influence during his lifetime. In fact, from his humble birth in a manger throughout the days of His life he was poor, marginalized and misunderstood. Sadly, the people he had served selflessly for years selected a notorious criminal over Jesus when offered the opportunity to save Him from crucifixion:
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!”And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” – Matthew 27:15-23.
So we have to wonder at the forces that transformed this righteous Servant into the revered Messenger celebrated in song and deed by men and women all over the planet. We can only try to understand the sovereignty and might of God, who alone could have provided so extraordinary a measure of confirmation as to have enabled one soul to conquer a planet.
Remember when the holy breaths of the Spirit of God (Jesus) were shedding their sweetness over Palestine and Galilee, over the shores of Jordan and the regions around Jerusalem… all the peoples of Asia and Europe, of Africa and America, of Oceania… were fire-worshipers and pagans, ignorant of the Divine Voice that spoke out on the Day of the Covenant. Alone the Jews believed in the divinity and oneness of God. Following the declaration of Jesus, the pure and reviving breath of His mouth conferred eternal life on the inhabitants of those regions …. In the days of Jesus only a few individuals turned their faces toward God; in fact only the twelve disciples and a few women truly became believers, and one of the disciples, Judas Iscariot apostatized from his Faith, leaving eleven. After the ascension of Jesus to the Realm of Glory, these few souls stood up with their spiritual qualities and with deeds that were pure and holy, and they arose by the power of God and the life-giving breaths of the Messiah to save all the peoples of the earth. Then all the idolatrous nations as well as the Jews rose up in their might to kill the Divine fire that had been lit in the lamp of Jerusalem. “Fain would they put out God’s light with their mouths: but God hath willed to perfect His light, albeit the infidels abhor it.” Under the fiercest tortures, they did every one of these holy souls to death; with butchers’ cleavers, they chopped the pure and undefiled bodies of some of them to pieces and burned them in furnaces, and they stretched some of the followers on the rack and then buried them alive. In spite of this agonizing requital, the Christians continued to teach the Cause of God, and they never drew a sword from its scabbard or even so much as grazed a cheek. Then in the end the Faith of Christ encompassed the whole earth, so that in Europe and America no traces of other religions were left, and today in Asia and Africa and Oceania, large masses of people are living within the sanctuary of the Four Gospels. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 44-46.
Baha’is revere, respect and love Jesus Christ. Baha’is accept and follow the sacred teachings of the founders of all of the world’s great Faiths. And Baha’is believe that all of those Faiths are one Faith, eternal in the past and eternal in the future, providing God’s unceasing guidance to all humanity through a progressive revelation of His everlasting message of hope, love and unity.
Merry Christmas and praise be to God, who sent us His love and mercy in the person of Jesus the Christ. We celebrate both Christ’s life and the extraordinary Christ spirit, which to this day continues to educate uplift and ennoble the entire human race.
Read the previous article in the series: Baha’is and the Birth of Jesus