With Christmas around the corner this 1955 piece by Howard E. Kershner (b.1892-d.1990) seems a fitting tribute to the reason for the season.
Published through the now defunct Christian Freedom Foundation, Kershner, who founded the organization, was a conservative economist with a liberal Quaker service devotion to advocating for the needs of children worldwide.
Nothing in all history has ever held such fascination for mankind as the personality of Jesus Christ. The following lines from an old hymn learned at my mother’s knee long ago, express something of the longing that is felt by young and old alike throughout Christendom:
“I think when I read the sweet story of old,
When Jesus was here among men,
How he called little children as lambs to his fold,
I should like to have been with him then.
Oh that his hands had been laid on my head
that his arms had been thrown around me,
that I might have seen his kind look when he said,
let the little ones come unto me.”
What manner of man was He who so captured the imagination of all who came to know Him as to hold them in willing lifetime servitude? That He must have had an irresistible personality is evident from the record.
“He saw two brethren, Peter and Andrew casting a net into the sa and He called to them, “Follow me…And they straightway left their nets, and followed him,” Matthew 4:19,20.
“A little later he saw two other brethren, James and John. They were in a ship with Zebedee, their father, mending their nets. He spoke to them, “And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him.” Matthew 4:22.
These men did not ask for credentials and references. They did not inquire about where Jesus had been educated, what degrees He held, or what positions of responsibility He had filled. There was something so luminous and convincing about His personality as to make lesser things seem unimportant.
There was no discussion, no asking of questions or imposing of conditions; no requests for time to think it over, no question of wages, rewards, or fringe benefits; but under the fascination created by the personality of the Son of God, “…They straightway left their nets, and followed him.” “…They immediately left the ship and their father and followed him.”
Here was a man who “…taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Matthew 7:29. “Never man spake like this man.” John 7:46.
Jesus wrought the greatest revolution in the history of mankind. He changed being good from a duty, to a pleasure; He wrote the moral law into the human heart and caused it to be observed, not from fear of punishment, but because man felt that way inside.
Here was a man who proved that love was stronger than hate; that the desire to serve could be stronger than the desire for prestige, power or gain. Not that He disapproved of diligence, or success in business, for He approved of both; but He did not want men to ignore eternal values.
One who gets even a little inkling of the personality of Jesus, will never be happy with lesser things. He will be haunted all the days of his life by that ideal and will be unhappy unless continually striving to live in accordance with it.
In tribute to Jesus Christ men toiled for centuries throughout the Middle Ages erecting great temples to honor Him. His personality inspired artists to their best efforts. The greatest music was composed and sung in His honor. Men and women whom the world recognized as Saints were those who succeeded best in their efforts to live lives similar to His.
Men’s hope of conquering poverty and achieving peace, center in Him. Those who have served Him best have made the most progress toward achieving something on this earth which might be said to resemble, in some degree, at least, the Kingdom of Heaven.
Before we close, something should be said in tribute to the four men mentioned above, who straightway left all and followed Him. If all who name His name would so respond with such immediate and complete dedication, this world might quickly be transformed from a place of much suffering and terror to one of harmony, peace, security, and joy.