Much of the fascination which Jesus Christ has held for scholars comes not simply from his supernatural works, nor from his supernatural teaching, but from his supernatural moral life. The conviction that he is the “personal revelation of the holiness of God” is a prime reason for the great number of Lives about him. He was more than the great Teacher of ethics. He was its great Liver.
Nowhere else does human history show the moral glory of the Divine in human life. Nowhere else has the world found such inspiration for moral earnestness. Christ stands behind what D. M. Ross has called “the singular moral heat” of the early Christians. “From Thomas a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ to Charles M. Sheldon’s In His Steps,” Hillyer Straton remarks, “Christian ethics has been centered in Jesus.” And the sweep of his moral influence does not stop with Christian writing. “The track of His footsteps is seen,” Pressense writes, “wherever there has been any real progress in good, in love, in right, in the moral elevation of men.” L. H. Marshall affirms that “beyond Jesus of Nazareth … the moral stature of humanity can never go” and that Jesus is “the last word on all the great issues of right and wrong.”
We are told that “his biography may be summed up in the words, ‘he went about doing good’ ”; that he lived “the only perfectly unselfish life ever seen on earth”; that the “grand outstanding characteristic of Christ’s work” was his “absolute submission to the will of God”; that the uniqueness of Christianity consists in “his utter realization of the ...1
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