The Most Famous Person to Ever Exist: Exploring the Legacy of Jesus

by | Nov 1, 2023 | Topical

“God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:9-11

One day, I found myself in a conversation where I was asked, "Who do you think is the most well-known person to exist?" After taking a moment to consider, I replied, "It would have to be Jesus."

As a pastor and student of the Word, this may seem biased. But in reality, I truly believe this is the most reasonable answer. The recognition of Jesus’ name and legacy is unparalleled throughout history. Ask almost anyone around the world, and they would have at least heard of Jesus, even if they don’t follow Him. As long as someone lives in a somewhat developed nation, regardless of their religious beliefs they have likely heard of Jesus. Whether it’s through art, literature, media, or casual conversation, Jesus’ name is everywhere.

Jesus In Christianity

Jesus is the heart of Christianity, the world’s largest religion. Roughly 31% of the global population, which is roughly 2.4 billion people, claim to be His followers and proudly carry the title ‘Christian.’ The Bible, the very book that records His story, the Holy Scripture, which chronicles Jesus’ life and teachings, remains the best-selling book of all time. It is estimated that there have been somewhere between 5 to 7 billion copies sold throughout history, and its words have been translated into countless languages, ensuring that people from all walks of life can understand and be inspired by His message. Surly this alone makes Jesus one of the most influential people in all of human history.

Jesus In Other Religions

Jesus’ influence extend far beyond the Christians who worship him. Other religions have also recognize Jesus and incorporate Him in various ways into their belief systems. Islam recognizes Jesus, whom they refer to as Isa, as a prophet, miracle worker, and the Messiah. In the Quran, Jesus is mentioned twenty-five times, more than Muhammad. Though they do not know Jesus as Savior and Lord, they surely know Jesus’ name. 24% of the world claims to practice Islam. That brings our recognition of Jesus to 55%

While Hindus and Buddhists have no formal creed and are generally less structured, it is not uncommon for them to recognize Jesus as a teacher of wisdom or a righteous man. Some Hindus consider Jesus to be an incarnation of Vishnu, and some Buddhists consider Jesus to be enlightened. While this is far from a universal perspective, even in these beliefs, traces of Jesus can be found.

Jesus In Modern Society

Who else except Jesus Christ literally marks the dividing point of all history? Our modern calendar is centered around His very existence, with AD signifying the years after His birth and BC marking those before. While not all societies use this calendar, such a distinction is unparalleled and only reserved for those who have truly shaped the course of history.

Our modern ethics, the values we hold dear, the principles we abide by and built our societies on owe much to Christian teachings. The tenets of love, compassion, forgiveness, and justice preached by Jesus have become the cornerstones of modern society. Over the centuries, Jesus’ teachings have stirred individuals to action. The desire of believers to study the Word gave rise to monasteries and universities of theology, whose legacy created the universities and colleges we have today. His emphasis on compassion and serving the less fortunate gave birth to numerous charitable organizations, such as hospitals and orphanages. His call for love and justice ignited movements against oppression and inequality. The desire of Christ’s followers to study God’s creation led to the scientific revolution, which laid the foundation for the technologies that shape our world today. Jesus’ influence isn’t just ancient history; it remains a vibrant and enduring legacy that continues to inspire positive change. His impact transcends religious boundaries, affecting every facet of modern culture and society.

Sharing the Gospel in a Jesus-aware World

Given how widespread the recognition of Jesus’ name is, how should we, as Christians, approach sharing His message with others? Understanding the prominence of Jesus offers us a distinct advantage when sharing the Gospel. As we step out to spread the Good News, we must recognize we aren’t introducing an unknown figure; we are speaking of a name almost everyone has heard. Yet, in this lies a unique challenge.

While most people have heard the name of Jesus, their understanding and perception of Him and Christianity are unknowns. Some might see Him as a historical figure, some as a prophet or teacher, some as a revolutionary, and any of them may carry misconceptions based on cultural or societal narratives about Him. When we begin to share the Gospel, we can start with their current understanding, address any gaps or misconceptions, and begin to draw an image of the true Jesus.

However, as Christians, our mission goes beyond the mere mention of Jesus. It involves portraying through our own lives His authentic character His message of love, redemption, and hope. We are called to engage in conversations, foster understanding, and present the true image of Jesus, not just as a historical figure but as the living Savior, who invites all to experience His transformative love.

In this divine calling, let us find our strength in the Holy Spirit and recognize that the name of Jesus is not just a well-known name but a name that carries the potential to awaken souls, heal the wounded, and bring light to the darkest corners of the heart.

Let us not just speak His name but radiate His enduring love.

Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:… How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
1 Peter 3:15, Romans 10:14

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