- The Washington Times - Monday, December 20, 1999

At the end of the 20th century, all kinds of lists have been compiled to identify the greatest athletes, artists, leaders and heroes of the last 100 years or last 1000 years. Both A&E; cable network and Life magazine have chosen the 100 most influential individuals of the past millennium.
For A&E;, number 10 is Galileo, the astronomer, and ahead of him, Copernicus. Eight is Albert Einstein and seven, Karl Marx. Number six is Christopher Columbus, and five The Bard, William Shakespeare. Then it goes Charles Darwin, Martin Luther and Isaac Newton. Number one? Johann Gutenberg, inventor of movable type on the first printing press.
The Life magazine list puts Thomas Jefferson at number 10 for the Declaration of Independence. Number nine is Charles Darwin. Eight is Louis Pasteur; seven, the explorer Ferdinand Magellan; six, Isaac Newton; five, Leonardo da Vinci; four, Galileo; and three, Martin Luther. Two is Christopher Columbus.
Who led the top 100 of the millennium? Thomas Edison. “Because of Edison,” write the editors, “the millennium will end in a wash of brilliant light rather than in the torchlit darkness as it began. [He] gave humans the power to create light without fire.” …
The point of this message today is not how great Edison and the others have been, it is that their greatness pales in comparison to the greatness of Jesus Christ. Thomas Edison invented the light. Jesus Himself is the light of the world. He is the light that shines into the darkness.
Jesus said, “If you follow Me, you will never walk in darkness.” … There is much spiritual darkness, the darkness of ignorance, prejudice, hostility, doubt, despair, envy and fear. Jesus is the light that penetrates this darkness. He shows us the right relationship to God… .
When Gutenberg invented the mass-producing printing press, he had a passion to make God’s word available. He said, “Let us break the seal which seals up holy things, and give wings to truth … no longer written at great expense by a hand easily palsied.” …
Praise God for Gutenberg’s vision. But Jesus Himself is the living word, the word become flesh [John 1:1-18]. Jesus was the perfect expression of God’s personality and character. One name given to Jesus in the Bible is Emmanuel “God with us.” Some say Jesus was just a good man, but they are wrong.
Jesus was a good man, but He was more than that.
Others say that He was a wise teacher, but nothing more.
Yes, Jesus was a wise and great teacher, but His teaching cannot be separated from His identity.
The astonishing claim of the New Testament is that when the word became flesh, God became man… . He is fully God and fully man.
Now, I cannot explain that to you, but I believe it, because that is what the Bible teaches… . The eternal son of God took on our flesh and blood in order to die for our salvation. He had to be without sin, because each one of us is a sinner. Only Jesus had the right stuff… .
If Thomas Edison had not invented the light bulb, someone else would have. If Christopher Columbus had not come to the “New World,” and Gutenberg had not invented the printing press, someone else would have come along. But nobody else could ever have done what Jesus did… .
In an old book, there is a testimony about Jesus from a pretty unlikely source, Napoleon Bonaparte. He said, “Between Him and whoever else is in the world, there is no possible term of comparison. I know men, and Jesus Christ is not just a man… . Alexander the Great, Caesar, Charlemagne and I have founded great empires, [but] upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love.” The most influential person of the last millennium? My vote goes to Jesus. He is man for all millennia.

Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Robert F. Keffer at Resurrection Catholic Church in Burtonsville, Md.

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