Jesus’ impact on our world is highly unlikely, widely inescapable, largely unknown, and decidedly double-edged. It is unlikely in light of the severe limitations of his earthly life; it is inescapable because of the range of impact; it is unknown because history doesn’t connect dots; and it is doubled-edged because his followers have wreaked so much havoc, often in his name. He is history’s most familiar figure, yet he is the man no one knows. His impact on the world is immense and non-accidental.
From the Dark Ages to Post-Modernity he is the Man who won’t go away. And yet . . .you can miss him in historical lists for many reasons, maybe the most obvious being the way he lived his life. He did not loudly and demonstrably defend his movement in the spirit of a rising political or military leader. He did not lay out a case that history would judge his brand of belief superior in all future books. His life and teaching simply drew people to follow him. He made history by starting in a humble place, in a spirit of love and acceptance, and allowing each person space to respond. His vision of life continues to haunt and challenge humanity. His influence has swept over history bringing inspiration to what has happened in art, science, government, medicine, and education; he has taught humans about dignity, compassion, forgiveness, and hope.
John Ortberg is senior pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California. He is the bestselling author of When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box; The Life You’ve Always Wanted; and If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat.
John and his wife, Nancy, have three grown children.
Q & A with John Ortberg
What led you to write the book and the curriculum?
I am continually being drawn to this person Jesus. In some way that none of us truly understand, all the hopes of the human race rest on this man and his message—the way he saw things and lived.
Our world tends to be so divided up into us vs. them, insider vs. outsider, right vs. left—but Jesus continually transcends divisions, including religious divisions. People who distrust institutional religion still feel themselves drawn to Jesus.
The book is about Jesus’ unusual influence. What is it that people today don’t understand or don’t appreciate about Jesus’ influence?
The depth and breadth of it. Most people don’t have any idea how much Jesus and the movement that followed him influenced education, the rise of universities, and the movement for universal literacy. Or how Jesus influenced the way we not assume any suffering individual—regardless of their tribe–deserves our compassion and our action. He changed how we view children so much that one book on the topic is simply called WHEN CHILDREN BECAME PEOPLE. He changed how we look at human dignity, human rights, and the status of women. Because of him, qualities like humility and forgiveness—which were little-regarded in most of the ancient world—became almost universally admired. His influence on the arts was so pervasive that even tho no one knows what he looked like, he (and not the Dos Equis guy) is the most recognizable man in the world. He inspired reform movements and human rights. Regardless of anyones’ opinions about religion, Jesus left a wake that still spreads waves.
This matters because we all need to learn from someplace the answer to the question, “How do I live?” We have to learn it from someone—our parents, our peers, our teachers, the wealthy, or whoever just won The Bachelor. When people see his impact they wonder, “Perhaps I should turn to him to find out how to live my life.”
Tell me about the title of the book. Why is this an especially significant question today?
Jesus is the man that everybody knows but the man that nobody knows. How did this person end up having the impact on the human imagination and minds that he does?
Most people have positive feelings about Jesus. I’m hoping that this can be a next step in their learning about him and that they will consider Jesus as a wise person they might want to learn about life from. “Come and see”, a challenge to check Jesus out in the New Testament of the Bible, remains life’s great invitation.
Who Is This Man?
On the day after his death, it looked as if whatever small mark he left on the world would rapidly disappear. Instead, his impact on human history has been unparalleled.
Who Is This Man? Small Group Bible Study by John Ortberg
Who Is This Man? Small Group Bible Study by John Ortberg. He is history’s most familiar figure. His impact on the world is immense and nonaccidental.
From the Dark Ages to post-modernity he is the man who won’t go away.
And yet …
He did not brashly defend his movement in the spirit of a rising political or military leader. He did not lay out a case that history would judge superior in all future books. He did not start by telling his disciples, “Here are proofs of my divinity; affirm them and I’ll accept you.”
In this five-session video-based small group Bible study, Ortberg shows how Jesus’ influence has swept over history, bringing his inspiration to the fields of art, science, government, medicine, and education. And how his vision for us to lead lives of dignity, compassion, forgiveness, and hope continues to inspire and challenge humanity today.
The study guide features video notes, group discussion questions, informative quotes,
and ideas for personal application.
Discover the influence and chal lenge Jesus has on history, and on your life.
John Ortberg – Who is This Man? audiobook ch. 1
On the eve of his crucifixion it seemed like Jesus’ influence on the world had ended. On the contrary, it had just begun. In Who Is This Man?, Ortberg reveals how Jesus has impacted civilization and individual human hearts.