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MIR Staff.

Wooden Cross


One Solitary Life

I have had this writing for many years. In researching the Internet for the author, I found that most people believe the author is unknown; however, authorship also has been credited to Dr. James Allen Francis, one time pastor of the First Baptist Church of Los Angeles. He used a similar version of this story in a 1926 sermon.

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty.
Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book. He never held an office.
He never had a family or owned a house. He didn't go to college. He never visited a big city.
He never traveled 200 miles from the place where he was born.
He did none of the things one usually associates with greatness.

He had no credentials but himself.
He was only 33, when the tide of public opinion turned against him.
His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth.
When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone; and today he is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind's progress.

All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed,
All the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together,
Have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that ...


The thing I love most about this writing is that it emphasizes the effect that the existence of Jesus Christ has had upon this world of ours. Could you ever imagine the impact of just one man! Though we know that it was meant to be this way by God's design, it is still an overwhelming feat from a human perspective.

As much as I love this writing, however, I must interject a few thoughts on the first paragraph of this writing:

1. When Mary is referred to as "a peasant woman", many people assume it to mean "poor". That is not necessarily the case, since there is no proof to this in writing of either the Bible or early church writings. She would have been considered a peasant by Roman standards, who ruled the entire area at the time; since Mary and her people (who were not part of the Jewish leadership and thus useless to the Romans) would have been of little consequence to the Roman Empire. However, that doesn't mean she or her people were poor.

2. The second point I would like to make is the phrase "itinerant preacher". Again, some people look at these words and believe that Jesus (and His apostles, as well) were not well read. Itinerant actually means: nomadic, traveling, or roaming � otherwise, they didn't stay in one place to preach. As to their literacy, Jesus and His apostles were fairly educated compared to non-Jews in similar circumstances. That is because all Jewish men were expected to be educated in Hebrew and the Jewish tradition until 13 years or so, which is why Jesus could read and write. They also were multilingual, speaking Hebrew (their faith's language) and, at least, Aramaic, which was the language spoken in the region. With Roman occupancy, it is also possible they spoke some Latin. As to the Jewish religious leadership, they would have been considered Jesus and His apostles illiterate. Why? Because they (presumedly) had only the minimal, required Jewish religious education, while Jewish teachers of the faith were required to go beyond that minimal requirement for many more years of religious education.

I just thought you might find these little tidbits of information interesting.

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