The “Year of Obscurity”: Jesus in the Shadow of John the Baptist -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 10:2 (Summer 2001)
Article: The “Year of Obscurity”: Jesus in the Shadow of John the Baptist
Author: David J. MacLeod

The “Year of Obscurity”:
Jesus in the Shadow of John the Baptist1

David J. MacLeod*

[*Dave MacLeod is a member of the faculty of Emmaus Bible College and the Associate Editor of The Emmaus Journal.]


Some time ago Billy Graham was interviewed by talkshow host, Larry King. “What has been your biggest surprise about life?” King asked the famous evangelist. Then eighty years of age, Mr. Graham answered, “Its brevity!” It is not the length of a given life that matters, of course. Rather it is the impact of a life that counts—what that person did with his or her life.

As people ticked off the days of the calendar in the months, days, and hours leading up to January 1, 2000, there was much discussion in newspapers and magazines and on TV programs concerning the great people of the past hundred years or even the past thousand years. People discussed included figures such as Mohammed, Catherine the Great, Martin Luther, Karl Marx, Gandhi, Adolf Hitler, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin. These and other people changed the lives of millions and evoked responses from worship through hatred.

Writing in Time magazine, novelist Reynolds Price remarked, “It would require much exotic calculation, however, to deny that the single most powerful figure—not merely in these two millenniums but in all human history—has been Jesus of Nazareth.”2 When we consider the bare details of His life—a brief life of approximately thirty-four years—the impact He had is astonishing.3

James A. Francis set out the stark facts as follows:

[He was] born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman of a subject [nation]. [He was] brought up in another obscure village, working in a carpenter shop till He was thirty. He never wrote a book, never entered a college, never raised an army, never held an office, never had a family, never owned a home, never set foot in one of the world’s great capitals, never traveled [two] hundred miles from the place of His birth. Indeed, He never did any of the things that make men famous.

For three years He was an itinerant preacher gathering a small band of disciples. After a brief, stormy ministry the tide of popular opinion and feeling turned fiercely against Him, His disciples all forsook Him, one denied Him, [and] another betrayed Him. He was turned over to His enemies, went through the mockery of a trial, was nailed on a cross between two thieves, and, when He was dead, was...

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