At our family Christmas party, my Christmas present was a book titled, “Remembering Bob” (Pieters-Hawke, 2019). It’s a collection of stories and memories about Bob Hawke, who was the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President in 1969-1980 and the Australian Prime Minister in 1883-1991.
They say he was an outstanding leader and a great storyteller. His achievements included:
– preserving the Antarctic for peace and science
– contributing to the end of Apartheid in South Africa
– significantly raising the high school completion rate,
– strengthening healthcare, education, work life, and housing, and
– elevating environmental issues in political decision-making
But he regretted failing to deliver a treaty with Indigenous Australians.
His greatest achievement
This book reminded me of Jesus. The gospels are a collection of stories and memories about three years in the ministry of Jesus Christ. His greatest achievement was providing salvation for sinners. Paul summarized it: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4NIV).
“You lived, You died,
You rose again in high
You opened the way
for the world to live again (with eternal life)
Hallelujah, for all You’ve done” (Morgan, 2004).
The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the greatest example of humility (Phil. 2:5-8). When He came to earth, “He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Phil. 2:7-8NLT). Because of this achievement, God has exalted the Lord Jesus Christ to the highest place in heaven (Phil. 2:9; Acts 7:55; Heb. 1:3).
He had no regrets
Because He fulfilled His mission, Jesus Christ had no regrets. Before He died Jesus said “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). When He prayed Jesus said, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (Jn. 17:4). He’d finished preaching about the kingdom of God, finished doing miracles, and finished obtaining eternal salvation for those who trust in Him. The penalty had been paid for the sin of all humanity. He did exactly what He set out to do. To save sinners like us (1 Tim. 1:15).
“Remembering Bob” was written 30-40 years after Bob Hawke was prime minister and 40-50 years after he was President of the ACTU. The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke were written no more than 27 years after Christ’s death (Appendix). And the gospel of John was written by 37-50 years after Christ’s death (Appendix).
As the stories and memories about Bob Hawke are accurate (they are consistent with my memory of those times), so the stories and memories about Jesus Christ in the Bible are also accurate. There is a similar time lapse between the events and when they were recorded.
If the Lord hasn’t returned by then, in 50 years time, people will have forgotten about Bob Hawke’s achievements. But after almost 2,000 years we are still “Remembering Jesus” and His achievements because they have eternal significance. That’s not surprising because Jesus was God living on earth.
Appendix: When were the gospels written?
Each of the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke report that Jesus predicted the destruction of the city of Jerusalem as well as the temple. However, none of these writings records the fulfillment. Since the city and temple were both destroyed in the year AD 70, there is good reason to believe that these three gospels were written before this destruction took place (37 years after Christ’s death). According to J Warner Wallace (2013) they were probably written 12-27 years after Christ’s death.
There is more uncertainty about when the gospel of John was written. John describes the sheep gate as still standing at the time he wrote (Jn. 5:2). As the sheep gate was destroyed in AD 70, this could indicate that John wrote his gospel before the city of Jerusalem was destroyed (37 years after Christ’s death). J Warner Wallace supports this dating because the book doesn’t mention the destruction of the temple and the city. But the early church fathers believed that it was written when John was an old man. Don Carson thinks it was AD 80-85 (about 50 years after Christ’s death).
Morgan R , 2004, “My Savior, Redeemer”, Hillsong publishing.
Pieters-Hawke S, 2019, “Remembering Bob”, Allan & Unwin, Sydney.
Wallace J W, 2013, “Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels”, David C Cook Publishing Company, Colorado Springs, USA.
Also see: Mind the gap