The year is 2018. Whether you call it AD or CE, it is measured from the same starting point.
To many, Christianity is just one religion of many, no different than any other. Others are outright hostile to Christianity, perhaps more openly or aggressively than to any other. People have mixed thoughts about Jesus; he was a religious leader, for sure, but that is it. Merely a devout, if idiosyncratic teacher, no worse and no better than anyone else, even if slightly more well-remembered.
An interesting thing about him is how he died and what happened to his followers in the decades afterwards. He was executed as a common criminal. Virtually all of his followers whose names we know were also hunted down and killed. This was a peasant leader of what would become a splinter sect of the religion of an oppressed nation in the mightiest empire in the world at the time. It took the better part of two centuries of underground evangelism and proselytizing before Christianity did not get Roman citizens and subjects killed.
And yet, it is 2018. Two-thousand and eighteen years since this Jesus arrived on the scene.
You can sneer at Jesus if you want to. You can dismiss him and call the movement a sham. You can mock his followers since, and tease them for believing in a fraud. That’s fine. But how many frauds since have become the turning point of human history? How many men’s lives are the hinge on the calendar? Any number of mightier, more powerful men could have laid claim to that distinction, if all we are talking about is mere men. And really, wouldn’t you think that the followers of a fraud would have found a way to do better for themselves than to die in executions and in exile?
And yet, here we are. In the year 2018. Two thousand and eighteen years since this fraud walked the earth and was violently executed as an enemy of the State. How many other men or women from time, who were executed in that way, can you name? One? Two? Bonus points if you aren’t thinking of the two criminals crucified with Jesus.
Let’s make it easier. How many men or women, at all, can you name, without looking them up, who have been executed? And then say out loud what year it is.
Two-thousand and eighteen years, measured from the life of one man, out of literal billions since. One itinerant rabbi from a backwater town in a subject nation under rule from a foreign empire. He never wrote a thing about himself. He never sat on a throne. He never led an army into battle. He never killed an enemy. He never headed a kingdom or had subjects under his rule. He didn’t leave a bloodline. He didn’t leave an heir to his mission. He didn’t establish a dynasty. All he got for his delusion was severe lacerations, puncture wounds, asphyxiation, and a stab wound to his heart.
But he was definitely, certainly, undoubtedly a fraud.
Just remind me again; what year is it?