If the Christ-like character has today any foothold upon the earth, it is traceable from the hundreds of millions back to millions, and from millions to thousands, and from thousands to hundreds, and from hundreds to the twelve, and to Jesus Himself.
The heroisms of Christendom began in Galilee, in the personal following of a personal leader. The moral structure of the kingdom of God in the world today exists through the personal imitation in all ages of the character of Christ … who loved us before the foundation of the world.
To the blunted perceptions and perverted taste of the age in which Jesus lived, He was without form or comeliness. A few indeed saw the beauty of His holy and self-denying life, called Him Master, and followed in His footsteps; and to their praise will it forever stand on the heavenly record, that the Son of God on earth was not utterly unappreciated nor utterly misunderstood. No men ever lived who added such glory to humanity. The vast and imposing array of poets and sages, prophets and kings, throughout the world’s whole history, have not added such nobleness to our race as did the humble friends of the wayfaring Christ, in that they were His friends. For that was an age when men bound heavy burdens and laid them on other men’s shoulders. That self-seeking age would not know a self-denying Redeemer. It is the one saving feature of such an age, that there were in it a handful of men who dared be Christ’s disciples.
The nobility, the grandeur of the work carried out by the apostles is closely connected with the instruction they received from the Master … God used these imperfect instruments for working a sociological revolution in the world; bringing in an era when the sick and the sorrowing were to have fair consideration in the kingdoms of the world – of which the devil then claimed the ownership, possessed, as the kingdoms were, by robust leaders, prosperous, hardhearted, and selfish.
When Jesus drew men to Himself, centered their lives upon Himself, making Himself their Master, they found not only rest in imitating His meekness and lowliness, but His yoke so easy as to be related to their spiritual lives as a bird’s wings are – a burden indeed, but light and helpful in soaring heavenward.
Jesus inspired common men to do uncommon deeds – the weak were made mighty, the cowards bold and ready for martyrdom. Men who fled at sight of His cross, readily ran to their own crosses. Those who walked with the Nazarene, were so filled with the spirit of their Master that men took knowledge of them, and knew that they had been with Jesus.
Forsaking all, we follow – calling to our brothers throughout the earth, “We have found the Messiah!”