In what ways is Jesus greater than all the other greats of history?
There are many people throughout history that we fellow human beings refer to or think of as "great." They are the giants of their field—great kings, great military leaders, great religious leaders, great judges, great philosophers, and great intellectuals who have stood out in the history of the human race and made an impact. How does Jesus Christ compare to these greats?
Truthfully, Jesus Christ does not compare to such "great" individuals. He transcends them altogether. Jesus Christ is not even in the same category as any human being who has ever lived or will live. This is because Jesus is no mere mortal. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. He is the second Person of the Godhead (i.e. The Trinity).
The pre-eminence of Jesus Christ is expounded by the apostle Paul in Colossians chapter 1, verses 15–20: "He [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."
All of the so-called "great" historical figures owe their very existence to Jesus Christ, for by Him all things were created. Unlike these other "great" people, only Jesus Christ can bring men and women into a loving, personal relationship with God the Father. Jesus' name is the only name proclaimed among mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11–12). He is the One and Only Savior (Titus 2:13; John 14:6).
Only Jesus is eternal and pre-existent. He is the only and eternally begotten Son of God. Only Jesus is sinless (Hebrews 4:15). Only Jesus is the acceptable sacrifice for the sins of the world (Ephesians 5:2). Only Jesus qualifies as Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5–6). Only Jesus rose from the dead, never to taste death again (Acts 2:24). There is no other man like Jesus because Jesus is not only a man. Jesus is who He claimed to be, God in the flesh (John 14:9), one with the Father (John 10:30). If any of the "great" people of history were saved it would only have been through receiving Jesus Christ. For Scripture is clear that only those who know and receive Jesus Christ know God the Father (Matthew 11:27).
If we were to condescend to make comparisons, let us see how Jesus stacks up against the competition. Compared to the greatest earthly king or military leader the world has known, Christ is exalted far above all of them. Jesus Christ is the "King of kings and Lord of lords," and though His first appearance on earth was as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), His second will be as the Conquering King and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:9–11; Revelation 19:11–16).
Let us proceed to comparing Jesus Christ to one of the greatest religious figures in history. The three most populous religions in the world (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) trace their lineage to the "great" Father Abraham. However, Scripture reveals that Christ is far greater than Abraham. In a confrontation with the Jews recorded in John's gospel this is made clear. In part, Jesus answered, "'Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.' So the Jews said to him, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?' Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.' So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple" (John 8:56–59). By claiming the name "I AM," Jesus was identifying Himself by a title used only by God. Jesus is telling us that He existed before Abraham because He is God. He existed in eternity past with God and as God (John 1:1, 14). Jesus is far greater than Abraham.
No other religious leader in history can claim: to be God in the flesh, to have lived a sinless life, to have died as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, to have risen from the dead, and to have ascended to heaven where Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). Ephesians 1:20–21 says that Jesus is seated at God's right hand "… far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come."
Compared to "great" judges, Jesus Christ is the Judge of all the world. In fact, God's judgment will be based on whether a person has received or rejected Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (John 3:18). Those who have received Him enter into eternal life. Those who reject Him remain in their sins and in a state of condemnation. Jesus is the only Judge whose judgments are perfectly just and eternal. The Father has appointed Jesus Christ to judge the whole world, including the so-called "great" people (Acts 17:31).
Compared to "great" philosophers and intellectuals, Scripture informs us that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). The philosophy of this world is empty when compared with the fullness of God which dwells in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9). The "foolishness of God is wiser than men" (1 Corinthians 1:25). As Christians, we are called to destroy speculations and every lofty idea raised up against the knowledge of God and to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We are warned against being beguiled by the empty deceit of godless philosophies, and to trust instead in Jesus Christ, who is the wisdom of God (Colossians 2:8–10; 1 Corinthians 1:20–25).
Whether we are taking about a great king like Alexander, a great warrior like Genghis Khan, a great religious leader like Abraham, a great philosopher like Socrates, or a great intellectual like Einstein, we are talking about created, flawed, mortal men whose bones lie in graves. Jesus Christ has none of that. He is eternal, sinless, immortal, and will rule and reign eternally. He is so far above men and women, even "great" ones, that we could rightly ask Him, "What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him" (Job 7:17). The great men and women of history are like worms before the magnificent beauty of Jesus Christ (Job 25:6). We are but flowers quickly fading, grass that grows today and is cut down tomorrow, a mist that appears for a short while and vanishes away (Job 14:2; Psalm 103:14; Isaiah 40:6; James 1:10; 4:14; 1 Peter 1:24).
Jesus Christ is the "I AM," God with us, God over all, the everlasting King of kings and Lord of lords (Matthew 1:23; Romans 9:5; Revelation 19:16). He is the Holy One and our only Savior (John 6:69; Jude 1:25–25). There is none greater than Jesus.
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