Every time I write a check, I document the date with reference to the most important event in human history. This year is 2018 A.D., Anno Domini, Latin for “Year of our Lord.” Approximately 2018 years ago Jesus was born. Any date before that is B.C., “Before Christ.”
This makes our secular world uncomfortable. But, we have to reference history by some date, and it needs to be universal enough that we all know what date we are talking about. In 1615 Johannes Kepler adopted the “Vulgar Era” designation, a reference that was later changed to C.E. “Common Era.” Today, in most academic documents, the terms B.C.E. “Before the Common Era” and C.E. “Common Era” are used. But the years remain the same, 2018 AD is 2018 CE.
The date for both designations A.D and C.E remains the time when the Emperor Augustine ordered that all the Roman world should be taxed and a little known carpenter in Nazareth started out for Bethlehem leading a donkey on which sat his pregnant wife. The life of that child defines every other event in history.
Why is Jesus the centerpiece of all human history?
Part of the answer is the teaching of Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount is the most radical teaching in the history of the world. If everyone practiced Jesus’ teaching the world would be totally transformed. God’s Kingdom would have come on earth.
Part of the answer is the death of Jesus. We cannot practice the Sermon on the Mount without a transformation of heart. The Cross of Jesus Christ makes this possible. Our sins are forgiven and God is able to create in us a new heart.
Most important of all is the resurrection. If Jesus had not been raised from the dead, his followers would have quickly dispersed and he would have been forgotten. The disciples had all forsaken him at his trial. Peter had publicly denied him. But, when Jesus appeared for forty days with many undeniable proofs, everything changed.
This was the message that changed the world. “This Man,delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” (Acts 2:23-24).
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-18).
Jesus destroyed the rule of power and prejudice, retaliation and revenge. On the Cross he overcame violence and injustice. By the resurrection He conquered death and the grave. For this reason every document we date this year bears the number 2018.