I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.
How many movements throughout the history of Man have flourished briefly and then vanished into everlasting oblivion, forgotten entirely by History or relegated to the briefest of footnotes? From a human standpoint that was clearly the fate of the movement started by the carpenter/rabbi from Galilee following His death on a cross. His followers had scattered and went into hiding at His arrest. He was denied by the mob, their choosing a bandit and murderer over Him. Condemned by the foreigners occupying His country, His people observed His death by mocking Him. The idea that He had founded a “Church” that would spread around the globe, altering all of human history, and causing Him to be worshiped as God by billions of people would have struck any neutral observer as mad ravings. Yet that is precisely what happened.
All of this is completely inexplicable in human terms. What changed this defeated cause into an everlasting crusade is the Resurrection. Without it Christianity is an utter mystery and the impact of Christ on our planet the greatest riddle in our history. The Resurrection turned a group of cowards, cowering in the shadows, into dauntless missionaries willing to go anywhere and to proclaim, whatever the odds, the truth of the Gospel. It allowed men, women and children who heard the Gospel to embrace it, no matter what bitter persecution they faced. Mockery, argument, even death, nothing could stop the Word from spreading. Three centuries after Christ died the death of an obscure criminal in Judea, the Roman emperor bowed before the Cross. It is all so familiar to us, and yet it was all so very, very unlikely.
With the Resurrection God revealed Himself clearly to humanity, and He altered forever after the course our history would take. He took a footnote and made it the central theme of our story.