The story of the life and times of Jesus Christ has been told thousands of time in thousands of ways all depicting the perspective of the writers and creators.
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is generally regarded as the greatest English novelist of the Victorian period. The author of many noted works, including David Copperfield, The Adventures of Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations, Dickens has remained popular with readers for more than 150 years. His novels are praised by critics and scholars alike, and 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of his birth. Dickens is well known for the timely Christmas classic A Christmas Carol (1843) and conversely unknown for his poignant writing The Life of our Lord (1846 to 1849). The manuscript was handed down from family generation to generation and read aloud to the children each Christmas. It was not published until 1934.
Forward To The First Edition
By Lady Dickens
“This book, the last work of Charles Dickens to be published, has an individual interest and purpose that separate it completely from everything else that Dickens wrote. Quite apart from its Divine Subject, the manuscript is peculiarly personal to the novelist, and is not so much a revelation of his mind as a tribute to his heart and humanity, and also, of course, his deep devotion to Our Lord.
It was written in 1849, twenty-one years before his death, expressly for his children.
The simple manuscript is entirely handwritten and is in no sense a fair copy but a spontaneous draft. In order to preserve its personality, the manuscript has been followed faithfully in every detail. This accounts for the varying use of capital letters, and other peculiarities. Charles Dickens frequently told
his children the Gospel Story, and made mention of the Divine Example in his letters to them.
This life of Our Lord was written without thought of publication, in order that his family might have a permanent record of their father’s thoughts. After his death, this manuscript remained in the possession of his sister-in law, Miss Georgina Hogarth.
On her death in 1917 it came into the possession of Sir Henry Fielding Dickens.
Charles Dickens had made it clear that he had written The Life of Our Lord in a form which he thought best suited to his children, and not for publication. His son, Sir Henry, was averse to publishing the work in his own lifetime, but saw no reason why publication should be withheld after his death. Sir Henry’s will provided that, if the majority of his family were in favour of publication,
The Life of Our Lord should be given to the world. It was first published, in serial form, in March 1934.
The Life of our Lord is organized in eleven chapters and concluding prayers. The chapters are numbered and I have labeled them here.
He was born, a long long time ago – nearly two thousand years ago – at a place called Bethlehem. Some wise men came one day, from a country a long way off in the East and said to the King (Herod), “We have seen a star in the sky, which teaches us to know that a child is born in Bethlehem, who will live to be a man that all people will love.” And He lived there (Egypt), with His father and mother, until bad King Herod died.
2. First Miracle
They lived there (Nazareth) until Jesus Christ was twelve years old. So John baptized Him. But Jesus turned this water into wine; by only lifting up His hand, and all who were there drank the wine.
That there might be some good men to go about with Him, teaching the people, Jesus Christ chose twelve poor men to be His companions. And when people speak ill of the poor and miserable, think how Jesus Christ went among them, and taught them, and thought them worthy of His care. But He was always merciful and tender.
4. John’s Death
Most of the inhabitants in that country were Jews. And immediately it was calm and pleasant weather, and the boat went safely on through the smooth waters. “Then,” said she, “father give me the head of John the Baptist in a charger.”
5. Sending Forth
Her name was Mary Magdalene. Then in a moment, the wind went down; and the Disciples said to one another, “It is true! He is the Son of God!” He now divided the Disciples, and sent them into many towns and villages, teaching the people, and giving them power to cure, in the name of God, all those who were ill.
A bright cloud overshadowed them at the same time; and a voice, speaking from the cloud, was heard to say, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye Him.” Jesus stooped down, and wrote with His finger on the ground, “He that is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her.”
Jesus said unto him, “The first of all the commandments is, the Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God will all the heart, and with all thy soul, and will all thy mind, and with all thy strength. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is no greater commandment that these.” “Then,” said He, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” Let us never forget what the poor widow did, when we think we are charitable.
He said, in a loud and solemn voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” It was six days before Passover, when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. It was night, and he went straight to the chief priest and said, “What will you give me, if I deliver Him to you?”
9. Last Supper
It is always called the Last Supper, because this was the last time that Our Saviour ate and drank with His Disciples. Jesus then led the way over a brook, called Cedron, into a garden that was called Gethsemane. The guard then ran forward to seize Him.
“Are you not one of the Disciples?” He said, “I am not.” Immediately the cock crew, and Jesus, turning around, looked steadfastly at Peter. When Pilate saw that he could not prevail with them, however hard he tried, he called for water, and, washing his hand before the crowd, said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person.”
11. Death and Resurrection
And being come to a hill called Mount Calvary, they hammered cruel nails through His hands and feet, and nailed Him on the cross, between two other crosses, on each of which a common thief was to be nailed in agony. Then there was a dreadful earthquake; and the great wall of the temple cracked; and the rocks were rent asunder. “Touch me not,” said Christ; “for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my Disciples, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and to your God!”
Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ taught to His Disciples and to us, and what we should remember every day of our lives, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our mind, and with all our soul, and with all our strength; to love our neighbours as ourselves, to do unto other people as we would have them do unto us and to be charitable and gentle to all.
There is no other commandment, our Lord Jesus Christ said, greater than these.