By Em Sumaway
If we look into the past, we will see that many great teachers have influenced the history of the world. In India, for example, there once lived a man named Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha. Gautama thought that life was an endless cycle of pain and the only way to escape it was by seeking wisdom. After meditating deeply for many days in the shade of a tree, Gautama suddenly felt that enlightenment came to him. He rose and set out to teach others what he had learned. Thereafter, he was known as Buddha, a title meaning “the Enlightened One.” His first five companions were so astonished by his wise and gentle words that they exclaimed: “Truly, O Buddha, Our Lord, thou has found the truth!” Thousands of Indians agreed and became his devoted followers. As of 2011, there are about 1.2 to 1.6 billion people throughout the world practicing Buddhism.
Another notable example is China’s most influential scholar named K’ung Fu-tzu (“Master Kung”), better known as Confucius. A duke of Lu, a state of China, was so impressed by the wisdom of Confucius that he appointed him Minister of Crime. According to legend, Confucius so overwhelmed people by his kindly, courteous ways that almost overnight crime vanished from Lu. His influence shaped Chinese education for several millennia and has influenced philosophy throughout the world.
These two teachers lived hundreds of years before Jesus was born. But what makes Jesus different from other great teachers in history? The answer is found in Peter’s response to the question of Jesus. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” The Greek word for “words” here is rhēmata, from the root rhēma, which basically means, “an utterance.” But the qualifying phrase that makes this word distinct from a mere utterance are the words zoēs aiōniou, which is translated “of eternal life.” These are not just instructive words or enlightening speeches. These are life-giving words. This is the very explanation of the Lord regarding His metaphor of eating his flesh and drinking His blood. It is not the literal flesh and blood which must be ingested, but the words which He spoke.
Buddha taught the ideas that had come to him in his enlightenment, calling them the Four Noble Truths. The Analects of Confucius contained his words of wisdom as recorded by his students. But there are no other words greater than what the Lord has given to man – words that bring eternal life. No one else has as great words as His.
 Larry S. Krieger, Kenneth Neill and Steven L. Jantzen, eds., World History – Perspectives on the Past (Lexington: D.C. Heath, 1994), 72-73.
 Cited Sept. 7, 2011. Online: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_ people_practice_Buddhism_in_the_world_today#ixzz1XAkj8x4a
 Krieger, et. al., World, 88.
 Isidro, Annotated, 146.