A friend of mine, lecturing in a theological college in Kenya, introduced his students to “The Quest for the Historical Jesus.” This, he said, was a movement of thought and scholarship that in its earlier forms was carried on largely in Germany in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He had not gone far into his lecture explaining this search for Jesus when one of his students interrupted him. “Teacher,” he said (“I knew I was in trouble,” my friend commented, “as soon as he called me ‘teacher’!”), “if the Germans have lost Jesus, that is their problem. We have not lost him. We know him. We love him.”
-from Wright, N.T., The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is (IVP 1999) at p. 13. (A portion of the first chapter of Wright's book, which includes the introductory paragraph quoted above, may be read here.)
I remember hearing for the first time the phrase "the search for the historical Jesus" when Professor Barney Jones introduced the subject to our NT class at Duke my sophomore year (1965-66). I had something of the same thought as the student in Kenya, but I didn't express it. I thought, "I already know Jesus, and of course he lived in history." Then Dr. Jones said that this was title of a famous book by Albert Schweitzer. (Not quite. The title was The Quest of the Historical Jesus, a title that I thought conveyed something a little different.) Albert Schweitzer, an icon of mine, had problems with Jesus! Such consternation.
The other point made in the quote by the student - that the Germans may have lost Jesus - is just as pertinent. Look what happened to that great country during the 20th Century. And America is not far behind. Last year we celebrated the 40th Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, and, as of the beginning of this year, America has been the site of 56,662,169 abortions: enormously more than the Nazis murdered in the death camps. I can only begin to grasp the implications of that number - how many potential Schweitzers, for example, were among them, how many Beethovens, how many Lincolns, how many MLKs? Name your heroes. How many of those were lost?