The Impact of Jesus’ Words
In this post, Shane discusses Jesus’ words and their significance in being part of the magnetism of Jesus. He considers the impact Jesus’ teachings, such as the Sermon on the Mount, have had on society.
Words are powerful. By words we navigate our lives, avoid shipwreck and make it safely home. By words we pass on information. By words we express our thoughts. By words we articulate what we are feeling and by words we reveal who we are. Think of these powerful words and the impact they may have had on your life: “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son.” Without those words, we would not know the great love of God and what He did in order to save us from our sins.
Let us think for a moment of our Lord’s words. We cannot hear how He spoke them but we can read of those who did. We cannot see the meekness of His eyes as He spoke, or hear the gentleness of His tone, but we can learn what it must have been like to listen to Him from the responses of those who heard Him.
When the Lord Jesus first began to speak publicly, when that scroll of Isaiah was handed to Him in the same synagogue He had attended His whole life and no doubt had grown up in, we read that the people “marvelled at the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth” (Luke 4:22). In fact, they were so miffed and mesmerized by the graciousness of His words that it caused them to call out among themselves, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” as if to say, how can a carpenter’s son speak such words of wisdom, beauty and truth? Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in the days of His flesh, when our Lord walked the earth, to hear and drink in the grace flowing out of His mouth.
In Matthew chapter 5, when our Lord went up the mountain to teach the people, we read that He “opened His mouth and taught them.” It was that same mouth that spoke the solar system into orbit. The book of Proverbs tells us that “from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding” (Prov.2:6). From my mouth often comes cynicism, sarcasm and frivolity but His mouth is entirely different. His mouth is a well of pure goodness, a spring of cleansing truth and a stream of life giving purity. Just a sample of His words cause us to realize we are in the presence of a sublime personality: Love your enemies, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, turn the other cheek, whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two, are just a few of His wise sayings. When Jesus had ended His sermon, we read at the end of Matthew chapter 7, the “people were astonished at His teaching.”
Blueprint For Successful Human Life
Dr. J.T. Fisher, a clinical psychiatrist wrote a book called A Few Buttons Missing. In it he expressed his evaluation of the Sermon on the Mount from a professional standpoint. He writes, “If you were to take the sum total of all authoritative articles ever written by the most qualified of psychologists and psychiatrists on the subject of mental hygiene ‑ if you were to combine them and refine them, and cleave out the excess verbiage – if you were to take the whole of the meat and none of the parsley, and if you were to have these unadulterated bits of pure scientific knowledge concisely expressed by the most capable of living poets, you would have an awkward and incomplete summation of the Sermon on the Mount. And it would suffer immeasurably through comparison. For nearly 2,000 years the Christian world has been holding in its hands the complete answer to its restless and fruitless yearnings. Here … rests the blueprint for successful human life with optimism, mental health, and contentment.”
What Dr. Fisher is saying here is that if all of humanity’s wisdom were to be boiled down and combined together you would find what Jesus had already said in those chapters in the Sermon on the Mount. What he is saying is that the wisdom of the world is not worthy to be compared to the bottomless depth and insight of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all the poets and thinkers of the world and history combined cannot surpass the beauty and clarity of His words. In our Lord’s wisdom is found all that is needed for life and godliness.
Poetically the Song of Solomon says of Him, “His lips are lilies dripping liquid myrrh” and “His mouth is most sweet” (Cant.5:13,16). The fragrance and substance of His speech was beautiful to hear, as lilies are beautiful to the eyes. His words were not just pleasant sounding, like the words of poets, but penetratingly deep and insightful, like the thoughts of philosophers. Yet all is clothed in the simplest of language. The essence of His teaching does not reside in tomes upon tomes of written books but is contained within the few short accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
His lips drip with liquid myrrh, the Scripture says. That is because they are full of healing, comfort and peace. “My peace I give to you,” comes forth like a mother’s hand on our hearts, “not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). People flocked to hear Him. Children wanted to be held in His arms. A woman crawled through an unruly crowd just to touch the edge of His garment. To hear His words was to eat honey from the honeycomb. To listen to His teaching was like drinking cold water on a hot day.
Where did this man get this wisdom, we hear the people asking. The Jews marvelled saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” (John 7:15). Had they known it was the Alpha and the Omega speaking to them they would not have asked such a ridiculous question. Those who were sent by the Pharisees to arrest Him found they could not, being themselves arrested by the wisdom with which He spoke, causing them to explain to those who had sent them that “No man ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46)
The Magnetism Of Jesus
That’s the magnetism of the Lord Jesus. If people would only invest the time to read the New Testament and learn of Him, then they too would see how unique He stands in all history. His words succinctly capture the essence of life, love, humility and grace. His diagnosis of the human condition, that the human heart is sick with sin, desperately in need of a great physician, is bulls-eye accurate and yet He delivered that diagnosis with utmost tact and tenderness, being Himself the doctor and the cure.
Yet authoritative and scathing were His words when He needed them to be, as He directed them toward religious abuse and hypocrisy, against every institution and false notion of God that kept people in bondage in His day, and still does to this day. Everything He spoke scattered the darkness. His words are light and they are life. No one ever has spoken with such clarity, brevity and profundity as the humble carpenter from Galilee, as the eternal God residing in our world.
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Images Courtesy of:
Honeycomb – Bjarne Henning Kvaale
The Sermon on the Mount – Jan Breughel the Elder
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