Picturing Jesus as passive and pallid? Pastor Charles Edward Jefferson shows that’s not how the Gospels portray this mighty man.

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The original Man of Steel

“What was the first impression Jesus made upon his contemporaries? What has been his first impression on you? Has he impressed you as subdued and meek, calm and effeminate? . . . When you think of him do you think of someone thin and gaunt, weak and pallid? Not so did he seem to the people of his day. Open the Gospel according to St. Mark. In the first chapter he tells you in four different places what impression Jesus made upon men.”

“He first tells you of the impression he made on John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a mighty man, none mightier had ever appeared in Judea; but John said there is coming one mightier than I. . . . He had faced the greatest men of his day without flinching, . . . but when this man from Nazareth appears, John falters and draws back and says: ‘I cannot baptize you. I have need to be baptized by you.'”

“Let us take another illustration: He walks one day along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and sees two men fishing; he says, ‘Follow me,’ and straightway they left their nets and followed him. A few steps farther on he sees two other men, he says to them, ‘Follow me,’ and they left all and followed him. Such was the impression he made upon them.”

“He goes into the synagogue and begins to teach, and they are amazed, not at what he says, but the manner in which he says it. He teaches them as one having authority and not as the scribes. There is something in his voice that pierces and cuts and thrills, a tone that they have never heard before. It is the note of authority, the note of strength.”

“Or take another illustration: There is a sick man in the synagogue, and Jesus heals him, and again the people are surprised because God has given such power to a man. In these four instances the first impression of Jesus is the impression of authority, mastery, power, leadership; he is a man of strength.”

Men Marveled

“And that, I think, is the teaching of all the Gospels: they give us repeated illustrations of the power of Jesus. He drew men to him. Wherever he went he was surrounded by a crowd. He goes down to the seashore, and the crowd is so great they push him into the water and he gets into a boat. He goes to the hilltop, and immediately the hillside is alive with people. He goes to the desert, and immediately a great crowd surrounds him. . . . Every city through which he passes is turned upside down by his presence. Only a man of strength draws to him great masses of men.”

“Not only did Jesus draw men to him but he stirred them whenever they came near. Have you ever noted how many times the evangelists say in speaking of the people: ‘they were astonished,’ ‘they were astonished with a great astonishment,’ ‘they were amazed,’ ‘they were filled with amazement,’ ‘they marveled’?”

“One day when Jesus propounded the question, ‘Who do men say that I am?’ the disciples told him that men had different opinions in regard to him. Some said he was John the Baptist, some said he was Elijah, others said he was Jeremiah, while others unable to give his exact name felt convinced he was one of the old prophets. This is remarkable! They went to the grave in order to find a man to whom they could liken him. . . . The name of no man living was great enough to convey their idea of the strength which they felt resided in Jesus. He was one of the giants of bygone ages who had come back to the earth carrying with him powers augmented by his sojourn in the realms of death. This tells us clearly that to them he was a man of tremendous power.”

Romans Recoiled

“And if the Jews felt this in regard to him, what was the impression which he made upon the Roman officials? He impressed them in the same way. When the policemen came to arrest him and asked him if he was indeed Jesus of Nazareth, he turned upon them and simply said, ‘I am,’ and they fell backward to the ground. What do you suppose his eyes looked like that night when they outflashed the Roman torches and outshone the Syrian stars?”

“Pilate is afraid of him. He is the representative of Caesar in Palestine. He is clothed with authority. Jesus is but a poor unarmed peasant. Nevertheless Pilate is afraid of him, he draws back from him, he wrings his hands in uncertainty, he washes his hands, he tries to get rid of this man. He feels there is a power in him unlike any power he has ever come in contact with before.”

Great Hate, Great Love

“But if you would have the finest proof of his power, you can find it in the intensity of the hatred and in the intensity of the love which he excited. How many hated him! They could not hear him talk without sizzling, hissing and boiling like a pot under which the fire roars. He stirred tempests in the heart, he awoke serpents in men. He drove them to madness until they cried out in frenzy, ‘Crucify him!’ Only a great man can do that. You cannot hate a pygmy, a weakling, a ninny. You can hate Nero or Napoleon or any giant, but you cannot hate a nobody. . . . The men that are loathed and feared are men of genius, who have in them extraordinary capacity for bringing things to pass.”

“But if Jesus drove some men to hate him, he drove other men to love him. He kindled a devotion that is superior to anything that has ever been known in this world. He kindled a fire which ran all over Palestine, and then around the edges of the Mediterranean, and then into the German forests, it then leaped over the English Channel, and later on it leaped over the Atlantic Ocean, and now it has leaped over all the oceans and is burning more brightly today than ever. And all this conflagration was kindled by his hot heart. . . . He called forth a kind of reverence that has never been granted to any other man who has ever lived. He was so mighty that when men thought of him, they thought of God.”

Excerpts from The Character of Jesus by Charles Edward Jefferson (Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1908)

2 thoughts

  1. Mighty Jesus at work: In what ways has Jesus strengthened you? In what ways has He taught you to trust in His strength?

  2. If He lives in you and you have truly been born again, then that strength is there to help you through some of the most difficult times in your life. Just trust in the strength and power of Jesus!

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